Take a look at the unique history of logging in British Columbia at the BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan.
Stretching across 100 acres, this museum showcases over 5000 forestry-related artifacts, as well as trains. There are heritage buildings to explore, huge logging machines to view, and outdoor and indoor exhibits.
A favourite exhibit among kids and adults alike is the historic train ride that travels over the Somenos Lake trestle. Certain trains run on certain days and times. For instance, the very popular steam locomotive only runs on the weekends, from June 2 – September 5 (as well as during a few special events).
So please check their schedule if you are hoping for a particular train.
The grounds are beautiful, so make sure to take the time to really explore! Walk the trails and let the kids burn off some energy at the playground. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the vast green lawn or in the designated picnic area. Or utilize the on-site concession which provides hot dogs, smokies, hot and cold drinks, popcorn, chips and ice cream confections.
Please note: the concession is seasonal, and only fully operational during the Spring and Summer months, as well as during a few of the special events held throughout the year.
For those who like to take home a souvenir, there is also a gift shop. Make sure to browse through the wide variety of gifts, books and toys. All proceeds go directly to maintaining the trains and exhibits on site.
No matter how you decide to spend your time at the BC Forest Discovery Centre, don’t forget to bring your camera!
BC Forest Discovery Centre Special Events
There are plenty of events that happen throughout the year at the BC Forest Discover Centre. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
- The annual Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival is held in February and has live entertainment, presentations, demonstrations, vendors and tastings
- Easter long weekend: Say hi to the Easter bunny, enjoy a scavenger hunt, Easter crafts and treats, and ride the steam train
- Mother’s Day: Mom’s get free admission on their special day
- Father’s Day: This special event includes sawmill demonstrations, and a Father’s Day tractor show and parade
- Canada Day: celebrate Canada day all weekend long
- The Antique Truck Show is on display mid-July
- Kid’s Days: In early August celebrate being a kid by enjoying musical entertainment, train rides, games, and concession
- Halloween Train: Ride the Green Hornet through ghostly scenes. There is also trick-or-treating, crafts, and a haunted house
- The Christmas Express: Ride the steam train through a world of twinkling lights, visit Santa, and enjoy crafts and hot chocolate (this is very popular event)
Make sure to check the events page on their website to keep up-to-date on upcoming special events.
The BC Forest Discovery Centre is right off Highway 1 in Duncan. For your GPS, the official address is 2892 Drinkwater Road, Duncan, BC.
Hours of Operation:
During the summer and late spring (June 2 – Sept 5) the hours are 7 days a week from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
For any other time of year, please check the current schedule on their website.
The BC Forest Discovery Centre is definitely a wonderful place to spend a day whether you are 1 or 101. So get yourself down there and enjoy a little piece of BC’s history!
Tell me in the comments below what exhibit, event, or part of the BC Forst Discovery Centre is your favourite.
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My favorite time of year at the BC Forest Museum is the Christmas lights event and all of little features they have on display, including Santa and the live music. It is an amazing ride through the forest that gets better each year. I have not been during the summer time in many years.
Yes, the Christmas display really is a great time to go. I highly recommend going in the summer too, though, for it is a totally different experience.
I haven’t visited the BC Forest Discovery Center since I was a kid. I remember going there with my family, bringing a picnic and riding the train. I also remember the school house being pretty neat too though the details are fuzzy. One day I hope to share this place with my own two kids.
Yes, my kids really enjoy the school house too…especially the old desks.
We live in Parksville but we always do our annual pilgrimage to BC Forest Museum for their Annual Halloween Train Special. My nine year old boy can’t seem to get enough of it.
Yes, they do such a great job with the Halloween train.
I have been to the forest museum on many occasions. But never with my grandso. Who is 2 years old. My favorite is the TRAIN. I can’t wait to ride it with him.
They are so full of wonder at that age. I am sure he will love the train!
We’ve been on the Christmas Express with our grandson a couple of times. The train ride any time of the year is his favourite and so it’s ours too! 🙂
I don’t think we ever get too old for trains. 🙂
I have been going since I was a young adult and want my nephew to experience the same.
Experiencing 50 years would also be epic!
How wonderful! I am sure your nephew will love it if he gets the chance to go.
My little ones and I loved the Christmas Express. We would love to check out the anniversary celebrating 50 years!
Yes, they do such a great job with the Christmas Express. I sure hope you get a chance to view the new exhibit celebrating their 50th!
I have visited the Forest Museum many times. My paternal grandparents lived right across Somenos Lake and you could see their property when on the train ride just as it went out over the trestle above the lake. And we have a special connection to the small locomotive, Old Two Spot, that is inside the main building – my uncle pulled the locie out of the bush and did the original restoration on it. So we have visited often over the years and I would like to take my young grandson there for his first time when he comes to visit this summer.
Very neat! Thank you so much for sharing this information with us all.
I’ve never been, but my mom always swears she took me and my brother. (She took my younger brother) I’d love to go to the museum with her!
Well then I hope you get a chance to go Kala!
When we lived in Chemainus, the train was a regular visit, Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas Train, and just because it was warm, and sunny with lots of shade in the heat of summer. But really, it’s the train, the train, the train! Now I’m in Victoria, and my kids are grown, but I’m sure it’s time for another visit.
Agreed! The train is so great for all! And yes, if you haven’t been for awhile then another visit is a must!
For some reason I have never visited the forest discovery centre, so I would love to win tickets to go check it out, I think that I would bring my nieces and nephew with me and make a day of it.
