Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jock Oliphhant - Winnipeg's legendary model railroad pioneer

Jock Oliphant was truly a model railroading pioneer. His spectacular layout, showcased at Railway Jubilee, the 1983 NMRA national convention held in Winnipeg, was a jaw dropping sight for anyone who viewed it. Born and raised in Scotland, with an almost indecipherably thick brogue, Jock conveyed the sheer joy of model railroading that he felt to all he met. WMRC In an article in The Lantern, the official publication of the WMRC, Vice President Dave Downie shared his reminisces of Jocks' popular scenery clinics which he often held for the club. 

WMRC History - Jock Oliphant's Scenery Clinics
By Dave Downie

   Jock Oliphant was a long time WMRC member who was Canada's first Master Model Railroader. He was the first (and only) person to win “Best-In-Show” at three successive NMRA national conventions.

   Jock was famous (or infamous) for his annual scenery clinic where he would demonstrate all the steps to go from raw benchwork to elaborate scenery in 4 inch increments on a 4 foot long module.

   He would start with screen or balled up newspaper that would be used to support the scenery for one section. Next would come the plaster soaked paper towels followed by a layer of molding plaster and rock molds on an adjacent section that had been started a year earlier. A final section would get sprayed with paint and then get a coating of zip texturing before getting some trees and bushes. All of this would take 45 minutes and it was truly like watching a artist at work. Jock made it look so easy.

   Every year, Jock would invite new WMRC members to “sit up front so they could get a really good view”. WMRC veteran members would gladly move to the back knowing that at some point in his presentation, Jock would spray everyone with water. Everyone would have a good laugh and those who got sprayed earned their “Right of Passage” into the WMRC.

   In addition to his WMRC clinics, Jock did his scenery clinic at TLR regional conventions with the same results.

   Who says that model railroading cannot be fun?

   I'd like to add that many of Jock's award winning modules were saved when his layout was dismantled and have been donated to the WinnipegRailway Museum. It is hoped that they will be put on display shortly.


Monday, April 27, 2015

The legacy of Stafford Swain

   One of the most remarkable members of our club has been Stafford Swain (MMR), whose legendary layout has graced the pages of dozens of model railroading magazines. But WMRC Vice president Dave Downie has discovered something else that he did that has been mostly forgotten by the model railroad community, but which all Canadian model railroaders should be made aware of. We all owe a great debt to Stafford Swain for his selfless efforts to reduce the costs of model railroading in Canada.

More From The WMRC Archives – Stafford Swain
By Dave Downie

   Once more I've had a chance to dive into the WMRC's archives and this time I wish to report on a significant contribution to the hobby of model railroading by a WMRC member. We all know that Stafford Swain is a Master Model Railroader (#98), past Chairman of the 1983 NMRA National convention and former President of the WMRC but here is something you may not know.

   Stafford has had a huge impact on bringing down the cost of model railroading to all Canadians by working to eliminate the Federal Duty levied on imported model railroad supplies. Until Stafford won his argument with the Customs Canada, there was a 20% duty levied on all imported model railroad supplies. Think for a moment how much you have spent on the hobby over the last 30 years and then add 20% to the total. Imagine the thousands of model railroaders across Canada who, like yourself, have benefited from Stafford's work.

   Reading from a May 1, 1978 brief that Stafford prepared for the Tariff Board of Canada found in our archives:

The current duty of 20% is really a tax on the spending of Canadian Hobbyists

   His brief included a 3 page letter outlining the scope of the hobby, the number of participants and its manufacturers as well as an overview of the global market (1978). He also included 9 exhibits showing how the 20% duty affected the retail price charged by the local hobby shop. His argument was quite simple, import duties are used to protect domestic manufacturers but in 1978, there really was no Canadian model railroad manufacturer of any size that was in need of protection.

   Obviously, there was a lot of discussion and more work performed behind closed doors but eventually Stafford prevailed and the 20% duty was dropped thereby saving all Canadian Model Railroaders a lot of money. 

