For a long time, people have been thinking about a water connection of the White Sea in the north of Russia to regions in the south. This could help a lot to make cargo and passenger tranportation easier and much cheaper. For example, in 1931 it took about 17 days to get from Arkhangelsk to Leningrad by water via the Barents, Norwegian, Northern and Baltic Seas. After the Canal was built the same route could be passed in 4 days.
Despite of many talks and plans, construction of the canal between the White Sea and Onego Lake was not realized until the Stalin times, when it was ordered to build the facility in a very short time.
In 1931 the construction of Belomorkanal began. The success of the project, which was finished in 1 year and 9 months (very fast for those times), was conditioned by the wide use of a cheap labour force of numerous prisoners, including political ones. Advanced technical devices were almost not in use - the Canal was built with simple hand implements, like spades and picks.
The total length of the White Sea - Baltic Canal is 227 km, of which 37 km are human built, with the average depth of 5 meters. About 100 complicated hydro engineering facilities, including 19 water locks, numerous dams and weirs were erected mostly of local meterials such as wood and stone.
More than 100,000 prisoners worked on the construction of the Canal. The exact number of people who died during the construction is not known.
Along the White Sea - Baltic Canal, a lot of memorials and several museums were set in the modern days to commemorate the memory of those who lost their lives during the Canal construction.
One of them is Sandermokh memorial near Povenets. Several thousand prisoners were executed and buried there.
The Canal has been used a lot for its major purpose - transportation of lumber, apatites, fish, oil, metals, construction materials etc.
Nowadays it has well lost it significance. Still, population of several settlements gets the job by maintaining the Canal.
A comprehensive tour of Karelia, including the Solovetsky Islands
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The island of Kizhi in Lake Onego is famous for the biggest world ensemble of wooden architecture - Kizhi Museum. It is enlisted in UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Petrozavodsk is a nice city with several interesting sights and a perfect starting point for the trips to Kizhi and other cultural and nature landmarks of Karelia.
The Nature Reserve of Kivach is located to the north of Petrozavodsk (65 km).
Paanajarvi National Park is situated in the northern part of Karelia, Russia. The Polar Circle is just several kilometers far from its northern boundary.
The island of Valaam is located in Lake Ladoga. The famous Valaam Monastery was founded on the island centuries ago. It is one of the most interesting cultural, historical and nature attractions in the North of Russia.
Marble quarry in Ruskeala is an interesting and picturesque touristic object in Karelia.
The White Sea is located in the northwest of Russia. It is known for the medieval Solovetsky monastery and rich wildlife, including Beluga whales, harp seals and bearded seals, as well as numerous bird species.
Vodlozersky National Park is situated on the territory of Karelia and Arkhangelsk Region. The Park is a great place for canoeing, birdwatching, hiking and fishing.
The White Sea - Baltic Canal was built in the 30's of the 20th Century at the command of Joseph Stalin.
Onego Lake Petroglyphs assemble is located on the Besov Nos Cape which is situated at the eastern shore of Onego Lake.
The White Sea (Belomorskie) Petroglyphs are located in the forest not far from the town of Belomorsk.
There are several villages in Karelia which represent the culture and history of the local population. In some villages one can observe the examples of wooden architecture such as small churches and chapels as well as traditional houses.
Seids and labyrinths are ancient sacred places. They are believed to be the traces of ancient civilizations that inhabited Scandinavia and the north of Russia ages ago.