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Tankar acted as a base for Kaarlela’s herring fishermen from as early as the 16th century and there have been fishing cabins on the island since at least the 18th century. During the best fishing times the island could be home to more than a hundred fishermen and their families and an entire small village of wooden houses arose near the eastern shore of the island. The island’s eastern shore is said to have been like the village road, on one side of which there were the cottages and on the other the salt stores, boathouses and jetties.

The fishing cabins were small and humble, as is typical of the archipelago: a small hallway in which fishing equipment was stored and a room with two or three windows. At most there were about forty cabins and in the middle of the 20th century there were still 13. The finest of these was the two-storey cottage owned by the harbour bailiff Svenlin, which is jokingly referred to as “The Town Hall”. Nowadays there are only a few left, the oldest preserved cabin, “Sjöblom’s bastu”, dates from 1768.