Thursday, July 30, 2015

NFB's Trans Canada Express documents Canadian railways service during World War Two

   WMRC Vice President Dave Downie found another great NFB video! This one is titled Trans Canada Express, and it documents the important contributions Canada's railways made for the war effort during World War 2.

   The 1944 film also gives us a brief history of the making of the Canadian Pacific rail line through the Rockies (complete with a poem), some classic clips from Buster Keaton's "The General", and a rousing finale that takes us from coast to coast (complete with a song)!

   Best of all, this 19 minute video gives us some great views of railroading in the 1940's when steam was king, and some breathtaking views of Canada's scenery (albeit in black and white). To view Trans Canada Express, click here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Construction begins on a snowshed for the Gateway Western Railway

The WMRC Gateway Western HO scale layout has reached another scenery stage!  A snow/rock slide shed is planned for an area where a mountain pass will create the need for such a structure. The shed is being built from stripwood according to a plan designed by WMRC Program Director Morgan Turney. In the above photo, Morgan tests the master 'bent'  for clearances.  Upon passing inspection, 18 bents will be constructed using a master jig built from strip Styrene to support the shed roof.

Here's the master jig Morgan designed. It will sure make it a lot easier building the rest of the bents!

As you can see from the photo below, this model of CP Rail's classic Canadian passenger train has no problem passing through the bent!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Assiniboine Valley Railway holds second open house in July

   The friendly folks at the Assiniboine Valley Railway are holding a second open house this month. During the months of July and August, there will be two open houses during each of those months.
This weekend, on July 25 and 26, the hours will be from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday, and from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Sunday.

    Please keep in mind that there will be two open houses each month only during July and August. In September and October, they will be going back to their usual schedule of one open house a month.

    Tickets for one ride are just two bucks. A 12 ride pass costs just a mere $20. Children two years old and under ride for free! All minors must be accompanied by an adult.

    The AVR is located at 3001 Roblin Boulevard, just west of Assiniboine Park. Limited parking is available on their 800 foot long driveway, but you can also park on Roblin Boulevard or Chalfont Street.

    For more information about the AVR, click here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

See the biggest model railway in Russia

   Margaret Ullrich, our hard working, award winning Public relations person (yes, she won the club's President's Shield award in 2011 for her efforts in publicizing our annual spring open house, and deservedly so) passed on this remarkable video to us.  It's Russia's largest model railway, and it IS Russia!

    Nearly every single bit of this enormous nation is modeled in HO scale, squeezed in 800 square meters!  It contains detailed replicas of many of Russia's signature buildings and is home to hundreds of thousands of tiny plastic residents from all walks of life. It has to be seen to believed, and if you got 26 minutes to spare, you can see it by clicking

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Take a visit to railroad town

   Another film that WMRC Vice President Dave Downie found in the NFB archives was Railroad Town, a 29 minute documentary about life in Melville, Saskatchewan in 1956, when railroad was king.

   As most prairie rail fans know, Melville is still very much a railroad town. It's right on the CN mainline, and they even has their own railway museum to celebrate that heritage. But as busy as it is today, it's nothing compared to the activity of almost 60 years ago! Best of all, there's steam, steam and more steam!

    The documentary is narrated by the CBC's Fred Davis, host of  Front Page Challenge, who visited various railway workers and learned all about the operation of one of the most vital stations on the CN mainline which kept all of their trains running smoothly.

    To see this remarkable film, go to:


Thursday, July 16, 2015

End of the Line - The last days of steam locomotives

    Some time ago, WMRC Vice President Dave Downie supplied us with a wonderful list of films about railroading that are available for viewing on-line. Most of them haven't been posted on this site, as there were so many model railroading and rail fanning activities to report about. But now that the summer doldrums are upon us, it's a good time to reach into the archives and take a look at some of these remarkable films. And this summer seems to be the perfect time to watch them, as it's either been too cold, too hot, or too rainy to do anything outside!

