The Kalajoki region did not emerge from the sea until towards the end of the Stone Age, which is why very few finds dating back to the Stone Age have been found within the municipality’s borders. The most significant find is the Kivimaa dwelling site located in the area of Rautio. The area was populated by the Sami until the 13th and 14th centuries. In later centuries, the area was primarily a wilderness area that has belonged to the regions of Satakunta and Tavastia.
The first permanent settlers in the area were hunters that settled around the river mouths of Kalajoki River and Himanganjoki River. The oldest villages in the region are Pohjankylä, Eteläkylä and Raumankari, which were most likely founded in the 14th and 15th centuries. The village of Rautila has a King’s Stone monument that commemorates the visit of the King of Sweden to the location. According to tradition, King Adolf Frederick of Sweden stopped at the location on his way to the north.
The population’s first main sources of livelihood were agriculture, fishing and seal hunting. Fishing was carried out in the largest rivers and the sea. The island of Maakalla emerged from the sea in the 15th century and became an important fishermen’s base in the 16th century. Dozens of fishing huts and storehouses were built there.
In the Middle Ages, Kalajoki was part of the Salo Parish.
In 1525, Kalajoki became part of the Salo Chapel Congregation. Himanka, on the other hand, was at first part of the administrative district of Pietarsaari before becoming part of the administrative district of Kokkola in the 1490s. In the 1570s, Kalajoki formed its own administrative area that included Alavieska, Ylivieska, Sievi, Reisjärvi, Nivala and Haapajärvi. The administrative district of Lohtaja, which included Himanka, was also formed that same year. Himanka was at first part of the Lohtaja Parish, but separated from it at the beginning of the 18th century, becoming the Lohtaja Chapel Congregation.
Market places and small-scale industries
Kalajoki and Himanka grew slowly in the 17th century, when population development was affected by years of crop failure and wars in particular. The Russian invasion (1713–1721) during the Great Northern War also constrained the population development in Kalajoki and Himanka. The population began increasing again after this period, with a period of strong growth starting in the late 18th century. The good accessibility of Kalajoki and Himanka, which were located around river mouths, attracted merchants from Kokkola who began trading in these areas. The Plassi market place became an important trading location in the Kalajoki area, while the old Raumankari gained the same status in Himanka.
In the 19th century, Kalajoki was known for its diverse small-scale industries. Products manufactured in the municipality included brass items, clocks and weapons, among other things. Shipbuilding became an important industry in Himanka. From the 18th century until the late 19th century, the most important source of livelihood for the population was tar burning, which was sold to merchants in Kokkola.
Kalajoki District Court
During the Finnish War in 1808, there were small skirmishes with the Russians in Himanka. Wilhelm von Schwerin, who is perhaps best known from a poem by J. L. Runeberg, died in battle in Kalajoki during the Finnish War. Kalajoki was one of the core areas of a revivalist movement that originated in Kalajokilaakso in the early 19th century. Well-known sessions of the Kalajoki District Court were held at Törnvall House in 1838–1839, resulting in revivalists being sentenced under the Concenticle Act. A large number of revivalist laymen were sentenced to fines, and priests were dismissed from their positions for a short period of time.
The District Court building was later moved to Siltasaari, and it currently houses the Kalajoki Local History Museum. Himanka’s population began increasing in the 19th century. The population numbered 491 in 1810 and 892 in 1850. The Great Famine of 1866–1868 slightly reduced the population of Kalajoki and Himanka.
Today, Kalajoki is known as a tourist municipality. Its main attraction is Kalajoen Hiekkasärkät, which has been a nationally well-known and marketed tourist attraction since the 1970s. Kalajoki also has a strong tradition in agriculture, with farms producing grain, potatoes, meat and milk. The metal industry in Kalajoki is spearheaded by Kalajoen Teräs Oy and the Port of Kalajoki in Rahja.
Kalajoki was founded in 1865. The population of Kalajoki increased steadily over a long period of time in the 20th century. In 1920, the municipality was home to 5,780 residents. This number increased to 7,085 in 1952 and 7,373 in 1960. However, this favourable population trend was interrupted in the 1960s and the population decreased to 6,979 by 1970. The population started increasing again in the 1970s. In 1985, Kalajoki was home to 9,108 residents. Kalajoki became a city at the beginning of 2002.
Himanka became its own rural municipality in 1868. In 1870, Himanka’s population numbered 2,192, and two houses were transferred to Himankakylä in Himanka from Mutkalamminkylä in Kannus that same year. These houses were Ainali and Oja. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Himanka’s population was reduced by emigration. The residents who left the area primarily emigrated to America. Local sports clubs include Himangan Urheilijat, Himangan Roima and Himangan Pallo. The region’s history has been recorded by Ahti Pöyhtäri, a decorated war veteran and local politician who died in the 2000s. He was born in Himanka on 11 August 1918. Himanka is also one of the most notable producers of potatoes in Finland. The quality of potatoes grown in Himanka is also well-known in Finland’s neighbouring countries Sweden, Norway, Estonia and Russia. Before the municipal merger of 2010, the municipality was home to 3,023 residents.
Rautio was granted the rights of a chapel congregation on 11 March 1826. The village of Kärkinen was also merged into the same chapel at this time. Rautio was granted the rights of an independent congregation led by a vicar in 1912, but in reality this did not take place until 1921. The rural municipality had two larger villages: the central village and Kärkinen. The following were also distinguished as their own villages based on the formation of settlements: Huhtakylä, Hollanti, Sorvari, Taipale, Pahkamaa, Typpö and Iso-oja. In 1970, the rural municipality was home to 1,423 residents.
The rural municipality of Rautio merged into Kalajoki in 1973. The municipality of Himanka merged into the city of Kalajoki on 1 January 2010. The coat of arms of Himanka was adopted as the coat of arms of the new municipality. At the same time, the area of Himanka separated from Central Ostrobothnia and became part of Northern Ostrobothnia.