Today is BC Day, which commemorates the creation of the colony of British Columbia August 2, 1858. While we all take a day off to enjoy this gorgeous place we call home, we thought it would be fitting to share some great places to go to explore local history. Vancouver has a rich and diverse past, and you don’t have to go very far to learn more. Here are our picks in and around Vancouver.
Great Places to Explore Local History
Fort Langley is a bit of a drive, but it was on this very site that James Douglas declared British Columbia a Crown Colony. There are lots of family-friendly activities happening on a regular basis. A highlight for 2012 is programming to commemorate the War of 1812, running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in August. The Fort’s summer hours are 9:00am-5:00pm daily, and a family admission is just $19.60 for the day. Plus, if you make the trip the village of Fort Langley is definitely worth checking out.
Royal BC Museum at Wing Sang
The Royal BC Museum is a must-see if you visit Victoria, but this summer you can also check out their satellite gallery in Vancouver’s historic Wing Sang building in Chinatown. Their exhibits include Bottled Beauty, which features 100 creatures preserved in alcohol, Magic Lantern, which showcases enlarged backlit slide images of people and places in BC, Intimate Glimpses of Emily Carr and Artifact | Artifiction, in which visitors are invited to match wits with curators. They’re open daily from 10:00am-6:00pm until September 3, 2012, and admission is $33 for a family of four.
Burnaby Village Museum
Not far from downtown Vancouver on the shores of Deer Lake in Burnaby, Burnaby Village Museum recreates a small village from the 1920s. This is a fabulous, family-friendly attraction, with a small silent movie theatre, an old schoolhouse, an old-fashioned ice cream parlour where you can buy a sweet treat, an old interurban tram, and a gorgeous 1912 carousel. Local history really comes alive, and you can visit from 11:00am-4:30pm daily all summer long. Best of all admission is free during 2012, and carousel rides are only $2.30 a pop.
Museum of Vancouver
If you want to explore local history in Vancouver, where better to go than the Museum of Vancouver? This summer you’ll find Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver (but hurry, because this one closes on August 12, 2012), Art Deco Chic and Reading the Riot Boards, in addition to the permanent exhibits. Located on beautiful Vanier Park, you couldn’t ask for a nicer location. The museum is open from 10:00am-5:00pm daily during the summer, with special long hours (10:00am-8:00pm) on Thursdays. Family admission is $35.00.
Britannia Mine Museum
The Britannia Mine Museum on the Sea to Sky Highway got its start in 1971, tasked with preserving the history of mining in British Columbia, and educating the public about mining. You’ll climb aboard a mine train and rumble into an authentic tunnel, while you learn about drills and tools. Also, every visit includes gold panning with the chance to find real gold. And with play areas for kids, it’s really family-friendly. They’re open daily from 9:00am-4:30pm. Family admission is $72.00 for up to three children, but children five and under are free, so you may pay less if your kids are small.
Museum of Anthropology
The Museum of Anthropology at UBC is a great place to explore world arts and cultures. With 6000 objects from BC’s First Nations, it’s also a fabulous place to explore local history. The museum’s architecture is spectacular, and they host a variety of events for patrons of all ages. If you haven’t paid a visit recently, you should definitely set aside some time for a visit. From now until October they’re open daily from 10:00am-5:00pm, with special late hours until 9:00pm on Tuesdays. Children six and under are free, and a family admission is $44.75.
Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Fishing plays a significant role in local history, and you can learn a whole lot more about that at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site in Steveston. Built in 1894, the site showcases the history of the West Coast fishing industry from the 1870s through to the present day. You can see the canning line coming to life right in front of you, as many of the machines are still operational. There’s also lots to see in Steveston, so make a day of it. Family admission to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery is just $19.60.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.