    Our first film is titled "End of the Line". It's a film from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) from 1959. This 30 minute documentary offers a historical and nostalgic look at the steam locomotive as it passes into history, replaced by diesels. Railroad employees and rail fans are asked about their feelings about the end of the steam era in this film. End of the Line is a rare historical document that captures the passing of a bygone era, when steam was used by railroads for very practical purposes, and not just for the occasional summer excursion. You can view this film by clicking here.


Monday, July 13, 2015

The future of model railroading

WMRC Vice President wrote a poignant and thought provoking essay on the future of model railroading, which was published in the 2015 summer special edition of The Lantern, the official publication of the WMRC. We are posting it in its entirety.
By Dave Downie

   One of the the things that I've been amazed at has been the pace of change in our hobby. Most of us got our start in the hobby many years ago when the pace of life and changes in technology were a lot slower. Looking back just over the last 2 decades, I'm amazed at how everything has changed. Some of these changes have been improvements while other changes, have not been for the best.

   Who could have imagined the affect that technology would have on our hobby? The Internet has changed the way we communicate, conduct research and purchase supplies. This has had a serious affect on hobby shops and publishing companies to name just two examples. Another significant change has been the dramatic increase in the average age of model railroaders as the hobby fails to attract new participants.

   Not everything that has taken place over the last 20 years has been negative. Far from it. Looking at the quality and variety of new products entering the marketplace, we could say that we are in the middle of the greatest period that the hobby has ever seen. Consider Digital Command Control (DCC), locomotives with sound, manufacturers like Rapido, Fast Tracks and others that supply products that we could only dream about 20 years ago.

The question that I ask is: What is Model Railroading's Future?

   Because of the aging demographics, we may reach a point where it may not be financially feasible for retailers and manufacturers to remain in business if the market for model railroad supplies shrinks rather than grows.

   The solution of course is to attract new people into the hobby. This is easier said than done. Research has shown that the hobby attracts fewer teenagers today and that many new model railroaders are now older than 30 who are now established with careers and families. Many of these people never had a train set as a kid and were raised in a generation with computers and video games. With the decrease in the number of hobby shops, the hobby's public exposure is decreasing, not increasing. This creates more challenges for the hobby.

So what can we do?

We need to ensure that the hobby gets exposure.

   The WMRC is leading the way to promote the hobby and, as club members, we all have a role to play. The executive is committed to create a friendly and respectful environment where all people with an interest in the hobby can enjoy themselves while participating in club activities.

   Our blog site has been up for less than 2 years and has had over 53,000 visits from people all over the world. This gives an insight to the club and the hobby that wasn't possible 20 years ago. We need to build on this exposure.

   The clinics that are held at our monthly meetings need to cover all aspects of our wonderful hobby. Each member probably has a technique that they use to build models or their layout. Consider putting on a clinic. Your efforts will be appreciated.

   We have a terrific location for our meetings in the basement of the Charleswood Legion. Invite a family member or friend to attend as a guest. We are not an elitist club, we are a friendly club.

   The Gateway Western layout within the Winnipeg Railway Museum has created a great opportunity for the club because it will not only showcase the hobby and club to the museum's visitors but it allows members the opportunity to participate in the construction of the layout. What better way to contribute to the club's legacy by building something at the Gateway. Every Tuesday night the “work crew” is at the Gateway. Come on out and participate. What better way to learn than by participating. You will also make new friends. I should also tell you that the Gateway is now open for members to operate. Bring out some equipment and run some trains. Come on out on a Tuesday and learn the protocol to getting access to the layout.

   WMRC club members participate in the Manitoba Mega Train Show, Doors Open Winnipeg, Railway Days at the Winnipeg Railway Museum and host our own WMRC Open House to promote the hobby. These are great opportunities to showcase our hobby. We ask all members to help out.

