There is something surprising when you drive down from Moose Jaw through highway Number 2 to the midst of Saskatchewan prairie. You get to see Canadian and Finnish flags flying high on the mast of a large ship from the times of the Great Depression! Are you now thinking what an old ship would be doing in a prairie instead of sailing on the sea? Well, there is an interesting story behind it. This story belongs to a Finnish named Tom Sukanen who became a Saskatchewan settler and later wanted to go to his homeland using this vessel that he had created utilizing his shipbuilding and steel working skills gained in early childhood. Born in 1878 in Finland, Tom’s life journey has probably inspired various Canadian and Finnish theater plays. Navigation and sailing had become an important part of Tom’s life since childhood as these were the only available trades around the coastal area he stayed in. At a young age of 20, he went sailing to Minnesota in America where he also got married to a Finnish girl and started his family with three daughters and a son. As raising a big family through a small farm was not his cup of tea and dream, he left his family behind and moved to Canada to search for his brother whom he finally met in Saskatchewan after an on-foot journey of 600 miles! After seven years of stay in Canada, finding a homestead and doing financial savings, and creating a helpful person’s image among his neighbors, Tom returned back to fetch his family. To his shock, his wife was no more and his children, except his son, were untraceable from certain foster homes unknown to him. He tried bringing his son back along twice, but the boy was deported back from the border with a warning. With a broken heart, Tom started working in railways in Saskatchewan, and due to his strong build, he could handle the work of several individuals. But in 1929, when the Great Depression happened, Tom again went back to shipbuilding. From making a heavy rowboat to sail through the waters of Saskatchewan River, he went on to work on a freight ship to Finland. This inspired Tom to take up the task of creating his dream ship that he could sail on to reach his homeland. Despite the Great Depression because of which people were starving, Tom kept on spending his huge savings and additional earnings on his ship, the Sontiainen. Tom’s superstructure had outer shells of keel and hull made of galvanized iron and steel, with insides made of strong oak. The keel had a top coat of horse blood to prevent it from salt water rusting. With no money left, he couldn’t complete the work of cabins that had to be towed to Hudson River for further assembling, and engine and boiler installation. He got depressed when his neighbors were not ready to help him with this job, and later, the vandalism on his ship had totally broken him off. But, he did not resist when taken to an institutionalized hospital where he died in 1943, all shattered and forgotten! It was ironic that Saskatchewan recovered out of drought the same year he died; with flooded rivers, it became easy to carry a ship to the sea. The most amazing part of Tom’s story is his prophecy in a letter written to his sister from the hospital. It said that there will be three failing attempts to raise and assemble his ship, but only the fourth person’s attempt will succeed to sail it across and then he’d rest in peace. This prophecy exactly unfolded the same way and the fourth man who worked toward it could only raise Tom’s ship. This man was Laurence “Moon” Mullin who got the ship renovated and moved, as well as got Tom’s remains moved to a chapel near the ship to allow him rest in peace. The Sotiainen is now famous as the Sukanen Ship and Pioneer Village Museum, which symbolizes a dream’s power and the dreamer’s ambition and strength.]]>
Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.
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