Tuesday, March 22, 2011

After 38 Years, Montreal Railroad Modeller's Association Loses its Home

A portion of the Canada Central . . . soon to be gone.

Ever since the first model railroad club rented space for a layout, there have been evictions. Years of effort and energy come to a sad end when the landlord asks the club to leave, a building changes ownership or there is another change to the venue.

That’s what’s happening in Montreal, where the Montreal Railroad Modeler’s Association has been asked to vacate its home of 38 years.

At 123 feet long and 37 feet wide, and with 4,900 feet of track and 527 switches, the Association’s layout—called the Canada Central—is one of the biggest in Canada. But by November it is supposed to be gone; it has to make way for new and better-paying tenants.

What makes this model railroad eviction story more compelling is the landlord: CN. This has prompted some people to heap abuse on the railway, while others have noted that it should at least be credited with giving the club almost four decades of inexpensive accommodation.

While it’s tempting to divide people in the story into villains and victims, the safest conclusion is the simplest: Nothing is forever, life moves on, things change. (See Of Tibetan Sand Mandalas and Model Railroads.)

That doesn’t make the loss of this great layout any less sad; here’s hoping the club can find a new home, maybe rescue some of the key scenes, and make a new layout that’s bigger and better.

It also gives one a great reason to plan a trip to Montreal this year, to see it one more time—or maybe for the first (and last) time.

A few photos from the club, and a trackplan, are below. More information about the club can be found on its website. You can also get more information about the eviction from CTV Montreal, including a link to a video of the layout.


  1. Just to put things into perspective:
    CN is not the evil landlord and evicting the club for higher gain and profit.
    Several years ago, CN sold the entire space under their Bonaventure viaduct to a storage company called Depotium with a clause that Depotium could not take over the club's space or evict the RR club until 2012.
    Unfortunately - notice has been give.

  2. Agreed with anonymous. If you're in a rented space, you have to plan for the eventuality that you have to leave. I know 38 years is a long time but the time has come. Now members can have a piece of the old railroad, and look forward to building an entirely new one.