Heritage village in B.C.'s Shuswap fully reopens, 2 years after its closure due to the pandemic

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Haney House, built in 1910, at the R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum in Salmon Arm, B.C. The village is fully operational this summer for the first time since it was shuttered by the pandemic two years ago. (Leah Shaw/CBC - image credit)
Haney House, built in 1910, at the R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum in Salmon Arm, B.C. The village is fully operational this summer for the first time since it was shuttered by the pandemic two years ago. (Leah Shaw/CBC - image credit)

The largest heritage village in B.C.'s Shuswap is back in full swing this summer, two years after it was closed because of the pandemic.

The R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum welcomed visitors back to its site, located on 40 acres of farmland off Highway 97B in eastern Salmon Arm, on May 11.

The village was closed for the summer in 2020 and maintained minimal staffing to keep the facilities clean. It was reopened in 2021 without any events, and as a result, the number of visitors dropped from an average of 18,000 to about 4,500 last summer.

It was officially launched by the Salmon Arm Museum and Heritage Association in 1989. Visitors of all ages can join guided tours on Salmon Arm's early history provided by interpreters dressed in costumes and can also wear costumes themselves to participate in period activities such as gold panning, tug-of-war and wagon rides.

Leah Shaw/CBC
Leah Shaw/CBC

Historical interpreter Hanna Patterson, dressed as an early 20th-century school teacher, says she and other interpreters speak in a way that gives visitors the experience of living in the past.

"We don't use a lot of modern slang words, so you get that touch of what they would look and sound like," she said. "It's not just photos of the people."

The village property was owned by R.J. Haney, a wealthy pioneer in early Canada who moved from Winnipeg to Salmon Arm in 1902. He built his first house in Salmon Arm in 1910, which is still standing and is the only original building in the village.

Curator Deborah Chapman says the historical village was built in 1989 around Haney's house and two relocated structures, Mount Ida Church and Broadview School, but after the construction of the Montebello Museum building in 2017, the association has been adding replica buildings and relocating more heritage buildings to the village.

City of Salmon Arm
City of Salmon Arm

The village's 24 heritage buildings, consisting of replicas and relocated historical sites from the downtown area, are open to the public until Sept. 23. It is open from Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and seven days a week in July and August.

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