Saunas in Canada: How They Came to Be
Saunas weren’t always a part of Canadian life, though. In fact, before 1860, saunas weren’t even introduced to Canada. Today, however, you can expect to enjoy a variety of sauna experiences all across the country, as this relaxing and purifying ritual has taken hold.
The First Saunas
Saunas originated more than a thousand years ago. We know that the Romans used a version of the modern day sauna in their bathing houses where they kept a hot room, but the best known examples of early saunas are found in Finland and Russia. Both of these countries used the hot steam room as a treatment for anything that ails you and many people still continue this tradition of sitting in the sauna and then plunging into the snow or icy water. It is said to be very refreshing and bracing for the body.
Coming to Canada
In the late 1800`s, Finnish immigrants began to land in Canada. These men and women were poor and tended to come from working class backgrounds. They arrived in Canada with little more than the clothing on their backs and a dream of a better life. They took on jobs in mines and foresting camps where they could earn enough money to survive and began to form towns.
Looking to bring a little of their home with them, the Finns working in mining camps began to construct towns that would be permanent. They built public saunas that were available to everyone and since they weren`t the only ones living in these mining towns, other cultures were also exposed to the new ideas of using a sauna as treatment. This was particularly useful after a long, hard day working the mines.
Establishing the Sauna Routine
For Finnish immigrants, the sauna was a part of their daily life. Over time, other nationalities began to embrace this tradition and it became a part of life for many. The routine of relaxing in the hot sauna, adding water to the heated rocks to produce steam and then bathing in cool water afterwards was something that the entire community did and it was a tradition that served them well.
The sweat produced by the heat in the hot rooms was beneficial for sweating out impurities in the skin and getting rid of the dust that clung to miners after a long day in the mines. It also helped prevent many health problems and was a great way to treat common ailments, such as the cold.
These days, public saunas still exist, but are not as common as they once were. No longer a gathering point for the community, the majority of saunas are now privately owned, inside the home. People enjoy the privacy of having their own home sauna available to them in their own house.
However, many public pools in Canada are still offering the extra of a sauna and if you want to enjoy the health benefits and relaxation of these facilities, you can find them in just about every major city in the nation. You'll be required to take a shower before entering and to bring your own towel, but apart from that, these public saunas are usually quite easy to access.
The history of the sauna in Canada is not as long as in many parts of the world, but it did make it here and many Canadians, of Finnish heritage or other background, still enjoy this rich tradition that provides so many health benefits. These days, it isn’t uncommon to meet plenty of people who actually have a private sauna in their homes, thanks to the Finnish tradition being brought into Canada.