Going Round and Round at the Burnaby Village Museum

Posted by Daniel on Mar 26, 2010

Chuck Davis writes:

It was a treat to stand by the Parker Carousel at Burnaby’s Village Museum and remember a time—a very long time ago—when I actually rode a merry-go-round. My daughter’s past the age where she’d want to, and I’d feel silly. Although it’s tempting!

The next time you take your kids for a ride there you might find it interesting to know that merry-go-rounds have a violent history. They began in mediaeval times as training machines for knights in battle. They sat on planks arranged in a circle around a centrepost. As they were spun around (by animal or human power), the knights would try to thrust their lances through a small stationary ring that represented the head of their opponent in a jousting match. Don’t tell the kids!

The non-violent Parker Carousel (pictured above) was built in 1912 in Kansas, and delighted young riders in many different American cities until May of 1936 when it was bought by Happyland at the PNE. It operated there until Happyland was demolished in 1957. Then it went into a small pavilion at Playland and was there until that was demolished in 1972. For the next 17 years, the Museum’s web site tells us, the carousel was operated outdoors and was put away in the winter.

In 1989 Burnaby bought the big beauty (for $350,000) and put it into its own pavilion as a centennial project. It went into operation at the Village Museum March 27, 1993—some 17 years ago. Its truly interesting history is here.