Starting off our CHRiSTMAS CONNECTiONS theme in this enchanted Christmassy village was so much fun. Surrounded by nostalgia of times gone past, it was the perfect reminder for both Anika and I, of all the simple things that bring us closer at this time of year.
Written by Marlene Lockhrin
I had heard through a friend that Burnaby Village Museum is quite charming and festive during the Christmas season, so I thought this could be a special start to our ‘CHRiSTMAS CONNECTIONS’ outings for me and my new-to-the-teenage-years daughter, Anika. I envisioned us strolling through the winter lights, arm in arm. Yes, I confess, it was perhaps a bit selfish of me, just wanting to see her eyes light up the way a little girls does from the magic of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, she still loves Christmas and all that comes with it, but I just wanted to bring out that sense of wonderment that sadly shifts as we mature.
Having never been to Burnaby Village Museum or the Deer Lake area, I was pleasantly surprised by it’s rustic, delightful charm. We arrived in the late afternoon, enjoying the last rays of sunlight. With a kick of caffeine and the fresh crisp air, we were ready to meet up with our friendly tour guide, Kate. She was super knowledgeable and enthusiastic about our surrounding area and filled us full of valuable tips before she sent us on our merry way.
This old train was built in 1912. Sadly, all but a few were destroyed. It was restored to its former glory, showcasing its beautiful interior and how these passengers would travel from Vancouver to Burnaby. Even 100 years ago, the prices of homes in Vancouver were already considered expensive and so many people chose to live in surrounding communities such as Burnaby. It was fun for both of us to envision being transported down the tracks in this charming cart.
THE BATEMAN HOMESTEAD
The museum’s only original heritage building on the property is the Bateman Homestead. Built in 1920, it was considered a modest home in it’s day. However, the Bateman home was very beautiful. Anika and I walked in and couldn’t believe how familiar the smell was. It smelled and looked just like the house we lived in for many years in Kitsilano. Every room had an uncanny resemblance to our old house. We kept running from room to room, pointing out similarities from pushbutton lights to the old tiles on the bathroom floor. It was an absolute laugh. We felt we had actually once lived in this museum! Anika used to call our old house the junk house as it was clearly in need of restoration. But not this one as it was resorted beautifully. This experience was definitely Anika’s favourite part of the tour. I suspect it’s because it triggered many fond early childhood memories of her life. She just loves old homes …. I think she’s an old soul and I just love that about her!
After a delicious hotdog and some sugary desert we ventured on. I was really curious about another little building. Inside, it showcased the Snohomish First Nations and other indigenous people. It featured animals that lived on this land. We had a great conversation with the guide here as she explained her own family’s history. This opened up the dialogue with Anika who was excited to be receiving this information first-hand since she is currently learning about residential schools and it’s dark history.
SNONOMISH FIRST NATIONS BUILDING
Next, we strolled on peeking through shop windows and doing some crafts in good humour. By now it was now fully dark. The Christmas lights were in full glory sending warm vibes throughout our senses.
THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE
The schoolhouse itself is a heritage building, and the inside was a perfect replica of how it must have been at the turn of the century. We loved how there was a teacher in full attire of pioneer days. She re-enacted a typical school day as we sat at our desks. This fun re-enactment laid out how kids were disciplined for not following the many rules and was a far cry from the child-led learning we see in school nowadays! I even received a stern lesson on cursive as I was ordered to the chalkboard and immediately wrote out my 6 lines that were ordered for me to complete. Thankfully, she just made us write lines and there was no strap involved, or rule stick! We were quite surprised that they used hot potatoes to hold onto, keeping their hands warm in the middle of winter. This was my favourite part of the tour as I immediately started laughing when I spotted this no-nonsense teacher in full character. It was lot of fun!
So, we ended the night with a nostalgic carousel ride on a carousel built in 1912. How much fun was this?!! What a blast!! It’s impossible to not smile on this beautiful, fun ride. We giggled the whole 5 minutes away. Five minutes of no phones. No worries. Just joy….
BURNABY VILLAGE MUSEUM
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