Historic sites across Canada are celebrated this July 8 to 23, 2023 during Historic Places Day, presented by the National Trust for Canada. We are invited to take this time to showcase and share the places and stories that are important to us.
65th Anniversary of Last Run of Marpole-Steveston Tram
2023 marks the 65th anniversary of the end of the Marpole-Steveston Tram and the end of the Interurban Tram era in the Vancouver region. This region once had five main electric tram lines that connected all of the major urban centres. This transit network also included streetcars in the Lower Mainland region surrounding Vancouver, which also included North Vancouver, New Westminster, and Victoria.
These trams and streetcars shaped the way our communities developed. Homes and businesses expanded along these transit routes which connected communities and people with fast, affordable, and clean transportation. They brought electricity to town centres and helped define rural communities. Across North America, interurban trams bridged the eras of the horse and buggy, and of cars and buses.
After the Second World War, people who found new wealth bought cars for convenience and as status symbols. New suburbs were built with roads instead of rails. Car and oil companies used a marketing campaign called “Rails to Rubber” to convince local governments that roads and automobiles, not trams and streetcars, were the future of urban transit.
The Interurban and streetcar tracks were removed from across the Lower Mainland, until only the Marpole-Steveston Line remained because Richmond’s older bridges were already congested and were not built to support the weight of buses. On July 1, 1957, the Oak Street Bridge opened, allowing buses into Richmond for the first time. Seven months later on February 28, 1958, passengers gathered for the last run of the Marpole-Steveston tram.
The Interurban trams are now just a distant memory, but their community legacy lives on at the Steveston Tram and other rail museums across North America. Visit us soon to explore this defining part of Richmond’s history.
Photograph the Tram and enter the Historic Places Days photo competition between July 8 and 23 to win great prizes. For more information, visit https://historicplacesdays.ca/contests/