Aberfoyle Jct. Model Railway

This memorial article of this fine model railway at Aberfoyle is written in the present tense, although this iconic fine-0 Scale display has been moved to St. Jacobs, Ont., and re-opened there in the Fall of 2013. The railway's new name is "The St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway"and legally "the Waterloo County Heritage Preservation Inc." (a charitable organization that has the ability to issue tax receipts for much-needed donations). 

The layout's new site is at 1440-3 King Street North in St. Jacobs, opposite the Mill. 
Watch the new website http://stjacobsmodelrailway.com/ for reports of progress and check it for show hours.

The Aberfoyle Junction Model Railway (AJMR) display was at Aberfoyle, Ontario for the past 40 years and we have taken it for granted that it would always be there - a marvellous display of southern "Ontario-ish" railway operation that has been paid the fine compliment of perhaps being the only Canadian model railway display comparable to that at the Pendon Museum in the UK - a high accolade indeed. [Ed.: The Historical Model Railway Society: "It is an 0-Scale layout, occupying a space of about 100ft by 50 ft and is of Pendon standard, but with more emphasis on the railway"October 1, 2004].

The founder of the Aberfoyle Junction Model Railway was the late Frank Dubery MMR, a consummate modeller and longtime member and multiple-times president of the Model Railway Club of Toronto. [Frank was a National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) accredited Master Model Railroader (MMR No. 74).] When he retired from his working life at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, Frank moved to Guelph and with his wife Gay began building the original Aberfoyle Junction display in 1972 in a barn at the Aberfoyle Antique Market. He was joined by Charles (Chuck) Bard and his wife Gwen in 1973, and in 1975 by Craig Webb (MMR No. 254) and Wayne Pfeiffer.

 
The late Frank Dubery atop the rafters 
of the ceiling under construction in 1983.	 
Frank Dubery, MMR 1918 - 2005	  
A general view of the display

The late Frank Dubery atop the rafters of the ceiling under construction in 1983.
Frank Dubery, MMR 1918 - 2005
A general view of the display

Frank Dubery, MMR 1918 - 2005

Frank Dubery, MMR 1918 - 2005

A general view of the display

A general view of the display

In 1982, the venue was moved across the road from the antique market into a quonset hut (recycled from the former Douglas Point Generating Station) with the prospect of a much more ambitious display that was gradually developed into a 3,500 sq ft space to represent an expanded southern-Ontario theme of railway operations in the 1950s when steam still travelled the rails, but diesels were starting to make their appearance.

Some features of the former display, notably the "Kelso" Niagara Escarpment and the original centre-piece Aberfoyle Jct. station were incorporated into a vastly expanded layout. The layout is divided into three areas. 

Rural Ontario runs the length of the left wall. The farmland is punctuated with outcroppings of the Niagara Escarpment. Small wooden stations are featured. An old resort hotel, hydro dam, oil refinery, creamery, sawmill and a stone crushing plant dot the landscape. The major rail presence is a very busy Aberfoyle Junction. Working semaphore signals guard the diamond crossings, and a small yard enables the CNR and CPR to interchange freight cars.

The end wall features the fictional city of Wellington, where passenger trains of both railways depart beneath a massive stone union station (faintly reminiscent of Ottawa's former downtown station). In the foreground, an industrial site called Eastport features a waterfront where a CPR freight house helps ease transfers between ships and trains. In the prosperous 1950s, a new factory is under construction near the tracks. CN's Eastport Beach station has a footbridge to connect a local picnic beach with passenger trains.

The right wall features a medium-size town of Westport (CPR) and a smaller Kelso (CNR). Westport features a station modelled from plans of CP's former West Toronto station [in real life razed overnight by the CPR, creating a major public relations crisis and a more stringent process for the abandonment and preservation of station buildings]. Trains must cross a working 3-track bascule lift bridge and Westport includes a detailed main street, industries, locomotive servicing facilities and a roundhouse with an operating indexed turntable. Rising behind Westport is Kelso, also with complete engine facilities with another turntable, and a terminal yard where trains must be turned or remarshalled before going out on another run. 

A very special feature is the night scene where the room darkens and the only lights are the ones that you would see out of a train window in the middle of the night. The layout is also remarkable for being able to conduct switching operations as an integrated part of the public viewing sessions.

The Aberfoyle Jct. model railway was featured in the March 1979, February 1987, August 1998 Issues of the Model Railroader, and in the February 2003 Issue of the Railroad Model Craftsman.

Frank passed on in 2005, and his team kept the display going with its twice-yearly open houses  to the delight of model railroaders, railway enthusiasts, memory-laners and families looking for entertainment to share with their children. 

But the tide of encroaching development caught up with the display. After the initial appalling prospect that this iconic attraction might finish up at the dump, fortunately an opportunity for its resurrection at the popular tourist town of St. Jacobs presented itself, and it is now on display to the public once more as the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Junction Model Railway.

PHOTO GALLERY - Aberfoyle Junction Model Railway 1975

This is the era when the display was in a barn at the antique market itself. The pictures in this series are scanned from Kodachrome 64 slides. As I recall, the layout allowed for double-track mainline running, with a branchline diverging to the left of the station. Frank was kind enough to invite me backstage to view the staging yard, or what Brits would call the fiddle yard. It is my recollection that the layout of that day could be operated with two members, also backstage near the staging yard.

A panoramic view of Aberfoyle Jct. itself. 
The station is in the right background.

A panoramic view of Aberfoyle Jct. itself. The station is in the right background.

The Aberfoyle Jct. station area

The Aberfoyle Jct. station area

Aberfoyle Jct. station, with the hamlet 
and its distinctive fire station hose tower     in the background.

Aberfoyle Jct. station, with the hamlet and its distinctive fire station hose tower in the background.

The iconic "Kelso" Niagara Escarpment to the left of the layout.

The iconic "Kelso" Niagara Escarpment to the left of the layout.

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