Burnaby Village Museum began in 1971 as part of the Burnaby Centennial Project with a specific goal to create "a small town reflecting the early history of British Columbia.”
A committee was established to develop the concept of an open-air museum reflective of a tram-stop community. The Interurban tram 1223 and the Jubilee Station were their starting points.
Named “Heritage Village,” the official sod-turning was April 11, 1971. Construction lasted only a few months, during which time the main Hill Street storefronts were built at three-quarter size of regular buildings. The official opening ceremony was November 19, 1971. Approximately 15,000 people visited the village, which was only open to the public for three days. The museum opened with a blacksmith shop, buggy and bicycle shop, general store, land office, schoolhouse, manor house (Elworth), ice cream parlour, apothecary shop, barber shop, dentist shop, Chinese general imports shop, print shop and tram.
In 1984, Heritage Village was renamed Burnaby Village Museum.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the museum in 2011, Burnaby City Council began offering free admission to museum visitors, with the exception of some special events.