The Arts Council of Surrey (ACS), in partnership with the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway,  the Langley Arts Council and Arts New West, presents this juried exhibition called Paint the Train.


The annual Paint the Train art competition offers artists an opportunity to consider the significant role our historic railways had in shaping our communities.

Place making, as it is called today, has been influenced heavily by the location of railway lines and stations. Today we see new towns being reshaped by Skytrain development.

In the 1900s when steam trains, electric interurbans and street cars were in operation they too influenced the growth of towns where they were located. The Fraser Valley is an excellent example of place making due to the alignment of the BC Electric tracks that passed through the towns. Of course, the BC Electric did more, as it brought electricity for the first time to the areas it passed through.

Each railway station was important and the focus of much activity from passengers and freight every day. Agriculture blossomed in the Fraser Valley and became a significant economic driver due to the BC Electric railway that made it possible to deliver milk and vegetables to the region. Some would say the BC Electric railway was the lifeline for the communities for many years.

The railways connected communities, influenced lives and where stories were told and history was created.
The annual Paint the Train art competition initiative provides an opportunity for artists to reflect on the broader perspective of life influenced by the train by creating unique art pieces that bring back memories and share the important role of the historic trains in shaping the every day lives from visiting shopping, visiting friends, unloading the mail and milk each day. The railway was an integral part of every day life.

Before email…..there was the mail train.

Today our area is well served by many other railways that move goods, freight and passengers around the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley, connecting to the rest of the continent.

For 2023, Paint the Train entries should represent your artistic view of the impact of railways (electric, steam, diesel) in the region since 1886 – the date of the first scheduled train to cross Canada from sea to sea.

The image of a train does not have to be included in the art work, but is always appreciated. The subject of your work should have a direct connection to a railway in the region of the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley that represents rail transportation from the past, present or the future.

Important Dates

ENTRY DEADLINE: Submit your application form by 3:00 pm, Friday, September 29, 2023

DELIVERY OF WORK FOR ADJUDICATION: Work must be delivered to Newton Cultural Centre, 13530 72 Avenue,  Surrey, BC, V3W 2P1, Wednesday, October 11, 2023 from 10:00 am— 2:00 pm.

Please ensure that the Paint the Train Identification Form is completed and attached to the back of each work entered.

DATES OF EXHIBITION: November 2 – 28, 2023


SALE OF WORK: A 25% commission will be charged on the sale of any work. The artist concerned will be notified of the sale by telephone. Arts Council of Surrey will issue a cheque to the artist as soon as all aspects of the sale are completed.

Entry Form

Please click here to download the entry form.

ARTIST MUST HAVE A CURRENT 2023 ACS MEMBERSHIP, or be a member of a group that has a current ACS membership. You can find a copy of that membership form at artscouncilofsurrey.ca/membership.

Please send your filled out membership form along with your entry. Membership fees can be paid via Visa/MasterCard by phone (604-594-2700), via e-transfer to info@artscouncilofsurrey.ca (no password required) or by cheque made out to The Arts Council of Surrey, mailed to 13530 72nd Avenue, Surrey, BC, V3W 2P1.

To encourage applications by post-secondary art students, the membership requirement is waved with a copy of valid student ID accompanying the entry form.

ENTRY FEES: $20.00 for one work; $30.00 for two works; $40.00 for three works. Please Note: entry fees are NON refundable

SUBMISSION OF ENTRY FEES: Entry form can be submitted by e-mail to info@artscouncilofsurrey.ca, fees then to be paid by Visa/Mastercard by phone (604-594-2700) or in person. Alternatively, fees can be paid via e-transfer to info@artscouncilofsurrey.ca or by cheque made payable to the “Arts Council of Surrey”. If paying by cheque mail your payment and entry form to:

Paint the Train, Arts Council of Surrey,
13530 72 Avenue,
Surrey, BC
V3W 2P1

or delivered, in a sealed envelope, to the above address.

Junior ( ages 10 – 17) Entry Form

Please click here to download the Junior entry form.

No membership requirement for Junior Category.  All Junior artists will receive a complimentary Youth Arts Council of Surrey membership.

No entry fee for junior artists.

Junior Entry form can be submitted by e-mail to info@artscouncilofsurrey.ca,or mail to

Paint the Train, Arts Council of Surrey,
13530 72 Avenue,
Surrey, BC
V3W 2P1

or delivered, in a sealed envelope, to the above address.

Railways in Surrey, Langley and the Lower Mainland

Some examples of railways over time. Company name and other lines that preceded, or were successors to the line.

Great Northern GN / BNSF

Victoria Terminal Railway & Ferry VTR&F 1899 – 1908
Vancouver, Westminster & Yukon VW&Y 1901 – 1908
Vancouver, Victoria & Eastern VV&E – 1897 – 1943
New Westminster Southern NWS – 1883 – 1924
[Section in Surrey & Delta built VTR&F 1931 Cloverdale – Colebrook, VTR&F 1903 Colebrook – Port Guichon, abandoned 1938 – became PGE then BCR]
Became part of Burlington Northern BN in 1970
Became part of Burlington Northern Santa Fe BNSF in 1995

Pacific Great Eastern PGE / BCR

Name changed to British Columbia Railway BCR in 1972
Name changed to BCRail BCR in 1985
[section in Surrey – Cloverdale to Roberts Bank included VTR&F Cloverdale – Colebrook, port Guichon and new track to Roberts Bank. 1970]
Became part of Canadian National CN

Canadian Northern Pacific CNoP

Became part of Canadian National CN in 1918

British Columbia Electric BCE / BCER / SRY

Westminster Street Railway Company merged with Westminster & Vancouver Tramway W&VT – 1890
Bought by Consolidated Railway – 1895
Bought by BC Electric – 1897
Vancouver, Fraser Valley & Southern VFV&S 1906
Became BC Hydro and Power Authority BCH in 1962
Purchased & changed to Southern Railway of British Columbia, SRY 1988
SRY joined the Washington Group of Companies as SRY Rail Link in 1994

Canadian National CN

Canadian Pacific CP / CPKC

Vancouver & Lulu island V&LI – leased by CP 1901
Name changed to CP Rail in 1968
Name changed to CPKC in 2023

Selected References

A starting point for references on BCER and other trains in the Fraser Valley

Online sources in the area

City of Surrey Archives   http://surrey.minisisinc.com/

Township of Langley: salishan Place by the River archives https://www.tol.ca/en/collections.aspx

City of Burnaby archives  https://heritageburnaby.ca/

City of Richmond archives  http://archives.richmond.ca

City of New Westminster archives http://archives.newwestcity.ca

City of Vancouver Archives  https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/

UBC Library Archives  https://open.library.ubc.ca/

Selected Books

This is not an exhaustive list, there are many more book on the subject. If you feel there is a work that should be added to this list, please contact info@FVHRS.org

Please note: this list may reference books that are no longer in print; you may not be able to purchase them.  Many should be in local libraries.

Friends of Interurban 1223, Tram Memories in celebration of the restoration of Interurban 1223, City of Burnaby, 2007

Heather Conn, Henry Ewert,Vancouver’s Glory Years: Public transit 1890 -1915, Whitecap Books, 2003

Chuck Davis, The Greater Vancouver book  – an urban encyclopedia, Linkman Press,  1997

Henry Ewert, The story of the BC Electric Railway Company,  Whitecap Books, 1986

Derek Hayes, Iron Road West An illustrated history of British Columbia’s Railways, Harbour Publishing, 2018

Derek Hayes, British Columbia – A new Historical Atlas, Douglas & McIntyre, 2012

Derek Hayes, Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the lower Fraser Valley, Douglas & McIntyre, 2005

Derek Hayes, Incredible Crossings: the history and art of the bridges, tunnels and inland ferries that connect British Columbia, Harbour Publishing, 2022

Ron Hyde, The Sockeye Special: The story of the Steveston tram and early Lulu Island, (self published), 2011

Ron L. Jones, Railway Nation: tales of the Canadian Pacific – the world’s greatest travel system, Heritage House, 2020

Michael Kluckner,Vancouver: the way it was,Whitecap Books, 1984

Barrie Sanford, Railway by the Bay 100 years of trains at White Rock, Crescent Beach and Ocean Park, National Railway Historical Society – BC Chapter, 2009

Barrie Sanford, The pictorial history of railroading in British Columbia, Whitecap Books, 1981

Fred Thirkell & Bob Scullion, Frank Gowen’s Vancouver 1914 – 1931, Heritage House publishing,  2001

Fred Thirkell & Bob Scullion,British Columbia 100 years ago: portraits of a province, Heritage House publishing,  2002

K. Jane Watt, Surrey A city of stories,  City of Surrey, 2017