Car 153 is the last British Columbia Electric Railway streetcar of its kind.

It is all that remains of a three line streetcar network operated by the B.C.E.R. in North Vancouver from 1906 to 1947.

Streetcar suburb

North Vancouver was a “streetcar suburb”. Residential growth followed the path of tram lines which fanned out from the ferry wharf.

Line one ran up Lonsdale Avenue to Windsor Road.

Line two went to Lynn Valley via Grand Boulevard.

Line three ran west along Marine Drive and through Pemberton Heights to Capilano Road.

Car 153 was one of thirteen double-ended streetcars in the system. A two-person operated car, with a motorman and a conductor, it was driveable from both ends. Passengers entered at the rear. When the end of the line was reached, the seat backs were flipped over to face in the travelling direction and the trolley poles on top of the car were reversed. The motorman took his controls and brake handle to the other end of the car and attached them to an identical set of control shafts before starting the return trip.

How it Worked

Street railway cars ran on electric power from overhead trolley wires. There are two trolley poles atop Car 153, each with a small wheel at the end. The wheels carried current from the overhead wire to the controller inside the car and from there to the motors beneath the car.

The motorman operated a controller that would start, stop and control the car’s speed. A control handle adjusted the amount of current reaching the motors. A smaller reversing handle controlled the car’s direction forward or backward.

A handle on top of the brake stand controlled the air-brakes which used compressed air to move brake shoes against the wheels.

The motorman controlled a foot-operated platform gong mounted under the car. It acted as a warning signal instead of a horn. Bell chords inside the car were pulled to let the motorman know a passenger wanted to disembark.



After operating in Vancouver from 1908 to 1912, Car 153 was barged to North Vancouver. It ran on the Lonsdale line from August 1912 to September 1946.


The car’s motors and metal parts were sold as scrap in 1947. The wooden body was moved to the Fraser Valley where it was re-purposed as a restaurant (Mrs. Hale’s Streetcar Café). In 1965 the car was found on a farm in Ryder Lake, south-east of Chilliwack, serving as a chicken coop.


B.C. Transit acquired the car body and moved it to a storage facility. In 1986 the Car was purchased by the City of North Vancouver and moved to North Vancouver.


The body was reconstructed by a team of volunteers (1988–1992) and stored under Mahon Park’s stadium. Replacement trucks and interior fittings were purchased.


A team from West Coast Railway Association in Squamish removed the trucks’ motors and brake rigging, to make it lighter, and completed the car’s refurbishment. The reconstructed body and trucks were moved into MONOVA in July 2019 and installed during the building’s construction.


By 1905, people in North Vancouver wanted what they could see across the water in Vancouver: lighting, electric power, and streetcars.


Long before a bridge was built across Burrard Inlet, residents and visitors alike sought an easier way to traverse the hilly North Shore. From 1906 to 1947, electric streetcars were the answer. Now people living in North Vancouver could get to work on time, and visitors and tourists could access hiking trails and visit attractions like the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

BUILT in New Jersey by the John Stephenson Co. The J.G. Brill Co, Philadelphia, manufactured its seats, gongs, fittings, and “trucks” (which held the wheels and axles, the motors, and braking system). Like all North Vancouver trolley cars, it was smaller than the interurban trams operated by B.C.E.R. on suburban routes leading out of Vancouver.

DATES OF SERVICE IN NORTH VANCOUVER August 1, 1912 to September 14, 1946

A DOUBLE-ENDED, TWO-MAN STREETCAR with two trolley poles and double-trucks. Its two swiveling trucks each had two axles. There were originally four 38 horse-power G.E.67 motors. Motors and electrical components on the restored Car 153 have been removed in order to lessen its weight.

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT 39 ft. long, 10.5 ft. high, 8.75 ft. wide. Original weight: 44,520 pounds.

DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT 39 ft. long, 10.5 ft. high, 8.75 ft. wide. Original weight: 44,520 pounds.

INTERIOR stained cherry wood with raised clerestory roof. Originally, there were 40 rattan seats.

LIVERY The original exterior colour scheme was forest green. Like other B.C.E.R. trams, it changed to a cream and red scheme in 1925.


On January 5, 1907, a costly runaway occurred when three cars “madly rushed down the steep grade on the British Columbia Electric Railway tracks on Lonsdale Avenue North Vancouver on Saturday afternoon, landing on the wharf and beach at the foot of a mass of broken machinery and kindling wood….” This accident motivated the company to install a unique derail safety device.


MONOVA wishes to thank the many people and organizations who made Car 153’s restoration journey possible.

B.C. Transit and transit historian Brian Kelly found and rescued Car 153.

City of North Vancouver purchased the Car, sponsored its reconstruction, and designated a permanent home in MONOVA.

Bill Baker (1925–2011), first Director of the Museum and Archives, championed the Car’s return to North Vancouver in the 1980s.

B.C. Heritage Trust and the Province of British Columbia funded the Car’s initial re-building.

Bob Booth (1919–2015), a retired architect, was volunteer manager for the reconstruction project (1988–1992).

Carl Anderson, a retired shipwright, and Stephen Ley, were volunteers who re-built Car 153 using Bob Booth’s plans.

Robin Inglis, second Director of the Museum and Archives, championed the Car’s reconstruction in the 1990s.

Henry Ewert, streetcar historian, researched North Vancouver’s streetcar history and wrote The Perfect Little Street Car System, North Vancouver 1906–1947 (published 2001).

Gary Penway, former City of North Vancouver Director of Community Development, helped find a permanent home for Car 153.

Nancy Kirkpatrick, third Director of the Museum and Archives, championed the car’s restoration from dream to reality.

Don Evans (1947–2019), former Chair of the West Coast Railway Association, oversaw completion of the Car’s refurbishment, with much of the restoration work carried out by David Walmsley.

Government of Canada funded exhibit design for Car 153 in MONOVA.

© Copyright - MONOVA