Tuesday Small Community Blogging.

Did you know that the word ‘Sointula’ is Finnish for “Place of Harmony” or “Harmony”? It’s also a tiny community on Malcom Island. Where? you ask. You take a ferry from Port McNeill. Almost the top of the Island. It is beautiful, in that damp esoteric way that makes the North Island so hard to forget. It’s too far north for Arbutus trees, but is a haven for cedar, both red and yellow.

Sointula is a little North Island miracle. It was founded in 1901 by a band of Finnish settlers looking to create a commune for themselves. The experiment only lasted for four years, before the dream was abandoned, owing to money troubles and the little niggling details that never let communism win, at least not on a small scale. People were greedy in their own small ways. Plus the unrelenting rain for about eight months of the year must have made them think there was mold growing in the crevices of their skin.

But many of the people stayed on the island and opted for the capitalist way, and bought property. They turned their faces to the resources at hand: Fish.

Sointula produces some fine fishermen. And women, but mostly I love the men.  They are not the leather-elbow-patch, shined-brightwork types, as many of the Campbell River trollers are. These are not masquerading as gentlemen. They are burly and weathered. They happily haul 80-lb cannonball weights down the dock and swing them into the boat without breaking a sweat. They shrug at 22-hour days. These are MANLY men.  They call it an easy week, coming in from several days of fishing, cleaning up and then two-stepping the night away at the cowboy bar.

I loved those manly men. I loved their Finnish noses and their narrow jaws and the way the redheads freckled on their forearms.

I miss those Sointula Finns.

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