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Why Moose Mondays?

February 26, 2016

What’s a Moose Monday, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!!

Moose Mondays are a great opportunity for us to share photos of our moose puppet using some of the exhibits at the FRDC, on a day of the week when we aren’t open to the public (except for in the summer, June-August), but still want to have a social media presence.

It all started when I was trying to create a scavenger hunt for Family Day, and I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice, if I could show someone using all the different exhibits we have, so that people can get a taste of what we have to offer?”

I took the moose puppet along for the ride, because it has arms and legs, and can show off some of the activities better than, say, a fish.

What this turned into was a set of fun photos that we wanted to share on our Social Media, on a consistent basis!  And what day alliterates with Moose? Well, Monday, of course!

So here we have it, a weekly, fun glimpse into our Centre, brought to you by our very own Moose!

The photos that I have attached to this blog are just a couple of examples of what learning adventures you can have in our galleries, such as taking a journey on our Experience the Fraser bicycle, where you will catch glimpses of various landscapes that make up our Fraser River Basin.  Also, you can learn about our river and how we use, need, and care for it, as seen in a global context.

We hope you enjoy, and that you’re inspired to come in and check us out for yourself!

Have a Marvelous Moosey Monday!

Our admission is by donation.


Reflections on a River

January 22, 2016



a view of the river, a glimpse of its different facets

Reflections on a river

I’ve lived in the Fraser River estuary since I was 4 years old.  Spent my youth biking along the dykes of Richmond, breezing past the moving beauty of the water.  Seen more fishing boats than I can ever count, and smelled the scent of canneries when they were still running.  It’s quite a smell.

I now find myself in New Westminster, a city with deep history that is intrinsically attached to this same river.  Not only that, but I am now working at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, where my job is to open others’ eyes to the wonder of this majestic, meaningful, and often very useful river.

My job will be to balance the wonder we all share as we gaze at the river, with the concerns that many have regarding the health of a river that’s so surrounded by people, industry; human influence.  Are we allowed to be equally amazed at the seals, sturgeon, salmon, eagles, herons, as we are at the mighty tug boats, mondo sand piles, and massive barges loaded with the products we use in our daily lives?

Join in the journey with us.  Come see what we know so far, and what we will always be learning.

Hear the voices of the Aboriginal people who have called this place home for thousands of years; the settlers who started building and structuring where we now live.  Learn about the plants and animals that are an integral part of how this ecosystem survives.  Experience the “economic engine” that provides thousands of jobs and brings millions of jobs into our economy each year.  And take some perspective as you look at other rivers from around the world—how important rivers in general are to humans, how we can impact then for the better or worse, and how we can take care of them.

Come check us out.  Ask questions. Find something new.  And take a moment to just stare in awe at this waterway, which has been linked to us since the start.

A Heartfelt Goodbye from the FRDC Team

August 20, 2015

One of the great joys of my work at the Fraser River Discovery Centre is also one of my biggest points of pride: Our Team. In the world of non-profit management, where we often ask our employees and volunteers to work miracles with very few resources, it can be hard to recruit and maintain a strong, competent, energized, and dedicated team. Luckily, this has not been the case here at the FRDC. Since I took over management 7 years ago, I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with an extraordinary team of Volunteers, Contractors, Staff, and Board Members. Last month we had to say goodbye to a very talented long-time team member, FRDC Director of Education Shannon King. Shannon has found a new opportunity at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site in Steveston. We are all sorry to see Shannon leave us but we take comfort in knowing her talents will continue to be applied to educating the public about the many values of the Fraser River. During her stay here Shannon has defined the quality of learning at the FRDC by shaping strategies and practices that injected quality and effective education in programs, events, and exhibits. Shannon was also our leader in volunteer management where she leaves a strong legacy, as reflected below in the heartfelt words of Mike Hoyer, FRDC Volunteer.

– Catherine Ouellet-Martin, Executive Director

Saying “Good bye” to Shannon brings back many memories. I think I could say this on behalf of all of us. In your own quiet way, you have touched all the volunteers and the public you came into contact with.

Flat Stanley 011

The education programs have taken a spike upwards since you took over, Shannon. You have challenged the docents in many ways: the type of delivery of programs, the way we deal with people, your knowledge of the Fraser River and British Columbia history and science, has been transferred to all of us.


