The largest artifact in the Richmond Museum collection is also one of the most rare, and it's about to chug back to life early this year.
An original Interurban Tram, #1220 built in 1913 by the St. Louis Car Company in the United States and brought up by the B.C. Electric Railway Company, is one of five still in existence today. It will be restored and displayed in a new home still under construction at the corner of No. 1 Road and Moncton Street in Steveston.
"The plan for the building is to preserve and protect the tram from the elements, and provide a space to restore the tram and an opportunity for the community to come in and learn about Richmond's transportation history," said Rebecca Forrest, curator of the Richmond Museum and Heritage Services.
The 2,370-square-foot structure will feature 27-foot-high windows that will allow the public to view the restoration process, and also a winch system that can pull the tram out for special events. The previous home for #1220 had been just a short way up the tracks at the north end of the Steveston Community Park,
Forrest said the tram is an integral piece of the city's heritage.
"So many people in Richmond, no matter where they were in life, took it to school, social events, sporting events. It didn't matter if you were rich or poor, a new immigrant or lived here forever," said Forrest.
"There's such a strong connection to it, it really brought people together. I hear so many people say they took the tram to their grandparent's house."
Stopping service in 1958, the Marpole-Steveston Line was the last one to be discontinued due to competition from busses and trucks.
There are three other restored trams in B.C. in Vancouver, Burnaby and Cloverdale, the latter having an operational specimen run by the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society.
The Richmond example will not run under its own power, but once it's finished Forrest said visitors can climb aboard while the tram is stationary.
Forrest said the restoration project will include painting the outside, inspecting the undercarriage, installing new seats and repairing the roof.
Volunteers are needed, especially those with woodworking and electrical experience.
The museum is also looking for any artifacts or equipment relating to the tram. For more information, email email@example.com or contact Forrest at 604-247-8331.