Museums of Metro Vancouver: Museum of Surrey - Glimpse into the Past

by - May 15, 2021

Though Surrey gets a bad wrap in the Greater Vancouver area, it does have some few gems to offer. Among those is the Museum of Surrey, which surprisingly is a free-to-visit museum that has a range of engaging exhibits, not to mention scavenger hunts for the kids. It does take around an hour by car to get there from Vancouver, and if you are carless and relying on transit, it would take you two hours (one hour subway, one hour bus).

The Museum had undergone a massive expansion and renovation in 2017, resulting in a footprint of 36,000 square feet. Now, the Museum offers a Cultural Campus with important Surrey heritage buildings such as the Municipal Hall (converted to the Surrey Archives) built in 1912, the Anderson Cabin built in 1872, the restored Town Hall from 1881, and the Anniedale School built in 1891. There is also the TD Explorer Zone, which is a space for kids to learn all about sustainability.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, there kids space was closed so we only had a chance to see two of the exhibits that were on show. The first one was called Shake Up and was about earthquakes. But not just physical earthquakes, it also talked about a wrestler named earthquake and about vintage games that taught you about an earthquake. The exhibit also featured an earthquake sound yurt, and a simulated drive down a San Fransisco street just after the 1906 quake.

The exhibit wasn't so large, so we went through it pretty quickly but the other one, on the second floor, was called Surrey Stories. It exhibited the history of the city of Surrey from the late 1800's to early 1900's. The exhibits were amazing, with some old antiquities from everyday life on display, from singer sewing machines, to old type-writers and kitchen boilers. 

Some of these are still probably used today in my own country, Pakistan and probably in many other countries where these mechanical tools are easy to fix and don't require electricity to run.

Within this space was another hall which featured stories from Indigenous peoples and is also definitely worth a visit.

One you exit, just outside this exhibit was the permanent Textile Centre which featured looms, demonstrations, and a collection of textiles and books from the Reference Library. It was a small room, so we just saw it from the outside.

All in all, a great visit. If you have more time, this area is full of other heritage hotspots, including the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway which is just across the museum (among others I saw on the way). I'll be on the lookout for these spots, and will blog about them after my own visit!

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