North Shore citizens will get a chance to see the historic and newly refurbished streetcar #153 at the Canada Day Parade.
In the days following the parade, the Streetcar will be prepared for installation in the lobby of the new Museum of North Vancouver currently under construction at 115 West Esplanade, said Shirley Sutherland, the assistance director of North Vancouver Museum and Archives.
While the streetcar has been refurbished, it has not been completely restored, which will take a few more months to achieve, Sutherland said. While locals can see the street car at the Canada Day parade, people won’t be allowed inside the street car.
Car#153 traveled up and down Lonsdale Avenue from 1912 to 1946 linking residents to their homes and jobs on the south shore and along the waterfront.The Street Car #153 was one of the several double-ended cars built in New Jersey in the early 1900s for the B.C. Electric Railway Company, which operated the North Vancouver system.
“The streetcar system truly transformed North Vancouver, taking it from wilderness to a bustling townsite and ultimately urban community,” said Sutherland.
One among the three street cars that plied on Lonsdale and transported people to Vancouver-bound ferries, street car 153 is also a unique artifact. It’s the only double-ended, 8-wheel BC Electric Railway streetcar in existence. It was a fast and an inexpensive way to travel until diesel-powered buses replaced them in 1947. The rails were pulled up, the overhead power cables were taken down, and the streetcars were sold for scrap. Car #153 ended up in the Fraser Valley where it met a sad fate as a chicken coop.
But the past is now getting a shiny new makeover for the future in North Vancouver. A dedicated group of experts from the West Coast Railway Association have worked hard to restore the historic street car in the past few months. Extensive renovations include sandblasting, painting and lighting work to bring the street car to its original glory. The motors from the trucks were removed to reduce weight, a new raised platform and changed to the rear door will be made to make the street car accessible.
The WCRA heritage experts also removed motors from the trucks to reduce weight and fabricate new plates for each truck in Squamish to facilitate a simple bolt on mounting to the car under frame.There will be new lighting and electrical outlets but with taking away the heritage look and feel of the street car.
Final reconstruction work on the body and wheel sets is now underway, after which the streetcar will move to the new museum. In 2020, when the museum opens, Car #153 will have pride of place in the entrance pavilion, ready to welcome new generations of visitors to hop on board.