Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Heritage: Model Railroad Club of Toronto

A freight train crossed a suspension bridge at the Model Railroad Club of Toronto on 22-February-2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Normally, model railroads are only historical to the extent that they attempt to preserve in miniature something that no longer existed (at least in the same form) in present world. However, the Model Railroad Club of Toronto, now in existence for 72 years, has itself become historic, operating in the same building in the Liberty Village area of Toronto for 62 years.

A diesel switch engine rode the timetable at East Davidson after switching the yard at the Model Railroad Club of Toronto on 22-February-2009

At the encouragement of other local railroad enthusiasts, I finally went to the club's open house on Sunday. It was amazing to think that construction had started 62 years before, and that some of the trains running through 7000 square feet of space had been doing so longer than I had been alive. The layout depicts the fictional Ontario Central Railway, but Canadian Pacific and Canadian National prototypes also were very common.

Rock climbers were noted on some of the scenery near Point Derus at the Model Railroad Club of Ontario on 22-February-2009

Being in O-scale, which is 1:48 of normal size (contrasted with today's more common HO scale at 1:87 and N scale at 1:160), the layout has a high level of detail compared with many other model railroads. The number of scale people on the layout, engaged in all kinds of activities from directing traffic to climbing rocks, was quite remarkable. While large objects like a ship in a harbor and huge grain elevators might gain attention, it was these small details that really make the room something special.

A 1950's-era power supply still remained on the shelf at the Model Railroad Club of Toronto on 22-February-2009

While the railroad is continually upgraded--members don't want the layout declared a historic site since they would no longer be able to do that--much of the technology that runs the trains still dates back to earlier eras. While the signals are now computer controlled, much of the "last scale mile" of wiring is practically original, and older components abound behind the scenes. I was shown electrical components that I barely recognized as they had been supplanted by solid-state electronics for most of my lifetime.

Some of the crowd enjoying the show at the Model Railroad Club of Toronto were photographed on 22-February-2009

Unfortunately, if you'd like to experience a bit of modeling history for yourself, you'll have to wait until next year. The next set of open houses does not occur until February 2010; watch the club's web page for details. More photos from the club will be in a future photo site update.

1 comment:

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