Written/Photographed by: Alyssa Lait
On July 25th, the Langley Volunteer Bureau took a trip to the BC Farm Museum (located in Fort Langley, at 9131 King Street). Our directors are deeply involved with this museum so it was a fantastic opportunity to see the place in person, Jim Mair is the president, Karen Long is the vice-president, and Deb Dolton is the recording secretary all as of 2019! Jim was able to give us a tour, with some help from Prescott, who helps which the archival system for the collection.
When you first arrive at the museum, you are greeted with several murals outside, which were painted by different artists as part of a project that the museum was doing to give visitors a glimpse into BC’s agricultural past. These murals can be found throughout the museum, and are painted by 7 local artists, put up in 2017. My personal favourite mural was the one that showed the evolution of agriculture from the days of the pioneers to modern day. It’s a huge mural, you won’t miss it if you go see it for yourself!
The museum itself spans King and Queen Streets in Fort Langley, however, it was built in two stages. The first building, whose entrance is on King Street was built in 1966. As their collection expanded, they had to build the second building on the lot to house tractors, windmills, carriages and similar artefacts in 1978.
The sheer number of artifacts can be overwhelming when you first step into the museum, but one of the first things you’ll see when you enter the museum is the bright yellow Skyway Tiger Moth hanging from the ceiling. This plane was modified specifically for crop spraying! You can read more about this artifact’s history on the Farm Museum’s website.
We were able to see the first artifact that was ever received for the museum, originally donated to UBC, inspiring the idea for the creation of the Farm Museum. It was eventually built in Fort Langley as a result of the founders’ efforts to make a dedicated museum to such artifacts. But the collection kept growing, the mezzanine above has smaller artifacts, including a new exhibit on horse harness making, which was recently donated, as well as a display on the different designs people made of barbed wire before it was standardized.
After we explored the first building, we continued to the equipment building, which housed some historical gas pumps and then tractors, carriages, engines from floor to ceiling. We saw a variety of tractors, ranging in date of production and some homemade, that were restored in the museum’s workshop (impressive in its own right, considering how old many of the artifacts are). We even got an interesting anecdote from Jim about JW Barry’s cow milker, which was driven by a treadmill that bulls would use. There are TV’s at certain spots in the buildings that show clips related to the museum’s collection, a good place to start when looking around.
Once we’d finished our tour, Jim mentioned that some of the artefacts are borrowed by the PNE for display, and that the huge model horses in the main building are a trade for this favour done in the summer. You may get to see a few of the artefacts if you visit the PNE while it’s open.
So, how can you help the Farm Museum?
- Volunteers are always needed to give tours, or participate in restoration if you have the skills to do so.
- Financial support is also helpful, by becoming a member can help support the museum and keep it running in top condition.
For information on applying to help, you can visit the BC Farm Museum’s website, or visit the museum and ask about it in person!
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