November 12, 2020 at 2:16 pm #11944Bengul KurtarMember
Seven (one cycled from Richmond and got her coffee and croissant at Beaucoup Bakery while waiting for us; two cycled from North Van) of us met around 6th W Ave. and Fir St and continued to ride along the Cypress bike route to the south; took the Arthur Laing Bridge and the 2nd Rd Bridge to Richmond. After a short stop we followed the Crap Apple trail to Steveston. Had our lunch in Imperial Landing Park. After lunch, we continued to ride along the dike to Finn Slough. We had an eagle nest with a bald eagle sighting on the way. All of us have been there before. But this time we had arrived from the west. That was a different experience for a few… While returning to Vancouver, we followed the Garden City route, Canada Line bridge; the Heather bike route, the Ridgeway and the Cypress route. Overall we (who started and finished in Vancouver) had cycled 55 km. For two who cycled back to North Van, the cycling distance might be around 80 km. The temperature was around 3-5deg C.
“In the early 1890s a group of Finnish people arrived in south Richmond and bought land at the junction of #4 road and Finn road where these two roads meet Green Slough (now called Woodward Slough) At that time south Richmond had not been cleared, it was still dense forest containing the kind of conifers that like to get their roots wet. These Finnish men had worked as coal miners and loggers to save the money needed to buy the land and they wanted land that had access to the Fraser River so that they could work as fishermen. The dykes in Richmond were hand built and extended up both sides of Woodward Slough and past #4 road. There was no dam at the south end of this slough so it was easy for the Finns to take their boats up to their houses on what was called “Finnland Road”. One of these pioneers Mike Jacobson floated two scow houses up to the acreage to house his growing family. All of them, the Eldstroms, the Ingstroms, the Haasanens, the Manninens, and the Robinsons, started clearing the land, putting in crops, and building fishing boats so that they could harvest a share of the incredibly rich salmon runs going up the Fraser River. One of the first and most important buildings put there on Finnland road was a sauna. As Jack Jacobson said for the Finns having a sauna was a kind of religion. After a day of fishing you could get clean by taking a really hot sauna and if you felt tired before then you felt revived afterwards.
The dykes did not really keep the river off the land and often the chickens had to find roosts on top of the chicken houses to escape the flood tides. The first houses the Finns built were on pilings to protect them from these high tides.
It was a logical choice to start using Tiffin Slough (now Finn Slough) as a safe harbour. It was as close to their land as possible in the circumstances and there was enough room to create a real community of Finnish fishermen. Word got around and cousins, uncles, half brothers, even a grandfather came out from Finland to work in the new country. This was at the same time as the first Finnish settlers were arriving to set up the community of Sointula on Malcolm Island; it was all part of a move to get away from the poverty and repression of the Russian empire in Finland.
By 1910 there was a solid group of fishermen here at Finn Slough mostly related by marriage and all Scandinavians of one sort or another. These newer people had not come with the same savings as the original settlers and most land in this area was traded in very large parcels so they built float houses or if they were bachelors they often slept in their net sheds or lived on their boats. Finn Slough was a remote place in those days it would take a whole day to go one way from Finn Slough to Vancouver. Downtown Richmond did not exist and Steveston was well known as the fisherman’s version of the Wild West.
The village developed without the organization of property boundaries, city ordinances, provincial regulations or any governing body. Even so it has been an example of how a community can be carefully built and self regulated to work in harmony with the environment and having as little impact on it as possible. The village is not only a historical artifact it is also an example of a possible way forward to find more creative solutions to the present destruction of the Fraser basin by non stop urbanization.”
Hope to see you on the trails,
BengülNovember 13, 2020 at 6:01 am #11951Katy PoonMember
Thank you Bengul for the ride… it’s very nice, as always!
We stopped at an intersection – River Road and Gibbons Drive to take our moment of silence at 11:00 am. It’s amazing that there is a poppy on the street sign – see the attached photo.
If you are interested to learn history of the Poppy on Remembrance Day, here is the link to Canadian Legion website:
Also, the history of Finn Slough makes the bike ride exceptionally interesting.
Thank you everyone again! Katy
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