By Jim McGregor/Special to Langley Advance Times
BC Farm Museum will once again be open to the public on Friday, April 1.
Usually when entering a museum, it is quiet, reserved place with people speaking softly so as not to disturb the ghosts of the pioneers wandering between the displays.
On a recent visit to the BC Farm Museum, the building was alive with the sounds of Skil saws, hammers, drills, and loud voices of the many hearty volunteers moving shelves, building cabinets, sanding, and painting.
They are putting the finishing touches on the facility, making it ready for the public.
The tour guide was volunteer Hilary Ruffini, secretary and long-time volunteer. Ruffini knows all the nooks and crannies of the building, and has a story to go with every display.
She is excited to have the public coming back.
“We never fully closed during COVID, but we scaled back a lot of things we had been doing, such as the school tours. We enjoy having the Grade 5 classes in and they get to make ropes, use the augers and other hand tools. And we always have something for them to take away,” Ruffini shared.
“In the past few months we have been working on many new displays, many of them interactive. We are building a new display for our walking plow, which was the first donation to the museum by Bruce Coleman, on behalf of his family on 23 May 1953,” she shared.
On June 24, 1958 the British Columbia Farm Machinery Association received a certificate of incorporation and the location was moved to Fort Langley. Since then other buildings and many displays have been added and upgraded.
Ruffini noted that the recent upgrades of radiant heating and flood lights have much enhanced the presentation of the artifacts.
“One of our volunteers, Bob McPherson who is an electrician, worked tirelessly to install the new lighting, and it is so much brighter and warmer now,” she said. “People can see a cream separator in action and we’ve even been using our vintage Maytag tub washing machine. Things many people have never seen.”
She walked past a large steam tractor into a back building, where vintage tractors and trucks are on display, and Ruffini stops to point out a large wooden treadmill.
“I so glad we pulled this out of the back corner and have it on display now. This treadmill was designed to have horses or other large animals walk on the moving track and that would provide the power to operate such items as fruit choppers. Once when the power was out at Belmont Farms, a bull was put on the treadmill and powered the milking machines in the dairy barn. The only time a bull has milked the cows,” she recounted with a chuckle.
All of the items on display are donated.
Wally Dick fields most of the calls regarding donations.
“We have people contact us regularly and just recently we got a call from Merritt, where a man has a steam engine and five tractors. We will look at them and decide if they are viable and they will transport down here on a low bed,” Ruffini explained.
Once items arrive, most of them go the basement. The basement is basically Santa’s workshop for master mechanics who will restore the tired and rusted equipment back to working order.
Budgeting for the restorations or repairs is always a consideration. Funding for the museum comes from admission fees, donations, and some foundation, federal, provincial, and municipal grants.
Occasionally that’s augmented by the museum supplying equipment or artifacts to the movie industry. They pay quite well, Ruffini said.
Museum volunteers are looking forward to their special events for 2022;
1. April 1 – BC Farm Museum opening day
2. May 23 – BC Farm Museum participates in the Fort Langley Lions 100th May Day Parade
3. June 5 – Model A Sunday
4. July 1 – Celebrate Canada Day at the BC Farm Museum
5. July 16 to 17 – Aldergrove Fair, BC Farm Museum will be attending and providing static and interactive displays
6. Aug. 1 – BC Day / Train Day at the BC Farm Museum. Great event for fans of scale model trains. Singer songwriter Bruce Coghlan will perform his (commissioned by the BC Farm Museum) song about pioneer Samuel Robertson.
7. Aug. 27 – BC Farm Museum and McInnes Farm country celebration at McInnes Farm. Many agricultural and farming static and interactive displays and demonstrations.
The museum always welcomes new volunteers to greet guests and provide tours.
Open seven days per week, shifts are 10 am to 4 pm. Also, volunteers are welcome to assist with maintaining the museum and its artifacts. Great for retired mechanics, woodworkers, auto body workers. For information on volunteering, people can call 604-888-2273.
Ruffini extended an invitation: “Bring your family and even out-of-town relatives, they will enjoy their visit.”
For more information on the BC Farm Museum, which is located at 9931 King St. in Fort Langley, or to learn how to volunteer or donate, people can visit www.bcfma.com.
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