You have created community amongst your volunteer staff. Meeting monthly was a novel idea. Going on group tours was enlightening. Going on the Annacis Waste Water Treatment Plant has immortalized some of us along the Quayside boardwalk markers. Visiting the Delta Museum had us look at another focal point of the Fraser River. Going to visit our watersheds which provide us with our drinking water was so informative.


You organized photo workshops for our own benefit, helped us see the Fraser River environs from another perspective. You stretched us in many ways that day. When I pushed you, you invited me to an awesome day of sturgeon fishing: I had never gone fishing before. But I got a new appreciation for “George” and all his kind as we discuss the white sturgeon, his sustainability and effect on the Fraser River and the BC economy.


You encouraged all of us to learn about the Fraser. I found a new niche in my life and delved into the history of BC (remember, I’m a transplanted Easterner!), the impact of the Fraser River on the live of most of us. You helped me develop walking tours along the Quay, which I just love giving.


Knowledge of the Fraser and its interconnectedness is so important. All those marker boards along the Quay are important to me. So much so, that when I saw them grow over with mold and moss, and tourists still reading them, it challenged me to clean them twice a year.


On my own, you encouraged me to check out other places like the Gunderson Slough, other walking tours around the Fraser, other libraries and film evenings. You kept us posted on the latest news along the Fraser in the media. You organized community-building celebrations as the year progressed.


I am sorry I missed your “good bye” celebration. But you were in my thoughts while I was still in Nepal. That’s the life of the retired volunteer; going from one activity to another. We have the time to absorb what we are challenged to. I’ll be out to visit you at your new environs, to learn more from you about the Fraser River. Best wishes friend!


Goodbye Shannon! See you on the River….


A fond farewell

August 14, 2015

After six years at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, I am heading down river to work at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Thanks for all the great memories, FRDC CREW. You are awesome! Here are just a couple of photo highlights of working with an excellent group of volunteers, staff, board and community members on so many great projects!

Volunteers hamming it up at a Discovery Drop-in program

Volunteers hamming it up at a Discovery Drop-in program

The crew of the Oarlock and Sail Wooden Boat Club before the Salmon Catcher's launch in 2010

The crew of the Oarlock and Sail Wooden Boat Club before the Salmon Catcher’s launch in 2010

Dr. Sonny McHalsie and his family at the opening of the Our Bones are Made of Salmon exhibit in 2012

Dr. Sonny McHalsie and his family at the opening of the Our Bones are Made of Salmon exhibit in 2012

Volunteers enjoying lunch after a very competitive scavenger hunt race. Volunteer Appreciation 2014

Volunteers enjoying lunch after a very competitive scavenger hunt race. Volunteer Appreciation 2014

Some pretty fishy Christmas carols at the holiday potluck in 2014.

Some pretty fishy Christmas carols at the holiday potluck in 2014.

Working with other museum educators and university students to create interesting resources and teach about informal education. Interpretation Canada workshop 2015.

Working with other museum educators and university students to create interesting resources and teach about informal education. Interpretation Canada workshop 2015.

And finally all the jazz hands for

And finally all the jazz hands for “surprise” birthday greetings!

See you again soon!

21st Century Learning

June 16, 2015

One enjoyable aspect of my job is meeting with other museum educators for professional development. The last Lower Mainland Museum Educators’ meeting was about 21st Century Learning. We were treated to two interesting presentations and some delicious Japanese snacks at the Nikkei National Museum. The presentations that day got me musing about how we address this concept in our programming.

21st Century Learning is a common phrase in education these days. It is a broad concept that refers to a set of skills that include critical thinking, problem solving, digital literacy, and collaboration. The idea is that schools need to teach students not only reading, writing, and arithmetic (the three Rs) but also the skills to collaborate, communicate, and think critically. This webpage has some interesting thoughts on the topic.

The BC Ministry of Education is in the process of transforming the BC Curriculum to embrace 21st Century learning concepts. The changes are intended to allow teachers more flexibility – there will be fewer required learning outcomes per grade so that teachers can create units that include inquiry and personalized learning opportunities.

