The Tales of Tar route that can be experienced digitally on mobile devices around Oulu will open in November. The cultural history route consists of 10 fascinating short stories written by author Katariina Vuori. The stories are based on authentic locations, events and persons from the golden era of the tar trade in Oulu.
A plaque with a QR code will be placed at 10 locations associated with tar. By scanning the QR code with a mobile phone or another mobile device, you get to read the story or listen to it. The stories are available in Finnish, Easy Finnish, English and Swedish. The route map and locations of the story points will be published on 17 November on the Oulu2026 website.
The stories are told in Finnish by Tuula Väänänen, a famous actress from Oulu, and in English by actor Sami Lalou from Oulu Theatre. In Swedish, the stories are read by Tea Stolt de Glanville, specialist in communications and the cultural sector. From Finnish, the stories adapted to Easy Finnish have been granted the SELKO symbol of the Finnish Centre for Easy Language.
From Leveri to Linnansaari and from glamour to disappointments
Katariina Vuori, the author of the stories, says she loves the waterways and the maritime feel of Oulu and Northern Ostrobothnia – the coast is unique, unassuming and slightly ragged, often hidden behind shrubbery along the waterline.
“It was fascinating to get to explore, through these tar-scented stories, the way in which waterways have influenced local history, the city’s growth and people’s lives, everyone from commoners to the high and mighty. The tar hegemony involved much more than mere glamour and oriental spices – there was pain, disappointment and even personal tragedies in the mix,” says the author about the project.
The Tales of Tar route starts from the boundary of Leveri and ends in Toppila harbour. However, each story is independent and can be experienced in any order. The route culminates at Toppilansaari, where the story points of Frigate Toivo and Tervahovi are located. At these points, you can see both by means of augmented reality on your mobile device.
The Tales of Tar include
- Snellman house
- Bergbom Warehouse
- Frigate Toivo
The Tales of Tar route is one of the side events of Lumo Light Festival, but will remain in the cityscape to be experienced even after the festival. The route is part of Oulu’s journey of becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2026.
More stories from the north coming next year
The Tales of Tar route is the first pilot in the Northern Stories project, implemented by Oulu Culture Foundation. The aim is to develop new ways of bringing stories to their authentic locations by creating several themed routes with user-friendly mobile technology in the Oulu2026 European Capital of Culture area.
Highlighting the region’s cultural heritage and offering experiences free of charge strengthens residents’ local identity in everyday environments and creates tourist attractions. Stories are mapped and collected with experts and local residents. The Tales of Tar route will be developed further on the basis of users’ observations and feedback. More routes with stories are planned for next year.
Further information and feedback
Northern Stories project, Project Manager Anne-Maria Mäkelä, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 (0)40 673 5155
Implementer of the project: Oulu Culture Foundation sr., main financier: Council of Oulu Region
Project implementation period: 1 March 2023–30 April 2024