Photo: A school group visits the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC. Source: Derek Tan via Flickr.
The Vancouver Coast & Mountains region has a huge variety of museums – many of which are typically off the radar.
1. Beaty Biodiversity Museum
UBC may be famous for its Museum of Anthropology (and deservedly so), but did you know that UBC is also home to another museum? The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is Vancouver’s only natural history museum, with 20,000 square feet of exhibits of more than two million specimens, including the 26-metre-long skeleton of the largest creature ever to live on Earth—the blue whale. Some of the exhibits include the Fossil Collection, the Fish Collection, the Herbarium, and the Marine Invertebrate Collection. All in all, an intriguing space to learn about Earth’s living creatures. Finnish-Canadian visual artist Marja-Leena Rathje took 7 series of photographs when she visited the museum in March. You can look at her photos read about her experience on her website here.
Bonus! There’s a special event happening on Sunday, July 17 – the Oceans Festival! See live animals, get your face painted, and participate in games and activities. Full details here.
Open: 7 days a week, 10am-5pm.
2. Chilliwack Military Education Centre
Did you know that Chilliwack has a hands-on style education centre where you can learn about Canadian military history? By hands-on, we’re not being skimpy – we mean “climb into an artillery tank” type experiences. The Chilliwack Military Education Centre is a big interactive, living history museum run by volunteers. It also has one of the largest collections of Military Vehicles in all of Canada. After watching this YouTube video, you really get a sense of what it’s like to visit and as well as the importance of having such a place – perhaps one of the Fraser Valley’s best kept secrets!
Open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10am-4pm.
3. tems swiya museum, Sechelt
There are many museums with a focus on First Nations culture, but few are actually run by the First Nations group themselves – that’s where tems swiya museum differs. If you’re interested in learning about the First Nations culture on the Sunshine Coast, you’ll definitely want to visit the tems swiya museum in Sechelt. Located in the Sechelt (shíshálh) First Nations central complex at the east entrance to Sechelt, this museum is a showcase for the shíshálh nation’s lengthy history and diverse culture, and offers a great display of artifacts and art. Check out the extensive basket collection, and visit the tsain ko gift shop for authentic First Nations art, jewellery and crafts.
Open: Monday to Sunday, 9am-5pm.
4. Canadian Museum of Flight
To continue with hands-on type displays, be sure to visit the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley – a museum that houses over 25 aircraft. The aircraft range from a WWII Handley Page Hampden to a T-33 Silver Star, and the only displayed Handley Page Hampden in the world. Visitors can take a chronological walk around the Museum starting with WWI to present day, and can see how large a part Canada has played in aviation history.
Open: 7 days a week, 10am-4pm.
5. Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition
If you love motorcycles, you’ll want to venture to Boundary Road to the Deeley Motorcycle Exhibition – the largest privately-owned motorcycle collection in Canada with over 250 different motocycles from more than 50 different manufacturers. Guided tours are available upon request, otherwise you can browse around to your heart’s content. The currently exhibition is called “Made in America” and is a fascinating look at the incredible history of the motorcycle industry in North America.
Open: Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm. Saturday 9:30am-4:30pm. Sunday, 11am-4:30pm.
6. BC Farm Machinery & Agriculture Museum
Fort Langley’s BC Farm Machinery & Agricultural Museum has BC’s largest pioneer collection of farm machinery, including a working model of a 1915 steam powered tractor. Mommy blogger Monkee Mama paid a visit and wrote a blog post about it. She writes, “This little museum in Fort Langley has a very unique collection that consist of many steam engines, tractors, a single cylinder engine, buggies, a milk cooler, wash stand, and other various dairy and farm equipment. The museum also holds B.C.’s first crop dusting plane on display.” For those interested in BC’s agricultural history, it’s a must.
Open: 7 days a week, 10am-4:30pm until October 10.