Celebrating Founders Day at Sudbury’s Finlandia Village

In 1982, 81 people had a dream of providing housing for Finnish seniors in Greater Sudbury.

Today, 40 years and six projects later, Finlandia Village is home to more than 400 people and a staff of more than 200. Those 81 people are now known as "founders."

Finlandia, along with the Sudbury Finnish Rest Home Society, is marking Founders Day to celebrate and remember.

“We’re proud," said David Munch, Finlandia Village CEO.

(We serve) not only the Finnish community but the greater community of Sudbury for the elderly. So it's just a celebration to draw homage to that."

Thursday’s event was bittersweet with only three of the four founding members in attendance.

“Five years ago we still had 10 people and we’re only four and that’s really sad -- that’s really sad that they gone,” said founder Raili Myllyharju.

Although it has been 40 years, Marjatta Vainio said she remembers the early days well.

“I remember my husband was in a lot of meetings and then he wanted me to go and make coffee for them and I remember those times," Vainio said.

"Forty years. I must be old.”

Several dignitaries were on hand, including Roy Eriksson, Ambassador of Finland to Canada.

“I’m so proud to be a Finn that they have built this," he said.

"Started little and expanded and expanded and I just heard that there’s even a new project … and they will expand even more.”

Finlandia has been awarded a 30-bed expansion from the Ministry of Long Term Care. The project is in the conceptual stage and the hope is to have it finalized by the end of summer, with shovels going into the ground next April.

Officials said there are also plans to build more apartments, to ease a growing waitlist, with between 50-100 people waiting to be admitted.

“In some cases with our apartments, it's up to five to 10 years," said Munch. "It’s a fairly lengthy waiting list if you’re applying in your 80s already."