Sointula, British Columbia Canada

Discovering Sointula, British Columbia: A Place of Harmony

Sointula, British Columbia, is a quaint village nestled on Malcolm Island, located between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland. This isolated community, part of the historic and present territory of the ‘Namgis First Nation, is a testament to the resilience and spirit of its inhabitants.

The History of Sointula, British Columbia

In 1901, a group of Finnish settlers founded Sointula, which translates to "Place of Harmony" in Finnish. They sought refuge from the harsh conditions of the mines operated by the Dunsmuir family on Vancouver Island. The settlers envisioned a utopian socialist society, the Kalevan Kansa, and invited visionary Matti Kurikka from Finland to lead their new community.

However, the early years were fraught with hardship. A devastating fire in 1903 almost obliterated the fledgling community, claiming the lives of three adults and eight children. Financial difficulties continued to plague the group, leading to the disbandment of the Kalevan Kansa. Despite these challenges, many community members chose to remain on the island, and their descendants continue to call Sointula home.

Sointula, British Columbia: A Resource-Based Settlement

Sointula thrived as a vibrant resource-based settlement well into the 1970s, with fishing and logging activities forming the backbone of the community. The early cooperative ventures led to the establishment of businesses that continue to operate today. The Sointula Cooperative Store, the oldest co-op shop in the province, still provides dry goods, groceries, and fuel for the islanders.

Sointula, British Columbia in the 21st Century

The decline of the forestry and fishing industries in the 21st century has impacted Sointula significantly. Despite a shrinking school-age population, housing prices have risen as owners from as far away as California have purchased homes for summer retreats.

Sointula is home to the Sointula Museum and produces an online newsletter, the Sointula Ripple. The island is easily accessible by car ferry, operated by BC Ferries from Port McNeill and Alert Bay.

Wildlife and Natural Beauty in Sointula, British Columbia

Sointula, British Columbia, is a haven for wildlife. Orcas return to the "rubbing beaches" on Malcolm Island's northern edge near Bere Point Regional Park every summer and fall. Seals, porpoises, birds, mink, otter, beaver, and deer are common sights on the island. The lush temperate rainforest vegetation contributes to the island's serene and unspoiled atmosphere.

Sointula, British Columbia in Literature and Performance

Sointula has inspired various works of literature and performance. Bill Gaston's novel "Sointula" (2004), Rachel Lebowitz's book "Hannus" (2006), and Paula Wild's book "Sointula" all draw from the island's unique history and lifestyle. In 2013, a Finnish troupe performed the play "Sointula" in the village, having raised $50,000 to visit and perform.

Organizations in Sointula, British Columbia

Sointula is home to the head office of the Living Oceans Society, a non-profit research and public education organization committed to conserving marine biological diversity. It is Canada's largest non-governmental organization focused on marine conservation issues. Additionally, a seasonal Canadian Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Boat Station operates in Sointula during the summer.

Sointula, British Columbia, with its rich history, resilient community, and natural beauty, is a testament to the enduring spirit of its original Finnish settlers.