Who was Petronella? Sylvia Petronella van der Moer, a Dutch journalist and adventurer, imprinted her name in the memories of the gold prospectors in Lapland. In 1949 she heard of gold and prospecting in Lapland for the first time when travelling by bus from Rovaniemi to Ivalo.
The then 26-year-old Petronella caught the gold fever. Starting from Laanila gold prospecting area near Saariselkä Petronella moved on to Sotajoki and the Ivalojoki prospecting area (the centre of gold prospecting in earlier days), then further through the wilderness to Lemmenjoki where goldprospecting is big business even today. At Lemmenjoki Petronella took herself the task of helping the cook at the prospector´s cabin and took a liking to the sort of life there, but, having no passport and having left unpaid hotel bills behind her, she was deported from Finland.
Sylvia Petronella made a deep impression and left permanent memories in the minds of her contemporaries despite the fact that her stay only lasted four months. In the Lemmenjoki area two fell-tops with rounded shapes have been named Petronella´s Tops. The gold prospectors, those stern dwellers of the wilderness, even made up their minds to pay Petronella´s fines and debts at a trial to be held. They were set upon fighting bureaucracy and arranging a work permit to enable her return to work as the cook in their cabin.However, the letter to this effect sent to her was never replied: Petronella had vanished for good. What happened to her later has remained a mystery -the same applies to her life before she came to Lapland. Both the Finnish and Dutch media are curious to know more about the woman whose tracks were lost somewhere in the United States. Those who know something about her have remained very secretive.
What do we know about Petronella for sure? We know that she was warm and hospitable and that her personality and outward appearance were unforgettable. The maiden loved Lapland and went around there as if she had been at home. It is just this kind of legacy Restaurant Petronella aims at keeping up by giving its customers warm ecperiences and memories that last.
Source: Petronella- The dream goes on living. The Story of Sylvia Petronella Antoinette vander Moer during an autumn spent on the river Lemmenjoki.