All aboard the Interurban at the Surrey Museum

The Surrey Museum hosts a special day of lectures and activities highlighting its BC Electric Railway exhibit.

B.C. Electric Railway's Sullivan Station in Surrey

B.C. Electric Railway's Sullivan Station in Surrey

The BC Electric Railway – known as the Interurban – was a transit and transportation lifeline that operated for four decades.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Surrey Museum hosts Riding the Rails, a special event in conjunction with its latest exhibition, BC Electric: More Than Just a Tram, on view to March 24.

The exhibit looks at four decades of passenger and freight service on the BCER, which ran from New Westminster to Chilliwack, connecting communities of the Fraser Valley.

Before there were highways or paved roads, the line transported freight such as lumber, dairy and fresh produce from the valley to a growing urban population, in addition to a vital rail passenger service.

It operated from 1910 to 1950, and Cloverdale – the busy transit hub – was at the centre of it all.

Students hopped on the Interurban to go to high school in Cloverdale, home of Surrey’s original high school.

Riding the Rails from 1-4 p.m. is an all ages event featuring an afternoon of old-time railway fun. View displays from the Greater Vancouver Garden Railway Club, make crafts to take home and an enjoy an afternoon lecture.

It’s open to all ages, by donation.

In Riding the Rails With a Paintbrush (1:30-2:30 p.m.) artist Brian Croft, known for his highly detailed paintings of heritage landmarks of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, narrates a visual tour of his paintings and the history behind them.

Many of his paintings chronicle the colourful BCER. Between 1:30-2:30 p.m., he’ll share how his research and paint process has created an on-going historical record of the BCER’s interurban trams. His lecture is for ages 16 and up. Admission by donation.

His work has been described as meticulously observed, lovingly created and intensely atmospheric. It’s visual history that breathes life and renewed understanding into long gone landmarks.

That’s followed by History Speaks: The Story of BCER Car 1223 (from 3 to 4 p.m.). Lisa Codd, curator of the Burnaby Village Museum, will share the story of Interurban Car 1223 and how a team of professionals and volunteers painstakingly restored it.

Coming up next month is another History Speaks lecture at the Surrey Museum, All Aboard Cloverdale.

On March 24, from 1 to 2 p.m., the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society offers a glimpse into their ambitious plans for the new BC Electric Car barn, station and heritage tram line – all happening in Cloverdale. This lecture is for ages 16 and up, by donation.

The exhibition, B.C. Electric: More than Just A Tram is presented at the Surrey Museum, Feb. 7 to March 24 in partnership with the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society and the Chilliwack Museum.

The Surrey Museum is located at 17710 56A Avenue, Surrey.

It’s open Tuesdays to Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed Sundays, Mondays and statutory holidays. For more information, visit www.surrey.ca/heritage. Or call 604-592-6956.