Skip to content

Heritage Week – Steveston Tram and the BCER

Archival photo of red tram car on rails, running under power poles and electric lines

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 two of this three-part series looks at how the Interurban tram brought power to Steveston Village.

BC Electric Railway (BCER)

The line was electrified in 1905 when BC Electric Railway (BCER) leased the line from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and began running the first three Interurbans from Steveston to Vancouver. These trams were different from the BCER’s smaller streetcars that stayed in the confines of cities. The Interurbans were bigger and operated by two men. They ran between communities, allowing people to live in one community and work, visit, and shop in another. These trams immediately replaced the “Sockeye Limited” passenger steam trains.

This rail transit system was the link between the time of the horse and carriage and the time of the motorcar. The fast, reliable, and affordable Interurbans proved a hit with the locals. Those three original Interurbans were soon added to with twenty-eight more in 1913, including Tram Car 1220 that is currently on display at the Steveston Tram.

Power Poles

Today, to the north of the Tram building, are a number of old power poles standing as sentinels to the past. These poles are considered cultural heritage resources and are protected. They are remnants of a time when the electric Interurbans like Tram Car 1220 ran, fed by the electrical lines these power poles once held.  A historic side note is that these power lines that fed the trams were also how Richmond received electricity for the first time.

Power poles to the north of the steveston tram building today

Read Part 1 and 3 of the Heritage Week “Layer by Layer” series – Tram Car 1220 the “Sockeye Limited”, Steveston Station and Railway Avenue