Shea Henry, executive director of the Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives, puts the finishing touches on <em>Sisu: Finnish Resilience in Websters Corners, </em>a new exhibit running until Aug. 28. (Special to The News)

Shea Henry, executive director of the Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives, puts the finishing touches on Sisu: Finnish Resilience in Websters Corners, a new exhibit running until Aug. 28. (Special to The News)

New exhibit dives into Finnish roots in Maple Ridge

Sisu: Finnish Resilience in Websters Corners exhibit is at the Maple Ridge Museum

A new exhibition at the Maple Ridge Museum looks at the Finnish community in the Webster’s Corners area.

The exhibition dives into the origins of the Finnish community, why it started in the area of Webster’s Corners, and about the community and the community they developed in that spot.

“The Finnish community in Webster’s Corners actually began as a commune,” explained Shea Henry, the museum’s executive director.

The commune, called the Sampola Farm Commune, was started in 1910.

“And, for the first few years it was an all-male commune,” she said.

That lasted for a few years until the founder went to another Finnish community on Vancouver Island to recruit new members. But when he returned, chuckled Henry, the commune was no longer male only.

Henry said the Finnish men travelled to Canada because there was land for sale and they thought they could make a go of farming and logging, which was prominent in this area.

They came to Canada for economic and social reasons, she said. One main reason was the Russian Federation pushing in on Finland at the time.

On display will be traditional Finnish outfits. There will be an exhibit on Sampola Hall and the music culture that came out of there. There will also be a brief history and explanation of the importance of saunas.

“When you drive through Webster’s Corners, even today, you can see them dotted in the backyards, all across the community still,” said Henry. “It’s a big part of Finnish culture.”

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Henry noted people will be able to learn about basic aspects of the Finnish culture here in Maple Ridge – what was brought from Finland, why, how traditions continued, and how traditions continue today, as well.

One of Henry’s favourite items in the exhibition is a Finnish outfit that was donated to the museum about two years ago from two sisters who live in the community. It was their grandmother’s outfit that was brought from Finland when she emigrated to Maple Ridge in the early 1900’s.

“And it was passed down through the generations and each of them wore it,” said Henry.

“They actually have pictures of her grandmother, her mother, and herself wearing it throughout the last 100 years,” added Henry.

Museum curator, Melissa Rollit, designed, wrote, and installed the exhibit.

Sisu: Finnish Resilience in Websters Corners runs until Aug. 28.


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