Catalogue


Sointula : island utopia /
Paula Wild.
imprint
Madeira Park, B.C. : Harbour Publishing, 1995.
description
223 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm.
ISBN
1550171283 :
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
geographic term
More Details
author
imprint
Madeira Park, B.C. : Harbour Publishing, 1995.
isbn
1550171283 :
catalogue key
1579213
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Free Love & the Bridge Fiasco IT WAS RAPIDLY BECOMING APPARENT THAT DESPITE the attractiveness of Kurikka's charismatic personality and innovative plans, his inability to transform his ideas into practical action eventually caused his followers to turn against him. Toivo Hiltunen, the Aika press operator in Sointula, had succumbed to Kurikka's heady charm when he heard him speak in Astoria, Oregon, in 1903. Hiltunen wasn't in Sointula long, however, before he became disenchanted both with life on the island and with the visionary who had led him there. To annoy Kurikka, the pressman littered the Aika with frequent and deliberate printing errors. Misprinted or not, Kurikka's editorials never failed to provoke an emotional response. The motto of the Aika was "Freedom with Responsibility," and Kurikka personally advocated responsible freedom in the area of sexual relations. He chose a May 1904 issue of the journal to formally launch his campaign to alter the traditional roles of marriage. His interest in marriage and motherhood began many years earlier in Minna Canth's salon; now he was determined to free both men and women from their blind obedience to convention. "Let us assist women into a position of freedom and responsibility," he wrote. "Let us build marriage on a foundation of ideal love and refuse to acknowledge a marriage which is not centered on love, goodness and tenderness." He urged "Kalevan Kansa men to declare only the rights of love not the chains of marriage" and told women that "they need not be ashamed of motherhood outside of marriage." Kurikka believed that it was acceptable for men and women to live together without being married as long as they loved each other. Although he believed that sexual activity should not be limited to marriage, he did not approve of casual or promiscuous sex. "A man who lightly indulges in sex," he said, "should have a millstone tied around his neck and he drowned." Far ahead of his time, Kurikka was not so much against the institution of marriage as he was opposed to the subservient role of women. He felt that women were treated as pieces of property by their husbands and that all too often marriage resembled a form of slavery rather than a partnership of equals. To those who disagreed with his philosophy he replied, "Marriage and morality are as different as the law and justice, and the church and truth. Just as capitalism appears to protect social organization, and the church to protect truth, so marriage appears to protect morality." Kurikka's articles on the emancipation of women and sexual relationships outside of marriage generated a great deal of controversy both on and off the island. As was often the case, Kurikka's beliefs did not necessarily reflect the reality of Sointula. On the whole, the members of the colony were opposed to the idea of sexual freedom. They worried that rumours about free love would jeopardize their agreement with the government, which required them to "honour and obey the laws of the land." Katri Riksman said, "Some believed that free love would produce superior children, though the majority argued that men would not be interested in supporting or raising these children. Although Kurikka had a lady friend on the island, there were no superior children to his credit." Kurikka did have the support of the younger, unmarried men, and no one could ignore the fact that women were attracted to him. Women always made up a large part of the audience when he lectured, and comments about his animal magnetism and glowing good looks were common. Women's interest in Kurikka had been noted even in Australia, where a fellow Finn noted that "Kurikka was divorced, he liked women and women liked him. Their husbands however had other ideas and his frequent affairs caused constant friction." Eventually Lundell, the Lutheran preacher from Extension, formally complained to the provincial government
Introduction or Preface
THROUGHOUT THE AGES, A DESIRE FOR A SENSE of self and a sense of place has motivated the human race to search for a better life. The sixteenth century writer and philosopher, Sir Thomas More, defined this yearning in his book Utopia. More chose the word "utopia" to signify a point midway between outopia (no place) and eutopia (the good place). Thus the word utopia refers not to a specific location, but to an ideal state where harmony exists between individuals as well as between society and nature. More's concept of utopia was based on the belief that people were capable of creating their own destinies. He placed his utopia on an island shaped like a crescent moon. Public lectures were held daily and intellectual pursuits, music and conversation were highly regarded. Fundamental principles included communal property, labour and dining. More believed that "Each meal taken together stands for the triumph of justice and represents the equality and communion of all citizens." Later utopian concepts often included celibacy or free love, and placed an emphasis on physical labour and exercise. Utopias require physical and social boundaries. A conscious effort is made to separate from mainstream society and to establish a private place removed from outside influences. Utopians value their coherence as a group, and what takes place within the community is sharply differentiated from what happens outside of it. Utopia provides an escape from the past, and the promise of a future where meaningful lives are more important than material wealth. Since More's time, utopias have appeared on a regular basis. They were particularly popular around the turn of the nineteenth century, when they were seen as a practical and adventuresome alternative to the upheaval caused by the industrial and urban revolutions in Europe. North America, with its vast lands and flexible social structures, seemed to present unlimited possibilities. As the most western province of Canada, British Columbia was a magnet for a variety of dreamers, idealists and utopians. Religious sects such as the Doukhobors and Mennonites settled in isolated pockets on the mainland, while small groups of Norwegians and Danes attempted to establish communities in the Bella Coola Valley and Cape Scott on north Vancouver Island. Islands, with natural boundaries that favour refuge and retreat, have been favourite locations for utopian communities. Nestled between the mainland and the northern end of Vancouver Island, Malcolm Island has been the site of several utopian ventures. Since the late 1800s people of all ages, nationalities and occupations have moved to the island in search of a better life. An English religious group, socialist Finns, and disillusioned North Americans form the backbone of Malcolm Island's utopian heritage, but it is the Finns who have most clearly impressed their character on the island. Like many experimental communities, the Finns' official utopia failed. For most idealistic colonies, the end of the communal effort was the end of the dream. But the Finns were more persistent. A group of them remained on Malcolm Island to forge a viable community that still thrives today. Unlike traditional west coast settlements, the people came to Malcolm Island first, before the industry. Arvo Tynjala, an early member of the Finnish utopian commune on the island, summed it up: "Most communities, whatever they are - little towns or villages - they're usually formed around some kind of industrial development, either a logging camp, a pulp-mill, or a sawmill. But in Sointula it was different. The people went there on their own and then started to build the community. It took some courage you know, to 90 into the wilderness and build a community without any help."
First Chapter
THROUGHOUT THE AGES, A DESIRE FOR A SENSE of self and a sense of place has motivated the human race to search for a better life. The sixteenth century writer and philosopher, Sir Thomas More, defined this yearning in his book Utopia. More chose the word "utopia" to signify a point midway between outopia (no place) and eutopia (the good place). Thus the word utopia refers not to a specific location, but to an ideal state where harmony exists between individuals as well as between society and nature.

