On July 1, North Vancouver residents saw their beloved historic Streetcar 153 for the first time in decades. Riding on a flatbed truck, the refurbished car was featured in the community’s Canada Day parade.
Having been under cover for many years, Car 153 was enthusiastically welcomed back. The Streetcar is now being prepared for installation in the lobby of the new Museum of North Vancouver, currently under construction at 115 West Esplanade. There, the restoration of the Streetcar’s interior will be completed and the car prepped to welcome visitors to the new museum (opening in the Fall 2020).
Originally part of the community’s streetcar system; 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. Many residents still recall stories told by neighbours and family members of riding the rails and of memorable events that happened on board. The streetcar system transformed North Vancouver, taking it from wilderness to a bustling townsite and ultimately urban community.
Streetcar 153 played a part in all of this, although with the popularity of buses following World War II, its days were numbered. Caught up in a North America wide move from rails to rubber, operations ceased in 1947 and the streetcar was moved to the Fraser Valley where it became a restaurant and later a chicken coop!
In the 1980s, it was reclaimed by the City of North Vancouver and a restoration project, led by community volunteers, began. That project is now being completed. In the future, Car 153 will play a new role as it takes visitors to the new Museum of North Vancouver back in time to hear stories of the community’s early days while also inspiring discussions of the transit and transportation challenges that the north shore now faces.
As the feature exhibit at the new Museum, the Streetcar will be a touchstone for fun and for learning. It will set the tone as visitors as explore North Vancouver’s stories both past and present. It will be the launching pad for programs about this community’s future. A dynamic and relevant gathering place, the new Museum of North Vancouver will showcase North Vancouver’s powerful stories and engage visitors of all ages. It will be as extraordinary as the community it reflects.
The North Vancouver Museum & Archives offices are located in the Community History Centre at 3203 Institute Road, North Vancouver.