Inside the Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel: Family Fun 1920s-Style

Burnaby Village Museum. Photo: Dana Lynch

There’s a lot of talk about “kids today” and how difficult we assume it must be for them to imagine a world without cell phones, Xboxes and the Internet, i.e., a world that existed before they did. Since that same line of thinking has been in vogue forever (Didn’t Moses make the same complaint after they reached the Promised Land?), I don’t personally put a lot of stock in it. But if you do believe that, how’s this for a rejoinder: Show “kids today” what history was like by taking them to it.

That’s basically the idea behind one of Greater Vancouver’s greatest family-friendly museums, the Burnaby Village Museum, which recreates life in small-town British Columbia in the 1920s.

Burnaby Village Museum. Photo: Dana Lynch

Just as its name suggests, the Burnaby Village Museum isn’t a single building but an actual village, an open-air museum that consists of a main street lined with 1920s “shops” and businesses, including a working blacksmith, general store, bank, ice cream parlour, and Chinese general imports shop, as well as a restored 1912 interurban tram. Visitors can enter all of the buildings and see authentic period artifacts and furniture; there are over 50,000 objects in the Museum’s collection.

Inside the General Store at the Burnaby Village Museum. Photo: Dana Lynch

In addition to exploring the Village, visitors of all ages can also ride the Burnaby Village Museum Carousel, a gorgeously-restored carousel from 1912 (complete with wooden horses) that is kept indoors, so riders can enjoy it in any weather.

Burnaby Village Museum Carousel. Photo: Burnaby Village Museum

Aside from offering visitors a chance to experience history first hand (or, as close as we can get it), the Burnaby Village Museum is justly acclaimed for keeping kids active and entertained with its holiday-themed special events and programs. The Museum’s famous Heritage Christmas—decorations, Santa, games, and multiple live performances that celebrate the holiday every December—is one example; the Museum also plays host to special kid- and family-friendly events for Canada Day, Halloween, and Spring Break.

For Spring Break 2012, the Museum has Spring Break Scavenger Hunt – Puppets and Pageantry, which runs through March 25, 2012. I was at the Museum yesterday and saw for myself how excited kids were for the scavenger hunt, which has visitors scouring the Village for hidden puppets by finding clues inside the historic buildings; there are also daily puppet shows and unlimited carousel rides(!) included in the $6.50 admission price.

The admission price is another great thing about the Burnaby Village Museum. Though Spring Break at the Museum has an admission cost of $6.50 per person (which is still comparatively low for a Greater Vancouver museum), gate admission will be free in the Summer Season 2012 and during Heritage Christmas 2012 (to celebrate the 100th birthday of both the interurban tram and the carousel); you’ll just pay $2.30 per carousel ride!

Never been to the Burnaby Village Museum? It’s just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver—what are you waiting for? You know you want to ride that carousel.

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