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Thunder Bay Museum Free Public Lecture (In Person and Virtual): Oula Seitsonen – Finnish-Canadian Homestead Research

November 29 @ 7:00 pm

Please join the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society for a lecture from Oula Seitsonen, chair in Finnish Studies at Lakehead University, 2022‑2023. This will be a in-person event that is free to view. The lecture will be broadcast live via ZOOM for those who cannot attend in-person and recorded and posted to the Museum’s YouTube at a later date.  


Finnish-Canadian homestead research in the footsteps of archaeologist Sakari Pälsi

This lecture describes ongoing contemporary archaeological research on the material heritage of Finnish-Canadian immigrants and on retracing the footsteps of Finnish archaeological pioneer Sakari Pälsi who traveled across Canada in 1927. In October 2022, my Canadian colleagues and I carried out archaeological, ethnographic, and anthropological work at a Finnish homestead in Tarmola, Gorham Township, where the great-grandparents of my colleague Meaghan Peuramäki-Brown lived since 1924. This work will be the Canadian part of our cross-Atlantic co-operation: in tandem with the fieldwork at the Kainulainen homestead in Tarmola, we will study their ancestral farm in eastern Finland. Material culture approach to recent past historical events can reveal new and unexpected perceptions of seemingly familiar subjects, like everyday lives and foodways, and even such unanticipated issues as folk magic and beliefs, as suggested already by our preliminary work. Besides the archaeological work in Tarmola, I have retraced the travels of famous Finnish archaeologist Sakari Pälsi and his wife across Canada 95 years ago; I have earlier followed Pälsi’s wide-ranging travels in Finland, Russia, and Mongolia. On the trip from Quebec to Vancouver Island and back Pälsi visited Finnish communities and homesteads, logging sites, bush camps, and mines, and documented the lifeways of immigrants and the landscapes that they lived in. Port Arthur, the “great city of Finns”, was one of Pälsi’s main destinations on his journey. I have revisited and re-documented most of the locations along Pälsi’s trail, and also returned his photographs to the local museums along the way. Sakari Pälsi’s insightful ethnographic notes and photographs provide also relevant background material for our multidisciplinary work at the Kainulainen homestead in Tarmola.

Speaker Bio

Oula Seitsonen (Sakarin-Pentin Ilarin Oula) is a chair in Finnish Studies at Lakehead University, 2022‑2023. He is an archaeologist and geographer at the University of Oulu, Finland, and his research interests cover a wide range of themes, both temporally and geographically, from the archaeology of early pastoralism in Fennoscandia (Sápmi), Mongolia, and East Africa, to traces of the 21st-century refugee crises. At Lakehead, he is pursuing a project on the material heritage of Finnish immigrants. Focusing on the 1927 cross-Canada trip of Finnish archaeological pioneer Sakari Pälsi.

Free Museum Admission during the event. Refreshments will be available.


November 29
7:00 pm


Thunder Bay Museum
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Thunder Bay Museum
425 Donald St E.
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7E 5V1 Canada
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