The “Collections Catch of the Week” blogs showcase artifacts from our collection that are not normally seen in our displays. This season’s blogs are submitted by our 2019 summer Collections Assistant Enid. Be sure to check back weekly to see what exciting finds she has chosen from the collections!
This week’s collections catch comes from a special heritage site in south Richmond: the quaint and quiet Finn Slough (pronounced slew), a small, tight-knit fishing community founded by Finnish settlers in the 1890s. The artifact is a lead line casting machine and, as its name suggests, was used to create lead lines for fishing. Later, the machine was modified to crimp split leads onto nets and ropes. The contraption is table-like, with an iron casting component installed on the top of the wooden base. The caster has two metal rectangles with their middles hollowed in the shape of half a lead weight. A foot pedal is pressed to crimp the two rectangles together over a rope, facilitating the process of creating weighted lines.
Donated by George Edward Huovinen, the machine was shared by the Huovinen family with neighbours and, just like much of fishing, was operated manually. In addition, many of the wooden structures built by the Finn Sloughians used recycled wood provided by the Fraser River. The artifact encapsulates much of the heritage of Finn Slough, serving as an excellent reminder of the values held by its people, such as community, independence and sustainability.