Together At Last - 4
Moon had almost given up hope of ever finding the ship
when his son came back from a hunting trip and told Moon
that he had found the man who owned the ship. His name
was Wilf Markkula and he was a hotel keeper at Whitebear,
Saskatchewan. Moon immediately went to see the man. Wilf
admitted that he had the ship hidden on his farm, and
said that he thought it best to "let sleeping dogs
lie", because some people thought Tom Sukanen was
insane, and he did not want to cause the family any more
problems. Moon asked Wilf if he thought Tom Sukanen was
insane? He replied, "Absolutely not!" Moon explained
that he wanted to save the ship in memory of the great
man who had put so much of his life into the work, and
had died with it incomplete. Wilf Markkula enquired as
to whether Moon was a "Norski"? To which Moon
Much later, Moon Mullin came across a letter, unposted, written by Tom to his sister, Mrs. Aiva Pentilla, of Spencer, Mass. This letter stated "Four times there will be men who will try to raise and assemble this ship. Three times they will fail, but a fourth man will succeed. He will start the raising of my ship and it will sail across the prairies at speeds unheard of in this day and age, and will disappear in a mighty roar. My ship will go up and I shall rest in peace." At that time people were puzzled as to the meaning of the letter. They had to wait until 1972 to get the answer.
Moon Mullin found out later that three attempts had been made by others, to buy and remove the remains of the ship, but they either ran out of money, or the valley flooded, and they gave up in disgust.
Having finally found the ship, Moon lost no time in driving to Macrorie to look over the situation. He found the condition of the keel and hull to be remarkably good and he was determined to salvage them.
Moon asked both Lake Valley and Brownlee, his hometown centers, for a permanent home for the ship, but they were not interested. Then he approached Erald Jones, a member of the "Pioneer Village and Museum", eight miles south of Moose Jaw. He pointed out to Erald that the ship would be an added attraction to the Museum. Erald was interested, and asked Moon to bring the question to the next meeting of the "Car Club", a group associated with the museum. This group sent a committee with Moon to look over the situation at Macrorie. They had no objections, and obtained the permission of the Museum, who however, preferred not to be involved financially.
Moon Mullin's obsession to preserve and restore Tom Sukanen's ship was infectious and by January 1972, seven hundred dollars had been collected to help move the ship. To quote Mr. Barres' book, "Fire Canoe", "The Museum had gathered a Dontianen retrieval crew." They hired Ray Butz, a well known professional mover from Moose Jaw, with his diesel rigs and two large flat beds to move the hull and keel out of the valley.
The day they arrived to load the ship, it was forty degrees above and a beautiful day. People arrived from miles with snowploughs and shovels to help. It took eight hours to get the ship onto the flatbeds. Moon relates that it was so calm, that when they gunned the diesels to get out of the valley, the bellowing roar of the trucks going up the hill echoed across the valley, a sound he'll never forget. An old "Norski", Torval Skalid, standing there, turned to his friends and said, "She's going home boys: she's on her way". Moon relates "I can hear him yet." Torval was one of the men who had watched over the ship for years, to protect it from vandals.
They left the diesels idling all night on the top of the valley. The next morning it was thirty-five degrees below zero when the ship started on its journey towards the Museum south of Moose Jaw. The prediction "Faster than a horse can travel, my ship will cross the prairies and disappear in a mighty roar..." was coming true. The last half of the sentence, "...and I shall rest in peace.", had yet to be accomplished.
The most interesting conclusion to this departure of the Dontianen was a result of the calm frosty morning: the roar of the diesels could be heard for miles and the fog and haze lingered for several hours. The whole neighbourhood was greatly excited at the disappearance of the Dontianen into the fog with a mighty roar.
After the Ray Butz crews reached the museum, the ship was unloaded. Moon and Erald were now faced with the difficult question of "How to raise the required funds to raise the ship".
At this time Moon hit the fund-raising trail, starting first with publicity, making people aware of the plans to raise the ship at the Prairie Pioneer Museum. At a chance meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Joe Phelps, who were active antique and museum restorers, Moon started talking "shop". The couple suggested that the ship's restoration could be funded under the "New Horizons Program". This was a program set up by the federal government to provide funds for people sixty-five years and older to restore heritage projects. Joe Phelps suggested that a "New Horizons" group be formed, and an application for funding sent to the provincial headquarters in Regina. Joe was present at the organizing of the group and pointed out that the members must be at least sixty-five years old. As a result, Erald Jones was elected president, Laurence Moon Mullin, vice president, Mrs. Edie David, treasurer, and Eldon Owens as recording secretary. The other directors were Irving Peterson, Mrs. Annie Peterson, Adam Donnely, Leon Adams, Margaret Adams, Mrs. Rachel Wilder, Bud Metcalf, Mrs. Irene Jones, Mrs. Hazel Mullin and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Batterley.
At a meeting held shortly afterwards in 1975, Mr. Joe Zakreski and Mrs. Norma Wallace visited the museum. It was emphasized to the visitors, that the group's intention was to dedicate the project to the early pioneers of Saskatchewan, as Tom Sukanen qualified as such as a homesteader near Macrorie. Mr. Zakreski, provincial director of the New Horizons Programs, indicated that Mrs. Wallace would be the field staff representative. There were to be no labour costs, and the budget was set at $6,600.00 with protective liability insurance carried during restoration.
