If you want to celebrate Christmas like it’s 1919, you’ll need to head over to Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society Dec. 7-8.
That weekend, the FVHRS will once again be running its Electric Express as they present Christmas as it would have been celebrated 100 years ago.
“It was the first year of peace after the Great War,” said Michael Gibbs, a volunteer with the FVHRS. “Each year, we always celebrate Christmas 100 years in the past from whatever year we are in.”
Gibbs told the Cloverdale Reporter visitors to the railway will discover a bit of history and take in a lot of fun. Each volunteer at the railway dresses in period costumes and offers riders tidbits of history through storytelling.
“This year the troops are all back from Europe, but there is another problem citizens of the time would have been undergoing—a lot of people were dying from the Spanish Influenza as it gripped the post-war world.”
Gibbs said the narrative will take visitors into the details of Canadian family life at Christmas in 1919 and how local people were affected by worldwide events.
In addition to riding the rails on the historic interurban train and witnessing the historical narrative the Society will present, Gibbs said visitors will get to sing Christmas carols and wonder at the delights of Santa’s workshop.
“The station will be dressed up as 1919, with its own corner store,” added Stephen Plant, the director of guest experience for the FVHRS. “In the museum area, we will have live music playing most of the time.”
Plant said volunteers will describe 1919 in Cloverdale and what it was like.
“We explain the ending of the war. We play period Christmas carols. We introduce a real WWI soldier, who was awarded the Victoria Cross. Our character appears wearing an authentic WWI Canadian Army uniform and displaying his medal. We then introduce a real WWI Canadian Army nurse, who was awarded the Royal Red Cross. She appears displaying her medal.”
Plant also said there is a surprise for kids—and the young at heart—along the way when the train makes a stop at the railway car barn.
Gibbs is encouraging anyone who is interested to buy tickets ahead of time.
“The trains sold out last year,” he said. “There are only six train rides each day—from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.—and they are always in high demand.”
Ticket prices are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students (11-18), and $10 for youths (3-11). Children under three years get in free. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting fvhrs.org/christmas.
“Everybody loves the Christmas train!” Gibbs exclaimed. “But what is really important to us is that we are able to engage our guests and elevate their experience.”