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.

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