Sointula may be a small fishing village. But its rich history, beautiful natural setting, and unique attractions make it a must-see destination for outdoor enthusiasts and travel lovers alike.
Whether you’re planning your first visit or a repeat trip, keep reading to learn a few facts about Sointula you might not know.
1. Its founders were looking to create a utopia.
At the turn of the 20th century, a group of Finnish settlers led by a political refugee named Matti Kurikka made their way across the water from Vancouver Island. They were seeking the perfect location for their dream of a utopian society. Unfortunately, life on the island was difficult. A large fire and the difficulty of life on the island lead to the colony being liquidated in 1905.
2. Descendents of Sointula’s founders still live there today
Over 100 years later, descendants of that first group of settlers to colonize the island still reside there today. You’ll even notice some Finnish traditions still in place; much of the island’s architecture is inspired by Finnish designs, and some signs still bear the language of the original settlers.
3. Fewer than 300 people live here year-round
While the descendants of the first Finnish settlers have proven their resilience, today, fewer than 600 people call Malcolm Island home. During the summer months, that number swells above 1,000 as vacationers flock to their summer homes and the many hotels, lodges, and vacation rentals on the island.
4. It’s home to the oldest co-op shop in the province
With so few year-round residents, you won’t find any big box stores or even a grocery store on the island. It is however home to the oldest co-op store in British Columbia. Still operational today, the Sointula Co-Op sells fuel, food, and grocery items to residents and visitors to the island.
5. Abalone were once raised and sold here
In the early 2000s, the Malcolm Island Shellfish Co-op was formed, with the goal of raising and selling abalone. However, it closed in 2006, and the operations were located to Port McNeil.
6. The island is covered in a rainforest
Like much of the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Malcolm Island is home to a rainforest. But if you’ve never visited the region, it might not be the type of rainforest you’re picturing. Instead, this is a temperate rainforest. Nearly 25 percent of the world’s temperate rainforest is located in British Columbia.
7. A novel was written about the island
There have been a number of books written about the history of Sointula. But in 2004, author Bill Gaston published a novel that’s set in the remote fishing village of Sointula. Aptly titled Sointula, the novel follows protagonist Evelyn as she returns to Sointula to be at the bedside of a dying long-ago lover.
8. It’s home to an orca rubbing beach
Researchers aren’t certain what draws orcas to the rock and sand bottomed-beach off the coast of Malcolm Island. But what is certain is that the orca beach is one of just a few such beaches where orcas flock to. Head to Bere Point during the summer months, and keep your eyes open to spot the dark backs of orcas rubbing themselves against the rocks.
9. The Living Oceans Society’s head office is in Sointula
Founded in 1998, the Living Ocean Society is an organization that seeks to protect Canada’s oceans. It was founded in Sointula, where it still has an office today. They spread awareness about conservation, interpret scientific data and research to distribute to the public, and more.
10. The Canadian Coast Guard’s Inshore Rescue Boat Station operates here in the summer
With its location off the coast of Vancouver Island, Malcolm Island makes for a prime spot for the Canadian Coast Guard to operate an Inshore Rescue Boat Station. This station operates during the summer months to protect the commercial and private boats and fishermen that flock to the region.
11. Malcolm Island is located in the ‘Namgis First Nation territory
Long before Finnish settlers stepped foot on what is now Malcolm Island, First Nation tribes hunted, fished, and lived on this and other nearby islands. Today, the island is located in the modern-day territory of the ‘Namgis First Nation people.
12. The island is home to a luxury fishing lodge
If you think that casting a line in the remote and beautiful waters off the coast of British Columbia means roughing it in the backcountry, think again. If you want to spend your days on the water and your evenings enjoying gourmet meals, relaxing in a hot tub, or sleeping in comfortable, luxurious cabins, plan a visit at our own Sointula Lodge.
13. You can cast a line for 5 species of salmon off the coast
Speaking of spending your time casting a line, many guests who are dreaming of visiting Sointula to catch the salmon the region is known for don’t realize that there are more than one species native to the waters. In fact, there are 5 different species of salmon; chinook, pink, sockeye, coho, and chum.
Planning a Visit to Sointula
How many of these facts about Sointula did you already know? There’s so much more to see and experience in this unique destination. If you’re ready to see for yourself, start planning your own visit to Sointula in 2022. Check out our planning tab to find the perfect accommodation for your next visit.