Maple Leaf 2003 is remembered, unfortunately, as the SARS convention—the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Toronto caused the cancellation or curtailment of many conventions, including that year’s NMRA National Train Show. (Local modellers created their own very fine replacement.)
But that’s not all I remember of that convention; for me, an outstanding memory is seeing the Ontario & Eastern for the first, and only, time.
The layout was right across from the Canadian Railway Modeller display table, so I had lots of opportunities to watch it in action. And what a layout it was!
The HO scale Ontario & Eastern was pretty much the first sectional layout I had ever seen, and it left quite an impression on me.
By sectional, I mean it was unlike most modular layouts—layouts that can be put together in any configuration. The Ontario & Eastern, on the other hand, was designed to fit together only one way in order to preserve continuity of scenes.
But that wasn’t the only thing that impressed me. I was also struck by the level of detail.It really made you feel like you had gone back to Ontario in the 1950s.
Construction of the O & E started in 1987. The 16 by 20 portable layout built by a small group of friends to display typical southern Ontario scenes and railway operations from the 1949 to 1959 time period. The layout sections were individually owned by Rich Chrysler, Brian Dickey, Jim Ellis, John Mellow, John Spring and Tony Van Klink.
Their goal was to bring a high standard of modelling to a show layout—a goal they more than achieved.
Public showings of the layout started in 1990, with the last showing of the entire display taking place in February, 2005. The layout was featured in the February, 1998 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman.
After the group disbanded, the sections went back home with their original owners or were sold. One former member, Tony Van Klink, incorporated some sections into a home layout, and also into a portable layout, called the Ontario & Quebec. He brings the portable layout to shows in southern Ontario; I was fortunate to find him displaying it at the Brampton Train Show in October.
|Tony Van Klink with his O & Q.
The Ontario & Eastern is gone now, but I’m sure you’ll agree it was a Great Canadian Model Railroad. And now, for the first time, photos of it can be found on the Web.
Thanks to Brian Dickey for information about the layout, and to Godfrey Hall for some photos. Other photos (and layout plan) from RMC, or by me at the Brampton Train Show. Enjoy!