We’re very pleased to welcome Lisa Codd back to the blog. Lisa is the fantastic curator at the Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel. Readers of the blog will remember Lisa from her great help with the past posts on women in transit, interurbans and the history of the Pattullo Bridge.
A Century of Service: Four Metro Vancouver transit artifacts celebrate 100 years – by Lisa Codd
A century ago, in 1912, the B.C. Electric Railway Company placed an order with the St. Louis Car Company in St. Louis, Missouri to purchase 28 passenger cars for use in the Vancouver and Fraser Valley regions.
The BCER had been operating in this region since 1897, when it bought out a group of investors who owned streetcar lines in Vancouver and New Westminster, and an interurban line built in 1891 that connected the two cities. The BCER invested in expansion of the system, and by 1912, this region’s street railway was by far the largest in the country, with over 200 miles of track (Winnipeg was a distant second with 80 miles).
Up until 1912, the BCER had built their cars locally in a shop in New Westminster. But in 1912, they decided to purchase the cars rather than build them themselves, probably because their shop was not set up to build steel-framed cars, which provided more safety to passengers in the event of an accident.
The St. Louis Car Company was a major manufacturer of streetcars and interurban trams from 1887 to 1973. They built vehicles for some of the major transit systems in North America, including New York City and Chicago.
The cars entered service in 1913, and ran throughout the Lower Mainland for 45 years. In the 1950s, electric railway service was replaced by buses. The 1223 was retired from service in 1958. It was one of only ten B.C. Electric Railway cars that were saved from destruction. The 1223 became the property of the Burnaby Historical Society, who put it on display at Edmonds Loop. Today, the restored tram car is housed at the Burnaby Village Museum.
Sister cars to the 1223 include the 1225 owned by the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society, the 1231 operated by the Transit Museum Society in Vancouver, and the 1220 currently being restored by the Richmond Museum.
To celebrate this anniversary, the Burnaby Village Museum has organized a programme of expert speakers who will provide fascinating looks into the history of electric railway transportation, as well as the possibilities of reviving the system for future use. It’s called “Going Electric” and it is scheduled for September 29 at the Burnaby Village Museum.
More information is available on the Museum’s website:
In addition to the lecture series, the Burnaby Village Museum will be open to the public on September 29th and 30th from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm, to celebrate Burnaby’s transportation heritage. The Museum’s exhibits will be open, including the Interurban 1223 tram barn, and activities, entertainment, and demonstrations will take place throughout the site.