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Finnish/Canadian Community History

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  Nov, 2005
Sointula project publication

Practical Dreamers; Communitarianism and Co-operatives on Malcom Island: by Kevin Wilson, was published by the BC Institute of Co-operative Studies in collaboration with the Sointula Museum in October, 2005.

“When looking at the history of Sointula on Malcolm Island, it is sometimes difficult to see past the dream. Formed as a socialist utopia in 1901, its very name, ‘place of harmony,’ has embodied the idyllic vision of the Finnish immigrants who settled here. Committed to socialist and co-operative principles, the group developed a ‘communitarianism’ that has valued group security over individual profit, and local values over provincial norms. For the first half of the community’s life, and the first half of the twentieth century, the absence of pubs, police, and churches revealed that these islanders took a different path from many other British Columbians They followed a dream.

The Island's communitarianism, spanning the twentieth century, cannot be reduced to Finnish nationalism, union support, or co-operative principles. There is no one defining feature on Malcolm Island that has drawn its residents–no vast plains for farming, no gold deposits, no industrial base to provide stable and secure wealth. But what then does being a member of the Sointula community mean? What communal values does the community in fact share?

In short, Malcolm Island has never lent itself to people of a purely material bent, and those who have been attracted to the island have shared this in common–including early twentieth century Finnish-socialists searching for a better life; 1960s hippies seeking to get back to the land; and, most recently, American arrivals looking for a simpler, less competitive environment. This common thread among these diverse migrations has made the island a natural place for co-operation and community promotion. In return, the island has given them a beautiful, rural, and relatively isolated home in which to do so. And so today, even in troubled economic times, the island itself serves as the connection for the community–a physical and symbolic reminder of over one hundred years of practical dreaming.”


  May, 2002
Sointula Centennial Celebrations: 100 Years in Photographs

Sointula, BC

A CURA Project Exhibition of historical photographs from the Sointula Museum Collection and the community was on display at the Museum during the Sointula Centennial Celebrations. Former residents, descendants of residents, and friends of Sointula came from across North America and Europe to attend the celebration.

Image Gallery
Project Image

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