Finland-Swedes in Canada
Skrivet av Mika Roinila   
2005-08-03 12:40
Finland-Swedish newspapers,
hockey players and inventors
From research on ethnic newspapers at the Institute of Migration and the National Archives of Canada, the existence of a Finland-Swedish newspaper published in Toronto was discovered, which has not been recognized amongst Finnish historians. The newspaper "Canada Svensken" was established in 1961 by Thorwald Wiik, a Finland-Swede born in Finland in 1915, and immigrating to Canada in 1928 at the age of 13 (MHSO-SWE-4257-W11). Initially published semi-monthly, the paper later became a monthly publication. As this paper was provided free of charge to Finland-Swedes and others interested in a Swedish language newspaper in the Toronto area, it depended almost totally on advertisements derived from businesses and private enterprise. After a lengthy struggle to keep the paper in operation without government assistance, the paper folded in 1978 after 17 years of publication (National Archives of Canada).

Amongst the many sports that have attracted atheletes, hockey as a Canadian sport has received much attention in both Canada as well as Finland. While Finnish hockey fans are very keen in knowing about their countrymen in the National Hockey League, it is interesting that very few are aware of the impact and involvement Finland-Swedes have had in the area of Canada's national sport.

Finns are all aware of present NHL stars such as Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen, Teemu Selänne, and many others dating back to the Calder Trophy winner of 1949 Pentti Lund of the New York Rangers. However, very few are aware of Ray Timgren, who is the first Finn, more specifically Finland-Swede, to win a Stanley Cup. Two in fact!

Ray Timgren was born in 1929 some two years after his parents had immigrated from Terjärv in Österbotten, to Windsor, Ontario. Timgren began his hockey career early, playing with junior hockey clubs, moving up the ranks to the Toronto Marlboros, when he was signed to a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in December 1948. Playing in his first year with the Leafs he was part of the 1949 Stanley Cup winning team that included Bill Barilko, Max Bentley, Turk Broda, Ted Kennedy, and Howie Meeker. A second Stanley Cup was won in 1951 (Timgren, 1996; Myhrman, 1972).

Another Finland-Swede who has been involved in professional hockey is Henry Åkervall. Born in Port Arthur, Åkervall has Finn-Swede roots in Övermark and Sundom. Åkervall was the captain of the Canadian Olympic Hockey team which participated at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. In the late-1960's, he briefly coached the Tampere Tappara hockey team in Finland (Åkervall, 1996).

Some Toronto area residents, beginning as early as 1913 with the establishment of a coffee importing business, became entrepeneurs. Among the Finland-Swedes best known in the area is Erhard J.Alm of Kronoby (1904-1984) who invented the tire changer and various vulcanizing equipment used in service stations worldwide (Racinsky, 1996; Myhrman, 1972).

After years of experimentation and partial successes, the revolutionary tire vulcanizer was invented in 1957, and sold over 10,000 machines in forty countries in just a few years. By the early 1960's, Vulcan Equipment was employing over 100 people, many of them Finland-Swedes. The Vulcanizer line went on to truck and large earthmover machines, tire spreaders and soon equipment for conveyor belt repair. In 1962, the Vulcanizer business branched off to include a Belt Vulcanizer plant under the name Shaw-Almex in Parry Sound, Ontario, while the main operation of tire vulcanizing and large machinerymoved to the United States much later. Many other inventions were developed such as a line of jacks and hoists, a tire spreader, and finally a dredge pump adn block laying machines. The entire vulcanizing industry is still owned by members of the family.

Mika Roinila, Ph.D.

Clip from:
"Finland-Swedes in Canada:
Discovering Some Unknown Finnish Facts"
Article published in Siirtolaisuus-Migration, 1/1997
Senast uppdaterad 2005-09-20 10:56
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