A Hope for Moments
I hope you have moments in life that take you into your past. Unexpected moments that suddenly appear and transport you back to your youth. Moments bringing memories so vivid they wash over you and make you feel as if time has stood still.
One such moment occurred for me as I walked into the Elworth House this past December. It’s located at the Burnaby Village Museum, just east of Vancouver, Canada.
Built in 1922 by Mary and Edwin Bateman, an official with the Canadian Pacific Railway, the house sits on its original site and, during Burnaby Village’s early days, was the centerpiece of the museum property.
Mr. Bateman named it for the district in England where he previously lived. It carries the design of an English country home. A design quite like the many farm homes scattered throughout rural Iowa with their big attached front porches fronted by white columns.
Walking in the door the first thing you see if looking to your right is the parlor. It is there where my unexpected moment occurred.
Suddenly I was a grade schooler again, at my grandparents’ farm outside Boone, Iowa. The parlor was all decked out for Christmas, so much like my grandparents’ parlor I almost literally felt the memories flying by me.
It began with the tree, more of a ball shape than a cone. Each year Grandpa ventured out to the nearby timber to cut down the Christmas tree and bring it back to the parlor. For some reason, I remember it always seemed to be nearly as wide as it was tall, roughly six feet in both directions.
It was decorated up with tinsel, shiny bulbs and best of all, translucent plastic icicles. We’ve had plastic icicles on every family tree since.
The rug on the room's floor was of the same vintage and style. The chandelier light above cast similar shadows upon the ceiling as those at the farm.
There’s a fireplace in this room. The farm had one in the living room but not the parlor. But the upright piano is there and the crank-style phonograph is just like the one sitting outside the parlor on the farm's front porch.
The rest of the home brought back even more memories. The dining room has a similar look and feel as the farm, and the wood stove is not unlike the one Grandma used when I was small.
But it was the parlor, with that great ball of a Christmas tree, that was my unexpected moment.
Burnaby Village Museum
If you ever find yourself planning a trip to the Vancouver area I definitely suggest checking out Burnaby Village. It’s especially beautiful at Christmas time when it’s all lit up at night, though it’s a great place to visit regardless of when you go.
Make sure to check their website though, their main season is from May through August. They are only open for special events during other times of the year.
If you’re a Hallmark Christmas Movie fan, a lot of the movies have been filmed here. I wrote about that, and many more of the Hallmark filming locations, in a previous blog post. You'll also find additional photos from the village there.
Burnaby Village was built in 1971 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Province of British Columbia joining Confederation with Canada. It depicts what life in a small BC pioneer village looked like in the early 1900s.
The initial construction included the Elworth House and a single street on 4.3 acres of land. Over the years it has continued to grow and is now more than double in size in terms of land, and far more than that in terms of the buildings and structures.
The village is a great place for both older folks, like me, who want to visit the past and perfect for families as well. You can easily spend an entire afternoon, if not longer, seeing all there is to offer.
The interactive map on their website is a good place to get a feel of everything you’ll see.
There’s a live working blacksmith shop (#19) and steam shed (#21) on the grounds. An Indigenous Learning House (#20) shares stories of the area’s early settlers and you can take in an old silent movie at Central Park Theatre (#17).
A big favorite of young people, and probably a lot of those young at heart, is the fully-restored 1912 Carousel (#9).
What really makes Burnaby Village great, though, isn’t all the structures and exhibits, it’s the people.
I was truly impressed at the knowledgeable staff working in so many of the buildings. They really are well trained and ready to answer whatever questions you might have about what would have been happening there, whether it’s the Chinese Herbalist shop (#34), the one-room schoolhouse (#28) or the Elworth House (#10).
All of that and, guess what, admission is free!
**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address, alansheaven.com, or a link back to this page.