Can tales that span a thousand years
Hope to be told within an hour?
Use your wits, your eyes, your ears:
You may yet learn a story’s power.
Men and women and children too
Have made this place their dwelling.
What lessons have they now for you?
What wisdom for the telling?
Cowichan, Tsimshian, British and Viking,
Human hist’ry abounds, if that’s to your liking.
If you seek to learn also of flora and fauna
Then stay a bit longer you’ll probably wanna.
From towering hairy pachyderms,
To microscopic ocean germs.
A myriad of different beasts,
Have lived in North, West, South and East.
Living and dead share common place,
Extinct and extant in a single space.
Though these creatures lived millions of years apart,
To bring them together is the curators’ art.
You’ll know Thuja plicata, if you’re a plaque reader,
To be nothing less than the Western Red Cedar.
Seven centuries growing to tree from a seed,
To a human seems rather a long time indeed.
On mortal lifespans one may speak,
Of centuries, decades, months or weeks.
What of sagas the age of the Earth?
Truly, there are aeons’ worth.
Why spend your time admiring a rock?
Well, geologists say the stones can talk!
Through millions of years a boulder may travel,
Before it’s eroded to nothing but gravel.
Now, as you stand with mouth agape,
Remember that you cannot escape;
For every hour you spend entranced,
Time will not relent its dance.
Even as you seek to find,
Knowledge the ancients left behind,
The minutes and hours will tick away,
Until the close at end of day.
Fear ye not, oh humble visitor,
Whether uncouth rube or keen inquisitor.
We welcome you back at the specified time:
Tomorrow morn at the bells’ tenth chime.
As we close the doors at coming of night,
The future for us still looks bright;
We’ve been safeguarding mem’ry since eighteen eighty four,
And, one way or another, will for many years more.