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.