One of our go-to activities with the kidlets is a trip to Maplewood Farm. What astounds me is that more people don’t know about this gem. This awesome, wallet-friendly little piece of kid heaven.

The little miss feeding the bunnies

Maplewood Farm is right on the banks of the Seymour River in North Vancouver, situated between Dollarton Highway and Mount Seymour Parkway. But once inside, you would never know it’s near these two major thoroughfares. This idyllic 5 acre setting is the last remaining farm on the North Shore and word around the feeding trough is that it could be facing some hard times ahead. I truly hope it’s just speculation and rumor, as it would be an absolute tragedy to lose this piece of so many childhood memories…including mine.

I remember when I was little my parents took me there for a visit and a turkey became obsessed with my mom. Literally, in love. It followed her everywhere we went and any time we would stop, he would throw himself at her feet and bare his belly for some sweet lovin.’ I am relieved to say that the enamoured bird is no longer there, and he has been replaced by a much less affectionate turkey.

The farm has been phenomenal for the little man. He’s always had a deep-seated love of anything to do with farms, probably from repeated viewings of the “Baby MacDonald” Baby Einstein DVD at a very young age. But get him anywhere NEAR a real live farm animal, he freezes up and wants to go home…yesterday.

The price of a family admission at the farm is so reasonable that we figured it was worth the investment, even if each visit only lasted 5 minutes…and some of them did. Our “gateway drug” was the 1:15pm milking demonstration. We would time our arrival for immediately before the milking, and he would march straight for the barn, set himself up on one of the risers, and watch with great intensity. We would usually leave shortly after the demo concluded, but he would re-enact the whole thing over and over when we got home.

Farmer Courtenay and Farmer Pam

Every night we tell stories at bedtime, and they almost always have to feature Maplewood Farm and usually have a cameo by Farmer Courtenay.
He now loves the farm and actually approached animals on occasion. He still loves the milking, but his newfound fabourite pasttime is the “pretend milking,” which is a painted wooden cow that kids can “milk.” Big rubber “udders,” milking stool and all.

Real milking
Pretend milking

Today was the 32nd annual Sheep Shearing Festival, and I highly recommend it (for next year, obviously). They always have a milking demo (every day in the barn at 1:15pm – just ask our little man), but today’s festivities had milking, pony rides, sheep dogs herding sheep, and of course, the sheep shearing itself. It was fantastic. Busy, but the staff managed the increased volume well.

The woman that did the actual shearing was impressive, and all the kids watched in fascination as the wool seemingly peeled away in a fluffy sheet.

Nowhere else, at least nowhere within a couple hours’ drive of North Vancouver, can kids get an experience like this. Seeing a working farm, watching or petting the animals, listening to the farmers explain how things work, seeing the brand new baby ducks/cows/lambs/donkeys…it’s truly priceless. But this treasure can be yours for the low low price of just $7.25 each ($4.25 for kids and seniors). If you want be as cool as us, a family membership is only $121 for the first year ($102.85 for renewal). 

The History of Maplewood Farm(taken in part from www.maplewoodfarm.bc.ca)

Akiyo Kogo first discovered this little spot in the early 1900’s. During the twenties, the farm developed into a thriving dairy, delivering fresh milk and cream to customers from Deep Cove to Lonsdale for almost three decades.

Tom & Prince, the Belgian Draft Horses

By 1970, agriculture had all but disappeared from North Vancouver but luckily the farm land came under the protection of the District Parks Department, being preserved for future generations to enjoy a truly rural experience in the ever expanding urban area.

Officially opened to the public in 1975, and now home to over 200 domestic animals and birds, Maplewood Farm strives to provide a unique experience, incorporating enjoyment, education and a recollection of the rural heritage of this pastoral 5 acre setting.
If you live anywhere in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, I highly recommend a trip to Maplewood Farm. They’re open 10am-4pm daily, almost. November to March they’re closed Mondays, and they’re also closed Christmas Day. Farmers get to celebrate a holiday once in a while, right?

For more information you can check out www.maplewoodfarm.bc.ca.