This film recreates the true story of Tom Sukanen, an eccentric Finnish immigrant who homesteaded in Saskatchewan in the 1920s and 1930s. Sukanen spent ten years building and moving overland a huge iron ship that was to carry him back to his native Finland. The ship never reached water.
What would drive a man to spend 10 years of his life building a ship in the middle of the prairie 17 miles (27 km) from the nearest body of water? In the case of Tom Sukanen, it might have something to do with returning to his native Finland to be reunited with the wife and baby he left behind. Shipbuilder explores the fine line between genius and madness as well as the great loneliness that afflict immigrants regardless of where they are.