Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Great Model Railroad: The Waterloo Region Model Railway Club

In my (very part time) role as Associate Editor of Canadian Railway Modeller, I have been able to write about, and visit, some great layouts in Canada. One of the best—if not the most ambitious—is the Waterloo Region Model Railway Club.

The club, which has a layout in a 40 by 50 foot quonset hut in the town of Maryhill, Ont. (partway between Kitchener/Waterloo and Guelph), models CP Rail in the 1970s in northern Ontario—the Sudbury area, to be specific.

The Sudbury yard.
Actually, to call the club’s efforts a layout is a bit of misnomer; they are actually building a house, or sorts, inside the hut. The layout is on three levels; operators literally climb up and over each other in the mushroom-style room—the ceiling above your head is the floor of the level above you.

The club chose the 1970s for several reasons. First, although it is in the past, it is recent history and therefore easily researched.
Second, that era is a bridge between the "classic" CPR maroon & grey livery and and the more modern CP Rail design. It also allows the club to run rolling stock that features CPR script and block type, along with the CP Rail “pac man” logo.

As for location, Sudbury was chosen because it had mainline transcontinental time-freights, lowly manifests, heavy industry with lots to switch, local turn jobs, mining and logging trains, and local and transcontinental passenger services. In fact, Sudbury was where the CPR's flagship passenger train, The Canadian, was broken into Toronto and Montreal sections going east and assembled into one train going west.

The club has a long ways to go before the layout is completed (as is apparent in the photos). But even in this state, it is very impressive!

You can find more information about the Waterloo Region Model Railway Club, including additional photos and a trackplan, at http://www.wrmrc.ca/. There’s also an interesting article about the layout at http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/1102. Videos of the layout can be found here (Part 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrsJvSvuhtk and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6r_mvPzDkQ&feature=related.

The layout is open during the annual Doubleheader’s Layout Tour, which features over 40 local layouts; this year’s tour is March 26. Find out more about the 2011 tour at http://www.trainweb.org/doubleheaders/dhsite.htm.

More photos of the layout are below.


  1. This is quite an impressive spectacle; That highway overpass doesn't do it justice! These guys certainly know how to accumulate and mix their rolligstock properly.

  2. Zartok-35 - posting a little late, but thanks! As for our rolling stock mix, we know what the CPR owned and used in the 70's, and we've been developing the proper roster now for 20 years - even tossing out (well flea-marketing really) older models as better and more accurate ones are released.

    We have the proper CPR freight procedures books from the era, so we know what trains were running, what they carried, and block our HO-traffic accordingly.

    The you notice our rolling stock mix lets us know we're doing something right.