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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ENJOY A ZEN MOMENT IN THE SUN YAT-SEN GARDENS

This beautiful garden and park in the midst of Vancouver’ Chinatown is an authentic reproduction of an age-old Chinese tradition. Classical gardens such as these were popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Ming scholars had private gardens where they could live and work. The gardens followed certain traditional designs to provide the scholar with tranquility and spiritual energy.

This garden is dedicated to Sun Yat-Sen, the ‘father of modern China”. Like all Chinese gardens of that era, is based on the harmony of four main elements: rock, water, plants and architecture. Blended together they create a perfect balance -- the yin and yang.

The rocks used in the garden and park were imported from Lake Tai near the Chinese city of Suzhou. These limestone rocks, known for their rough beauty, are placed in various locations throughout the Garden, around a jade-green pond meant to inspire tranquility. (The softness of the water balances the hardness of the rock).

The Garden and Park are is planted with a variety of symbolic plants, mixing native Chinese and local plants including bamboo, cypress, pine, flowering plum and miniature rhododendron.
The traditional architecture, found in all classical Chinese gardens, blends with the natural elements.

Adjacent to the Garden is the Dr. SunYat-Sen park which compliments the Garden. The entrance to the Park is free. There is a bust of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen , who visited Vancouver frequently, at the entrance gate. Next to the Park and Garden is the Chinese Cultural Centre, on Chinatown’s main street.

There is an admission fee for entry into the Garden, but the Park is free, and it’s well worth a visit at any time of year, a place to get away from the busy city streets where you can meditate on the beauties of nature in a serene setting.
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Sunday, January 06, 2008

THE BURNABY HERITAGE MUSEUM: Take a trip back in time.

The Tom Irvine House

Explore life back in the 1920’s at the Burnaby Heritage Museum, on Deer Lake Avenue in Burnaby B.C. Canada. This 10 acre site was built as a memorial to the B.C. centennial in 1958 and is a recreation of an early 1930’s community. Several original buildings and artifacts have been located here in the many interesting displays. Volunteers and staff dressed in period costumes will show you around and demonstrate at the various exhibits.

It’s a great place to visit at any time of year, but at Christmas, with the Victorian decorations and jolly holiday atmosphere, it’s especially fun. I went there with three friends for an exciting afternoon of exploring and reminiscing about the ‘olden days’.

Our first stop was the old school house where a ‘teacher’ explained the classroom routines of those long-ago days when kids of all ages shared the classroom which was heated by a wood-burning stove. Discipline was more rigid then than it is nowadays. Reading and ‘Riting and ‘Rithemtic were practiced diligently.

Next we visited one of the old bachelors homes. Tom Irvine who was a pioneer of Burnaby, and his house, built in 1911 features various items of interest including the pair of red flannel underwear laid over the bed.


The General Store

The ‘village’ includes a blacksmith shop, bank, church, general store, dentist office, pharmacy, barbershop, print shop, silent movie house and one of the most interesting places is the General Store. I’ve never failed to study in amazement the collection of items in this old store. A lot of them remind me of my own childhood, when my family lived on the prairies, such as the galvanized tin washtubs like the one I remember my Mom melting snow in for our Saturday night bath. Lots to keep you occupied in this store, a real trip down memory lane, and fascinating for modern youngsters to see what kinds of toys their Grannies and Grandpas used to play with!


The old interuban tram

The B.C. Electric Railway tram is the same one I used to ride from downtown Abbot Street to New Westminster back in the ‘50’s when it still rattled down First Avenue. I used to take it to school or we’d often take out to Royal Oak Station to visit my Auntie.
I got quite a thrill out of sitting in those antique seats again, remembering how the floorboards used to shuttle back and forth when the tram bolted down the hill on First Ave.

The highlight of the day, though, was a ride on the fully restored 1912 C.W. Parker Carousel. For two loonies ($2) you can have the thrill of a lifetime, recalling your childhood as you spin around up and down on these magnificent ponies which have been so lovingly restored. I remember this same carousel once was a featured ride at Playland, during the ‘50’s when I was in my teens. It was and still is my favorite ride!


Riding the carousel. Whee!
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A VISIT TO THE BURNABY HERITAGE MUSEUM

The gazebo and old church
You can book the church for weddings. This day there was a
couple dressed in period clothes singing Christmas carols.


There was a street entertainer amusing the children with songs and funny chatter. Even the adults get into the game!

This beautiful 1912 carousel used to be a Playland on the Exhibition grounds but was rescued by the historic society and restored.
For two loonies you can have a fast, exciting ride and pretend you're a kid again!


There's lots to see and do a the Heritage park. Be sure and visit there, any time of year.
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