Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nick Andrusiak: A tribute

Nick is seen here in 2005 with his lovely wife Frances at a Thanksgiving supper at WMRC member Marcel Blair's cottage near Lac Du Bonnet. Photo by Morgan Turney.  

   A memorial service for long time Winnipeg Model Railroad Club, NMRA and CNRHA member Nick Andrusiak was held today at the Louis Riel School Division Legacy Centre in Winnipeg. The service's theme was a fall supper, for Nick loved Manitoba's long tradition of fall suppers.
   The Legacy Centre (which was formerly the Norberry School Gym) was packed. Nick had many friends, not only from his ties with the model railroading community, but also from his long career as a teacher.

   Nick's daughter gave an excellent power point presentation on the life and times of her father. She worked it from her iPad, which the tech-savvy Nick would've approved of. Several people, including long time WMRC and NMRA member Norm Leathers (who knew Nick since their University days) gave personal tributes and several amusing anecdotes about Nick.

   Nick was a Past President of the WMRC. He was a tireless volunteer for every organization to which he belonged. His house was always a hub of activity for every newsletter, bulletin, and publication that these clubs put out. Although he was an avid rail fan and model railroader, he didn't have a layout himself. When someone asked him why he would join a model railroad club when he didn't have a layout, his reply was "it's because model railroaders are neat".

   Nick also worked behind the scenes for every club he joined. If you received a copy of The Lantern, CN Lines, or The Fusee through the mail, it was often Nick's own personal collection of stamps that brought the issue to your door. When Hilt Friesen and Bill Taylor were Presidents of the WMRC, Nick was the ghost writer for the President's message that appeared in every issue of The Lantern during their tenure.

    Nick was also the club's "parliamentarian". He knew the club's constitution backwards and forwards, and he could answer any question and settle any dispute regarding it's rules and regulations.

   When WMRC Webmaster Paul Ullrich was the Convention Director for the 2010 TLR Convention in Winnipeg, Nick came to his rescue by piggy backing that convention with the CNRHA convention, making it the best attended TLR convention in over a decade.

    There were two Nicks - one was the hale and hearty, larger than life man with the big, booming voice. The other was the wheelchair bound man whose voice was reduced to a whisper. Those who knew him long enough loved and admired both of them. His debilitating ailment might've immobilized him, but it never slowed him down. Throughout his entire life, he never stopped volunteering, contributing, creating or giving.

     Long time WMRC members will fondly recall when Nick was one of the auctioneers at the club's annual auction.  Whenever a box of junky snap-track was on the block, Nick always rose to the occasion and rallied the members with a stirring pitch for the forlorn track. Bellowing from the top of his lungs with a voice that could be heard clear as a bell from his home town of Middlebro, he'd shout, "Ladies and gentlemen, the rails of this track is not made of nickel silver, or tin, or copper, but GENUINE BRASS!"

    It got to be such a familiar routine that several members of the club would say it along with him!

     These are just a few samples of the stories and memories of our dear friend Nick. If you have any other stories and memories that you'd like to share, please send them to Frances Andrusiak at

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

G gauge at the Manitoba Mega Train show

All gauges were represented at the Manitoba Mega Train Show, from Z to G and the 1:8 scale train that encircled the whole show! Railfan Canada editor and Winnipeg Model Railroad Club photo contest chair Suzanne Lemon took these shots of the G scale layouts in action.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Legoland at the Manitoba Mega Train Show

   One of the highlights of the Manitoba Mega Train Show was the huge Lego club display! It was truly a mind boggling sight to see all of the Lego trains, buildings and scenery. Every single thing on their display was made out of Lego! Winnipeg Model Railroad Club photo contest chair and Railfan Canada editor Suzanne Lemon took these images of their truly spectacular layout.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Highlights from the Manitoba Mega Train Show

   1700 happy people can't be wrong! The second annual Manitoba Mega Train Show was Winnipeg's best attended model railroad event since the 1983 NMRA national convention!

