History

Kapten Bille’s is surrounded not only by natural beauty, but by an interesting history.

Kapten Bille Senior

Once upon a time, a man by the name Bille sailed on Göta Canal. The boat he sailed with was called S/S Pallas. The impressive canal boat whistled its whistle as it approached Norsholm. Bille was no doubt mighty proud when he stood at the helm, overlooking the beautiful landscape. Many years of sailing along the canal – from the 1930s to the 40s – had taught him a lot. The lock at Norsholm was only one of the 58 locks he would pass.

What if he’d known that one day, the old harbour warehouse by Norsholm locks would one day be transformed into a hostel, café and restaurant? And who know, maybe our own “”Kapten Bille” watches over the current crew …

We want to extend our deepest gratitude to the Bille family, who so generously allowed us to name our hostel, restaurant and café after their late relative.

You can still see and sense the traces from the old warehouse. The remains from a turning plate are visible in the driveway, while the old railway track is hidden under the kitchen floor.

Lock-keeper’s cottage

The old lock-keeper’s cottage is situated just by Göta Canal, in Norsholm. The old lock-keeper who kept an eye on the boating traffic, once lived here. In those days, the canal was an important transport route and the lock-keeper had to be available all hours of the day and night.

Göta Canal

The canal is one of Sweden’s best known and most visited tourist attractions. It is now more than 200 years since the first sod was cut.

For hundreds of years, many people had seen the possibility to create a waterway between Sweden’s two largest lakes Vänern and Vättern. This was a time when water connected, rather than divided, nations. Shipping was the lifeblood and the Danes, who controlled the sound of Öresund, had placed the Swedes under enormous pressure. The person who finally was able to realise the project of digging Göta Canal was Count, Admiral and State advisor Baltazar von Platen (1766-1829).

Between 1810 and 1832, the 190-kilometre long was constructed, of which 87 kilometres were dug by hand by 58 000 Swedish soldiers.

We are not surprised that the Swedish people have named Göta Canal Sweden’s foremost wonder.

The most gratifying part is that these days, the canal is as vibrant as ever. Whether travelling in your own boat, by passenger ship, bike or any other way, Göta Canal offers lots of experiences and adventures for all the senses.

Fast facts about Göta Canal

Built: 1810-1832

Cost: 9 million “riksdaler”, the equivalent of 12,3 billion Swedish crowns.

Labour: 58 000 soldiers took part in the work and worked a combined 7 million 12-hour days. The demanding excavation was done mostly by hand.

Stretch: From Mem by the Baltic Sea to Sjötorp by Vänern.

  • 190 km
  • 58 locks
  • 50 bridges
  • Passes 5 lakes
  • Highest point is 92 m above sea level

Interesting historic attractions along Göta Canal

  • The Canal Museum in Sjötorp
  • Forsvik’s Mill and the paddle steamer Eric Nordevall II
  • Karlsborg’s Fortress with guided adventure tours
  • Motala industrial museum telling Motala’s industrial history