I am long overdue for a visit to this awesome museum. And it’s not a “hands off” museum either: most of the exhibits are outside, so you can get a feel for how logging looked and felt in its early days.
The centre covers about 99 acres and started out as a mink farm. A man named Gerry Wellburn from Deerholme had a private collection and was willing to share. One of the reasons the site was chosen was that it already had a historical mark on the community: it had the first school house and chapel from 1863 sitting on the land.
The Museum Preserves Heritage Buildings and Includes them in Exhibits
I remember the post office, the little schoolhouse, the blacksmith’s workshop, as well as antique vehicles and the mess hall. The 1930s bunkhouses for the loggers always seem kind of cozy. The exhibits focused on the First Nation’s influence on this integral part of BC’s logging history are also fascinating.
The BC Forest Discovery Centre opened its doors to the public in 1965, and has been going strong ever since then, regularly making room for more equipment and new exhibits. There is a new addition planned called Smoke Jumpers and Water Pumpers, which focuses on wildfire management. This interactive display is actually set in a helicopter, and simulates how to keep forest fires under control.
Step Back in Time when You Ride the Steam Locomotive around the Museum
I think the highlight of the trip is the train ride. You can take a gas or a steam locomotive or a speeder on weekdays, and since the availability changes, just check their website for the current schedule. I hear the Christmas Train is very festive and worth a winter visit. Not to be outdone is the Halloween train ride, perfect for a fun night out with the kids. The trains leave every half hour, and are enjoyed by all ages.
The Centre has worked hard in showing their guests an evolution of logging on the West Coast. I don’t know where else one could go to see 100 year old sawmills and relic steam engines. There is also knowledge shared here of how the industry has changed to modern cellulose factories and paper mills.
The Museum is an Easy Trip from Either Victoria or Nanaimo
You can find the Forest Discovery Centre at 2892 Drinkwater Rd, about 2km north of Duncan. It takes about an hour to get there from Victoria, and 40 minutes if you’re coming from Nanaimo. The admission rates are as follows: adults $16, students and seniors $14, children 5-12 $11 and children under 4 are free.
Some guests bring along food to have on the grounds, but if you’ve done an impromptu trip and need a little something to tide you over, there is a concession available all week through the summer months, and weekends during the fall. There is a nature inspired gift shop to check out as well.
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