  This is the first in a series of images of the event, which were taken by Suzanne Lemon, the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's photo contest chairperson. Suzanne has been the photo contest chair for seven years. She was also the club's only female president, a title which she held for three years. She's also the editor of Railfan Canada.

   Today's images will focus on the No. 1 Northern Division's free-mo layout, easily the largest display in the show. It covered a whopping 40' x 50' of floor space! The Division will be holding their third annual division meet on Saturday, November 2.  For more information on this meet, click here.

    Pictured below are No. 1 Northern superintendent Dennis Rietze and WMRC treasurer Gary Stempnick at the layout.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Assiniboine Valley Railway's Christmas light display has been cancelled

  The Assiniboine Valley Railway's Christmas light display has been cancelled this year. The group is seeking volunteers to help set up their annual Christmas light display for 2014.

   The AVR has always had a small but dedicated number of members who always assisted Bill Taylor in putting up his truly spectacular Christmas Light display, which had over 100,000 lights. It was no exaggeration that his display put Chevy Chase's work in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to shame!

    But Bill's untimely passing in August has left a nearly irreplaceable gap in the group. Although his team of volunteers worked tirelessly along side of him, Bill did the Lion's share of the work, mostly because he lived there. Every spare minute he had before the holidays were spent stringing lights, replacing bulbs, and chasing away the squirrels who mistook the knobby LED bulbs for acorns!

   This is not just a rail fan or a model railroad thing. This Christmas display was cherished by all Winnipeggers of all faiths. Thousands of people came every year to see the lights. The possible demise of this annual event even made CBC, CTV and Global news!

If you can help out for next year, please contact the Assiniboine Valley Railway by going to their website at:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fall of Marquette

This article first appeared in the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's official publication, The Lantern.  In order to attract a broader audience, this website will occasionally post selected articles and images originally published in The Lantern.

By Morgan Turney

   There was a time - during the early 1930s - when the three prairie provinces boasted about 5,750 wooden grain elevators. Every hamlet, village, town and city had at least one grain elevator located on 'Railway Street'. A town's prosperity was measured by the number of grain elevators it had. As the years have gone by these icons of prairie life have been torn down, one at a time. Few are saved: in Manitoba, the only elevators that are safe are the five which have been preserved at Inglis.

   I caught wind that the Paterson elevator at Marquette was undergoing demolition. Railfan friend, Felix Lesiuk, had been out railfanning the Carberry subdivision between Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie on Monday, September 2nd and stopping at Marquette, noticed that the grain annex, metal holding bins and the elevator office were all torn down and the backhoe on site had broken through the centre of the elevator and pulled down most of its interior. That was an obvious clue that likely the following day would see the elevator collapse.

   I arrived at the site around 9:40 the next day and found the backhoe chewing away at the base of the elevator. I asked one of the workers nearby when he thought the structure would collapse. He looked at his watch, glanced up and looked at the backhoe's progress, then looked at his watch again and said, "Oh, in about 8 minutes." And 8 minutes later, down she came!

   I don't need to tell you how sad it is to see these structures disappearing. It's even sadder when you witness one falling. As Felix said after I showed him my photos, "The village of Marquette is now boring."

Morgan Turney is a longtime member of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club. He has served in various positions in the club, including three terms as President. he is currently the acting program director for the club. Morgan is the publisher of two magazines, Canadian Railway Modeller and Railfan Canada

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Manitoba Mega Train Show was a resounding success!

What a party! 1,700 people showed up at the CanLan Ice Sports Centre to see the show! And what a show it was! There were layouts of virtually every popular scale, from N to G and the 7 1/2" gauge Mega Train that went around the whole show! There was also face painting, balloon animals, and lots of vendors offering lots of deep discounted bargains!

It was very gratifying to see so many young families and children attending the show, and loving every minute of it. It was not uncommon for many families to spend several hours at the show (mostly at their kid's insistence). Everywhere you looked, you saw a happy kid with a painted face holding a Railfan Canada trading card!

