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From the book
"Travelling to Onego region and Karelia"

4. Nature and toponymy

The nature of the Olonets gubernia, especially in its northern part is a continuation of the Finnish nature. The Maanselkä ridge, going through the bigger part of the Povenets used makes a small spur, that under the name of Sunskie gory (Suna mountings) goes through the northern part of the Petrozavodsk used and bends to the Onego Lake depression forming in the northern part of the latter numerous capes, promontories, bays, gulfs and firths. From those big ridges there goes on smaller ones, known here as selkäs1. All selkäs are going more or less from the north-west to the south-east and all the Povenrts uezd land looks as if just ploughed field where bulks are the selkäs and furrows are those marshes that always lay between the selkäs, that run parallel one to another. At any place where selkä is crossed by the river the selkä enters the riverbed with the high promontory and sets rocks and banks in the riverbed. Quite seldom the river will yield to the selkä and will run parallel to it. Most often the river cuts through the selkä, arranging rapids and falls. Those rapids and falls are the main cause that makes the big northern rivers not fit for navigation and does not give this land the use that so big rivers might give. The Russians, coming to these places, always avoid selkäs and try to settle on some navolok2, entering the river or the lake or just on the shore of some lake (ozero), at some guba3 or river (reka) mouth. And all Russian settlements bear in their names this strain of Russian nature. Now and again we meet Gab-navolok, Lob-navolok, Perguba, Sennaya guba, Lizhma-guba, Ostrechye, Vyg-reka, Svyatozero, Vygozero, Kotoshozero, Mashozero and a lot of the like names of places. And we can be quite sure that all the settlements with such names are Russian. Contrary to that, Finns do not like water, probably because the water was the usual route of their enemy - Russian settler. Finns always settle on some high place and will call their settlement Mänselkä, Maselkä, Käppeselkä. Else they will set on a high island (saari) in the middle of the lake and call their village Vosemsaari, Kylösaari and so on. To tell the truth, there are some settlements with Finnish names on the lake coasts, but Finns are long ago driven out of here and only the name tell that they lived here someday. Vozhasalma4 was already a Russian settlement at Peter the Great times. Many of the lovers to find out what not really was are happy to find that the names of some places in Povenets uezd seem to have the hints of the living of the former inhabitants of these places - Lappish people. But really all those names are of rather dubious origin and hardly have anything in common with former inhabitants. Russians in the Povenets uezd have very perfect pronunciation and everyone unwittingly remarks the letter they are using in those names: Lobsky pesok, Lob-navolok, Lobsloye lake and so on. There is a local word about the marsh that begins to grow up with small fir-trees and birch-trees - they say that the marsh has "lobed". The sand on the beach of the Povenets bay also lobed, hence is the name (Lobsky pesok). We would not insist that this is quite so, but the people here long ago forgot about Lapps and the names of the places here are produced not in the "super wise" heads of surveyors or landlords, as it happen in the central and southern Russia, but comes from the people that really do not remember anything about Lapps that long ago lived on the coasts of the Onego Lake.

  1. Selkä – backbone, mountain (hill) ridge (Finnish)
  2. Navolok – cape, promontory (Pomor Russian)
  3. Guba – bay, inlet, firth, gulf (Pomor Russian)
  4. Salma (salmi) – strait, channel (Finnish)

Part 5.

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