Sointula Co-Op

A community hub

The Sointula Co-op exhibition guides visitors through a visual journey, showcasing artifacts that reveal the community’s purchasing preferences across different decades. More than a grocery store, it serves as a vital hub for various aspects of community life. This is especially true during the island’s early settler decades.

From recipe books reflecting culinary choices to items like shoes and hair dye offering glimpses into beauty and health trends, the display captures the essence of daily life. Additionally, retail catalogues featuring housewares and firearms provide a snapshot of the evolving choices and lifestyle needs of Sointula residents.

The Sointula Co-Op was first established in 1909 and remains the oldest active co-operative in Western Canada.

Photo: Co-op coffee grinder

The Sointula Co-Op Collection

In 2023 we were able to digitize 75 pages of archival material from the Sointula Co-Op’s early years. The digitized selections from the Sointula Cooperative Store Association’s history provide a comprehensive glimpse into the community’s past. This curated collection includes 10 photos spanning the years 1909 to the 1950s, offering a visual chronicle of the cooperative’s evolution. Additionally, it features the founding document in Finnish, which laid the groundwork for the Sointula Cooperative Store Association Constitution.

The bilingual Constitution Booklet from 1933, presented in both English and Finnish, illuminates the cooperative’s organizational principles. The collection also includes 11 Certificates of Shares of the Capital Stock dating from 1912 to 1920, showcasing the financial structure of the co-op.

Delving into a pivotal moment, the meeting minutes from the 1933 Building Committee, conducted in Finnish, reveal the community’s response to a fire that devastated the Cooperative Building. The English translation of these minutes provides accessibility for a broader audience.

Finally, the inclusion of five selected pages from the Sointula Cooperative Store Ledger from 1911 offers a tangible glimpse into the economic transactions and daily operations of the cooperative during that period. Overall, this digitized collection encapsulates the essence of Sointula’s history, characterized by hard work and Utopian ideals, particularly embodied in the story of the Sointula Cooperative Store Association.

This project was supported by the University of British Columbia’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and iSchool.

Photo: A copy of the first Co-op’s constitution

plan your visit

Every journey to Sointula begins and ends with a boat trip – it’s part of the adventure!