April 6, 2021

A Bump in the Road: Kits Point’s hidden streetcar line

Daily Scot took me to the 1400-block Laburnum Street on Kits Point to see if I noticed anything odd.

I did not.  Until he pointed out that there’s a big hump in the street for no apparent reason, and that the hydro poles are curiously spaced on either side.  (Scot loves this kind of thing.)

The reason: Possibly the least known streetcar line in Vancouver – the Kits spur:

You can see on the Dial Map of Vancouver that one streetcar line, the 12, departs from Granville, crosses the False Creek swing-span bridge (removed in the 1985) and cuts right through the Point mid-block.  The right-of way is still evident in the hump where the tracks used to be and in this aerial from 1945:

Kits Beach (previously known as Greer’s) was kind of a summer resort for the early settlers of the city, and the streetcar provided the access.  There was even camping:

Until by 1908, when it had been renamed ‘Kitsilano,’ an Anglicization of August Jack Khatsahlano, a chief of the Squamish (whose land it originally was), and looked like this:And today like this:


You can also see the relatively new housing that was built when the CPR was able to abandon the line.   Note the placement of the two hydro poles that mark the right-of-way:

Ann McAfee notes: “Yep, the bumps in the road on Kits Point were the old spur which was abandoned.  I believe CPR thought when they abandoned the Arbutus Corridor that they would have the same redevelopment opportunities along the line.  Not to be, said City Council!”

So that’s what the Arbutus Greenway would look like now if the CPR had prevailed as they did on Kits Point.

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  1. How many people know that the Burrard Bridge was designed to have a lower deck for streetcars? Maybe we can still construct it ? Instead of wasting money on rebuilding the Granville Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. Another option is a proper Bridge only for pedestrians and cyclists.

    1. Repurpose 2 lanes of an existing, over-engineered bridge or build a whole new bridge? C’mon. April Fools was last week.

  2. Unrelated to the Kits Spur, but there are also streetcar tracks poking up through the pavement on Quebec St. between 12th and 13th .
    I suspect the site of the current Save-on-Foods (formerly IGA) on Main St. may have been a transit yard?

  3. I remember as a kid in the 70s we walked across that rail bridge once! The street cars were long gone of course but it was still being used as a freight line and the operator actually closed the bridge for us so we could walk over; against the rules i’m sure but that was sure a different era.

  4. I remember the old CP locomotive (374) that was parked right at the end of the Kits spur, near the Kits Pool, as we played and climbed on it through the sixties. It was restored for Expo 86, and is now on display in the Roundhouse on Davie.

    When advocating for a cycle path through Kits Park, we came across the property maps that still show the old rail ROW to and into the park.

    1. That’s a great photo. You can also still see the telltale pattern of rail-designated lots on the city property maps online.

    2. That’s a great photo. You can also still see the telltale lot patterns of a former rail line on the city property maps online.

  5. The street car tracks pop out of the pavement every once and a while at 4th Ave and 2nd Street in New Westminster. The city then has to patch it and bury it once again.

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