Mr. and Mrs. Mullin had spent $1500.00 of their own money on the project, in getting the ship to the Museum, and in getting things started before the New Horizons funding was authorized. This expenditure did not qualify under the program and was their own private contribution. After the ship was transported to the Museum grounds and deposited in the south- east side of its future home, there came the monumental task of obtaining the funds to restore it.
Hazel Mullin volunteered to set up a table beside the ship's hull and try to obtain donations towards the project. It was decided to do this on the day of the "Spring Rally" in June and the "Threshing Bee" in September. After four attempts at this type of fund-raising there was still very little in the coffers so other means of raising the money had to be found.
The second project required more help. Hazel, with the help of Irene Jones organized a flea market, to be held in the ship's hull at the "Spring Rally". Anyone with items to donate, left them at the Mullin home to be priced and taken to the ship for sale. The first flea market was rained out, so there were no proceeds that day. This led to the search for a better, dryer place to do business. The Museum Board offered the carriage shed, which was empty at the time, as suitable for the flea market. The ladies cleaned the shed, set up tables and were ready for business. By now the flea market had been well advertised and many donations for sale had been received. It was surprising how much money had been raised by selling someone's unwanted belongings. This was proof in deed that one man's "junk" is another man's "treasure".
There was now a need for more help with the flea market, so Hazel and Irene enlisted the district ladies as well as members of the "New Horizons" group. Annie Peterson, Edie Davies, Rachel Wilder, Ruth Gorda and many others helped with the selling, which made the project more successful.
Since sales were going well, Hazel began to think of other ways to raise money, and thought it would be a good idea to try selling souvenirs. She had some opposition from a few Museum members, but when the idea was fully explained, it was agreed to give it a try. Then came the task of finding a supplier. Eventually, Hazel found a Mr. and Mrs. Ken Mapp, at Macrorie, who had a shop called "Cannon Products". They specialized in handmade souvenirs such as spoons, bracelets, necklaces, and keychains all made of polished rock from the area where the ship was built. They also made mother-of-pearl pendants, and brooches on which they engraved etchings of the ship. These items sold very well and a profit was materializing.
By now the raising of the ship was forging ahead and the cabins had been put in place. It was decided to use one cabin for selling souvenirs. This proved to be a good idea, as everyone who came to see the ship could go home with one, two or more, souvenirs. Hazel was in charge of purchasing and selling the souvenirs, while Irene and her crew looked after the flea markets.
By now "Canyon Products" could no longer supply the required souvenirs, so once again the hunt was on for a new supplier. After several inquiries, Hazel found Laurie Artiss in Regina to supply tietacks and charms; then Perfect Pen and Rudy Huften in Ontario to supply pens, pennants and novelties. The Saskatchewan Council for Crippled Children and Adults(S.C.C.C.A.) in Regina made ceramic mugs, ash trays and beer steins with a decal of the ship. This gave a larger variety available.
By now the ship's cabin was not large enough to accommodate the clientele and sales counters. A new souvenir shop had to be found. Erald Jones set to work and built an outdoor booth eight feet square with two sides open for selling, so the clientele could shop without climbing the steps into the ship. As business was brisk, Elsie Meacher volunteered, as did her daughters and Hazel's daughter Carlene, to assist Hazel with sales. This arrangement worked very well for some time. High winds and dust as well as the sudden showers which always plagued the main selling days, forced a decision to move to different quarters.
After much discussion, it was deemed feasible to set up the shop inside the general store. As the flea market had been gradually declining, it was decided to drop that part of the project and focus on the souvenir sales, with Hazel in charge of buying and selling, and Irene's crew assisting her whenever they could. There was also a counter in the museum entry booth and souvenirs were sold there on a regular basis.
After a few late supply shipments from eastern Canada, it became desirable to find someone closer to home to supply the necessary items. Once again the hunt was on.; with the help of Jerry Kaiser, then manager of the Western Development Museum, "Nova Distributors" of Herbert Saskatchewan was found. They had a large selection to choose from, and souvenirs were purchased almost exclusively from them. The supply was good and everyone was happy with the arrangement.
As the museum had more displays to put into the store, there was no longer room for the souvenirs. The "shop" was moved once more, this time to the "Mortlach Masonic Hall", which had been moved to the museum grounds and set next door to the "Grocery Store". Counters were set up to accommodate the souvenirs, and a large display counter was donated by Mrs. Howlett of Mossbank General Store. Hazel was still in charge of buying, displaying and selling, and welcomed any assistance anyone wished to offer.
The souvenir and flea market sales earned a great deal of the money needed to restore the ship. By now the Museum has taken over the care of the ship, so the profits from the souvenir sales went to the Museum Fund.
Realizing that publicity was the name of the game, Moon enlisted the help of Leith Knight of the reference department of the Moose Jaw Public Library, and her husband, Cy Knight, at the time an announcer on the local radio station, C.H.A.B.. Mrs. Knight was very enthusiastic and wrote many articles both large and small about the restoration. This husband and wife team certainly alerted their readers and listeners to the point where there was a genuine sympathy and support for the restoration.