University of Oulu

Seitsonen, O., & Herva, V. (2023). Revisiting the ‘poisoned lands of Sudbury’: Sakari Pälsi and Finnish immigrant miners in Canada in 1927. In: A. Lahelma, M. Lavento, K. Mannermaa, M. Ahola, E. Holmqvist, & K. Nordqvist (Eds.), Moving northward: Professor Volker Heyd's Festschrift as he turns 60 (pp. 250-263). Archaeological Society of Finland.

Revisiting the ‘poisoned lands of Sudbury’ : Sakari Pälsi and Finnish immigrant miners in Canada in 1927

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Author: Seitsonen, Oula1; Herva, Vesa-Pekka1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Archaeological Society of Finland, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-22


Sakari Pälsi was a pioneer of Finnish archaeology and a globetrotting adventurer, who in 1927 travelled across Canada visiting various Finnish Canadian communities along the way. He was impressed by Canada’s vastness and beauty but appalled by the large-scale extraction of natural resources and devastation of landscapes. Pälsi called the Sudbury-Copper Cliff region in northern Ontario as the epicenter of this destruction and described his impressions of the area and the life of immigrant Finnish workers. This article revisits the Greater Sudbury region and Pälsi’s observations on the extractive industries and Finnish immigrants 95 years after his visit. We use his texts as a baseline for examining Finnish heritage in the area, in honour of his unique approach to travel writing. Pälsi’s account of the area, and Canada more generally, reads out almost as a Socialist critique of the destructive Capitalist practices and careless large-scale exploitation of the environment.

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Series: Monographs of the Archaeological Society of Finland
ISSN: 1799-862X
ISSN-E: 1799-8611
ISSN-L: 1799-862X
ISBN: 978-952-69942-4-6
ISBN Print: 978-952-69942-3-9
Volume: 11
Pages: 250 - 263
Host publication: Moving northward : professor Volker Heyd's Festschrift as he turns 60
Host publication editor: Lahelma, Antti
Lavento, Mika
Mannermaa, Kristiina
Ahola, Marja
Holmqvist, Elisabeth
Nordqvist, Kerkko
Type of Publication: A3 Book chapter
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This article is part of the University of Oulu projects ‘Extractive Industries as Engagement with the Extraordinary Subterranean’ (Academy of Finland), ‘Smokestack Memories: Heritage of Factory Landscapes‘ (Kone Foundation), ‘An Archaeological Perspective on Inequality in Welfare Society’ (Kone Foundation), and ‘Finnish-Canadian homestead Research in the Footsteps of Sakari Pälsi’ (Canadian Suomi Foundation/Lakehead University).
Copyright information: © 2023 The Authors.