To kick off Christmas festivities with friends in Vancouver whilst I was there for a short stay we headed out to the Burnaby Village Museum. The village is similar to Calgary’s Heritage Park but smaller in size. During the weeks leading up to Christmas the Museum is open to the public at no cost and has holiday activities. During the rest of the year it is open seasonally be sure to check their website here for current admission details and hours. The museum is set up just as it sounds, like a village. It is a collection of houses and buildings that are decorated in styles that are contemporary to their construction. There are around 40 points to see and took a couple of hours for us to meander the exhibits. It is well laid out and easy to follow the flow of the displays.
There are historical interpreters available in most of the edifices to answer questions, chat or provide insight in to life during bygone eras. The ladies frocks displayed in the Elworth house were unbelievably gorgeous. I stopped and did what I tend to do best, talked with the lady minding that particular house, for quite awhile. I found the staff quite knowledgeable about where they were stationed. This interpreter was quite interested to hear that some of the items gracing the dining table in this house have twins sitting in boxes in my storage area. My favourite are a pair of birds that function as both a salt and pepper set and decoration for the table. My grandmother gave me my set and I was so excited to see them on the table at the museum.
The one room school house was another of my favourite stops. The interpreter there was excellent with a few kids who were touring the site with their families. He answered each and every of the multitude of questions the children posed. he was also able to expand their knowledge by pointing things out to the younger generation that they did not pick up on. The kids were stumped when they could not find the Canadian Flag. They were wowed when he explained the British standard was Canada’s flag at the time that school would have been in use. What seemed to catch the kids was the use of a chalkboard rather than the customary smart board technology used in educating the youth of today.
The blacksmith was out and working in his shop showing onlookers how his incredibly physical métier would have been performed one hundred years ago. The bakery had delicious Christmas time baked good scents wafting from it to the main street inviting chilled wanders in its door. The tram display was one of two I had visited in recent day in Vancouver. I recommend seeing both the finished restoration here in Burnaby and the one just started it’s transformation in Richmond here . In the summer one of the matching sister trams is in service in Cloverdale and can be ridden for a fee check it out here.
The holiday decorations were lovely to see adorning various areas in a multitude of true to time period fashion. Other displays were a tad more artistic than historical, such as the three massive birds lit up and dressed up like what I presume are Lady Gaga, Liberace, and Bob Marley. To go along with the festive and aviary theme there was a wandering minstrel dressed in a bird costume on stilts serenading visitors. During my exploration of the museum village I encountered him a few times and had the pleasure of being sung to each time.
Along with the decorations there was a holiday themed activity to complete if ones wished. A scavenger hunt was mentioned to us at the entry gate. One was to set off finding the location of the gifts given from the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Families, young and old were racing around engaged in finding the pipers piping and partridges in pear trees. I too love a good scavenger Hunt and completed the sheet myself. Some of the items are easy to spot and others are well hidden. Buildings with the hidden presents had small signs indicating what was to be found there. It was great fun and some had my friends and I guessing and scouring the displays. The completed sheets can be entered in a box at the gates for a chance to win various prizes. The only drawback was that when we were initially told about the game it was made to seem as if all of those who complete it would get a small prizes but that was not the case. I understand it would be expensive to provide such a service and thought it would have been a sticker or candy. I was just glad we were not young enough to be disappointed by lack of prize at the end like we were told there would be. I would imagine that for children were they told this it would be rather disappointing .
One of the draws of the Burnaby Village Museum is their antique carousel. Each ride is $2.21 before taxes, ticket books and seasons passes for the ride are also available for those with thrill seeking children. This ride is a bit of a doozy. not only is it a fully restored antique but it achieves speeds I have never before felt on a carousel. The warp speed spin made me ponder how much hardier kids of yesterday had to be. Before boarding for a turn there was a full safety briefing that seemed far too long for any child to have absorbed and detailed enough for any parent to second guess their choice to have their children on the attraction. The amusement was manned by two volunteers who were keeping an eagle eye out for any person whose safety may have been in question.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Burnaby Village Museum and their holiday activities. I would recommend it to visitors to the city and locals. My friends were kind enough to pick me up and drive me down so I am not certain about how long public transport would take but their web page lists the buses that service the are for trip planning.