   Thank you Stafford.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's 60th anniversary logo goes international!

Somehow, the Napa Valley Model Railroad Historical Society and Museum in California found our 60th anniversary logo, designed by WMRC Blog Editor Paul Ullrich,  and asked us if they could use a variation of it for their 60th anniversary. We gave them permission, and they gave credit to the club and the designer as well! For more information on the Napa Valley Model Railroad Historical Society and Museum, please click here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Here comes the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's 60th anniversary train!

We had enough entries in our club's 60th anniversary model contest special event to make a train, complete with an engine! WMRC Contest Chair Morgan Turney thought it only appropriate to set it down on some track on the Kildonan Short Lines modular layout during our 2015 spring open house and take a picture of it!

However, one of the cars didn't fit, as it was O gauge. So Morgan "borrowed" WMRC Blog Editor Paul Ullrich's popular Lionel "giraffe car" layout and put it on this CP freight and shot a photo of it just as it was going into a tunnel!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Presenting the honourable mention categories of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's 60th anniversary special event model contest

WMRC blog editor had the only O gauge entry in the contest. He freelance modelled a 40' boxcar with CN colours and BCR markings in his interpretation of what the merger of CN and BCR might've looked like.

WMRC Public Relations Director Margaret Ullrich had the only structure in the special event contest. She built and weathered a structure from Clever Models with the WMRC logo prominently featured.

 WMRC President Larry Leavens submitted his model of a grain hopper with the 60th anniversary logo proudly displayed.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Presenting the entries in the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club's 60th anniversary model contest

    This year being our 60th anniversary year, WMRC model contest chair Morgan Turney came up with a truly novel idea for the special event - to make a model incorporating the club's 60th anniversary logo! A special logo was made by WMRC blog editor Paul Ullrich for this event, and was made into a decal by Black Cat Decals. We had so many entries for this event that we're going to split them into several different post during the week! Here are the first three:

 First place went to Morgan Turney for his hydrous-ammonia tank car.

Second place went to Morgan Turney for his Baldwin VO 1000 463 diesel locomotive.
Third place went to Suzanne Lemon for her 40' boxcar.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Valour Con is this weekend!

   Haven't had enough modelling, what with the WMRC open house, and the open houses held by the Selkirk Model Railroad Association and the Brandon Hills Model Railroad Club? Well, you're in luck! IPMS Winnipeg (that stands for International Plastic Modeller's Society) is holding their annual scale model contest, titled Valour Con 6, on April 17 and 18 at the St. James Legion, 1755 Portage Avenue. Guess what -  The admission is free!

   There will be an early registration today and a "meet and greet" from 4PM to 8PM. Registration continues tomorrow on Saturday, April 18 until noon. Awards will be presented at 4:30PM.  This year's special contest theme commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. This event has something for every modeller, whether you're a model railroader or not. A model is still a model, and we all work in plastic!

   The IMPS holds regular meetings the first Wednesday of the month through the year at the  St. James Legion. The meetings start at 7:00pm. Skill enhancing demonstrations are a prominent feature at the meetings. The club also publishes a quarterly journal and a monthly bulletin.

    For more information about this club, please go to

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Help support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Frances South, one of the WMRC's youngest members, has Juvenile Diabetes.
At our April meeting, Frances gave a presentation to the club about living with Juvenile Diabetes, and to promote the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes. Frances is a youth ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation ( JDRF ).

"I am the 'take steps towards a cure' type”. Says Frances. "By fundraising for JDRF, I am committed to helping JDRF fund crucial research into cures, better treatments for and prevention of type 1 diabetes (T1D). What type are you? Be the putting your dollars to work type by clicking the "Support Me!" button."

To support Frances simply click here.
Please enter the name: Frances's Family & Friends, then click on Frances to support her.
There’s a great video on her page!
The TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes provides individuals touched by type 1 diabetes (T1D) the opportunity to unite with others and to raise funds for research focused on curing, treating and better preventing T1D. Over 45,000 Canadians walk, share stories, and connect across Canada and become one community with participants in six other countries.  

The TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes is being held on June 14, at the
Assiniboine Park, Lyric Theatre
Registration is at 9:00 am. The walk starts at 10:30 am
The walk length is either 5 or 7.5 km
After the walk there will be food, music and prizes!
For more information, email Vicki at or phone 204-953-4479

On April 25, the JDRF will be holding their 28th annual Starry Starry Night Gala 2015 for Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund at the RBC Convention Centre. For more information contact Dorothy Ross or 204-953-4477
If you are unable to attend and would like to make a donation, please click on: A Starry Starry Night Gala 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club celebrates their 60th anniversary with a group shot

 The gang's all here! WMRC President Emeritus Suzanne Lemon took this great group shot of all of our members who showed up for the club's 60th. anniversary bash, which was held on Friday, April 10 at the Charleswood Legion.  It was truly a night to remember, and everyone had a great time reminiscing, eating anniversary cake, and viewing photo images of the WMRC's past!

   (Above) WMRC Vice President Dave Downie serves out the Anniversary cake to all of the members.
(Below) James South can't wait to dig in and enjoy that big piece of cake!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Winnipeg Model Railroad Club celebrates 60 years with a birthday bash

                         Suzanne Lemon, Morgan Turney, Frances South and James South all take turns posing with "Duffy" the WMRC's mascot from the 1983 NMRA Railway Jamboree Convention. Duffy has been residing in a fire engine at the Winnipeg Railway Museum, but he was able to make it out to the Charleswood Legion to help us celebrate our 60th anniversary.

 From left to right: Our three most senior members, Moe Smith, Norm leathers, and Roger Kendl have the honour of cutting the club's special 60th. anniversary cake while WMRC Vice President Dave Downie watches.

WMRC Junior member James South hams it up in front of the cake, while WMRC Treasurer Gary Stempnick enjoys one of the first slices. It was a Jeannie's cake, from Winnipeg's famous Jeannie's Bakery. It had that special Jeannie's cookie base, of course! 

Wasn't that a party! Everyone had a great time celebrating the WMRC's 60's Anniversary at our last meeting. Besides the wonderful cake and the special guest appearance of our old mascot Duffy, we also were treated to a trip down memory lane with a presentation featuring vintage images from the club's rich history. It was great to see so many old faces again (which weren't so old when the photos were taken) and have the chance to relive some of the club's greatest moments of the past six decades! Here's to 60 more years of great model railroading and fellowship!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club celebrates 60 years at their April 10 meeting

Sixty years ago, on April 1,1955, a small group of model railroaders met at St. John's Hobby Shop to discuss the possibility of forming a model railroad club in the city of Winnipeg. Agreement was reached and the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club was formed. The first formal meeting was held later in the month.

Over the years the WMRC has had hundreds of members, men, women and children who share the love of the hobby of model railroading. WMRC members have gone on to become Master Model Railroaders, served on the NMRA and TLR Boards, and have hosted regional and national conventions. The WMRC's founding fathers would be proud.

On April 10, 2015, we will celebrate the WMRC's 60th Birthday with a birthday cake, a special guest and a group photo. We will be having a special presentation of digital images that were converted from vintage photographs and slides from the rich and wonderful history of the club.

We're asking everyone to dress up by wearing a 60th anniversary T Shirt. If you don't have one, we will be selling them at the meeting!

The meeting starts at 7:30PM in the Tank Room, located in basement of the Charleswood Legion, 6003 Roblin Boulevard. Please enter on the west side of the building. Not a member? No problem! Visitors are always welcome!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Selkirk Model Railroad Association will stil be holding their annual open house this weekend

   The Selkirk Model Railroad Association has cancelled their upcoming Model Train, Plane and Automobile Trade Show and Swap Meet in Stonewall, but they will be holding their annual spring open house this coming weekend, April 11 and 12 at 217 Clandeboye Avenue in Selkirk. Hours on Saturday, April 11 are from 10 to 4. Hours on Sunday, April 12 are from noon to 4. Admission for adults is $4.00. Ages 12-18: $3.00. No admission fee for kids under 12.

