Kannus (known in the 1860s as Ylikannus) is one of the sites that I always believed seemed likely to have a famine memorial. Having passed by the parish church on trips through Central Ostrobothnia (Kannus is a very short drive from many of the other places mentioned on this blog, such as Lohtaja, Kälviä, Toholampi, Ullava, and Sievi) I had stopped on several occasions to look in the graveyard for signs of a memorial stone.
Kannus Church dates from 1817 (the previous church on the site, from 1761, burned down and its location is marked by a memorial in the churchyard). My mistake, however, was in presuming that a famine memorial would be located in the immediate vicinity of the church. In fact, it turned out that Kannus does have an 1860s memorial, but it is situated in the nearby graveyard of St. Michael’s Chapel – a 5-10 minute walk from the main church. The graveyard was established in 1863 and I presume that it was used as a mass grave during the famine years. Turpeinen (1986) notes that Kannus, along with the neighbouring parishes in Central Ostrobothnia, was already suffering from a severe typhus epidemic in 1865, and was extremely vulnerable in 1867-8.
Interestingly, although the parish website highlights several other memorials in the graveyard, the famine memorial is not mentioned (July 2019).
I was able to revisit Kannus in July 2019, and finally got to take some photos of the memorial, which is fairly familiar in form: a simple stone with plaque indicating the dates of the famine, and a biblical quotation. As I find out more about the inauguration date and so on, I’ll update this page.
Location: St. Michael’s Chapel (Mikaelin Kappeli), Tapulikatu 23.
Modern Region: Central Ostrobothnia (Keski-Pohjanmaa).
Year of Memorial: TBC.
Inscription: “In memory of the dead residents of of Kannus from the Great Famine Years of 1867-1868. [placed on behalf of ] Ancestors. 1 Moses 47:13″.*
*1 Moses (Genesis) 47:13 reads: “There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine.”
Oiva Turpeinen, Nälkä vai tauti tappoi? Kauhunvuodet 1866-68 (Helsinki, 1986), pp. 50-1.