In informal learning environments (museums, interpretive centres, art galleries, zoos etc.) many educators already use inquiry methods to design programs that provide opportunities for students to experience place-based education and explore new ideas. We certainly do at the Discovery Centre. Now, more than ever, we want to provide programming that will help teachers meet the goals of the new curriculum. Towards that outcome, we have created the My River My Home activity kit to provide teachers with a free resource that can be used to design an inquiry unit about the Fraser River

These students are learning about the water quality of the Fraser by taking a sample and testing it.

These students are learning about the water quality of the Fraser by taking a sample and testing it.

We are now reviewing and changing our other school programs to address the curriculum changes on the horizon. In particular, we are working on a new program about human history that will put students in the investigative driver’s seat. Three UBC teacher candidates who completed their field experience here in May helped to develop the new program outline. In the new program, Faces of the Fraser, students will investigate the significance of historical figures relating to main events in BC History that involve the Fraser River (Aboriginal culture, the Fur Trade, the Gold Rush, etc.). Students will be asked to piece together information about the character they can glean from artifacts and archival materials to determine that person’s historical significance. Faces of the Fraser will use some of the same information and objects used in our Trading Trail program currently, but will ask students to collaborate and think critically about the information they uncover about their character and then present their findings at the end of the program to build a chronology of BC history together. I am excited to see this project come together this summer. We hope to have it prepared for October when our school programs start up again for the next school year.

Here at the Fraser River Discovery Centre we are embracing 21st Century Learning in the programs we are creating and believe that our programming will help educators transition to the new curriculum when it is implemented.

Volunteer Appreciation 2015: Visiting the Museum of Vancouver

May 1, 2015

Here at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, we depend on the talent and passion of our volunteers for everything that we do. From school programs to special events, from exhibits to administration, our 130+ strong volunteer team dedicates thousands of hours every year to help us celebrate the living, working Fraser River. That’s why we try to make our volunteers feel extra special during National Volunteer Week, celebrations for which take place during the entire month of April. This year, we treated our team to a great day of activities including a photography workshop, tons of prizes, and a delicious lunch at Wild Rice restaurant in New Westminster. However, the festivities didn’t end there. Museum volunteers in Metro Vancouver are also entitled to a fantastic pass which gives them free entry to all participating attractions for two weeks. We decided to take advantage of these passes by planning a group outing to the Museum of Vancouver. It was the first visit to the MOV for many who attended, and my first volunteer outing since I started working at the FRDC, so an exciting time was had by all!

Our first stop was the Neon Vancouver | Ugly Vancouver exhibition, which investigates changing attitudes towards neon signs throughout the city’s history, and features an impressive collection of neon artefacts. MOV Volunteer Outing 22042015 8 Next, we spent some time in the MOV’s newest exhibit c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city, a joint project with the Museum of Anthropology and Musqueam First Nation. The exhibit explores the culture of the Musqueam people, and their continued importance to the history and life of Vancouver. Our volunteers were particularly excited about this because it relates to our own Our Bones are Made of Salmon exhibit at the FRDC, which looks at Musqueam and Stó:lō connections to salmon and the Fraser River. Finally, we enjoyed strolling through the MOV’s permanent galleries, which display a mind-boggling amount of artefacts from the past 100 years of Vancouver’s colourful history. MOV Volunteer Outing 22042015 7 Overall, it was a fun, educational day out for the volunteers and myself! Although we can never do enough to thank our team for all the hard work they do throughout the year, we hope our National Volunteer Week activities made them feel a little more appreciated.

Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities at the FRDC.

*click* photos of the fraser is off and running

April 17, 2015

Last week we launched the 2015 edition of *click* photos of the fraser. *click* debuted in 2010 as a relatively simple photograph exhibit. People submitted their photos of the river and we printed up our favourites. Over the past five years we’ve received hundreds of entries. And each year we’ve tweaked the exhibit, adding a theme, jury and, for the first time this year, prizes.

This year we are introducing a new way for photographers to submit their photos. It will also allow you to vote for your favourites. It is all a bit new to me but I’m confident this new platform will streamline how we process all the entries in the office and, most importantly, improve our online engagement. Okay, enough chit-chat, without further ado, the details for the 2015 edition of *click*: photos of the fraser. This year’s theme is the colour red. In addition to installing the top twelve photographs in the galleries, we will be awarding prizes to the best photos in each of three categories: The River Wild, The River At Work, and The River’s People. You can find the entry details here and the FAQs here. I’m so excited about this year and cannot wait to see what you come up with!