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Monday, December 19, 2011


Inside the Jesse Love farmhouse at the Burnaby Heritage Village, the scene is set for a merry Christmas celebration.  Decorations are aglow, a tall fir tree stands in the living room decorated with handmade ornaments, and a tableau of carollers dressed in original clothing gather around the piano ready to sing in a carolling diorama.

All around the village, there is a Christmas spirit.  Inside the Seaforth School, the children have decorated the room in traditional '20's style and a docent in period costume lectures a group of visiting  children on etiquette and school-room manners. ( A young boy sat down on a bench and was scolded because "you don't sit down when the girls or women are standing!" )

The Burnaby Village Museum gives visitors a chance to experience things the way they were back in the 1920's.  The ten acre heritage village is decorated in the 1920s stile, shop windows are full of seasonal goodies and costumed townsfolk welcome visitors into their homes and shops.

At the blacksmiths shop,  the smithy is busy working while a group of school kids watch.  And in the print store, a woman gives a demonstration of how the old printing presses worked.

The Blacksmith Shop

The construction of the heritage village began back in 1971.  The Century Park Museum Association was formed to govern the Heritage Village.  The museum opened in November 1971with a blacksmith shop, buggy and bicycle shop, general store, land office, school house, manor house, ice cream parlour, apothecary shop, barber shop, dentist shop, Chinese general imports shop, print shop and a tram. It first opened for visitors in July 1972, described as a depiction of the 1890- 1920 era of the lower mainland. It was known as the Heritage Village until 1984 when it became the Burnaby Village Museum.  It has expanded to 9 acres allowing the construction of an administration building to house collections and staff offices.

The annual Heritage Christmas event is a great opportunity to experience Christmas traditions as they were in the old days as well as learning their origins.  There are activities for children and families and lots to see and do.  I love browsing the shops, especially the general store, where there are items on display that I remember from my childhood on the Prairies (the galvanized tubs like the one my mom melted snow in on the old stove for our Saturday baths, the old telephone that you operated with a crank!)

In the window of the Bakery you'll see cookie tins with the faces of old British Kings.  And the Way Sang Yuen Wat Kee herb shop displays cases of weird dried herbs and bones and an assortment of strange herbal remedies. 

Inside the old Church, there's a touch of Latin America, with a duo playing "Feliz Navidad".  I visit the old interurban tram next, remembering how I used to ride the tram from school.  It operated from 1912 until the late '50's.  The car has been restored with elegant brass hardware and cherry and oak wood interior.

Probably one of the most fun places at the Village is the old carousel.  This 1912 carousel is fully restored. It used to operate in the PNE grounds years ago. I loved riding it.  Now I can ride it at the Village (and it goes fast too!) accompanied by the music of a restored 1925 Wurlitzer Military band.

You can read more about Christmas at the Burnaby Village Museum on Travel Thru History,

Santa Claus visits the Village daily from 1.20 - 4.30 and 5.30 to 7.30 to December 23 . 
For general opening hours:

Thursday, December 01, 2011



A German magazine  is on trial in Athens because they published an image of the goddess Athena making a rude gesture.  The charges is 'defamation'.  The publisher of Focus, a weekly magazine, and twelve of its journalists had been accused of insulting a national symbol. The cover of the magazine's February 2010 issue depicted Athena, draped in a Greek flag, raising her middle finger in a rude gesture with the caption " Cheats in the European family."  This offended the Greeks and a group of Greek lawyers launched a law suit.

The Greeks are very defensive of their ancient symbols and treat them reverently.  In museums you are not allowed to pose beside statues as this is considered irreverent.  In archaeological sites like Delphi, considered to be the centre of the earth, there are strict regulations as to behavior, loud music, etc within the sacred areas.  So, just as the Muslims took offence when a Danish cartoonist poked fun at Mohammad,  the Greeks are not amused by this 'defamation' of their chief goddess, and patron 'saint' of their city Athens.

Who was Athena?  She as the daughter of Zeus and was born full-grown and in full armor, springing from his head. (With no help from a mother). When Homer wrote about her in The Iliad, he portrayed her as a fierce and ruthless battle-goddess, but elsewhere is is only warlike when she is defending the State and the home from enemies.  Athena was pre-eminently the Goddess of the City, the protector of civilized life, of handicrafts and agriculture; the inventor of the bridle, who first tamed horses for men to use.  She was Zeus's favorite child. He trusted her to carry the aegis, his buckler and his devastating weapon, the thunderbolt.  She is often described as "grey-eyed" or "flashing-eyed".  Of the three virgin goddesses she was the chief.  They called her the Maiden, Parthenos, and her temple was known as the Parthenon. 
She is extolled by poets as the embodiment of wisdom, reason, and purity.  Athens was her special city.  She created the olive and the olive tree is her symbol, the owl her bird.

On the Acropolis, between the Parthenon and the Erechtheion are ruins dating back to pre-Persian invasion time, which are believed to be the original Temple of Athena (possibly from about 529 BC)  In ancient times there was a large statue of Athena on this site made of chryselephantine and gold that could be seen from a distance. 

Athena dominated the city then, and she is still very much the favored goddess of the city.  So when the prosecution and defence lawyers of the German magazine appealed to have the charges of defamation dropped, the Greek judges rejected them. The charges carry a maximum two-year prison sentence.