Rainer Salomaa was born on Sept. 28, 1945, in the small town of Ii, Finland, close to Oulu on his grandparents' farm. His father, Tauno, had been born in Rovaniemi, a city in Finland located on the Arctic Circle. His parents had both been involved in World War II, his mother as a nurse and his father in the army.
They built a home along the Ii River on the farm property, gaffing floating logs that they cut into lumber for the home. Tauno was a carpenter and a bricklayer, having started work when he was 12 years old.
In 1951, the family immigrated to Canada looking for a better life after the horrific war years. They settled in Edmonton, Alberta, with a one-year stint in the Cassiar, close to Watson Lake in Northern British Columbia. Rainer remembers the wolves howling at night when temperatures dipped to –40, waking up to see ice in the water pail inside their cabin. His mother used a washboard to do laundry. Fresh fruit and vegetables were rationed.
After moving back to Edmonton, Rainer picked up the World Tomorrow radio program on CFRN on a crystal set when he was in junior high school and wrote away for literature.
When he was attending the University of Alberta, he requested a visit for baptism and was met by Richard Pinelli in the fall of 1964. He started attending the newly formed church in Edmonton and went to Ambassador College, Pasadena in 1966, arriving late because of visa problems. He graduated in 1969 from Bricket Wood, England, where he attended his final semester.
He was hired to work in the Vancouver, British Columbia, office, where he met his wife-to-be, Claudia Ranchie. They were married on July 5, 1970, by Dean Wilson. In the summer of 1971, they were sent into the field ministry to work under Gary Antion in Toronto, Ontario. A year later they, along with their newborn, Tammy, were sent to start a church in Sudbury, Ontario. His wife was 19 at the time. They served there for eight years and raised additional churches in North Bay and Sault St. Marie. Their second daughter, Sonya, was born in Sudbury in 1974.
In 1980, they were transferred to Salmon Arm, British Columbia, where Rainer pastored the Salmon Arm and Kamloops congregations for eight years. In 1988, they were transferred to Prince George, British Columbia, where they served for 17 years. In the fall of 2005, they were transferred to Calgary, Alberta. Besides Calgary, Rainer currently pastors Prince George, Kelowna and Penticton, British Columbia; and Grande Prairie, Alberta, congregations.
Rainer has been a YOU coordinator for four years in British Columbia and has been a Festival coordinator for 11 years, having coordinated Penticton, Whistler and Kelowna Festival sites. He has served as the chairman of the Canadian National Council since 1999.
Rainer and Claudia enjoy hunting, salmon fishing and camping as well as their two grandchildren, Isaac (age 4) and Ava (age 2). Claudia has had her own home-based upholstery business for close to 25 years.
Rainer says, "My years of service in God's Church have been rewarding and certainly not boring. There has been so much to learn, and I feel so blessed to have interacted with so many people over the years and to have been a part of their lives beyond a superficial level. My wife has been a trooper, being left alone so much in the many years of travel." UN