More's concept of utopia was based on the belief that people were capable of creating their own destinies. He placed his utopia on an island shaped like a crescent moon.

Public lectures were held daily and intellectual pursuits, music and conversation were highly regarded. Fundamental principles included communal property, labour and dining. More believed that "Each meal taken together stands for the triumph of justice and represents the equality and communion of all citizens." Later utopian concepts often included celibacy or free love, and placed an emphasis on physical labour and exercise.

Utopias require physical and social boundaries. A conscious effort is made to separate from mainstream society and to establish a private place removed from outside influences. Utopians value their coherence as a group, and what takes place within the community is sharply differentiated from what happens outside of it. Utopia provides an escape from the past, and the promise of a future where meaningful lives are more important than material wealth.

Since More's time, utopias have appeared on a regular basis. They were particularly popular around the turn of the nineteenth century, when they were seen as a practical and adventuresome alternative to the upheaval caused by the industrial and urban revolutions in Europe. North America, with its vast lands and flexible social structures, seemed to present unlimited possibilities. As the most western province of Canada, British Columbia was a magnet for a variety of dreamers, idealists and utopians. Religious sects such as the Doukhobors and Mennonites settled in isolated pockets on the mainland, while small groups of Norwegians and Danes attempted to establish communities in the Bella Coola Valley and Cape Scott on north Vancouver Island.

Islands, with natural boundaries that favour refuge and retreat, have been favourite locations for utopian communities. Nestled between the mainland and the northern end of Vancouver Island, Malcolm Island has been the site of several utopian ventures. Since the late 1800s people of all ages, nationalities and occupations have moved to the island in search of a better life. An English religious group, socialist Finns, and disillusioned North Americans form the backbone of Malcolm Island's utopian heritage, but it is the Finns who have most clearly impressed their character on the island. Like many experimental communities, the Finns' official utopia failed. For most idealistic colonies, the end of the communal effort was the end of the dream. But the Finns were more persistent. A group of them remained on Malcolm Island to forge a viable community that still thrives today.

Unlike traditional west coast settlements, the people came to Malcolm Island first, before the industry. Arvo Tynjala, an early member of the Finnish utopian commune on the island, summed it up: "Most communities, whatever they are - little towns or villages - they're usually formed around some kind of industrial development, either a logging camp, a pulp-mill, or a sawmill. But in Sointula it was different. The people went there on their own and then started to build the community. It took some courage you know, to 90 into the wilderness and build a community without any help."
Summaries
Main Description
Just off the coast of northern Vancouver Island is a tiny community with a colourful history. Sointula was founded at the turn of the century by idealistic Finns, who fought the elements, internal conflicts, and a disastrous fire to build a thriving community.
Main Description
Sointula - it means "harmony" - is a tiny community on Malcolm Island, a short ferry ride from northern Vancouver Island. It was founded at the turn of the century by the Kalevan Kansa Society, a group of Finnish utopians, and Matti Kurikka, their charismatic but impractical leader. Despite serious setbacks, including a disastrous fire in 1903 that killed eleven people, the Finns built a thriving community. Even after the Kalevan Kansa ended, locals were blackballed all along the coast for their fervour in organizing loggers' and fishermen's unions. A fresh wave of utopians arrived in Sointula in the 1960s, and while they were shunned by many residents, some of the older generation recognized in the "hippies" the hopes and dreams of their forefathers. Paula Wild lived in Sointula for many years. In researching her book, she talked to more than forty residents and translated innumerable Finnish documents and letters.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Looking For a Better Life
Mink Builds a Mountain
The Kalevala
An Impractical Faddist
To Build a New Finland
Steady and Level-headed
Shoemakers and Tailors
Slander and Dark Speculations
Sisu
Free Love and the Bridge Fiasco
The Lesson of Sointula
The Hard Part of Life
Apostles of Socialism
No Churches No Troubles
Everybody Knew Everybody
Back to the Land
The Paradox of Change
Appendices Sources
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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