Pulse Spotlight – Dickens Sweets & Museum – 12.15.12

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

It seems that traditional British food either excites people (Anyone for Mr. Kipling Cherry Bakewell Tarts?) or bewilders people (Batchelors Mushy Peas… I don’t get it!), depending on which side of the pond you’re from! Being a Canadian with very little British influence, I had never been one to pop into a British import shop “just because,” and it wasn’t until I visited Dickens Sweets that I realized what us non-British folk were missing out on!

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

Named after the famous writer, Charles Dickens, Anne and Fred Hails first opened the doors of Dickens in September 2000 as a bit of a hobby project. Needing something to keep her busy, Anne decided a sweet shop would be a lovely way to enjoy her love for British sweets and also share them with her community.  She originally planned to sell imported sweets in the shop 3 days a week, but Anne and Fred soon found themselves bursting at the seams and needing more space. Within two months of opening shop, they were already expanding to accommodate imported grocery items, in addition to their huge selection of sweet goodies.

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

As Anne starting spending most of her time making sure the shop was running smoothly, Fred decided he needed a little project to keep him busy as well – and so their British Museum was born! What started out as a small personal collection of antiques and British memorabilia, has now grown to a full museum of over 10,000 square feet of showcases, exhibits and loaned private collections. Artifacts are thoughtfully organized into different rooms (like their Titanic Room) to allow for continuity, but definitely be prepared to be surprised and amazed as you make your way through the museum’s nooks and crannies. With collections such as the Sir Winston Churchill & War Room and the largest collection of “Dinky” Toys in Western Canada, you really don’t know what you might end up discovering! Not British? No worries! I loved wandering through the exhibits and learning a little something about the lifestyles of the British. There is so much to see; everyone will enjoy something on offer at Dickens.

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight SC_0326

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

Now that Anne and Fred are semi-retired, Anne’s daughter Trudy has taken on the shop and it’s obvious she has just as much passion and flair for it as her mother does. Even though Anne and Fred still stop by a few times a week (usually to add a few special items to the museum), Trudy attributes most of their success to the level of customer service that they have continued to provide over the years. Having a common bond with most of their customers, Anne and Trudy take great pride in creating a community feel within Dickens. It is fun to watch them talk to a non-British customer about all their favourite British foods. I found it very educational! Seriously – mushy peas…

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

If you’re like me, you’ll most likely feel a little out of place when you walk in the door and you might not know what to think when you try your first Jelly Baby, but do stay a while – you’re in great hands. Think of it as a very cool learning experience and an opportunity to try a few new things…even if your adventurous side will only allow you a taste of authentic British chocolate! Don’t be fooled by the Cadbury wrappers though – these chocolates are not the same as what you’ve been buying from the local corner store. Made without waxy preservatives, British chocolate is a creamier and smoother treat than we’re used to. I encourage you to browse the shelves and see what neat British treats others are there for. I hear one of our FVP team members travels from Langley to Dickens just for their pickled onions and curried baked beans!

DSC_0Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight 352

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

I must warn you, though, with so much to experience (they also have a loose left tea shop, as well as Mr. Pickwicks Pie Shop and Oliver’s Tea Room), there’s no way you can fit it all in one day. Now open Monday through Saturday from 10am – 4pm, there’s never a dull moment at Dickens – especially now that the holiday season is upon us!

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

Be sure to stop by to visit their Christmas Village, which is now open (and free)!

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

Fraser Valley Pulse - Dickens Sweets Spotlight

To help celebrate their love of all things British, Trudy is gifting one of our readers a Taste of Britian High Tea Experience for Two in the Dickens Tea Room!

Please leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. Winner will be chosen at random on December 24, 2012!

Update: Congratulations to our winner, Marnie. Enjoy your high tea! This contest is now closed.

Dickens Sweets & British Museum

45945 Alexander Rd, Chilliwack

Ph: 604-793-1981

Contributor: Shannon Clattenburg

Shannon Clattenburg is a creative spirit first and a freelance writer second. She is a features writer for Fraser Valley Pulse and has a love for uncovering hidden gems throughout the Fraser Valley . She lives in Chilliwack with her boyfriend and her doggy Rolo. Twitter: @OrdinaryShan

18 Responses to “Pulse Spotlight – Dickens Sweets & Museum – 12.15.12”

  1. Darlene says:

    I can’t wait to come for a visit! We have one or two here in Langley, but this one sounds like it is well worth the trip! And I can’t wait to see how the Christmas Village compares to my own! Would sure love to win!

  2. Annette says:

    As a long-time follower of Coronation Street, I have a fascination with all things “British” especially what might be found in the ‘corner shop.’ I can’t wait to come out and visit Dickens Sweets and Museum!

  3. Taylor says:

    High tea sounds fun!

  4. Dee W. says:

    Would love to win a visit to Tea. Even if I do not win I will visit. Thankyou.

  5. Anita Breeze says:

    This is so cool! My parents live in Chilliwack, now I have another great excuse for a day trip. My son is going to love this! Thanks for sharing this place.

  6. lucy kabatoff says:

    My daughter returned from London in July. She had been there 22 years. I would love to win this to take her to Dickens Sweets for High Tea to show her High Tea in Canada.

  7. Sharon Schuss says:

    As I have been heavily into finding my British Ancestry and hopefully going to visit England next year it would be lovely to spend a few hours in your shop and experience High Tea before we go. Even if I don’t win we will make a trip out to Chilliwack and enjoy your hospitality.

  8. Joan B says:

    Oh my goodness…if I found my way to this charming Chilliwack location, it will feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven being surrounded by so many of my favorite sweets

  9. Marnie James says:

    This looks like a very charming place! I would love to win High Tea here!!

  10. Sherry says:

    I can hardly wait to visit this charming shop. Thank you for the spotlight!

  11. Darlene Million says:

    wow I can not believe I have not been to your shop yet…but surely will soon…so much to see.

  12. Emilia says:

    The pictures are just charming inside Dickens Sweets & Museam. I will definitely drop by

  13. Bonnie Cunningham says:

    Looking forward to a visit to your shop.

  14. Deborah Sproule says:

    I would love to win this. I lived in England for many years and a friend just told me of this shop so I had planned to go anyways – winning this would be wonderful!!!

  15. Alison Routley says:

    I haven’t heard about this gem until today and can’t wait to visit! I enjoy British candy and high tea is a lovely tradition.

  16. Dilara says:

    I’d love to visit this place!

  17. Kelly says:

    Cannot wait to come and visit. I know my mother-in-law would LOVE to join me for the High Tea. Winning this would be a great Birthday present to me :) Winning or not though – I will definitely find my way to the Dickens Tea Room. Merry Christmas everyone!

  18. Yvette S says:

    Looks amazing, and has a lot of the items I love. Have never been to a high tea before…I think my mom would really enjoy it – I plan to visit very soon.

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