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Then & Now: Six generations tied to home at Burnaby Village Museum

Whenever seven-year-old Taylen Ritchie visits the Burnaby Village Museum, he runs off to find a volunteer and proudly announces his family's connection to a central home onsite.

Whenever seven-year-old Taylen Ritchie visits the Burnaby Village Museum, he runs off to find a volunteer and proudly announces his family's connection to a central home onsite.

The 1920s homestead, known simply as Elworth, used to belong to his great, great, great grandfather Edwin Bateman.

"It's cool and it's very neat," Taylen told the NOW. "I like walking around and I like seeing things that were old fashioned. I like seeing the kitchen and it's really cool. It's the old fashioned toaster, the stove, the waffle iron."

Taylen Ritchie
Now: Taylen Ritchie, 7, is attending a spring camp at Burnaby Village Museum, which is built around the home of his great, great, great grandfather Edwin Bateman. - Photo, Larry Wright

This spring break, Taylen attended a day camp at the museum, and, once again, proudly told everyone about his family's connection to the home. His mom, Anne, thinks the familial link to history is very important.

"We live not far away, ...  and when I visit that area and walk around the lake, I think of the previous families walking around the same lake... several generations before. It's quite neat we've ended up making our home in Burnaby as well, the same place the family started a long time ago," she said. "Burnaby Village Museum is a lovely place to visit anyway, but it makes it more special as part of our family."

Taylen's grandmother, Comox resident Beth Ritchie, remembers her great grandfather Bateman, who passed away in 1957, when she was just 11.

"He was a great guy. He was a little, tiny guy. He lived till 99," she said.

Beth said Bateman would be happy to know his great, great, great grandson is visiting his home today.

"I think he would think it's wonderful. He was quite a guy," she said. "I really enjoyed going to visit him."

Bateman was born in England and emigrated to Canada in 1880, when he was 21. He worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a right-of-way and tax agent for B.C. He was also a British royalist, who fathered several children and ran for city council.

Edwin Bateman
Edwin Bateman, owner of the Elworth house, in his 20s. Bateman is the great, great, great grandfather of Taylen Ritchie. - Courtesy of the Burnaby Village Museum collection

Bateman and his wife Mary commissioned the construction of Elworth as their retirement home. At the time, realtor F.J. Hart (after whom the Hart House is named) was selling the land by Deer Lake, promoting the area as an exclusive, Shaughnessy-style neighbourhood, where homes had to cost at least $8,000. Elworth was built as a Craftsman style bungalow with classic revival features (take the iconic columns on the porch, for example). 

The Elworth home
Then: The Elworth home in 1939. Photo courtesy of the Burnaby Village Museum collections - BV986.21.9

In an old newspaper article, a grandson of Bateman's recalls visiting the home and remembers Mary's baking, home-churned butter and family gatherings, where everyone had to stand at attention when God Save the King came over the radio at Christmas.

The Batemans lived in the home until 1935, when they moved to Vancouver. 

Elworth changed hands a couple of times before the City of Burnaby bought it in 1970. It became the central focus of the Burnaby Village Museum, where staff initially used it for displays and office space until it was restored in the 1990s. Of all the structures at the museum, Elworth is the only one that still rests on its original foundation.

The Ritchies have kept the family connection to Elworth alive and well, holding weddings at the Burnaby Village Museum.

And with Taylen attending camp at the museum, that's six generations keeping close to their roots in Burnaby.