There were modular layouts from WinNtrak and the NMRA #1 Northern Division's Free-Mo Group.
Commercial vendors included Warehouse HobbiesToad Hall Toys, Spare Time Hobbies, Vector Garden Trains, and representatives from Canadian Railway Modeller and Railfan Canada Magazines.

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club would like to thank all of its many volunteers for helping out during set up, take down, working at the admissions desk and displaying at the Manitoba Mega Train Show. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Watch Dennis Rietze's layout on Breakfast Television

It was a red letter day for the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club and the Manitoba Mega Train Show when our own Dennis Rietze and Manitoba Mega Train Show organizer Maurice Dorge appeared on City TV's Breakfast Television! The four minute segment featured Dennis' beautiful layout and an interview with Maurice about the Manitoba Mega Train Show. Dennis was also seen operating the layout. It was even aired twice on Breakfast Television! Way to go, guys!

If you missed the segment on TV, you can watch it on YouTube:

Monday, October 14, 2013

There is no Great Canadian Train Show at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute this year

Margaret Ullrich, the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's public relations person, has noticed an unusual amount of activity on her events blog, Winnipeg is Better than Chocolate, concerning the WMRC's Great Canadian Train Show. Although the WMRC membership is aware that this show is not taking place, the general public may not be.

The Great Canadian Train show has been cancelled indefinitely. The WMRC has partnered this year with the Manitoba Mega Train Show, which will be held October 19 and 20 at the Canlan Ice Sports Centre, 1871 Ellice Avenue. The show's hours are from 9AM to 5PM both Saturday and Sunday. There is no train show at the Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute this year. The Manitoba Mega Train Show is the only train show that is happening this fall.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

This is the official web site of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club

    Make no mistake - this the official site, sanctioned by the board.

    Our website used to be at the Sweden Freezer website, which was operated by long term member Bill Taylor. Due to his untimely and unfortunate death, the club needed a new web presence. Our space on the Sweden Freezer website hadn't been updated since the spring of 2013.

    At our request,  Phil Mendelshon, the AVR's present webmaster,  has taken all information pertaining to the WMRC off the website and provided a link to our new website.

   Now when you Google the "Winnipeg Model Railroad Club" with quote marks, this website shows up first, followed by WMRC webmaster's wife Margaret Ullrich's popular events, blog, Winnipeg is Better than Chocolate.   The CP Rail Manitoba and Minnesota Subdivision, a blog operated by long time WMRC member and Winnipeg Free Press faith columnist John Longhurst, shows up as fifth on the list.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club meeting tonight - October 11, 2013

Heads up, fellow model railroaders and rail fans! The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club is holding their monthly meeting tonight at 7:30 PM at Westworth United Church, 1750 Grosvenor Avenue in Winnipeg. After our business meeting, we'll have a presentation on the Prairie Dog Central's recent visit to The Forks and the Via Rail station. Of course, there will be the usual fellowship and camaraderie among members old and new, and guests! Guests are always welcome at our meetings, so come on down and see what you've been missing!

There's nothing much on TV tonight anyway. On PBS, you've got Shakespeare's Henry V (spoiler alert - he wins the battle of Agincourt). Sharknado is also on, but there are no trains to be seen in the movie! There's no trains in Henry V either, but that's because it takes place in the early 15th century. So why not come on down and join in on the fun! After the meeting, we'll head out for some pizza at Santa Lucia !

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Thank you, Comics America!

One of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's greatest supporters is Comics America. Whenever we hold a show the shop's owner, Joe Krolik, not only puts up a poster, but he also inserts mini-posters into every one of his regular customer's comic book bags! Comics America is located at 552 Academy Road in Winnipeg. The store has to be seen to be believed! You can give them a call at 204-489-0580. Better yet, you can friend them on Facebook by going to this link: 

Thanks Joe, for helping us promote the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club and the
Manitoba Mega Train Show!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Follow any Amtrak train!

