Ground Breaking CeremonyIn a report to Mayor and Council in January 1972, the Chairman of the Burnaby Centennial '71 Committee (James.A. Barrington) reported on their activities to date. He noted that the committee had been tasked with providing a variety of events, and a permanent commemorative project. He also noted they had sponsored over 20 events and had completed the Heritage Village, “a small town reflecting the early history of British Columbia.” A sub-committee of the Centennial Committee was responsible for a permanent commemorative project. Chair Sandy Stewart worked with Richie Smith and Vic Stusiak to develop the concept of an open-air museum reflective of tram-stop community. The Interurban tram1223 and the Jubilee Station were their starting points. Architect and artist Rudy Kovacs was hired to come up with a design.

Building Begins

The official sod-turning of heritage village took place on April 11, 1971. The Vintage Car Club's annual Easter Parade terminated at the Burnaby Arts Centre. The theme, of course, was Centennial, and Mayor R.W. Prittie and J.A. Barrington rode in the leading car. Mayor Prittie officially turned the sod in the front of the Manor House before a crowd of 500. Refreshments followed, and an Easter-Egg Hunt was a hit with the children.

At the museum, a Director and Curator were hired in the Spring of 1971 to oversee the development of the project and acquire artifacts. Salaries were paid through a grant from the Parks and Recreation Commission. The subcommittee remained active to see the project through to completion. Stewart was a capable chair, and Stusiak set to work on setting up an administrative structure to govern the new museum, while Smith focused on overseeing the construction.

The building of the village was contracted to Ballarin Bros. Construction, at a cost of $121,000, with work beginning in the middle of July. Student grants helped to hire additional help to obtain, restore, and catalogue artifacts and to provide labour for setting up the displays. Trevi Construction Co. was brought in for finishing carpentry ($43,000).

The Century Park Museum Association was formed to govern the Heritage Village, with its directors elected on October 26, 1971 (its founding meeting). The museum opened with 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 tram in November.

Official Opening Ceremonies

On November 19, 1971 the official opening ceremonies were held at the Heritage Village, when Canada's Governor General visited and officially opened it at 11:15 am. The Village was open to the public November 19, 20, and 21 and was visited by approximately 15,000 people at that time.

The Honourable Rolland Mitchener was Canada's Governor General at the time the Village was opened. For the opening ceremony, he visited the museum's exhibits and received special attention. At the school house, he watched Mr. H.B. MacLean, founder of the MacLean Method of Writing, serve as teacher for a group of school children in period costume. A horse was shod for him at the blacksmith. At the print shop, he was given a souvenir copy of the Heritage Village News proclaiming the official opening.

Open for Visitors

In 1972, the Museum opened for the public season on July 1st at 2:00 pm. Don Copan was CPMA president, and Mayor Robert Prittie officiated the opening. The Village was described as depictive of the 1890 to 1920 era of the lower mainland.

The facility was known as the Heritage Village until 1984, when it became the Burnaby Village Museum. It was governed by the Century Park Museum Association until 1989, when the Municipality of Burnaby took over the operation. A Master Plan, created in 1987, had expanded the site across Deer Lake Brook, which increased the size of the site from 4.3 acres to 9 acres, and would include the construction of an administration building to house the collections and staff offices.