Donchaknow? Oshawa’s Minnesota Namesake

FargoDonchaknow that Oshawa, Ontario, inspired a Fargo-esque township in the United States?

Of course you did!  But how much do we really know about our Midwestern brothers and sisters who live in Oshawa Township, Minnesota? Here’s a look at how our other half lives in the North Star State.

Similar to “Ontario”, which means “great lake” or “beautiful water”, the word “Minnesota” comes from the Dakota word for “clear blue water”, owing to the state’s large number of lakes. And while Ontario’s official motto (if you’ve ever heard it), is an optimistic nod to our British colonial past, “Loyal she began, loyal she remains,” Minnesota’s motto is a stylish French throwback to the state’s continental roots, “L’Étoile du Nord”, or “Star of the North.”

But while the state’s motto may be French, the large majority of the original European settlers emigrated from Scandinavia and Germany.  And today, Minnesota remains a centre of Scandinavian American and German American culture, which, according to linguists and dialect buffs, is where the most pronounced Fargo-isms like “donchaknow,” come from.   Oh yah.

So where is the mysterious sibling to the City that Moto-vates Canada?  Oshawa Township, Minnesota, lies south-east of Minneapolis, not far from Ottawa (Minnesota, that is), and pretty much on a straight south/west line from Duluth, on the corner of Lake Superior.   Follow highway 14 west to Walnut Grove, and you’ll eventually run into the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and the location that inspired the Little House on the Prairie series of books.

Flanked by Middle Lake, Little Lake and Mud Lake to the west, and Gustavus Aldophus College (a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America located in St. Peter, Minnesota, United States), to the east, zoom in on Google Earth and you’ll find that Oshawa Township is sparsely populated:  A mere 549 residents were registered in 2014, a population growth of 24.41% from 2000.  The unemployment rate is 3.2%, lower than Oshawa, Ontario’s unemployment rate of 6.1%.   The average price of a home in 2014 was $147,000 US, and the average commute was 16 minutes, and we can bet that none of it involved highways, construction or gridlock.

But just reading stats about life in Oshawa Township, Minnesota, just wasn’t enough, and we wanted to dig deeper in to the lives of our Oshawa cousins.  So we turned to everyone’s favourite online photo album: Facebook.  Sadly, we didn’t turn up anything particularly exciting, mainly Christmas celebrations and lots and lots of hunting.  (Note: If you’re sensitive to photos of expired deer, do not do a Facebook location search on Oshawa Township.)

Would you visit Oshawa Township, Minnesota?  Share in the comments!



Leave a Reply