The birth of North Finnish cultural magazine Kaltio was inevitable after the Second World War, as behind the idea were two young journalists, a reporter of Kaiku, Atte Kalajoki (b. 1914) and a reporter for Kaleva, Reino Rinne (b. 1913). In the degradation of humankind and the vacuum of cultural life created by the long and stressful war, people longed for a new belief in humanistic values and life. According to the two founding fathers, a cultural magazine was needed also because newspapers did not discuss cultural matters much.
Already the lack of paper had forced newspapers to cut on the amount of culture during the war. Atte Kalajoki writes about founding the magazine:
- The whole establishing period, the beginning, was a time of magnificent excitement. Even today it makes me happy to reminisce on this. I have not experienced anything like that in my other jobs or plans.
- Our plan, that is mine and Reino Rinne's, to start a Northern Finnish cultural magazine was received enthusiastically in Oulu and elsewhere in the north, even in Rovaniemi which was in ruins after the war. This was the case also in Helsinki especially among the former students from Oulu, regardless of social class or political conviction. "Everyone" was excited, quotation marks because "everyone" was still not everyone. However, we were disappointed only in few cases. Of course there were those wise ones who could calculate that the effort would fail due to lack of profitability. The prediction was correct in a way: I could never make Kaltio profitable. Nevertheless, I sill managed to keep it alive, even though the end was near many times.
To establish Kaltio, Kalajoki and Rinne were joined by Esko Similä, bachelor of arts Veikko Hauru and captain Olavi Rautio.
The Name of the Magazine
Reino Rinne came up with the name Kaltio. It has a concrete origin: a northern mountain well. Originally, Kaltio comes from the Germanic word for cold. Also Swedish words kall (cold) and källa (a well) originate in the same root. A mountain well was a well-liked symbol for the magazine for a well never runs dry of new, fresh water. It does not dry up or freeze over. Under the ground, it has its own rivers which always bring new water to it, while the old water drifts away.
Kaltio started with a 68-page pilot issue on 20 April, 1945. Atte Kalajoki was the editor-in-chief and Reino Rinne the chief subeditor. In practice, Atte Kalajoki carried the heavier load in this major project. Private hoped for patron for the magazine was not found. That is why Kalajoki published it under his own name until 1950. Specifically because of the paid adverts, Publishing company Pohjankaltio was established to own the magazine that year. Many private individuals and cultural organisations from the whole area of Northern Finland became members of Pohjankaltio.
When the Companies Act changed in the beginning of 1980s and company bookkeeping became more complicated, Kaltio turned into an organisation called Kaltio ry in 1982.
From One Editor-in-Chief to Another
Atte Kalajoki was the editor-in-chief of Kaltio for 19 years. During his term, Kaltio was different from the magazines that later editors-in-chief published in the sense that it closely followed and reported Northern Finnish culture events like exhibitions, plays and degree ceremonies.
Otherwise, Kaltio was in the beginning largely the same as it is now. It contained and still contains book reviews, biographies, interviews, poems and short stories, historical reviews etc.
At any rate, Kaltio has always been an opinion magazine. During Kalajoki's period as the editor-in-chief it lobbied for the University of Oulu, the library system, gathering a history of Northern Finland, a cultural fund, and many other good issues that later on have come true.
Reino Rinne, who left the inner group of Kaltio rather soon in 1947, has later expressed his disappointment for Kaltio not having become the literal, culture-politically colourful magazine in the style of the poet Eino Leino which he had imagined. Instead, Atte Kalajoki made it more conservative in the vein of Koskenniemi. However, Rinne did say that his modern style probably would not have kept the magazine alive even ten years.
After Atte Kalajoki, the post of Kaltio's editors-in-chief has been held by Erno Paasilinna (1963-64), Jorma Etto (1964-65), J. Juhani Kortesalmi (1965), Pentti Airas (1965-66), Niilo Partanen (1967), Turo Manninen (1967-1972), Martti Asunmaa (1973-83), Tuomo Jämsä (1983-87), Pirkko Puoskari (1987-88), Tuure Holopainen (1988-96), Veli-Pekka Lehtola (1996-98) and Jussi Vilkuna (1998-).
Kaltio has worked in very different conditions over its 50 years. The periods can roughly be divided in three:
1) The spiritual rebuilding and resurrection of Northern Finland in 1940s and 50s. The height of it was the establishment of the University of Oulu in 1959.
2) The period of change and cultural radicalism in 1960s and 70s. Time of arguments regarding the position of Kaltio.
3) The period of local culture and the raise in culture in general since the end of 1970s. The period of state aid for opinion magazines.
Over 50 years, a remarkable amount of Finnish, from north and elsewhere, cultural history has been preserved in the pages of Kaltio, which is good material for researchers and enthusiasts.
Knowledge of history has been the power that has kept the magazine alive. On this subject, editor-in-chief Tuomo Jämsä has said aptly in Kaltio 5/85:
- Some regard looking back as a sign of decay, specific sort of senility. However, this impression is one-sided. Highlighting tradition makes Kaltio different from most culture magazines and gives it its own profile. It is Kaltio's strength, not its weakness. Besides, everyone who knows anything about the psychology of writing about history knows that historical statements and descriptions even memoirs always include indirect, hidden criticism of the current conditions.
Edited translation by Paavo J. Heinonen