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Heritage Week – Steveston Tram “Layer by Layer”

Steveston Tram black and white archival photo

This year’s BC Heritage Week from February 19 to 25, 2024 asks us to dig into the theme “Layer by Layer”,  layering stories that describe the uniqueness of a community’s past and present while informing the future. 

Read on to peel back the layers of the Steveston Tram’s history, and how Interurban trams helped shape Richmond’s transportation as we know it now. Part one of this three-part series looks at Tram Car 1220.

Tram Car 1220, the “Sockeye Limited”

The centrepiece of the exhibit is Tram Car 1220, a beautifully restored 1912 Interurban tram, which is the largest artefact in the City of Richmond’s museum collection. Made by the St. Louis Car Company and owned and operated by the BC Electric Railway Company, Tram Car 1220 helped connect Richmond to the world for 45 years.

Tram Car 1220 sits on a railway track that runs through the Steveston Tram building. The original track was built in 1902 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It took 30 men only 22 days to lay the eight miles across Richmond’s bogs, mudflats, and farmland. The rail line was originally built for steam engines and the first passenger train departed Steveston on June 30, 1902.

This train was dubbed the “Sockeye Limited” because it served the Steveston canneries and the many cannery workers who filled its seats. Except for the Steveston Station, there were no other official stops. According to local historian Ron Hyde, if people wanted to board the train elsewhere, “they would stand on the track and wave it down.”

The restored red exterior Steveston historic tram car 1220
the beautifully restored Tram car 1220 today

Read Part 2 and 3 of the Heritage Week “Layer by Layer” series – Steveston Tram and the BC Electric Railway, Steveston Station and Railway Avenue