A Finnish Tradition
Believe it or not, it was not originally in the plans of Liisa Karkkainen to take over her mother’s successful Finnish smoked fish business. A tried and true tradition straight from the far east shores of Finland, Liisa’s mother played a powerful role in the startup of The Fish Shop, Thunder Bay’s only smoked and fresh fish outlet.
The Fish Shop first started up in May 1970 where it is still located to this day. Just 20 minutes past the city, you’ll find a glamorous showroom displaying the finest amethyst and leading to the original smoked and fresh fish shop, just off of Highway 11/17 at 1960 Lakeshore Drive, and nestled near Lake Superior’s scenic shoreline. Originally in the business of sales, Liisa became encouraged to take over the shop after her mother became ill. With her mother’s blessing, she took over the business in 2004 to continue an over 700 year tradition of the smoked fish procedure, and has never looked back. Liisa is not shy in boasting the hard work her mother, Hilkka Hautala, put into the original startup of the shop. While Hilkka overcame the odds of a woman’s role at the time, she also took on the task of continuing her family’s tradition far from where she was born and raised, a true story of courage and determination.
Today, local visitors and tourists alike enjoy the many products The Fish Shop has to offer. The Fish Shop is open daily from 9:00am to
6:00pm until mid-May, with extended evening hours until 7:00pm through to September. Liisa’s delicately smoked fish, smoked outdoors using the green wood of the alder, is guaranteed all-natural and preservative and chemical-free. The result is a soft, sweet and unique taste which you’ll find is like no other! In fact, The Fish Shop’s most popular product is by far the smoked white fish with an ever constant demand among its customers. You’ll also find a large assortment of fresh fish, caught through licensed commercial fishermen either the night before or same day it’s sold. The most popular of these is the native Redfin Trout, however, you’ll find many more northern varieties for purchase as well. Both the smoked white fish and Redfin Trout are available daily, filleted or dressed. Many fresh and smoked fish is also used throughout the shop’s take away products ranging from spreads, pâté, sandwiches and salads as well as their very popular chowder. Also available, and a European delicacy, salt fish.
Not only does The Fish Shop house both fresh and smoked fish products, but it is also carries a large assortment of unique Finnish gifts and crafts, as well as this areas claim to fame, amethyst stone. As a visitor, you’ll find yourself immersed in the richness of the Finnish culture without even leaving the country. And though Liisa is proud of her European roots, she is also quick to admit her gratitude for the opportunity Canada has provided for her family with.
If you’ve become a little more interested yourself in the Finnish traditions of smoked fish, you need not go far. Liisa is a proud supporter of the Thunder Bay Country Market, where she began selling her products in the spring of 2005. Always an advocate of the Slow Food Movement, Liisa is thankful for those who encouraged her and her business up until this point. You’ll find Liisa every Saturday at the market from 8:00am to 1:00pm, as well as Wednesday evenings from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, which starts up May 25th. Located directly around the corner from the main entrance doors, Liisa is hard to miss… then again, who could pass by the rich, aromatic smell of her smoked fish!