Monday, August 14, 2023

Exclusive photos from the 1983 Railway Jamboree NMRA national convention

Bill Taylor (left) and Moe Smith sell “arms length” raffle tickets at the 1983 Railway Jamboree NMRA national convention held in Winnipeg. Nick Andrusiak invented this gimmick, which is still being used at the WMRC’s annual AGM and banquet.

Frances Andrusiak, widow of longtime member Nick Andrusiak, sent us the great photos of Railway Jamboree, the 1983 NMRA national convention held in Winnipeg. Nick was one of the organizers of this convention, the only NMRA national convention ever to be held in Winnipeg.

Frances tells us that convention consumed the lives of the Andrusiak family for four years, starting from the time of the bid, which was held at the 1979 NMRA national convention in Calgary. The Andrusiak children had to have supper on a blanket on the kitchen floor many times when the executive planning committee was meeting at their home.

Winnipeg was one of the smallest cities to ask to hold an NMRA national convention. The WMRC, which had about 250 members at time, was one of the smallest clubs to organize a convention. They had an uphill battle to convince the NMRA executive to let them hold a convention.

Frances told us that the Winnipeg delegation had corned beef sandwiches flown in from Winnipeg and delivered to the convention just as their presentation was completing at lunch time. Small touches like that won the hearts and minds of the NMRA executive and helped the Winnipeg Delegation land the bid to hold the convention.

In 2008 Nick organized a reunion was a reunion on the 25th anniversary of the convention. It was planned as an informal lunch at the Winnipeg Convention Centre cafeteria but when the cafeteria staff heard they were coming they set up tables with white tablecloths and provided table service. The reunion was marred by the absence of Hilt Friesen, who while getting ready to attend the reunion, suffered a fatal stroke.

Francis has many more photos of the convention. We hope that she will share the rest of them with us soon!

Bill Norrie, Winnipeg’s mayor at the time, is seen getting pinned by convention chair Stafford Swain. Norrie was in crutches because he ran over his foot with a lawnmower.

Nick Andrusiak (left) and Bill Taylor are seen on a CN caboose. Convention attendees were given the opportunity to visit the CP yards and the CN Transcona shops during the convention. Due to security concerns this courtesy has long been abandoned by the railways. 


A photo montage ready for publication, possibly for The Lantern. Note that the photos were pasted on a grid sheet used for school publications. Nick Andrusiak was a High School Teacher. Hilt Friesen is shown on the photo on the lower left. Stafford Swain is shown on the photo next to him.

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