Royal British Columbia Museum
- Best of Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Island: High Tea to Low Tide
- Vancouver’s Totem Poles
- Vancouver’s Best Hiking
- Family Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
- Focus on Vancouver and Victoria
- Vancouver Weekend Getaway
- Victoria Weekend Getaway
- A Tour Through Time
- Inside Passage Cruises
- Outdoor Adventures
- Winter Fun in Vancouver & Victoria
Canada’s most-visited museum and easily one of North America’s best, the Royal British Columbia Museum (675 Belleville St., 250/356-7226, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m., adult $15, senior and youth $9.50) is a must-see attraction for even the most jaded museum-goer. Its fine Natural History Gallery displays are extraordinarily true to life, complete with appropriate sounds and smells.
Come face-to-face with an ice-age woolly mammoth, stroll through a coastal forest full of deer and tweeting birds, meander along a seashore or tidal marsh, then descend into the Open Ocean Exhibit via submarine—a very real trip not recommended for claustrophobics.
The First Peoples Gallery holds a fine collection of artifacts from the island’s first human inhabitants, the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka). Many of the pieces were collected by Charles Newcombe, who paid the Nuu-chah-nulth for them on collection sorties in the early 1900s.
More modern human history is also explored here in creative ways. Take a tour through time via the time capsules; walk along a turn-of-the-century street; and experience hands-on exhibits on industrialization, the gold rush, and the exploration of British Columbia by land and sea in the Modern History and 20th Century Galleries.
Around the Museum
In front of the museum, the 27-meter (89-foot) high Netherlands Centennial Carillon was a gift to the city from British Columbia’s Dutch community. The tower’s 62 bells range in weight from 8 to 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) and toll at 15-minute intervals daily 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
On the museum’s eastern corner, at Belleville and Douglas Streets, lies Thunderbird Park, a small green spot chockablock with authentic totem poles intricately carved by northwest coast native peoples. Best of all, it’s absolutely free.
Beside Thunderbird Park is Helmcken House (10 Elliot St., 250/361-0021, daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. in summer, daily noon–4 p.m. the rest of the year, adult $5, senior $4, child $3), the oldest house in the province still standing on its original site.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition