Monday, September 29, 2008

Heritage Group Outing --- BC Agricultural Museum

One of the interest groups of the Faculty Women's Club is the Heritage Group. Now I am sure that in this very relatively newly settled part of the globe you could say that the word heritage is a bit of an oxymoron. But the group has been going for five years or more and somehow the conveners have managed to find something of interest for the seven outings held during each year for all that time.

Outings take place monthly, always on a Friday which is not a convenient day for me, but after missing all of last year's meetings I decided I would try to make the effort to attend more often this year.

This past Friday the historic town of Fort Langley, where British Columbia settlement began in 1827 with a Hudson's Bay Company post, was our destination, an hour's drive from Vancouver, to visit the BC Farm Machinery and Agricultural Museum, one of the largest Agricultural Museums in Western Canada.

Overall view of the museum from the mezzanine level. Rather chaotic.
An early cropduster, a 1941 Tiger moth, hangs above all.

Originally it was planned to be onsite at the University but ultimately an offsite location was chosen and the Museum was officially opened at Fort Langley in 1966 by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robert Billinger. It is run by an Association, all volunteers and the majority of those involved in this enterprise are for the most part retired mechanics, machinists, millwrights, etc. who use their skills to restore the museum's artifacts, all donated, for there is no budget for acquisition.

I imagine this wheelbarrow is just like they used in the Middle Ages
for it surely is very rudimentary.

Carl, a volunteer, conducted nineteen of us around the museum which consists of several very large buildings. The collection seemed just like a big hodge podge of articles, but there is a sort of organization and he managed to point out some of the highlights and demonstrate some of the restored working machinery and we did find it of great interest, most of us not being of an agricultural background.

An early combine harvester which went from farm to farm, even
over the USA border one time and was refused reentry by customs.
Of course the farmers smuggled it back over at night.

They also collect household items of interest and many were of the era when we most of our group were young. I guess much of what we discard these days will reside in museums of the future or will we just look at photos on the internet I wonder.

Early high tech washing equipment. The one on the right is electric.
I guess it beats washing clothes in the river and pounding
them on the rocks.

The washing was hung over the stove in the farm kitchen
where the warmth was.

No electricity of course, so kerosene lanterns were the norm.
We had one of those for blackouts, a regular occurrence in my youth.

The iceman cometh, on a regular basis. We had an ice chest until I was about twelve
when we finally got a Kelvinator refrigerator.

A 1919 Model T truck, used to cart the milk cans about
on the farm.

Err, a two-headed calf which lived for three weeks was pointed out
to me by another volunteer at the museum
as something of interest.

After thanking our tour guide and making a donation to the Museum we continued on, taking the small Albion car ferry over the Fraser River to lunch at a pub overlooking the river and the ferries coming and going. This free ferry, part of the road system, saves a 42 mile journey to get from Maple Ridge to Fort Langley but soon will become part of the history of the area as a bridge, now nearing completion, replaces it.

One of the two ferries which run from 4.45 am to 1.15 am each day.
This image is not mine but from here.

History is where you find it and this group does its best to scout out interesting things from the past in this neck of the woods which has a very short history in scheme of things, unless you look at it from the First Nations' point of view. But that's another history. We did have a very enjoyable outing and we learned something new. What more could you ask?


Dr.John said...

I think it was a great tour. I enjoyed your pictures of it.

Crushed said...

Columbia in 1827 covered a slightly different area to what it does now...

In fact, I don't think the Columbia river actually is in BC at all, is it?

The two headed calf is pretty- unusual. I think it would probably creep me a bit in 3D.

Dragonstar said...

Fascinating tour! As you say, a bit chaotic, but a wonderful place to browse. I love those high-tech washing machines - electric wouldn't have worked on our island!

CherryPie said...

Sounds like a fascinating museum. I am really not sure about that two headed calf though...

Carver said...

That sounds like a fun tour and I enjoyed your photographs.

leslie said...

Gee, I've been to Ft. Langley many times but have never taken in the agricultural museum. Next time I go it will be a must. And I'll take a ride on the Albion Ferry, which I hear a lot about.

jmb said...

Thanks Dr John, it was surprisingly interesting.

Actually Crushed the Columbia river has its source in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. I think the 2 headed calf would have been worse if you saw it alive.

Dragonstar doing the washing is certainly an easier task with the help of electricity, isn't it?

Agreed Cherrypie.

Thanks Carver, it was like a blast from the past in some ways.

Leslie, the Albion Ferry was a first for me too. I don't know how long it will still be here as the bridge has stalled.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fascinating exhibits. I think I will just go and worship my washing machine....

jmb said...

I am grateful for my washing machine every week Welshcakes.