By Sandra Thomas
Sitting on a bench seat inside Streetcar 153, located in the lobby of MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver, snippets of recorded conversation can be heard, specially scripted to take visitors straight back to 1912, when the streetcar travelled up and down what was then known as the “Lonsdale Line,” until 1946 when it was decommissioned and sold as scrap.
The interior of the streetcar, which was rescued from a farmer’s field in Chilliwack, has been immaculately restored and recreated, right down to beautiful replicas of ads that may once have lined the wooden panels above the windows.
Also front and centre in the lobby is the newly installed Sch’ich’iyuy (The Two Sisters) cedar wall panel by Indigenous carver Wade Baker, which welcomes visitors into the main gallery. This stunning piece signifies the extensive work and collaboration completed to date between MONOVA staff and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations, evidence of which you’ll see throughout the Museum.
Building on the work of the Archives
The new Museum builds on the long-established work of the Archives of North Vancouver in Lynn Valley to share the powerful stories of the community through high-quality exhibits in its permanent and feature galleries, mobile exhibits and education programs.
That said, the Museum is a fascinating treasure trove of not only well-known stories, such as the history of The Shipyards, but also lesser-known gems, including a tribute to trumpet player Joe Bustemente, who years ago would guide ferries to the North Shore in foggy weather by playing his trumpet.
Bringing Stories To Life
Visitors will also find fascinating stories about everything from the role played by women during wartime to the renowned North Shore Rescue team, from the multicultural residents of the community to the photographs and stories of early climbers Don and Phyllis Munday, to the bright yellow Newtsuit, a groundbreaking invention by local scientist and deep-water explorer Phil Nuytten.
Of course, woven throughout the entire Museum are also the important stories, belongings, artwork and photographs of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations, who have lived and thrived on the North Shore for generations — long before Streetcar 153 ran the Lonsdale Line.
The Welcome Circle near the entrance is remarkable in its complexity and ability to acknowledge a challenging past, appreciate the collaborations of the present, and look forward to the future. An intimate section includes photos and poignant stories of resilience from survivors of residential schools.
Join us on December 4 for Opening Day
Here’s what we have planned for opening day at the Museum of North Vancouver. Admission will be free all day long, so be sure to stop by!
- Streetcar 153 Interpretation with Kelsey Ranshaw. Explore our iconic Streetcar 153 with a short fun guided tours throughout the day. Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm
- Local Indigenous Plants with Indigenous Cultural Programmer Senaqwila Wyss. Learn more about Indigenous plants as teas, medicines, tinctures and ceremony. Time: 12:00pm to 4:00pm
- Winter Science Fun with Science Interpreter Charlie Cook. Fun science activities for all ages. Test your knowledge with our winter tree identification game, bird beak challenge, and the science of snow shoes. Times: 11:00am to 1:00pm, 2:00pm to 4:00pm
- Meet The Friends. An opportunity to connect with the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum and Archives Society and learn more about their activities in the community. Time: 11:00am to 5:00pm
- Bug Light Making with MONOVA. Join us in The Shipyards for this fun and festive do-it-yourself workshop that’s sure to add a little sparkle to your holidays. Brighten your night with your very own bug light! Made from a tin can, candle and a wire, bug lamps were used to light the way of past mountaineers on the North Shore. All supplies provided. Time: 4:00pm to 7:00pm.
Know Before You Go
- On 4 December 2021, MONOVA: Museum of North Vancouver (115 West Esplanade) will open in The Shipyards.
- The Museum will be open 4-days a week, Thursday to Sunday from 11:00am to 5:00pm. An opening celebration and the debut of “You Are Here @ The Shipyards” in our Feature Exhibit Gallery will follow in early 2022.
- COVID-19 protocols will be in place. Masks are required. Visitors are asked to practice physical distancing and hand hygiene. Vaccine passports will be required for certain programs as indicated at the time of booking.
- MONOVA is easily accessible by bike, public transit and the Seabus, and car parking is available in various locations throughout The Shipyards.
- The Museum is wheelchair accessible, with wheelchair accessible washrooms and baby changing facilities. Assistance dogs are welcome.
- Free admission for people who self-identify as Indigenous.
Sandra Thomas is a journalist and freelance writer, editor and travel writer from Vancouver.
Your donations to the Friends of the NVMA Society support thought-provoking programs and exhibits that promote our community values of inclusiveness, relevance, creativity, and engagement, and help MONOVA to bring stories to life for North Vancouver residents and visitors.
Donations are accepted through the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, Registered Charity No. 89031 1772 RR0001.
We respectfully acknowledge that MONOVA: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver is located on the traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and learn with them on unceded Coast Salish Territory.