   For more information about the Selkirk Model Railroad Association and their upcoming open house, please click HERE. 

Monday, April 06, 2015

Brandon Hills Model Railway Club to hold open house on Satuday, April 11

    Our good friends at the Brandon Hills Model Railroad Club will be holding an open house on Saturday, April 11. The open house is being held in conjunction with the Brandon General Museum and Archives. The open house will be held at the Brandon General Museum and Archives, which is located at 19 - 9th. Street in Brandon. Hours are from 10 am to 5 pm.

    The club has three operating layouts at the museum in HO, O and N gauge. They are also open to the public every Saturday from 10 am to noon. More more information on the Brandon Hills Model Railroad Club, please click here.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Selkirk Model Railroad Association's Model Train, Plane and Automobile Trade Show and Swap Meet in Stonewall has been cancelled

   The Selkirk Model Railroad Association's Model Train, Plane and Automobile Trade Show and Swap Meet in Stonewall has been cancelled due to a lack of vendors and exhibitors. The show had been scheduled for Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19.

    Pleas note that as of this writing the Selkirk Model Railroad Association's website has not been updated concerning the cancellation of this show.

   However, the Selkirk Model Railroad Association's open house will still be held on Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12 at 217 Clandeboye Avenue in Selkirk, Manitoba, from 10 to 4 on Saturday and from noon to 4 on Sunday. Adults: $4.00. Children 12-16: $3.00. Under 12; FREE!

   For more information about the Selkirk Model Railroad Association and their upcoming open house, please click HERE.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Comics America is selling surplus plywood ideal for model railroad benchwork

     Our good friends at Comics America, who have done so much to help publicize the WMRC's events such as our recent spring open house,  have a ton (literally) of plywood of varying thicknesses and configurations which they are selling at very reasonable prices.

   In the image, you can see almost half-sheets of 3/4", pre-cuts (approx 2' by 4') of both 1/2" and 3/4", some bordered with 1 by 2's and some bordered with 2' by 4's, pre-cuts of 1/2" and 3/4" un-bordered, and approx 4' by 4' with handholds cut.

   All of this material has been stored indoors, so there is no weather-related damage and it is ideal for model railroad benchwork. Best of all, as no piece is larger than 4' x4' you can fit a lot of it into the trunk of your car!

     Please call Comics America at 204-489-0580 to make arrangements to come down and have a look. Their address is 552 Academy Road. Email: or find them on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Winnipeg Model Railroad Club announces support of a new charity

The WMRC has announced that it is officially supporting a new charity, the Canadian Model Railroad Publisher's Benevolent Association, or CMRMPBA for short. The charity was created by WMRC blog editor Paul Ullrich and WMRC President Larry Leavens.

   "I was deeply moved by the plight of these poor scraggly bastards." Said Paul. "They provide such an important service for model railroaders, yet they work long hours for little pay, with no pension and no benefits. When I brought this to Larry's attention, he agreed that something must be done about this dire situation right away!"

    "I knew of one such person who was driving around in a 40 year old Dodge Dart." Added Larry. "He said it was a collector car, but I saw it as a cry for help. He couldn't even afford to get a decent brand of mustard for their hot dogs, and was forced to use ketchup!"

     When Larry and Paul presented their case to the WMRC board, they were brought to tears, and immediately voted not only to change charities, but to turn over the entire contents of the treasury to the Canadian Model Railroad Publisher's Benevolent Association.

     Once sufficient funds have been raised, Paul and Larry plan to use the money to embark on the first of several fact finding missions to Las Vegas.

     So please - give generously to the Canadian Model Railroad Publisher's Benevolent Association!

      Oh, and by the way - in case you haven't guessed already: