Sunday, April 03, 2016

Winnipeg Model Railroad club celebrates Norm Leathers' bicentennial

The WMRC honoured long time member Norm Leathers at their annual spring open house, celebrating 200 years of his life and his devotion to rail fanning.  Norm developed his love of trains in 1830 at just 14 years of age when he hitched a ride on Peter Cooper's "Tom Thumb". Unfortunately, there is no proof of his ride, as the camera hadn't been invented yet!

When a Canadian citizen reaches the 100 year mark, Buckingham Palace sends that person a letter of congratulations. Norm is the only person in the history of the British Empire to have received two of these letters - one from Queen Elizabeth II and another from her grandfather, George V!

Below is a photo gallery of Norm's greatest accomplishments during the past two centuries.

Norm was at the signing of Confederation at Charlottetown in 1867. It was at this meeting that he whispered in John A. MacDonald's ear, "Hey, why don't you build a railroad from coast to coast?"

On November 7, 1885, when he was a mere lad of 69, he witnessed Donald Smith drive the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Craigellachie. Norm was working as a herder for Smiths' collection of buffalos in Silver Heights at the time. 

Norm is pictured here with Wilbur Wright. Norm was a pilot of the RCAF and flew in WW1, WW2 and Korea. He developed his love for aviation when he worked in Orville and Wilbur Wright's bicycle shop in Ohio. One day he said to Wilbur, "If we put some wings on this frame and put a gasoline engine on it, I bet it would fly!" 

By the way, if you haven't already guessed:

It's a little late this year, our annual spring open house was this weekend, and we didn't want to confuse anyone who might be looking for information about the show. We'd like to thank Norm leathers, who graciously gave his consent to be the subject of this year's April Fools post. When asked if he'd like to know how he was going to be lampooned, he simply said, "Surprise me!" 

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