I have traveled past that strange looking boat countless time since moving to the Moose Jaw area. I finally had an opportunity to explore it up close during an assignment for the local weekly newspaper.
The ship was built nearly 100 years ago by Mr. Sukanen. A ship builder by trade, he arrived with his family from Finland in Missouri in 1909 where he took up farming. In 1911he walked from Missouri to Saskatchewan to establish a farm near Prince Albert. In 1917 he returned to Missouri to pack up his family and move them to the new homestead. By this time his wife had passed away, his children were in foster care. Mr. Sukanen was able to locate his son. When he attempted to bring him to Canada he was accused of “stealing” the child, and subsequently was deported from the USA.
Sukanen returned to his farm in Canada. After studying various maps he was determined that he had found a way to sail a boat back to Finland. He set out to build the vessel, but before its completion was hospitalized in Battleford, where he eventually passed away at age 63.
In 1979 a group of Moose Jaw citizens began to establish a heritage village with buildings from across Saskatchewan. The Sukanen ship became an important artifact to be included in the group’s collection. Today the village is well established along the # 2 Highway south of Moose Jaw near Wing 15.
Each year during the first weekend of September volunteers gather to run the machinery and stage an old-fashioned threshing bee. My assignment was to cover the quilting bee in progress in the Memorial Hall.
Marking the quilt ensures evenly distributed quilting patterns and stitches.
The quilting bee in progress: Adding one stitch at a time will securely join the top, batting and backing for years of use!
Once I had gathered the research for my article I joined Colin on a walk around the village. Initially I wasn’t too interested in the collection of old buildings, settler cabins and antique furniture. But after I explored the Sukanen Ship and we turned to the board walk lined with individual businesses I became a little more engaged.
The toy store was my first stop. Immediately I was transported back into my childhood.
These framed examples of old paper dolls with their clothes ready to be cut out brought back a vivid memory of playing with my little sister on a weekend morning. Oh, how I wanted to pull out some small scissors and start cutting away the white background right there and then…
My attention was drawn to a collection of dolls safely locked away in this display cabinet. Dolls and clothes of all sizes and makes – what fun!
A doll in its cradle with miniature quilt – ready for any little person to engage in active play…
But the toy house had more than dolls and girly toys. This sit upon digger would be a treasure for any boy, past and present.
The toy tractor would have been something my little brother could have enjoyed. It showed signs of much love and wear…
And then there was the trike, what a find in my favorite color!
Before I closed the door I discovered some baby blocks – as popular today as they were decades ago.
The electronics shop drew my eye to the “ole” Telefunken radio, a smaller version of one we owned and listened to during the 1960s in Germany.
An organized mess to the left and…
…organized mess to the right… Taking a closer look was a must!
A true hardware store find – a great variety of barb wire. Which will it be today, Farmer Jones?
But wait – there was so much more…
…if these nails could talk…
My personal favorite, unceremoniously sitting on top of an old wooden box… just waiting to be discovered!
This old boot was casually draped over the work table in the saddlery. The worn leather, dust and diffused light – this picture tells its own story.
I moved deeper into the building, pulled in by leather straps and chains casually hung on the back wall.
A dusty saddle with intricate detailing and more diffused light painted the image in sepia tones.
A saddle detail against the wooden floor.
A treasure trove of ropes, leather, chains… what else did I discover below this old pulley?
I wasn’t concerned about the individual components that constituted this collection. Once again the light, shapes, lines and dust demanded my attention.
A recycled sculpture incorporated numerous rusty tools. It was located between buildings along the board walk.
Old trucks ready for the weekend parade lined the grassy area across from the boardwalk.
I am not a car buff but this Buick Eight grill, locked away in a covered shed, spelled “b-e-a-u-t-y”… under the layer of dust.
… and then there was this hood ornament…
Every historical village has an old school house. My excursion to Sukanen would not have been complete without stopping into this well preserved structure.
And there they were: the same small wood and metal school desks I occupied during Grades 1 and 2 so many years ago in Germany!
The black boards ready for the teacher, exercise books and primers awaiting students – the school house appeared as if children and teacher stepped out for just a moment.
But wait, I could not resist capturing one more picture of these signs – they are sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face, and maybe, just maybe, they spark a few memories along the way.
Thank you for joining me on my walk through Sukanen Village. If you are in the area this weekend, make sure to take in the Threshing Bee and stop by the quilting bee to add a few stitches…