Persons of note

Text: Erik Forslund
Translation: Anders Benke

If one desires to document a society one finds that certain people have left a mark on said society. So too in
our village Bodarna, or “Boan” as genuine Gagnef inhabitant calls it. Here follows the accounts of some important villagers.

The allrounder Olle Almquist

One person of note was Olof ”Olle” Almquist, born 1859 in Bodarna and remaining active there until his death in 1938, except for a short brief sojourn in America. Olle was a dynamic person with many strings to his bow – a skilled allrounder, having been at some point in his life a smith, a carpenter, a mechanic and even a politician. He also founded the first Social Democratic Association in Gagnef in the early 1890s.

The arrival of electricity was celebrated with coffee

Accuracy and precision were the trademarks of Olle’s business. He helped initiate Gimåns Power Station. As a consequence Boan now had access to electricity. The power station, being perhaps the most significant event in the history of the village, was inaugurated with a coffee party in the village chapel in 1916. As a result of having
access to electricity Olle decided to erect a mill, which become operational mid-1970s, when the village’s small-scale agriculture more or less ceased – as was increasingly the case throughout the region. Adjacent to the mill there was also a blacksmith, and a further section where mechanical production came to flourish. The later constructed, among other things, a so-called hot bulb engine – a kerosene powered 11 horsepower engine.

Oskar Almquist’s boat engine

In the early 1930s, Olle’s son Oskar took over the blacksmith operation and transformed it into a garage. There
garage was running up to the outbreak of war in 1939, when gasoline rationing was introduced and motor traffic was greatly reduced. Wood gas came to be used to a relatively large degree. Oskar was later to develop a marine engine which, as far as is known, had the potential to become a success for small boats and fishing boats. Unfortunately, Oskar was struck by disase and died before it could be realized.

Anders Almquist and Finn Olov Mattsson

A brother of Olle was Anders, who also came to mean a great deal to Boan. Anders, along with farmer and carpenter Finn Olof Mattsson, built the first ferry at Åkerängsta – Olle assisting with the mechanics. Anders and Finn Olov designed and built the village’s shool for younger children, which closed in the late 1930s. During the 1940s the school was partyly used as a cap factory, later to be sold to a Finnish association. The association has transformed the school into a church, restoring and expanding the building meritoriously. Anders Almquist was an excellent carpenter and cabinet maker. Because of these skills, Anders handled a very delicate part of village life – namley the manufacture of bespoke coffins for burials. This manufacture ceased after the demise of Anders in 1927.

Erks Viktor – jack of all trades

A third person of note was Erks Viktor, somewhat of a jack of all trades. From 1900 to 1950 the bicycle was the primary mode of transportation for any longer journeys within the village – motorized vehicles were very rare. Viktor was an excellent bicycle repairman and vendor. Proficient in welding, turning, and knowledgeable in a wide range of fields, his services were often called upon. Viktor was, however, less than capable when it came to charing for his services. For example: 5 cents for replacement of valve rubber and 25 cents for replacement of the inner tube of tires for bicycles. On one occasion Viktor happened to, probably somewhat drunk, fall asleep in a ditch. Passers by shook Viktor back to life and asked how he felt. Whereupon Viktor instantly replied: “The trench is mine as much as yours!”.