Sammon Takojat, British Columbia
1905-1909; continued as a co-operative to 1913
Location: About 50 km east of Vancouver at Webster’s Corners in Maple Ridge BC. 49.217 N, -122.517 W.
Associated name: Webster’s Corners
See also: Sointula BC
This settlement was started by Matti Kurikka (1863-1915), the Finnish theosophist who was a central figure in the development of Sointula BC. Kurikka’s association with the Sammon Takojat settlement was brief. Men who had come with him from Sointula kept it going as a utopian settlement until 1909 when they and their families converted it to a co-operative enterprise. It was voluntarily disbanded in 1913.
Kurkikka left Sointula in October 1904 with about half of the settlement’s men, most of them bachelors. They supported the views Kurikka propounded at Sointula, notably a style of utopian socialism combined with theosophy and rumoured to be tolerant of “free love.” The other perspective at Sointula was A.B. Mäkelä’s which held that theosophy had no place in utopianism, certainly not in the marxist-informed version of utopia he espoused. Sammon Takojat became another case of Kurikka’s decades-long determination to build a utopian settlement linking theosophical and communal values. This time he focused his ambitions on male bachelors.
Soon after Kurikka arrived in Vancouver in the fall of 1904 he obtained a contract for his group to clear land. This generated funds towards the purchase of a large farm (a quarter section, or about 160 acres) near Webster’s Corners in the Fraser Valley. He formed a new colonization company called Sammon Takojat. It means “the smiths (or forgers) of Sampo” and comes from the Finnish legend of Kalevala. Kurikka and his followers immediately built a large one-room cabin on their land and moved there at the start of January 1905. The farm compound was named “Sampola,” or “haven of the Sampo.
Six weeks after establishing Sammon Takojat, Matti Kurikka left on a lecture tour to raise funds. In a letter to his daughter in Finland he spoke of the difficulties he was experiencing including the loss of four years invested in building Sointula. He was dispirited because his ideals were not wholeheartedly shared by others and people who he believed should have been his friends had turned against him. While he was away, the colonists sent Kurikka a letter saying he need not return to Sammon Takojat, that they were tired of being poor, and that women were now living in the commune. Kurikka did not return; he went on to other ventures including an extended trip to Finland before returning to North America. However, in 1911 he wanted to go back to Sammon Takojat but discovered he was unwelcome.
Money-generating activities at Sammon Takojat included cutting timber for shingles, gravel mining, some fishing, and raising poultry and livestock. Buildings on the communal farm included cabins for families and a large structure housing a communal kitchen, dining room, and sauna.
Many new Finnish immigrants joined the co-operative over the years. By 1913 there were too many households and too little land and other resources to meet the needs of the members. The decision was made to subdivide the land among the members and close the co-operative. However, Finns remained at Webster’s Corners and continued contributing to communal and co-operative endeavours that served the larger community.
Wilson (1981; especially pp 145-147) is the main source for information about Sammon Takojat. He draws extensively on Matti Kurikka’s letters to Aili, his daughter from his first marriage who remained in Finland. See also the Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives.
by Beth Moore Milroy, with Jennifer L. Wardle
- Wilson, J. Donald. 1981. “Never believe what you have never doubted”: Matti Kurikka’s dream for a new world utopia. In Michael G. Karni, ed., Finnish Diaspora: Papers of the Finn Forum Conference held in Toronto, ON, Canada, November 1-3, 1979. Toronto: Multicultural Hitory Society of Ontario.