If there ever was a true pioneer in the retail field of model railroading, it would be Ken Martin. He served the needs of Model Railroaders in Winnipeg and later in Nanaimo for over five decades.
Ken was born and raised in Winnipeg. His grandfather worked on the railway, and his dad worked on the electric railway. He had his own Lionel layout by age 5.
In 1956, and he started the first of Ken Martin Enterprises in his basement with his wife Bernice as shipper/receiver for Midwest Hobbies. As the wholesale business moved into its own warehouse, Ken branched out into retail and the first Ye Olde Hobby Mart opened at 365 Portage Ave, with four other locations following in the 70’s and 80’s, including Polo Park and Grant Park shopping centres.
Ken also owned the Cricklewood gift shop in Polo Park, which he opened in 1979, and was run by Bernice. Cricklewood was a tribute to his marketing savvy, as while hobbyists were going to Ye Olde Hobby Mart in Polo Park, their wives were going to Cricklewood and buying out the store!
Warehouse Hobbies was Ken’s last retail enterprise. Its first location was in a warehouse near Polo Park, in between St. James Street and Route 90. He later moved to a smaller location on Portage Avenue.
In 1993 he sold Warehouse Hobbies to Jim and Bev Iredale and retired to Nanaimo. But he didn’t stop working for very long, and found a job at Leisure Time Hobbies. After that, he worked on his layout full-time. His reputation often preceded him, as he was often asked to evaluate model railroader’s collections, and was frequently sought out as a vendor at train shows on Vancouver Island.
Ken died peacefully on June 9, 2016.