Sunday, 1 October 2017

Bellingham, U.S.A. 1st of October

The End of Inside Passage, finally!

The absolute highlight of the journey from Port Hardy to Bellingham was the town of Sointula! 

Malcolm Island was settled in 1901 by Finnish immigrants in search of a new life, a place where they could establish a utopian community based on the principles of equality and freedom.

In the beginning there were only Finnish people there and their language predominated. The Finns obtained a land grant from the British Columbian Government and set about building their new home on Malcolm Island. They gave the name Sointula - Finnish for “place of harmony” - to the location selected for their permanent settlement. The early years were hard, but gradually the life that these pioneers dreamed of creating became a reality. The community established a cooperative store which is still operating, they learned to cut and mill lumber, they took up fishing as livelihood, and played an influential role in the development of B.C.’s commercial fishing industry. 

To all of these endeavours they brought a spirit of cooperation and also a tough determination that we Finns call SISU.

But it was not all hard work and sacrifice. The newcomers never build a church on the island, but their vision included a place for the arts. They soon erected a meeting place for the community which also served as a venue for theatre and music. Thanks to a gift of books from progressive Finns living in Australia, a small library was also started within months of arriving on the island.

Malcolm Island and the town of Sointula continue to evolve. From a totally Finnish-speaking community Sointula has changed to a mainly English-speaking one. But despite many changes and challenges, the dream of a better life is alive and well!

We arrived in Bellingham, US last Saturday and will continue tomorrow morning our journey down south. If everything goes as planned, we’ll drop anchor in Gambier Islands, French Polynesia, sometime in November. 

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