Explore Burnaby Village Museum

Tucked into the corner of Burnaby just off Highway 1 is the Burnaby Village Museum, a lovely little place that takes visitors back in time to the area’s early days. When we first visited, I was surprised by how big the village was. The girls had fun running from one place to another while I tried to explain that this is what Burnaby was like in the time of Grandma or Great-Grandma.

Just inside the museum entrance is a sign celebrating the history of the police force in Burnaby. The girls love posing with the plywood officers while I attempted to explain the changes in the police force over the last 65 years. They weren’t quite as interested in the subtleties of local police force vs. provincial force vs. federal force but there were some cool pictures of early officers.

A brieft history of the police force in Burnaby

From there we moved on to the Jesse Love house, which you can see in the background of the policing picture. This house has Building Permit #1 in Burnaby and was the home of a family with eleven children. It was actually moved to this location in three pieces and restored to its original look.

There’s usually a museum member wandering around this house, ready to tell stories about the family or to ask the girls if they can figure out what some of the items in the house—like the phone or washing machine. This time, the lady told us that the phone was built to look like a face, with the two bells for eyes and the mouthpiece for a mouth, because people were originally scared of this machine that talked to them so it needed to seem friendly.

After the Jesse Love house, we crossed the bridge into the village proper. There’s a lovely meadow and garden area here with some picnic tables and a hedge of blackberry bushes, where the girls spent a few minutes picking and snacking. Then we explored the one-room schoolhouse (and I mentioned that Laura Ingalls Wilder and Great-Grandma would have both taught in similar places), the barber shop, general store, and bakery.

The barber shop at the Burnaby Village Museum

One of the girls’ favourite places at the museum is the blacksmith shop. Both times we’ve visited, they’ve been fascinated with watching the blacksmith demonstrate how to make a hat hook (just like at Fort Langley). I thought it was cute that on our last visit, we were there with friends who also have all girls in their family, and all the girls were lined up at the blacksmith shop, quietly watching the demo together:

Burnaby Village Museum blacksmith

From there, we were ready for a bit of a break so we headed across the street to the movie theatre and caught the last half of a Charlie Chaplin film. When I described it to my husband, he thought it was the same film we’ve seen parts of at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. I always wonder how much the girls get out of the film—both because of the lack of dialogue and the somewhat mature themes in the movie—but it gave us a break from the heat and the walking for a bit.

Then it was back out into the street to see what else we could find. The Model T Ford car was giving people rides, but there was quite a long lineup for that, which we didn’t feel like riding. The girls also wanted to ride the Carousel, but Jade had freaked out the last time I put her on a small merry-go-round at the mall so I wasn’t sure what she’d think of the Carousel, which my friend said was pretty fast.

So we had more of a picnic and then called it a day, leaving some parts of the museum to explore on another visit.

Baby-friendly: Yes. Most places in the park were stroller-accessible or had second entrances with a ramp. The main street through the village is paved, though other paths are gravel.

Kid-friendly: Yes. The museum staff were great at talking to the girls and drawing them into the history of each building. There’s also a scavenger hunt that the kids can do by picking up a card and then looking for various items throughout the village to get a stamp at the end.

Fees: FREE! Admission to the village is free, as are the demos, movies, and rides within the village. There is a cafe on site where you can purchase snacks or lunches. There is a small fee for the Carousel. This is a fun, very affordable family-friendly place that’s easy to get to within Vancouver.

For more information about the museum, including hours, check out the website.

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