Saturday, 21 May 2011

Malcolm Island, British Columbia, Canada

I've received so many lovely officials this year and this one from Canada is no exception. I just love this view, and the whales at the front make it even more impressive!


Malcolm Island is an island in the Canadian province of British Columbia, located north of Haddington Island in the Queen Charlotte Strait near Vancouver Island. It has ferry access from the Vancouver Island community of Port McNeill. The island is located within the Mount Waddington Regional District.

The main community on Malcolm Island is Sointula, an isolated village with a population of roughly 800 (as of 2008). There's an interesting connection to Finland here - the name "Sointula" (literally the place of chord) means "Place of Harmony" in the Finnish language. It was founded by a group of Finnish settlers, who rowed north from Nanaimo in 1901. They planned on setting up a utopian socialist society known as the "Kalevan Kansa",and wrote to visionary Matti Kurikka in Finland to lead the new community. They were looking for a way out of Dunsmuir's mines in Nanaimo. It was a physically hard life and a devastating fire almost brought the fledgling community to its knees. Financial difficulties continued to plague the group and after working for free for two years on the Capilano Bridge project, the Kalevan Kansa was disbanded. Many of the community members remained on the island and their descendants are still here in 2008.

The town remained and prospered well into the 1970s as an unusually vibrant resource-based settlement. Fishing and logging activities have been the mainstay for the community. The early cooperative ventures planted seeds that are also alive today. The Sointula Cooperative Store, the oldest co-op shop in the province, still handles drygoods, groceries and fuel for the islanders. In addition there is a cooperative bakery, Wild Island Foods, which served Finnish bread (pulla) and home-cooked meals until the summer of 2008. The shellfish cooperative, Malcolm Island Shellfish Coop (MISC), was involved in research on the feasibility of raising and selling abalone, but closed for financial reasons in 2006, relocating the abalone to an area near Port McNeill donated by Orca Sand and Gravel.

In recent decades, declining forestry and fishing industries have hit Sointula hard. Its school-age population has shrunk, although housing prices have risen as owners from as far as California have bought homes as summer retreats. Sointula is home to a museum, and is easy to reach by government car ferry from Port McNeill or Alert Bay.

Sointula is also the name of an area in Valkeakoski, a town in Finland where my mum's mother (and brother and his family) live! I also used to have a relative who lived in Sointula, and I used to have a cleaning job in the area years ago. It's such a small world!

Malcolm Island was named for Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, and the lighthouse on this postcard is called Pulteney Point Lighthouse.

The big stamp is from a set of two stamps issued in 2010, depicting Marine Life, and it's also a joint issue with Sweden. The small stamps, unless I'm very much mistaken, are from a set of 5 stamps, also issued in 2010, to commemorate the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

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