Well then you absolutely must go! I wish you the best of luck in the giveaway.
I love to ride the train. There’s nothing like the sound of that Whistle Blowing to remind me of Summer. You can hear it all across the Valley. I have not been to the museum for many years and would love the chance to go again. Thank you Lisa
We definitely don’t hear the whistle up here in Parksville, but I sure wish we did! If you haven’t been in many years, then I think it is time to revisit again. 🙂
When I was teaching elementary school in Sooke many moons ago we would take our Kindergarten classes to the museum on the train from Langford Station every year ! It was a very exciting day for the kids – riding the E & N and then riding the great little train at the museum and exploring all the exhibits. The kids just loved it. Wish the E & N was still operating ! But now I have 2 grandkids that I’d love to take to the museum to learn more about the history of our province.
Wow! Now that sounds like a very fun field trip. Yes, I think a revisit is definitely in order. Just like your past students, I am sure your grandchildren will love it.
Of course, the train is a big hit but I enjoy the exhibits, too. The old bunkhouses show what conditions the loggers lived in. The old machinery is also very interesting. The Forest Discovery Centre is a great place to spend the day. We take our grandchildren and they love it, too!
I always enjoy getting a glimpse of how things used to be, and the bunkhouses at this museum definitely show you that.
Claudia you won the giveaway! I tried contacting you via email but have heard no reply. Please contact me so I can pass on the details of your win!
i have never been but after reading the article, i would love to take my 5 year old granddaughter and my son (her dad) to experience all that is there. it would be a wonderful getaway for this nana and a real treat for them.
A treat it is! I am sure they (and you) will love it!
Well I have never been! Although I have lived on the island mybwhole life???? But I would love to take my grand kids…. Cory
Well this is exactly the reason I write these kinds of posts…to let us locals in on the best of Vancouver Island! I am sure your grandchildren will love it!
We have only been there once and it was at Christmas. My family had so much fun. We would love to go again. It was amazing!
Their Christmas event is definitely a great one. But yes, you should definitely attend during the warmer months as well. It lends to a totally different experience.
Our favourite amongst the staff with kids is definitely the Halloween Train! We look forward to it every year!
We missed last year, but yes, it is a favourite for us as well.
My favourite is the train anytime of year
It really is a great experience no matter your age.
We attended a program this past year called Christmas 100 years ago with the kids homeschool program and it was FABULOUS! Tons of interesting facts on how Christmas was celebrated, specifically surrounded Christmas tree traditions, over the past 100 years! There was a craft, train ride, and guided tour where the interpreter was knowledgeable and friendly.
We also enjoyed our time there last August as it was so nice to feel the breeze from the train on such a hot day, and enjoy the picnic area by the lake.
Oh the Christmas event sounds awesome! I wish we would have partaken in it too. Yes, the picnic area by the lake is a great spot to sit and relax.
We moved to the island 2 years ago and have been trying to explore all that this great island has to offer. Our children and grandchildren are visiting this summer so I think this will be a great place for adults and children to enjoy ????
Well you definitely won’t run out of ideas, for our Island has so many great places to explore. And I definitely agree, the museum is a great place to take visiting family!
The Christmas event is my favorite although the train was a hit with my boys!
Yes, they really do put on a great Christmas event.
We have been looking forward to taking our Grandson this summer. We have never been to the exhibit before so we don’t have a favourite as yet.
I am positive you will all have a wonderful time!
The train is the highlight for the kids. Going in the summer is a great way for the kids to get as much traintime – we ride it around and then tour the grounds long enough to catch the train on one of its next trips around. The excitement of the train allows the “big kids” to spend more time looking at exhibits. Win!
Yes, trains are always a big hit with the little ones. Although I am not sure it is something we grow out of though. 😉
I have to admit, I drive by there at least 20 times a year and have never stopped. But, your article has piqued my interest….definitely this summer!!
Great! I am so glad this post inspired you to visit the museum!
I have not been to this exciting historical museum as we’ve just recently moved here from the Canadian Arctic. I’d love to take my Grandchildren here to experience the various activities and have some educational exploring opportunities. Thanks for letting us know about this museum, I look forward to hearing more on your blog about Campbell River as this is where we now call home!
Well first off, welcome to Vancouver Island! I am sure your grandchildren (and you as well) will love the museum. I look forward to exploring Campbell River soon.
My favourite form of transportation is the train. I would love the opportunity to ride a train in the beautiful city of Duncan.
I hope I don’t disappoint you in saying this, but the train does not go around the city of Duncan. It stays on the 100 acre grounds of the museum. It is still a beautiful ride though!
I think the Christmas Express is my favorite. The Halloween Train is great, but as and old guy with two young, fantastic grandsons,( maybe I’m just a little prejudiced here), I have to go with Christmas.
Oh I don’t believe you are being prejudice…just a super Grandfather. 🙂 Yes, the Christmas Express is our favorite as well.
Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival. I am always excited to see the magic of nature… trees giving us the sweetest syrup that I love so much.
You know, I have yet to check out the Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival. I am thinking I should finally make the effort to do so!
We have never been there but we are starting to explore Van island as we moved here a year ago, my family loves museums, love the history.
Oh well then, you absolutely must go! The BC Forest Discovery Centre will be right up your alley!
Our favourite family event is the Halloween train as it falls during our son’s birthday and we have gone there the last 2 years for his birthday party.
I have never thought of hosting a birthday party there. What a great idea! But yes, the Halloween train is so fun.