The word “museum” often conjures up childhood memories of school field trips, shuffling from one dark and stuffy room to another, and staring at historical memorabilia through glass cases labelled “Do Not Touch”, while constantly being shhh’d by teachers. Perhaps these stale memories are the reason for my hesitancy to visit Burnaby’s most beloved museum.
But the classic carousel, picturesque town, and friendly guides quickly turned my apathy to intrigue as I strolled through the historic village for the first time. Here are some of the great things to see and do at the Burnaby Village Museum.
As you cross the wooden “welcome” bridge, you are instantly transported from a modern-day metropolis to a quaint lower mainland community set in the 1920s. From the period-costume toting historical interpreters who maintain their ’20s-era personas, to the life-like replicas of the homes, shops, and services of the past, this village truly brings history to life.
The open-air museum allows for visitors to casually stroll through the town, perusing through the shops and learning about the occupations of 20s-era habitants through convincingly-in-character guides. Peek into the Barbershop, Theatre, Bakery, General Store, Locomotive Shop (and so many more), and not only browse, but touch and experience the history that lives behind each door.
There are also on-site homes, ranging from a sweeping estate to a cozy log cabin, all open for a peek inside, with fully-decorated rooms rich with history and character.
The school house is a must-visit spot, featuring 20s-style desks, cursive-covered chalk boards, and a strict teacher who will put you in your place if you show up to her classroom dressed inappropriately.
Pop into the Interurban Tram Barn where you can explore the electric railway service that transported people and goods throughout the Lower Mainland from 1918 to 1958, which was then replaced by buses.
Cool off with an ice cream cone at the Ice Cream Parlour and relax on the sprawling meadow where you can soak up the scenery.
Then, finish off your visit with the pièce de résistance: a ride on the restored 1912 carousel. Beautifully maintained and carefully-crafted, the iconic ride is fun for all ages. Bring lots of change though, because you may want to ride it more than once.
Open Tuesday-Sunday (+ Stat Holidays)
May 7 – September 5
Gate admission is FREE
Carousel rides $ 2.60 each