Canada Day at the Burnaby Village Museum

Canada Day is upon us!

I love my country (though full disclosure: I wasn’t born here. Gasp!) and Canada Day is a great way to teach the kids some of the things that make Canada great. I had gone over it all with my  3 year old M, and we were eating pancakes with Aunt Jemima’s Buttermilk Syrup for breakfast, which I told him it was maple syrup because Canada.

He asked for chocolate milk and I told him he couldn’t have any for breakfast. He asked if I knew that chocolate milk was “a thing about Canada.”. I replied that I didn’t know that. He said, “Yeah, so I can have chocolate milk because it’s Canada Day.” Nice try, bud.

His plan for chocolate milk was foiled, but I promised him a cupcake later, which meant I had to take him to an event I’d been humming and hawing about. It was the Canada Day celebrations at the Burnaby Village Museum which sounded great, but as we had plans to go out that night to the in-laws to see fireworks, I wasn’t sure whether it would all be too much or not. But after promising the cupcake, I packed a lunch and we headed off to get a the treat! At least, the cupcake was one small part of many other things we did there!

Truth be told, I had NO idea what this event entailed. All I had to go on was this blurb from their event Facebook page, and as it’s only about a 10 minute drive from where we live, I decided to check it out:

It’s a party! With the backdrop of 1920s village streets, join the Canada Day festivities including: multi-cultural family entertainment, musicians, displays, activities, demonstrations, a parade, and, of course, cupcakes. Be sure to bring your cameras to pose for a picture at one of the many photo stops or with members of the Burnaby RCMP in their splendid red serge uniforms.

Gates open from 11am-4:30pm, with free admission and carousel rides only $2.60 each.

It was my first time at the museum so I didn’t even realize that it wasn’t just a single building, but an entire village made up of buildings built to look like it looked back in the 1920’s.

Parking was a bit of an issue as the parking lot is fairly small and I didn’t realize that until I turned into it. So in one way and out the other we went, along with about a hundred other cars who all made the same mistake. Luckily street parking was easy to find just across the main road so I parked, loaded the kids in the stroller, and headed in.

We were handed flags to wave and balloons to blow up right away, so the kids were happy as I surveyed the scene. I saw some people heading over a foot bridge but I turned left towards a tent with some musicians and we walked past some vendors (mainly Burnaby city councilors and MLA’s with materials to hand out) til we got to the Face-painting tent.

M wanted to get his face painted until he sat down, and then he changed his mind and got a mouse on his arm. Except after the artist had done the white outline, he declared it finished and jumped off. I asked if he wanted the mouse to have eyes or a nose or anything and he said it was fine. 20160701_120248.jpgThere was a big house that I saw people coming in and out of but it looked like it would be difficult to navigate with the stroller so we went around it to a craft tent. The craft was insanely adorable:20160701_114847

And again, M decided it didn’t need all its parts and thought it was funny he’d made the arms point the same way:20160701_152345

By that time it was just about noon and as I couldn’t see any picnic tables or anything, we just plopped ourselves on the grass in front of the music tent to eat our picnic. My idea was that baby E would be happy to eat and watch the music and wouldn’t try to wander. That might have worked except that the musicians took a break the second we sat down!


Music Tent: Please notice lack of music being played!

I did have to haul him out from behind a vendor tent a few times but he mostly stayed close because I had blueberries to feed him.

As we were sitting I’d noticed a cute vintage car that the boys could pose in, and some bean-bag throwing games so we headed there after our little picnic.20160701_121544Then as we headed back to where we’d come from, I noticed the parade was at 1:45, Canada Day ceremonies at 2, and cupcakes at 2:45. It was just after twelve, so I thought there’d be NO WAY I would  keep the kids entertained that long based on what I’d seen at the event so far. I thought we’d just cross the bridge and see what was happening on the other side, assuming I’d see the same couple of tents and activity or two.

Well, it was then that I discovered what Burnaby Village Museum really is!

