Tom Sukanen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tom Sukanen (born Tomi Jaanus Alankola;[1] 1878 – April 23, 1943), was a Finnish-born sailor, farmer and Canadian. He immigrated to Minnesota at the age of 20, where he married and became a farmer.[2] In 1911, he left his wife and farm and walked to Saskatchewan where his brother Svante Sukanen was living.[3] Tom then began a homestead in the Macrorie area 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.[1][2] He attempted to bring his son back to Saskatchewan, but the boy was turned back at the Canada–US border. In 1929, the height of the Great Depression he made a laborious return voyage to Finland for a visit. Upon his return he set to building a sea vessel to facilitate his permanent repatriation to his homeland.[1][2][4]

Cultural legacy[edit]

Tom Sukanen has been the inspiration for a number of plays and artworks. Ken Mitchell's play The Shipbuilder is based on Sukanen's story, as is Andreas Schroeder's novel, Dustship Glory.[5] The 2009 film Sisu, directed and written by Chrystene R. Ells,[6] and the 1985 short film Shipbuilder[7] by Stephen Surjik are both retellings of his story. He is the namesake of the Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Ackerman, Martin (July 19, 1997). "Ship to Nowhere". The Gazette. Montreal, Quebec. p. 81. Retrieved July 18, 2022 – via open access
  2. ^ a b c Saskatchewan Tourism
  3. ^ Village of Macrorie
  4. ^ a b Halliday, Dave (June 2, 2001). "City of Warm Breezes". Edmonton Journal. Edmonton, Alberta. pp. K1, K2. Retrieved July 19, 2022 – via open access
  5. ^ Twigg, Alan (June 15, 1986). "A Shipwreck on the Prairie". The Province. Vancouver, British Columbia. p. 160. Retrieved July 22, 2022 – via open access
  6. ^ "Sisu: The Death of Tom Sukanen" – via IMDb.
  7. ^ "Shipbuilder by Stephen Surjik - NFB". 2010-08-25. Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-11-07.