John William NaraX

Born: 1870s

Location: Calumet, Michigan

John William Nara (the name Närä means “narrow rapids”) was born in the Tornio region of Finland not far from the Arctic Circle in the early 1870s. It is not known exactly where he learned his photographic techniques, but he and his brother Frank immigrated from Finland to Calumet in the 1890s and set up a photographic studio. Later, two cousins, Isaac and Edwin Charles joined them. John William married Mary Piehi, another Finnish immigrant from the same area of Finland, March 11, 1904. Their only child William Owen, known as “Onni,” was born April 14, 1905. Besides his photography business, J.W. invested in or had a hand in several other businesses and the family bought many acres of land in the Bootjack area. While little is known about his life, J.W.’s camera lens and his photographic skills captured life during the Copper Boom days leaving us an immeasurably valuable record. Most of his photos, numbering in the hundreds, are available on line through Michigan Technological University Archives, or check out the book whose cover is featured above: Copper Country Chronicler: The Best of J. W. Nara, ISBN 978-0-9800061-7-9, text by Deborah K. Frontiera