Oulu 1901 - 1938

population about 16,000

The first unicameral parliamentary election with universal suffrage was held. Finnish women were the first in the world to have the right to stand as candidates. Nineteen women were elected to the first parliament. A total of 4,514 votes were cast in Oulu, about half of which were for the Social Democratic Party.

The runners up were the Young Finnish Party, Finnish Party, Swedish People's Party and Rural Party. The turnout percentage was 59.2. The following people from Oulu were elected Members of Parliament: Social Democratic Party representatives Kalle Hämäläinen and Juho Alfred Komu, both journalists, and Rural Party representatives Matti Hoikka, a blacksmith, and Otto Karhi, a farmer.

population about 17,850

Parliament declared Finland independent on 6 December. After the declaration, Finland descended into civil war. Armed civil guards (Whites) and red guards (Reds) fought in Oulu in January and February 1918. The battles were won by the Whites, who founded a prison camp in Raatinsaari. The battles and the prison camp claimed over 90 lives in total (68+23). The Whites also executed at least ten Reds. Compared to the other populated centres in Finland, Oulu's casualties were minor. The Raatti prison camp was closed down in August 1918.

population about 15,200

The first Oulu city council after general suffrage was elected. A total of 36 councillors were elected, five of them women. An equal number (18) of right-wing and left-wing (social democrats) councillors were elected. The first meeting selected G. Borg, a right-wing city doctor, as the chairman and Otto Karhi, a left-wing managing director, as the vice chairman.

population about 19,030

Toppila Oy, a sulphite pulp factory founded by an English family business, P Dixon and Son Ltd., was established. The factory buildings were designed by Professor Alvar Aalto. The Dixons sold the company to Kajaani Oy in 1973. In 1985, the company laid off all 320 employees and closed down the factory. Today (in 2000), a residential area stands on the factory grounds and the old buildings house various businesses, including a supermarket and a recycling centre.

population about 20,770

Oulu Oy's sulphite pulp factory was established in Nuottasaari. The factory was founded by the privately-owned Kajaani Oy and the state-owned Veitsiluoto Oy. Both companies had a 49% share of the factory while the Bank of Finland owned 2%. Oulu Oy's business was not limited to pulp. It also owned a wooden house factory and the Pateniemi sawmill, for example. Acquisitions brought with them changes in the ownership of the company, and today (in 2000) Nuottasaari accommodates a factory producing high-quality paper owned by Stora Enso Oyj.