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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Sontiainen Moose Jaw 2011

11th Finglish trip July 2011 #18

Sontiainen is an amusing, intriguing and tragic story of home-sickness. The unfortunate Tom Sukanen had lost his family.

Tom was born in Virrat, Finland, as Tomi Jaanus Alankola in 1878. He immigrated to Minnesota at the age of 20, where he married and became a farmer. In 1911, he left his wife and farm and walked to Saskatchewan where his brother Svante Sukanen lived.

Tom then began a homestead in the Macrorie area and farmed there for seven years. Returning to Minnesota, he found that his wife had died, their children living in foster homes, and their farm abandoned. Tom walked back to Macrorie.

Studying the map, he noticed he could return to Finland by ship from the middle of Canada. The vessel would first have to be dragged 17 miles to a river leading to the Arctic Ocean and from there back home to Finland. The boat was fitted out for Sukanen and his horse.

Sukanen never managed to get the vessel to the river. He now lies buried next to his boat, “Sontiainen” (Finnish for ”dung beetle”) at The Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Next New Finland Saskatchewan Canada

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