The B.C. Farm Museum in Fort Langley was the result of the donation of a single high-cut walking hand plow 63 years ago to the University of British Columbia (UBC).
It needed a home, and the thought was it should be an agricultural museum, at UBC.
After the British Columbia Farm Machinery Association was formed to raise funds for the project, the location was switched to Fort Langley.
It would not be the first time plans were made and changed.
The first choice for a Fort Langley site ended up with a road running through it when the federal government decided to restore the historic fur trading post.
A 33-foot lot on King Street was then donated to the museum by the council of the day, on condition the association would pay for buying another 66 foot lot next to it, which it did.
Nine years after the deal was done, the first of two buildings officially opened on Nov 19, 1966.
On Saturday, the impending 50th anniversary of that opening was celebrated with an open house at the museum and a birthday cake and dinner at the Fort Langley Community Hall.
The event was attended by the many volunteers whose hard work has kept the facility going, and dignitaries including B.C. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, MPs John Aldag and Mark Warawa as well as deputy premier Langley MLA Rich Coleman.
Grace Muller, chair of the museum 50th anniversary committee, told The Times reading 50 years of museum directors meeting minutes shows the same four issues have dominated discussions since the beginning; lack of funding, lack of space, acquisition and de-accession (removing items from the collection) policies and the occasional leaky roof.
“All of those continue to be issues at one point or another,” Muller said.
Since federal funding dried up in 1990, the museum has operated as an all-volunteer facility, functioning because of long hours of unpaid work put in by supporters.
Over the years, the collection has expanded to include more than 5,000 historical artifacts and over 10,000 books, pamphlets and manuals of historical information, a valuable resource for researchers.
“It has manuals on every vintage vehicle out there,” Muller said.
This year, the museum obtained funding for new murals inside and outside and is going high-tech with interactive terminals.
The downstairs workshop area is undergoing extensive renovations that include moving walls, adding a new heat source and other enhancements.