Prototype Modelling in Ontario
For some years, I called this page the Ontario "Hall of Fame" of prototypical modelling. The reference was intended to be to model railways that appealed to me, and which I had seen or heard of. I have always been impressed by railway modelling that sought to replicate real actual railroad scenes in miniature, and I sought to place that art form on some kind of pedestal. It was never intended to imply that they were the best, or the only ones. There are many others out there, past or present.
In fact, scale model replication of an actual railway scene has been around for years, especially in the UK, but it might be fair to say that it was slow to mature in Canada, as the hobby struggled in the latter half of the 20th century to obtain credibility and recognition as a serious art form, as opposed to freelance model railroading, often unfortunately at shows with unimaginative track designs, indifferent scenery and lack of detailing, all of which tended to reinforce a negative public perception of "grown-up kids playing with trains". (Arguably, the Ontario hub of UK prototype modelling is "The Platelayers' Society", so well worth a visit would be The Great British Train Show.)
So the purpose of this page is to showcase some Ontario-built layouts emulating North American/Canadian prototype that have appeared at shows; or are, or have been, open to the public in the southern Ontario modelling region, representing past and/or present railway scenes where the public can expect to identify familiar local prototypical features.
Arguably, as a result of some "prototype pioneering" layouts featured below that have shown the way, representation of the prototype is becoming a steadily-increasing ingredient of model railroading. Originally this was work by one individual or by a small group of like-minded modellers who were/are not necessarily part of a traditional model railway club. Since model railway clubs, by virtue of their nature, have to cater to a wide range of member preferences and interests in layout design, they have, as a generality, been slower to adopt a prototype theme in their layout designs, but this has started to change, as more and more club layouts now at least include local prototype features and others move to layouts that have adopted a layout-wide theme of prototype representation.
This is a most encouraging development, and will benefit the hobby enormously in public recognition as a medium for commemorating our railway history, and thus providing relevance in the public domain, and serving as a stimulus for more research and increasingly higher modelling standards. While some layouts and names have been singled out on this web page, one is not to conclude that that is all there is - on the contrary - there are modellers and clubs everywhere that seek to incorporate railway history and prototypical railroading. There are many fine examples of prototypical reproduction about - all one has to do is to look a little more closely and to ask a few more questions. Some of these are also featured on my "Superdetailing Ideas" page.
SOURCES (miscellaneous) for REFERENCE
(Note: There is of course a myriad fount of information, both commercially-published and other, available in hobby stores, at model railway shows, as well as individually-published.)
- A thought-provoking article "Modelling the Prototype" by the late Rich Chrysler (whose "Hagersville Subdivision" layout is featured below).
- Information on operating a model railway prototypically (North America). Article and website by Eric Smith.
- Since bridges are a part of (well, almost) all layouts, this informational article "Bridging the Gap" by Rick Hunter of Hunterline is also valuable.
- Another valuable resource is the late Brian Fayle's "Shadows - the secret of figure painting".
- Of related interest may be my article The Credible Model.
- Please check out my Opinion Piece on the significance of prototype model railroading for the future of the hobby.
INDEX of LAYOUTS
Category A: Models of a good to excellent standard that incorporate recognizable prototypical landscape and railway features
Category AB: Models of a good to excellent standard that blend recognizable prototypical landscape and railway features with Category B features to produce an illusion of exact replica reality.
Category B: Models that are exact replicas of an actual railway operation in a defined time frame, subject only to compression by space limitations.
Category BB: Models that are exact replicas of an actual railway operation in a defined time frame.
"Arrivals & Departures" - the CPR in Owen Sound (Grey County) - by the Bluewater Modellers - Category BB - 1910 - Scale N
Aberfoyle Junction Railway - permanent layout formerly at Aberfoyle - by the Aberfoyle Group - Category AB - 1970s to 2012 - Scale 0
Hagersville Subdivision - home layout by Richard Chrysler - Category B - Scale H0
Ontario & Eastern Railway - travelling layout, originally by Brian Dickey, John Spring, Jim Ellis, John Mellow - Category AB - 1990 to 2005 - Scale H0
Ontario & Quebec Railway - travelling layout by Tony Van Klink - Category A - 2005 - current - Scale H0
H.O.M.E.S. TH&B (former "Skyway Plaza") - Hamilton, Ont. club layout - Category AB - until 2007 - Scale H0
H.O.M.E.S. TH&B (current "Robert Land") - Hamilton, Ont. club layout - some sections Category AB, mostly Category B - Scale H0.
Bayview Junction - Railview Modellers Associates former permanent layout - Category B - 1999 to 2013 - Scale H0
Milton, Ont. CNR CPR Crossing - diorama by Andy Reynolds - Category BB - Scale H0
Kinmount Model Railway - permanent layout - Category AB - Scale H0
In the Footsteps of the Maine Two-Footers - travelling layout - built by Larry Murphy - Category AB - Scale 0n30
Victoria County "Heritage Modules" - built by Larry Murphy - Category B - Scale H0
Kirkfield Quarry Module - permanent display - Kirkfield Historical Society - built by Larry Murphy - Category B - Scale H0
The Peterboro Project - travelling layout by Trevor Marshall and Pierre Oliver - Category AB - Scale H0
S Scale Workshop - layouts by Jim Martin (Category B), Pete Moffett (Category A) and Trevor Marshall (Category B) - Scale S
Cobourg & Peterborough Railway - travelling layout by Ted Rafuse - Category AB - Scale H0
Dolores 6957 - travelling layout by the "Maple Leaf Mafia" - Category B - Scale 0n3
Peterborough - travelling layout by the Peterborough Model Railroaders - Category A - Scale H0
The Trent River Ore Cars - working diorama by George Parker - Category BB - Scale Fb66
Float your Fanny down the Ganny - travelling layout by the Ganaraska (Port Hope) Model Railroaders - Category A - Scale H0
Kawartha-ish - home and travelling layout by the Lindsay & District Model Railroaders - Category A - Scale H0
"Arrivals & Departures" - The CPR in Owen Sound - Grey County - by the Bluewater Modellers
This exquisite Category BB diorama in 1:160 (N) scale, of the Owen Sound harbour (CPR side) is the work of five modellers known collectively as the Bluewater Modellers. The project began in their respective basements and workshops, and came together after an estimated 8,000 hours of combined work, as a magnificent centre-piece of the finest detail at the Grey Roots Museum (just south of Owen Sound on Grey 18 near Rockford).
The year 1910 was chosen because of the availability of photographs in that time frame, and the layout is based on 1907 fire insurance maps.
1. Flash photography is not permitted in the museum, hence the ambience of the images below.
2. A tip to intending visitors – exhibits do rotate. Grey Roots is a great museum to visit in any event, but if you plan to see this particular exhibit, do check first.)