When we crossed the bridge, we were in the ‘old’ village, and were surrounded by a schoolhouse, church, general store, post office, blacksmith shop, auto repair shop, log cabin, manor house, barber shop… the list goes on! (Photo does not do it justice – I tried but there were too many people blocking the buildings!) 20160701_122948.jpgPersonally I love stuff like this but didn’t really think that M was old enough to appreciate it.Turns out I was very wrong! He asked tons of questions about everything we were seeing (though his favorite was asking if the drain pipes on the exteriors of every building were actually old, and I’m pretty sure that they were not) and kept saying, “Can we go in another one?”20160701_130404.jpgThe only downside was that I had E in our jogging stroller and the place was not ideal for stroller use. They did have ramps but the problem was more the size of the stroller and amount of people in each building. If I came back for a big event like this I’d use a carrier or have another adult on hand to baby wrangle. Because of the crowds, I left the stroller parked most of the time and had to carry E in my arms. He, of course, was not thrilled with this idea and wanted to walk around, but that would have been disaster in some of these quaint set ups!20160701_130352.jpgMost of the buildings had a person dressed up in period costume, some of whom had a demo (the blacksmith) or a informational lecture, like this guy explaining how a steam engine worked:20160701_124945.jpg

He then let the kids pull a steam train whistle. His talk was pretty good because when we got home M explained to Daddy how a steam engine works with a fairly impressive level of detail.20160701_124924.jpg

After we went through the whole town (I think we hit every building) we followed a path and discovered yet another section of tents. There was a sword fighting demo which M would have loved but the crowd was too big for him to see over and I’m not good at pushing my way to the front of things. (I am Canadian, after all.)

We found the carousel but the line up was 15 minutes long so I opted against it and kept walking. M was very impressed by this ‘giant sink’ (which is simply 6 water fountains all in one)20160701_132101.jpg

It was then that I discovered a huge grassy area with picnic tables, which I wish I had known about sooner! There was lots of free space for the kids to run around, though we didn’t even take advantage of it because M spotted two vintage cars. It looked like people were putting on old timey hats and bonnets to pose in the vehicles so I picked the shortest line and we waited. Turns out vehicle one did not offer bonnets so Mathias pretend-drove it for a minute and we joined the second, longer lineup.20160701_133017Huge props to this woman who entertained Baby E in the line because he’d had enough being strapped in but as soon as I lifted him out of the stroller he tried to climb on and tip the donation box and sign beside the car.20160701_133837

I love this picture. M is usually quite shy in new situations but he got right into this, waving his hat to the ‘audience’ in line and was still waving even after E and I had climbed out.20160701_134825.jpg

It was then I noticed the time and realized we had to get to the parade route to watch the parade. I didn’t know where it was supposed to be and unfortunately as I heard the marching band, we rushed to the path but so did everyone else and our view was blocked (I dream of being tall in these situations). We ran to the other side of this stage area only to discover that’s where the parade ends and we were on the wrong side of it. So we saw the backs of some people’s heads:20160701_135720

We couldn’t see the Canada Day ceremony that followed but adorably E stopped eating his ‘stay in the stroller and be happy about it’ snack to clap every time he heard the audience do it.20160701_140320

The good news is we ended up right in the cupcake line. I did try to tell M we should probably just leave and get cupcakes at the bakery on the way home but he was excited about the special Canada Day cupcakes, so we waited. My good mom senses told me to leave while we were ahead: the kids were happy and had behaved like angels. M had patiently waited in multiple lines and hadn’t cried once when I’d told him no, or that we had to leave something he was enjoying. I should have known that wouldn’t last, but I pushed my luck.

Ceremony over, we got our (mini) cupcakes (kudos to them for a fast moving line), ate them, then crossed through the line to head out. We momentarily paused just as M was beside someone’s stroller and he reached in and pulled a little girl’s hair. Completely unprovoked, I have no idea why other than he’d just suddenly reached his limit of patience for the day. I made him apologize and then we moved away and I talked to him about it. Well, ‘talked’ might be a generous word, it was a little more of a stern sermon about why we never EVER do something like that.

That ending did put a damper on what was otherwise a pretty great day, but not enough to stop me getting a picture with this giant mossy cow.20160701_142941-1

Then back to the car where I more gently spoke to M about the poor little girl and how scared she must have been, and asked him why he pulled her hair. He claimed that he “didn’t want to be at the fair” and I impressed upon him that asking to go home was a better option than assaulting a stranger.

All in all it was a wonderful event and the Burnaby Village Museum did a great job organizing it. I can’t wait to go back when it is not a special event to try the carousel and enjoy the buildings without the crowds as it is an absolutely gorgeous place.

Next time, we will leave while we’re ahead and get our baked goods at a store.

If you hit this event next year:

  • Come early or prepare to fight for street parking.
  • Ditch the stroller or bring a small umbrella one.
  • Food vendors are available but the lines were LONG so a picnic might be a better option.
  • There were both regular washrooms & porta-potties on site, including wheelchair accessible ones.
  • Bring a water bottle – you can fill it up at the water fountain.


What did you do for Canada Day, and did it involve your preschooler beating up a stranger?


3 thoughts on “Canada Day at the Burnaby Village Museum

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