Here's a great time waster! (No, it's not reading this blog) Morgan Turney, our acting program editor (a.k.a. the hardest working man in show business) just sent me this link, which he got from out President, Larry Leavens. It's called  TRACK A TRAIN, and you can use it to track any Amtrak train in the continent (sadly, it doesn't work for Via rail). Check it out, and have fun!


Saturday, October 05, 2013

The new Gateway Western!

The WMRC's greatest achievement this year has been the resurrection of the Gateway Western layout!
After Gooch's moved to a smaller location, the layout was kept in storage in a local warehouse for several years. Now it is in the Winnipeg Railway Museum in its very own heated structure! A dedicated group of volunteers assembled the structure in the middle of winter and built a brand new layout. Neil, Suzanne and Cliff are pictured in the new building.

Join the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club

Ever wonder how you can join the world's greatest hobby's greatest model railroad club! Of course you have! It's easy! It's simple! Just fill out this form and bring it to the next meeting! Or you can mail it to the address indicated on the form. Join in on all the fun!

If you don't live in Winnipeg, you can still join by being an associate member. You'll receive a PDF of The Lantern (our official publication) emailed to you nine times a year for only $15 CDN!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Manitoba Mega Train Show

Last year, there were two separate fall train shows in Winnipeg. 
This year, there will be only one, but it's going to be a big one!

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club has joined with Vector Garden Trains!

on October 19 and 20, 9 am to 5 pm
at the Canlan Sports Centre, 1871 Ellice Avenue, Winnipeg

Winnipeg's only train show in a layout!
Come ride the 7 1/2" gauge MegaTrain!

The show will include 17,000 square feet of model train layouts from hobbyists across the city, along with commercial vendors and private sellers.

  • free parking
  • handicap accessible
  • HUGE Lego Display
General Admission       $5
Children (ages 3 to 12) $3
2 and under FREE

Admission includes unlimited MegaTrain rides!!

The Man with the Giraffe Cars will be there for the kids!!!!

Kids, have your parent take your picture with the Man with the Giraffe Cars!
He'll also let you unload the operating cars!

Welcome to the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club!

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club was founded in 1955 by a group of about 50 charter members. The original clubroom was located at the CPR station on Higgins Avenue in the company's old Rules Room. From there, the club moved to the Manitoba Clinic for a few years until around 1968 when it moved to the Veterans Room at the CNR station on Main Street. Club membership had grown to over 125 members. The WMRC met there until 1995 when VIA Rail Canada took over the CN station and the Veterans Room became unavailable. The Club shifted to several different locations until 2005 when it moved to its present location at the Westworth United Church, 1750 Grosvenor Avenue (at Lanark Street) in River Heights.

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club is a non-profit incorporated club with a purpose to promote the interest, knowledge, operation and enjoyment of all scale railway modelling and related photography. It is a voluntary organization governed by an elected executive with members-in-good-standing holding voting privileges. Elections occur during the April meeting. The Club welcomes guests interested in model railroading and associated interests to its meetings with the aim of helping them enjoy themselves so much that they'll want to come back. Regardless of your skill level or area of interest, there is something for everybody. The club emphasizes education and entertainment, so you'll learn a great deal, meet new friends and have fun!

Club Newsletter
The Club publishes an informative monthly newsletter called The Lantern which is produced by the Lantern editor. A PDF version is available to members who are on-line. A limited number of printed copies are available for pick up at our monthly meetings.

Club Meetings
Club meetings are held on the second Friday evening of each month beginning at 19:30 hours (7:30pm) from September to May. Meetings begin with a short business session followed by one or two programs as set out by the Program Director. Programs can range from a slide show presentation about prototype railways, to clinics given by members to show how different aspects of the hobby can be accomplished through certain techniques and skills.