   It is up to all of us to help promote our great hobby. The WMRC is 60 years old and we have a rich history. Our current members will have a tremendous impact on the club's future and the hobby's future in Winnipeg.

What can you do to help out?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Assiniboine Valley Railway holds public open house on July 11 and 12

   It's time to ride the trains again! The AVR is holding their second open house of the season this weekend, on July 11 and 12. The hours are from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday, and from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Sunday.

The AVR will be holding open houses every second weekend of the month from now until October. During the months of July and August, they also hold a second open house on the 4th weekend of the month, which means that you'll get another chance to ride the rails in another two weeks!

    Tickets for one ride are just two bucks. A 12 ride pass costs just a mere $20. Children two years old and under ride for free! All minors must be accompanied by an adult. 

    The AVR is located at 3001 Roblin Boulevard, just west of Assiniboine Park. Limited parking is available on their 800 foot long driveway, but you can also park on Roblin Boulevard or Chalfont Street.

    For more information about the AVR, click here.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Anyone want a free HO model railroad layout?

    WMRC Program Director Morgan Turney was contacted by a Winnipeg woman who has an apartment-sized layout that she wishes to give away.

   The buildings and rolling stock have been temporarily removed from the layout, and it will need to be dismantled for moving purposes. The layout is an odd shape, but it will come apart in three manageable sections with no disturbance of the track other than where it will need to be cut to accommodate the removal.

 It comes with a DC power pack, and once it is reassembled it will work fine. The layout is about 12 feet long on one side while the other side is about seven feet long. It's a basic over/under single track in HO scale.

For further information contact Morgan Turney at or Tessa Denton at

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Two themes for Winnipeg Model Railroad club's photo contests announced

    Felix Lesiuk contributed this image of CN freight 8829, an SD70M-2 hauling a container freight, for the cover of The Lantern Extra, a special summer edition of the WMRC's official publication.

     Two themes have been announced for the WMRC's photo contests in The Lantern Extra, a special summer publication of the club's official newsletter.

     For the special event for the club's annual photo contest, WMRC photo contest chair Suzanne Lemon has announced that the theme will be "The sky's the limit". Even the immense size of a train can be dwarfed by the sky and seemingly endless landscape around it. Show us your best shot of a train or other railway-related subject with a big sky around it!
    It could be a beautiful summer day, with a perfectly clear blue sky, or even one with a few puffy white clouds. It could also be a dark and ominous stormy sky, or a beautiful evening sunset. The possibilities are endless and the summer is the perfect time to capture images like these, so get out there and give it your best shot!

    For The Lantern's photo contest, the theme for the September issue will be "green" (the interpretation of this theme is entirely up to you). The winning entry will have their image published on the cover of the September issue of The Lantern. Submissions are to be sent to Lantern Editor Robert Weaver no later then midnight Tuesday, September 2. You must supply a caption, and if possible, note the camera settings.


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Miniatur Wunderland - the world's largest model railway

   WMRC Vice-President Dave Downie sent us this link about Miniatur Wunderland (German for miniature wonderland), heralded as the world's largest model railway. Located in Hamburg, Germany, it was built by twins Gerrit and Frederik Braun.

    By January 2011 the railway consisted of 39,370 feet of track in HO scale. It's divided into seven sections, including the Alps, Austria, Hamburg, America, Scandinavia, and Switzerland. The layout is still under construction, and new sections are constantly in development. Ten new sections have been planned, and their newest sections in the works include Italy and Monaco. They expect the railway to be complete in five years, but why would they ever stop?

    The exhibit includes a staggering 890 trains made up of over 11,000 cars, 300,000 lights, 215,000 trees, and 200,000 figurines. Not surprisingly, it has become one of Hamburg's biggest tourist attractions. Over 12 million people have visited the railway. Their scale model version the airport alone cost 3,500,000 Euros.

    To watch their latest video, click here.
    To download a PDF their press kit, click here.
    To visit their website, click here.