The Burnaby Village Museum is a lovely place to visit. It’s a depiction of a typical 1920s village that existed where the city of Burnaby in British Columbia now stands. Costumed staff members play the role of villagers and act as tour guides. The buildings in the village are original or replicas and are open for people to view. In some cases, such as the print shop and the blacksmith’s forge, the equipment in the building functions.
I always enjoy my visits to the village, whether it’s on a normal day or the day of a special event. I took all of the photos in this post, except for the interesting one showing a sword-fighting display in front of Elworth House on Canada Day (July 1st).
Admission to the museum is currently free (except at Halloween) and has been for some time. I once read a comment from someone connected to the museum. They said that the facility was actually making more money with free admission than they did when there was an admission free. When people don’t have to pay to enter the museum, they tend to spend more on purchases made in the ice cream parlour (which sells light meals as well as ice cream) and the gift shop. This apparently more than makes up for the museum’s loss of the entrance fee.
Layout of the Museum
The museum is divided into three sections: the Village, the Meadow, and the Countryside. The village contains shops, services such as a print shop, a blacksmith, a bank, and an optician, a one-room schoolhouse, and a church. It also contains a theatre, which shows short films about the surrounding area’s history, and examples of historical homes in Burnaby.
The meadow is a large area of grass found next to the storage barn for a tram built in 1912. It’s located in front of the enclosure that shelters the vintage carousel. Children often enjoy running and playing on the grass of the meadow.
The bridge that travels over Deer Lake Brook takes visitors to the Jessie Love farmhouse, which was built in 1893. The main floor is open to visitors and has been restored to a condition likely to have existed in 1925. The farmhouse, its surroundings, and the brook form the countryside region of the museum. The order in which the three sections of the museum are seen depends on which of the two entrances a visitor uses.
The General Store
There are many details to examine in the village’s general store. Visiting it is certainly a step back in time. The beautiful device on the right in the photo above is a coffee grinder. As would be expected in a general store, other items are on display besides food. These include food dishes and utensils, fabric, and gardening tools.
The items in the store come from the past, but they aren’t ancient. Some of them may be familiar for certain museum visitors, perhaps from childhood visits to an older relative’s home. It’s interesting when a personal connection is made to an item in a museum.
The Log Cabin
The log cabin in the village was built in 1973 but is the same style as that constructed by the earliest settlers in Burnaby. Though the cabin can’t be entered, it’s small enough for a visitor to see all the sections from the open door. The plaque outside the cabin tells us that Burnaby’s first settler was William Holmes, who arrived in 1860. He built a log cabin for his home. The cabin in the museum is intended to house three people.
Elworth or Elworth House is not the only original building in the museum, but it’s the only one located on its original site. It’s quite different from the log cabin. The house was the home of Edwin and Mary Bateman. Edwin Bateman worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as an executive. The home was finished in 1922 and was meant to be a country retreat for the couple. It’s known for the columns of its veranda and the shed dormer in its roof.
Elworth was the star of the museum when it opened in 1971. At that time the facility was known as Heritage Village. Today the museum is bordered by busy roads, unlike the situation when Elworth was built, although the area between the museum and the nearby Deer Lake is a bit quieter and still has charm.
The church is a modern building that isn’t meant to be a replica of one from the past, though it fits into its environment nicely. It can be rented for special events, such as weddings, baptisms, and memorial services. It has wooden pews, seating for around eighty people, and an upright piano. It also has an attractive stained glass window.
The ice cream parlour, the pavilion containing the carousel, and the Discovery Meeting Room in the administration building can also be booked for special events. The carousel pavilion has an exhibit area behind the ride that can be filled with tables when necessary. Both the ride and the exhibit area can be reserved for a party or another event.
The carousel was built in 1912 by the C.W. Parker Company. In 1989, it was located in a Vancouver amusement park and was in a dilapidated state. The owners planned to dismantle the carousel and sell the horses at an auction.
A group of concerned citizens decided to raise funds to buy the carousel. The museum agreed to build a pavilion to protect the ride from the elements and a group of dedicated people painstakingly restored it. Today a Wurlitzer organ accompanies the horses as they travel. The horses can be ridden by both children and adults. I’ve written a post about the history and restoration of the carousel.
The Main Entrance, Farmhouse, and Deer Lake Brook
The museum’s main entrance and parking lot are located at the intersection between Canada Way and Deer Lake Avenue. A secondary entrance is located on the other side of the museum by the carousel and the gift shop. This is the one that I normally use. Parking is difficult here, but the surroundings are interesting to explore. Buses stop by both entrances.
Deer Lake Brook connects Deer Lake to the nearby Burnaby Lake. It’s an important corridor for Burnaby wildlife. Visitors who enter the museum grounds via the main entrance must cross over the brook to reach the village. They might want to visit the Jesse Love farmhouse first. The farmhouse is an original building, but it was removed from its first site and relocated on the museum grounds.
The Secondary Entrance
The secondary entrance to the museum is located in a lovely area with additional attractions. It’s situated very near to Deer Lake, which is within walking distance. It’s also located by some beautiful heritage homes. Some of these are now used for other purposes, such as a restaurant and an art gallery, but they are still an impressive sight. A walk around the area to look at the houses and the lake is a pleasant accompaniment to a visit to the museum.
The museum has somewhat restricted open hours. It’s good to be aware of these to avoid disappointment. Buildings can be booked at additional times.
- Summer season: early May to early September (except for non-holiday Mondays), 11 am to 4:30 pm, admission free (Carousel rides $2.65 each)
- Halloween Haunted Village: 6 pm to 9 pm, admission charged
- Heritage Christmas (Late November to early January), admission free (Carousel rides $2.65 each)
There are many other sights to see at the museum besides the ones I’ve mentioned and other special events to enjoy in addition to the ones listed above. Victoria Day, Canada Day, and BC Day have special celebrations, for example. The Burnaby Village website has the latest information about times and events. I’ll be creating more posts about my visits to the museum in the near future. There’s a lot to see and describe.