Sointula - Place of Harmony on Malcolm Island

Although Farewell Harbour Lodge has become known for our signature wildlife viewing program, we also offer a variety of other activities for our guests. One of the activities we offer is a day excursion to Malcolm Island about 30 minutes away from Farewell Harbour. 

Besides being a beautiful island with many special spots for nature lovers, Malcolm Island has a fascinating connection to Finnish culture. In the early 1900s many Fins had emigrated to Canada to work in the coal mines on central Vancouver Island. It was dirty and dangerous work. A group of these early settlers came together to plan a Finnish colony where they could live a healthier life, engaged in fishing, farming and forestry. They formed a community corporation with a large crown land grant and settled into their new commune in present day Sointula in 1901. 

Alas, the visions of Utopia dissolved amid financial difficulties and a variety of other setbacks. Despite the setbacks and the dissolution of the community corporation, a number of determined Fins remained and continued to call Sointula home as they engaged primarily in fishing and forestry. 

Today, Sointula is small, quaint fishing village with a population of just over 500 people, while the rest of the island remains largely wild and heavily forested.  
Farewell Harbour Lodge offers full day excursions to Malcolm Island. We take guests about 25 minutes from the lodge to the small outpost of Mitchell Bay on the south end of Malcolm Island. Along they way we are quite likely to get side tracked by Humpback whales who actively feed just off Donegal Head on the very southern tip of Malcolm. Once we dock at Mitchell Bay, we’ll jump in our 4x4 off road vehicle and take the gravel road for 30 minutes into Sointula. 

From there we have a variety of options for guests to choose from including the options below:
  • We can take a leisurely stroll through town and chat with the friendly locals before visiting the fascination pioneer museum, followed by a mug of coffee or hot chocolate at the local cafe Coho Joe's.
  • We can head out to Bere Point Regional Park where we can walk the beautiful beaches which offer spectacular views of the Coast Mountain Range whilst keeping an eye out for Northern Resident Orca who are sometimes seen rubbing on the steep sided, pebble beaches - one of only a few spots in the world where this behaviour is known to occur.
  • We can head out to Pulteney Point Lighthouse. Pulteney Point on Malcolm Island’s northern tip was named in 1846 for Admiral Pulteney Malcolm, a British Naval Officer. The lighthouse itself began operation in 1905. Parks Canada has designated it as a heritage lighthouse because of its historical, architectural and community values. The scenic beaches around the lighthouse make for great beachcombing!
  • Learn about the incredible bog ecosystem on the Mateoja Heritage Trail hike 
  • By special request, it may be possible to do some pug viewing with Matt and Keshia Preston. Matt and Keshia were long time staff at Farewell Harbour and now live in Sointula with their two pugs, Rhubarb and Otis. Ruby and Otis were always big hits at Farewell Harbour. We now have to travel further afield to get our pug fix. Matt and Keshia are also very knowledgeable about all things Malcolm Island.
Pulteney Point   Mateoja Bog   Bere Point

This tour is a perfect opportunity to experience a place that epitomizes the word ‘bucolic’ - Sointula and Malcolm Island offer an authentic slice of British Columbia coastal life which combines nature, pioneer history, friendly people and beautiful scenery. And the Humpback whales we see to and from the island are a bonus! 

-- By Tim McGrady

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