There are dozens of local events and activities competing for your family’s festive attention right now. And it’s easy to blow your budget as you zip around trying to do everything. But it doesn’t have to be this way––especially if you hop aboard the utterly charming Steveston Tram.

The free-entry Moncton Street attraction––home to the beautifully restored century-old interurban tramcar 1220––is the perfect place to head during the holidays. Especially since the gable-roofed pavilion has been transformed into the must-see Winter Tram until December 31.

You’ll find sparkling decorations and some brilliant Lego models. Plus a kid-friendly scavenger hunt and a book corner where children can read next to a twinkling Christmas tree. And did we mention that you can even climb aboard the vintage vehicle for yourself?

Onboard tramcar 1220. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee.

Lego Wonderland

The first thing you see as you approach the pavilion is a glittering oversized picture frame located outside. Perfect for festive selfies, it’s joined this year by a mini-avenue of illuminated trees on either side of the entrance. But don’t head inside just yet. Instead, peer through the main window for your first glimpse of an amazing pop-up display.

Created by local Lego construction guru Peter Grant, you’ll find five detailed custom-made models of Steveston and Richmond landmarks. This year’s new models––Minoru Chapel, Branscombe House, Marine Garage and the Goldie Harris House––are joined by a favourite that was on display last year: an evocative model of tramcar 1220 parked at its station in yesteryear Steveston.

A Lego version of Richmond’s Minoru Chapel. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee.

Heritage Backstory

Step inside the pavilion for a closer look at the models––we love that they’re decorated with mini Christmas lights––then check out the exhibits encircling the tram. Deploying evocative artifacts, an illustrated timeline and a huge vintage map with push buttons, you’ll discover that the interurban network had five main lines and once stretched as far as Chilliwack.

A huge interactive map shows the five main lines of the old interurban system. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee.

But by the 1940s––with a peak of 72 cars and 140,000 annual passengers––the system was seen as old-fashioned and obsolete. The final tram trundled from Vancouver to Steveston in 1958. A large-screen TV here tells the story of the network’s heyday and its swift demise, while the fascinating wall-mounted exhibits include station clocks, tram tickets and evocative photos.

A display depicts old tram ticket designs. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee.

Star Attraction

Somehow, tramcar 1220 survived the wrecking ball and was restored to its grand bells-and-whistles glory before being placed on display here. During the Winter Tram season, its Santa-red paint scheme is the perfect complement to the decorated trees, ceiling baubles, fake snow, evergreen garlands and twinkling lights that have been temporarily added to the pavilion’s interior. And climbing aboard feels like walking into a glowing jewellery box, complete with polished wood and shiny brass accents.

We love checking out the chunky controls located at each end of the tramcar and imagining what it would be like to drive it. And we never miss the chance to look at the old-fashioned adverts lining its interior and proclaiming the wonder of everything from coffee to ketchup and “Corn-dodger shoes [with] room for five toes!”

Vintage adverts line the tram’s interior. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee.

Festive Family Fun

During Winter Tram, of course, there are plenty of additional reasons to visit the pavilion. Kids will love the dress-up corner where they can slip into junior conductor uniforms as well as the hands-on brake levers, bell cords and even a conductor’s coin changer.

They’ll also enjoy the reading nook with its storybooks in several languages––The Polar Express included (if you’re quick, you can also make it here for December 10’s story time readings at 2:00pm, 2:40pm and 3:20pm hosted on the tram itself).

Look out for some unexpected passengers on the Winter Tram. PHOTO CREDIT: John Lee.

Throughout the month, junior visitors can also take part in a super-fun Winter Tram Scavenger Hunt where they need to find 12 items located around the pavilion––ranging from potatoes to spinning tops and even a pig adorned with a festive red ribbon. Kids who locate all 12 items win a paper ornament they can take home, decorate and hang on their own tree.

If you go:

Winter Tram is open from Tuesday to Sunday (noon to 4pm) until December 31 (closed on statutory holidays). The attraction and all its exhibits and activities are free. The pavilion is located at 4011 Moncton Street in the heart of Steveston Village. Winter Tram is part of this year’s Winter in the Village program, complete with a full array of mostly free holiday attractions and activities.

Last Updated on January 3, 2024 by Tourism Richmond