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KAREN DEARLOVE, LIFE LONG HISTORY ENTHUSIAST AND CURATOR FOR THE NVMA

Updated: Sep 23

Guest Speaker, Karen Dearlove


Enamored with the subject since she was a child, Karen Dearlove has spent much of her life studying history, and has always wanted to work in museums. As curator of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives (NVMA), she is responsible for the maintenance and documentation of the museum’s rich and varied artifact collection. A PhD in History from McMaster University, she stated on DesignMakePlay that she has always wanted to get involved with a form of history that was less academic and more public. Given her current role, she procures much joy from being able to use these artifacts to tell diverse and compelling stories of North Vancouver’s history, and communicate her expertise into a language anyone can understand. 


Dearlove moved to Vancouver in 2013 from her home in Ontario, initially working as Capacity Planner for Heritage BC. She has designed award winning travel exhibits like Chief Dan George: Actor and Activist in collaboration with the George Family and Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and is deeply involved in creating exhibits for the new North Vancouver Museum opening soon in Lower Lonsdale. 


When asked where her passion derives from, she explained that the genesis of her enchantment began with her father. Dearlove’s father was always interested in history, meaning that family trips involved a lot of museum tours. Growing up in a textile mill town, human kind’s industrial past and how things have been constructed always fascinated her. 

“Think of the Shipyards”, Dearlove explains, “North Vancouver’s industrial past is one that makes it unique in the Lower Mainland”. North Vancouver’s Shipyards made vital contributions to the Allied victory during World War II, and manufactured nearly half of the cargo ships built in Canada. These ships were crucial for carrying North American supplies and equipment to the front-lines where they were desperately needed. Manufacturers and their employees rallied to support the war effort, structuring their lives around “Shipyard Time” so they could maximize output. Had they not, who knows how history would have been recorded.



As a guest on DesignMakePlay, it was evident just how enthusiastic Dearlove is in regards to what she does. She highlighted some interesting artifacts associated with shipbuilding at the Burrard Dock, and even presented us a Rivet Gun, a tool weighing between 15-20 pounds used to build ships. Workers would often put in 12 hour shifts while using these tools, which helped cultivate a very skilled workforce.

Karen Dearlove posing with welding mask,

represents her interest in industrial history.


With all the resources present along the North Shore, it is no surprise that it became a very central area. 

As mentioned earlier the NVMA is set to open a new museum in the Lower Lonsdale Shipyards District very close to The Shipyards. Located at 115 West Esplanade, the new 16,000 square foot museum will be surrounded by glass windows so you can see inside the museum as you walk by. We do however encourage you to step inside and see things up close and personal. As described on the NVMA website, the intention of developers is to make things as welcoming and accommodating as possible. The facility will have a garden area and community hub spaces for meetings and community discussions, as well as child focused learning areas and a gift shop to accommodate tourists. Deep into construction, the museum is set to open early in the new year, and some exhibits have already been moved in.


Checkout the NVMA’s blog The Inlet for more information on exhibits and community work the company is involved with! 


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