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February 22, 1890 – the beginning of transit in B.C.

streetcar Fort St Victoria 1890s

Streetcar on Fort St., Victoria – 1890s Courtesy of BC Archives

“Let’s go back, let’s go back, let’s go way on way back when…” – Aretha Franklin

To February 22, 1890.

This is such an important date for the province because this day in history marks the launch of public transit in British Columbia!

It all started in Victoria with four small electric streetcars, two routes and nine kilometres of track laid down the centre of the city by The National Electric Tramway and Light Company.

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria - 1898 Courtesy of BC Archives

Streetcar No. 5 Victoria – 1898
Courtesy of BC Archives

This was only the third electric streetcar system in Canada at the time.

Vancouver wasn’t far behind! Four months later on June 26th, the first car went for a ride all the way down Main St. and on June 28th, the whole 9.6 kilometre system was in service.

We celebrated the region’s 125 years of transit milestone this past summer!

The next major transit launch was in New Westminster a year later with interurban trams connecting to downtown Vancouver through Burnaby which created easy travel for residents of different cities to explore the region.

These first benchmarks in B.C.’s transit history began over a century of transit expansion in the province.

It is so valuable to know where we’ve come from to see where transit can go in the future!

We salute those early transit pioneers that paved the way (sometimes literally) for BC Transit and TransLink to be here today and provide transit service to British Columbia!

You can learn lots more about transit history by visiting the BC Archives.

Author: Adrienne Coling


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