Vancouver's Glory Years: Public Transit, 1890–1915


224 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55285-517-1
DDC 388.4'6'0971133





Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner is the financial and budget manager of the University of
British Columbia Library.


A daring choice in 1890 propelled the recently rebuilt City of Vancouver
into a period of enormous growth. The city chose to install an electric
railway and lighting system, leading-edge technology at the time. The
railway was the city’s first experiment with mass public transit, and
it was a winner. Vancouverites enjoyed frequent service and affordable
fares, and rode the streetcars enthusiastically for business, shopping,
recreation, and sightseeing. Within a year the railway expanded to
include interurban service to other communities in the Greater Vancouver
area. The new mobility made it possible for commuters to live at a
distance but work, shop, and spend leisure time in the downtown core.
New neighbourhoods developed, businesses opened along the streetcar
routes, and suburban real estate boomed. Socially, the streetcars gave
mobility and opportunities for interaction to previously disadvantaged
groups such as women, children, the elderly, immigrants, and the poor.
Everybody rode the streetcars together.

In researching and compiling this history of the electric railway’s
early years, the authors have also opened a window on life in Vancouver
at a time when unprecedented growth was shaping the future city. The
book is organized chronologically, with sections for the events of each
year from 1890 to 1915. It is liberally illustrated with photographs,
quotations, and other memorabilia of the period.


Conn, Heather, and Henry Ewert., “Vancouver's Glory Years: Public Transit, 1890–1915,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 25, 2024,