June 23 2023
Nestled on the banks of the Fraser River in Steveston, British Columbia Canada, there is a very unique and picturesque little fishing village known as Finn Slough. Its story is one of history, resilience, and community spirit that has defined the area for over a century.
I ventured out there this week, to document this most fascinating community. Most of the photos below were taken with a Hasselblad 500 cm on Ilford HP5 medium format film. The residents are very private but I managed to talk with one fellow who has lived in the Slough for "many years". Unfortunately he declined to be named or have his photo taken but the time he spent with me was invaluable as there is little documentation about the Slough.
Finn Slough traces its origins back to the late 1800’s when Scandinavian and Irish settlers arrived in Steveston, seeking opportunities in the growing fishing industry. The village became a hub of activity, with its wooden houses perched on stilts above the muddy inter-tidal marshland.
The name "Finn Slough" originates from the Finnish settlers who called this place home. They were primarily fishermen, drawn to the abundant salmon runs in the Fraser River. The Finnish community grew, and soon, other European immigrants joined them. Together, they built a tight-knit community bound by their shared passion for fishing and the river.
In those early years, Finn Slough thrived, with fishing boats dotting the river and the sound of seagulls filling the air. Families would gather on the docks, repairing nets and preparing for the next catch. Life revolved around the tides, the seasons, and the unpredictable nature of the river.
However, as time passed, the modern world began to encroach upon the quiet haven of Finn Slough. Industrialization, urban development, and changes in the fishing industry brought challenges to the community. The once-bustling fishing village found itself facing a decline in fish stocks, stricter regulations, and pressure from land developers eager to claim the waterfront area.
Despite these challenges, the residents of Finn Slough refuse to let their beloved village fade into obscurity. They banded together, forming the Finn Slough Heritage and Wetland Society in the 1980’s, to preserve their unique way of life and protect the marshland that serves as home for both residents and wildlife alike.
Over the years, Finn Slough has become a symbol of resistance and a haven for artists, environmentalists, and nature lovers. Its ramshackle buildings, weathered and worn, exude a rustic charm that continues to draw visitors from far and wide. The village has served as an inspiration for painters, photographers, and writers, capturing its timeless beauty and celebrating its historical significance.
Today, Finn Slough stands as a living testament to the resilience of its community. Its wooden structures, held together by the collective efforts of its residents, continues to defy the passage of time.
Finn Slough tends to be very private, and no trespassing signs abound. However, visitors can freely stroll the road adjacent to the village to admire the unique architecture, and appreciate the peaceful serenity of the marshland. On occasion, I’ve encountered residents who are more than willing to share stories of the community past and present.
Finn Slough is a reminder that even in the face of change, some places hold steadfast to their roots. It’s a special place where the past and the present harmoniously coexist. As the sun sets over the Fraser River, casting a warm glow upon the village, the story of Finn Slough continues to unfold, inviting future generations to write their own chapters in its remarkable history.
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