Monthly Model Display
The club offers a model display at each meeting where members can bring in a model they are working on and display it for others to see. This is a display, and not a competition. A prize of a gift certificate from a local hobby shop is awarded at random. This display is run by members of the #1 Northern Division of the National Model Railroad Association.

50-50 Prize Draw
The Club offers a 50-50 prize draw during each meeting where members and guests can purchase tickets to win half of the collection.

A Club canteen is available during each meeting where coffee, soft drinks and donuts are available for purchase.

The Harvey Walker Memorial Library
The Club has an extensive library where members-in-good-standing can take out books and train DVDs from the many hundreds on file.

'Klinic Karnaval'
Once a year the Club conducts a series of modelling 'stations' where those attending the meeting can roam from table-to-table and see other fellow modellers performing different aspects of the hobby. Each clinic is meant as a teaching tool to show others how to perform many of the skills used in the hobby.

Home Layout Tours
From time-to-time, arrangements are made for WMRC members to visit some of the many home basement layouts of other members.

NMRA Canada
Winnipeg is in the Thousand Lakes Region (TLR) of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) and operates within the No.1 Northern Division of the TLR. Although the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club is not part of the NMRA, the majority of  No. 1 Northern Division members are also members of the WMRC.

When the No. 1 Northern Division was reorganized in 2008 with its own board separate from the WMRC, it was decided that it would be counterproductive to compete with the WMRC and hold its own monthly meetings.  The WMRC co-operates with the NMRA in every way and the No.1 Northern Division has a presence at all club meetings. Members of the WMRC have always been encouraged to join the NMRA to partake in the many benefits it has to offer.

About every 10 years, the Spring TLR Convention is held in Canada, usually in Winnipeg. The last TLR meet was in May 2010.  The No. 1 Northern Division currently runs the WMRC's monthly model display.

For more information about the NMRA, go to:
For more information about NMRA Canada, go to:
For more information about the TLR, go to:
For more information about the No. 1 Northern Division, go to:

Annual Open House
In April, the Club hosts its Annual WMRC Open House which features a model and photo contest that is open to members-in-good-standing who wish to enter their models and/or photos in the Club contests. Several model and photo categories are available to enter and trophies and model certificates are awarded to each class.

Annual Banquet and AGM
In May, the Club hosts its Annual Banquet and Annual General Meeting where model and photo contest winners are honoured for their achievements in the contests. This is also the meeting where next years' club officers and directors are installed for the following years' activities.

Operating Groups
Over the years, several operating groups sprung up from the WMRC including the HO scale Gateway Western Railroad (about 1957) and an HO scale modular club called the Winnipeg Modular Railway (circa 1986). The modular railway was active in many  shopping malls around the city, finally ending up at the Eaton's store in downtown Winnipeg. In 2002 the club was disbanded for lack of a new home when the Eaton's store was closed and demolished to make room for the new MTS Center hockey arena.

The HO scale Gateway Western Railroad, a more permanent layout at the time, began operations around 1957 when construction began in the then CNR station on Main Street. It was located just off the north rotunda area behind a large glass window where thousands of rail travellers passed by and viewed it on their way to catch the train. When VIA Rail Canada took over the CN station in 1996, the Gateway was told to move out to make room for a public washroom area to be built in the space.

From there, construction began on a modular Gateway Western that became operational in 1998 for the Spring WMRC Open House, held at the Winnipeg Children's Museum at The Forks. The Gateway modules were owned by individual members who built it to a high degree of finish and displayed it at train shows and exhibitions.

In 2000, the group disbanded and sold the layout to another WMRC member who stored it in his basement. In 2004, Gooch's Bicycles and Hobbies offered the WMRC space in their store to set up a model railroad. The Club bought back the Gateway and erected it in the basement of Gooch's where it attracted many new members to the WMRC. In 2010 Gooch's moved their store and the Gateway Western Railroad was put into storage. In partnership with the Winnipeg Railway Museum, the Gateway Western was resurrected in the museum in its own heated structure in 2013.