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Isle Royale delivery photographed by Peter Oikarinen


Lake Superior fisherman, photographed by Peter Oikarinen


view from an Isle Royale cottage, photographed by Peter Oikarinen


Isle Royale's Pete Edisen, photographed by Peter Oikarinen


Isle Royale's Ingeborg Holte, photographed by Peter Oikarinen


detail of Isle Royale life photographed by Peter Oikarinen







Press and Reader Reviews

Island Folk: The People of Isle Royale


Peter Oikarinen

[W]hen a refurbished Island Folk appeared a couple months ago, I was eagerly game to reevaluate this work; once again, I found myself mesmerized by the sharply resonating, life-risking perils of fishing the Greatest Lake and still amazed by the “island-crazy” mentality (to quote one of Pete’s subjects, Elizabeth Kemmer) that persevered the hair-raising hardships.  But the new edition has special treats of its own, particularly the introduction of Grant Merritt, a Minneapolis-based hero of the Reserve Mining lawsuit who provides a great story or two regarding he who is often considered the quintessential Yooper, John Voelker a.k.a. Robert Traver.  For me, the 2008 version also serves as a fresh reminder of how Pete’s telltale photography puts this book, as well as his creative output in general, in a class of its own.

Gerry Mantel, Copper Country historian
July 4, 2008
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Photos of Peter Oikarinen & friends on Isle Royale, May 2008

Illustrated with a scattering [of] black and white photography revealing the natural beauty of the land and the hardy spirit of the people who live there, Island Folk: The People of Isle Royale lives up to its title with its chronicle of memories that tell how the island transformed from a simple fishing village to a popular destination for tourists who come by boat or seaplane. Especially recommended reading for anyone preparing to see Isle Royale for themselves—or for armchair travelers ready to savor the next best thing to visiting Isle Royale's residents in person.

Midwest Book Review
September 2008

Oikarisen mustavalkoiset valokuvat ovat arvokas lisä kirjalle, jossa Isle Royalen historia aukenee viidentoista kalastajan, aviopuolison tai kalastajapariskunnan omakohtaisten kertomusten muodostamana kokonaisuutena. Oikarinen antaa haastateltavien kertoa kokemuksistaan omaan henkilökohtaiseen tyyliinsä ja lisää heidän tarinoidensa lomaan kommentteja heidän tavoistaan ja elinympäristöstään, palasia saaren historiasta jne. . . . Suomalaisista ei Oikarisen kirjassa mainita, mutta heitäkin on saarella varmaan ollut, ainakin metsänkaatohommissa viime vuosisadan alkupuolella. Haastatelluista monet olivat norjalaista tai ruotsalaista syntyperää, mukavilta kuulostavia ihmisiä. Alueemme historiasta kiinnostuneille kirja tarjoaa mainion makupalan.

Aarre Ertolahti, Canadan Sanomat
May 28, 2008
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This reformatted edition . . . offers interviews with more than a dozen longtime Isle Royale residents. The down-home language and poignant photographs capture their personalities as they express the charm and hardships of Michigan's northernmost island.

Michigan History
January/February 2009

Oikarinen . . . profiles old-timers on the lake’s island in a book that was published in 1979 by the Isle Royale Natural History Association. Here he adds a new preface explaining the current conflict between those who want to extend strict environmental protect to the entire island and those who want to maintain the island’s culture.

Book News
August 1, 2008

You might think of Isle Royale simply as a great wilderness place to go hiking and backpacking, but once upon a time, quite a few people—fishermen, mostly, and their families—made it their home. Michigan writer and photographer Peter Oikarinen has collected their stories in Island Folk: The People of Isle Royale, newly updated and reissued by the University of Minnesota Press.

Laurie Hertzel
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

August 23, 2008

Peter met, and here introduces to the reader, nearly 20 people who populated the fishing community that was the heart of Isle Royale before it became a national park. These good folk, some now passed on, consider it their island—not necessarily the nation's island—by virtue of their dependence upon it for a livelihood and for a way of life. . . . For many of these interviews, Peter sits down for a cup of coffee and conversation. The book includes you at the table. Reading these stories old and new gives a sense of a lifestyle now gone, but attests to how strong are the ties to place when the place is a magical island on a mystical inland sea.”

Konnie LeMay, Lake Superior Magazine
October/November, 2008


boats clustered on the shore of Isle Royale, Michigan, photographed by Peter Oikarinen



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