December 13, 2018
Ever since I first laid eyes on Cloverdale, I’ve been fascinated by its compelling history and whimsical small town charm. There’s a full day of family adventures, with its museum, heritage buildings + film sets, trendy restaurants and charming Christmas railway.
To begin with, our family loves exploring museums, and they make an affordable indoor activity–especially on a rainy day!
Be sure to check out Very Vintage Christmas, Saturday December 15 2018 at 1:00-4:00. FREE.
Step back in time to a retro holiday party for the whole family. From Bing Crosby to tinsel heavy trees, no era captured Christmas quite like the 1950s.
After you play old school games and make a vintage decoration, visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies as you bask at our huge textile themed Christmas tree. While you’re here, take in our various exhibits, such as Dinosaurs Unearthed and the TD Explore Zone.
Read more about the massive dinosaur eggs that are placed around Surrey to promote the museum’s Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit HERE (Sorry, the $500 dinosaur egg photo contest is over)!
Speaking of contests, the Museum of Surrey is also hosting a Selfie Scavenger Hunt to enter to win $100!
Ok, so maybe this isn’t absolutely Christmas-related, but the historic buildings and fantasy-themed film set help to contribute to Cloverdale’s experience of ‘stepping back in time’ or ‘entering a special world’. Take a stroll by Surrey’s Former City Hall and Cerberus Books, from Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (obviously NOT a kid-friendly show). Our son was fascinated by the eclectic film set, which we found to be more entertaining than frightening.
Next up, I’ve heard about Hawthorne Beer Market + Bistro for quite a while, so added it to our list for lunch. Located within walking distance to the Surrey Museum, Cerebus Bookstore and Surrey Railway, it was the perfect place for a mid-day pit stop.
We were impressed by the historic, hip ambiance and commitment to fresh, local ingredients. Our lunches were delicious and we all agreed that we can’t wait to go back!
Find out more about Hawthorne Beer Market + Bistro HERE
Moving on, it was our first time going on Surrey’s Heritage Railway, and we embarked on a Journey Through Time: Christmas 1918. This event celebrates the end of World War One, which they described as a festive time time of peace aboard the 1913 Electric Express.
The railway’s Christmas run is over for this year, but it will reopen in the Spring for the Summer season which offers longer, scenic runs. It also offers a spooky Halloween Ride in the Fall. Every parent we’ve talked to on the train told us we have to go back for both seasons, as it’s the best kept secret around.
Find our more about Surrey’s Fraser Valley Heritage Railway HERE
Of course, not all soldiers came back from the warfront. The haunting lyrics of Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” broadcast on the train ride made me tear up a bit. I’ve heard this song hundreds of times before— but never in this context. I felt for a moment that we had been transported back in time.
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
After a little research, I found out that this song was written in 1943 from the perspective of a soldier in World War Two. I hadn’t thought about this before, and I will remember this newfound appreciation for its meaning.
It was striking to meet this proud volunteer, who was wearing an authentic World War One uniform worn by Victoria Cross recipient Robert Hanna. This was especially powerful for me as I’ve learned about the wars being a ‘long time ago’, and have seen uniforms as sacred artifacts kept behind glass on display in museums. It was uncanny to see this man actually wearing it, walking around and talking with us. It was clear that he held a deep sense of reverence for his role.
To start off, we love trains and even hosted our son’s 6th birthday at Stanley Park Railway’s Birthday Train.
We were thrilled to board the charming train that has been beautifully restored to its original charm. The wooden and brass details, vintage ads and period music made for a festive atmosphere. The train pulled into Santa’s Workshop complete with hilarious sleeping (snoring!) elves and a special meeting with Father Christmas (more historically accurate for 1918 than Santa Claus). Our son was also thrilled with the gift of a rustic handmade wooden car and the model train display.
Back aboard the train, we were greeted by a Christmas-loving Mr. Scrooge and Tiny Tim for a singalong, warm smiles, and candy canes.
We all exclaimed what a fun, unique and special time we had together– this will be our new annual family tradition!
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