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Minnesota’s north shore of Lake Superior has always appealed to residents and visitors alike, and several historic communities dot its natural bays and harbors, including Hovland, just twenty-four miles from the Canadian border. Established as a fishing settlement in 1888 by Norwegian immigrants, Hovland expanded in population and additional means of livelihood such as logging, farming, trapping, and guiding. Before roads improved and automobiles appeared with regularity, this isolated community depended primarily on boats for travel, from herring skiffs to gas boats to the package steamers that kept regular schedules along the shore and around Isle Royale. Further growth developed by Norwegians, Swedes, and Swedish-speaking Finns who spread in a short time across eight distinct settlements, the community quickly established a reputation for its natural beauty and the lively activity and hospitality of its people. Hovland also represented a high degree of cooperation and an absence of overt ethnic tension, modeling a pan-Scandinavian community that for many reasons was so difficult to achieve elsewhere.

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