Six months in, and Richmond continues to throw surprises my way. Last week I heard about Finn Slough, an old fishing village founded by Finnish immigrants in the 1800’s. I biked from Bridgeport Station to No. 4 and Dyke Road, where Finn Slough rests on the banks of a Fraser River Inlet.
Over a century ago, everything in Finn Slough was built on platforms or stilts above the marsh, and has remained largely unchanged since then. The village is made up a of a few dozen buildings and homes connected by boardwalks, with skinny wooden docks for its boats.
The village isn’t a tourist attraction; in fact, it’s barely preserved, which is what makes it such an arresting place to visit. While many of the original, settler-built homes are currently inhabited by fishers and artists, others have been left to decay.
There are sagging wooden net sheds still filled with tangled piles of nets, and boats once used for fishing that now on on their sides in the mud. The river has claimed homes, too, and it’s startling to see some of the homes so clearly alive, while next to them, others lie half-submerged. Many of the homes that are occupied are quirky and cozy-looking. I’d most like to see inside this one:
And this one:
At Finn Slough there have been selective attempts to restore, but otherwise the village is left to the river’s whim. Here are a few explanations of the community’s current status:
The sky yesterday was overcast but bright, lending just the right amount of creep to the marshy scene; on a clear summer’s day, I’m sure it looks cheery as all get-out, but yesterday was wonderfully ghostly.
With just a few chimneys puffing smoke, everything was perfectly still. It may be rickety and decaying, but there’s a strong sense of community and past. I’m rather in love with it.
After all my cycling I’d developed a fine appetite, and found my way to McKim Wonton Mein Saga restaurant at Garden City and McKim, which I’d ridden past earlier in the day. It’s fairly large, and there were a number of families in there having dinner.
The restaurant is known for their wonton soup (I think they might claim to have ‘the best’?), so I ordered a small bowl ($5.25). When I’d walked in the front door, I saw on a Chinese Restaurant Awards poster that their egg with prawns dish is also popular, so I asked for that too ($7.25), and a plate of fried rice cakes with XO sauce ($9.80).
I asked for the wonton soup with just wontons, no noodles, because I always find the noodles to be too filling. The bowl had at least eight wontons in it, and the broth was quite strong, which I appreciated.
The wrappers were fairly thin, and the prawns inside crunchy. These wontons were really good, though of course using a superlative like ‘the best’ is almost always impossible.
Speaking of impossible, I shouldn’t have ordered the eggs with prawns all on my own – there were about 2 dozen eggs in that thing! Still, it was delicious. I was introduced to this classic Chinese dish by the judges of the Chinese Restaurant Awards one evening when I dined with them a few months ago. Before then, I never would have thought to order scrambled eggs for dinner.
They were fluffy, salty, somewhat buttery, with prawns and bean sprouts cooked right in. While it was way too much for one person, I really liked this dish; it was so simple, and tasty. If you’d like to try making it at home, I’ve found some recipes for you here, here, and here!
The flavours of the fried rice cakes were wonderful. There was a sweet spiciness from the XO sauce, as well as slices of pork, cabbage, bean sprouts, and savoury, rich pieces of Chinese mushrooms. The rice cakes themselves were a little off, however, as their texture was far too soft and chewy for my liking. I prefer them al dente, if that’s ever a term used with glutinous rice!
My server was friendly, and the food came quickly. McKim seems like a popular place for getting well made – if not outstanding – food, and slightly off the beaten track of No. 3 Road. I don’t know if I’d necessarily take out of town guests there, but I’d certainly go back for another weeknight dinner.
Here are a few more photos from my adventuring at Finn Slough. I’d highly recommend taking a peek at the place if you can!
vegetarian options available