Saturday, April 28, 2012

Great Canadian Model Railroad: Dave Chomyn's Quintette Tunnels Modules

Dave Chomyn of Calgary has created a truly Great Canadian Model Railroad—or maybe that should be Module Railroadthe Quintette Tunnels.

The modules are a faithful replica of the prototype Quintette Tunnels, which are found along the old Kettle Valley Railway near Hope, B.C.

In the early 1900s, the Canadian Pacific Railway decided the build a southern route in British Columbia. The Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) traversed some of the most difficult terrain in the province, passing through three mountain ranges.

One of the greatest challenges facing the railway was the Coquihalla Gorge, where a river cut a 300 foot deep channel through solid rock. 

Chief Engineer Andrew McCulloch determined that the best route was a straight line through the canyon. Since this required five tunnels and two bridges; the area became known as the Quintette Tunnels, although it is also known as the Othello Tunnels due to McCulloch's interest in Shakespeare’s plays.

The KVR existed from 1916 to 1964, when it was closed. Today much of the route is a popular hiking trail, and part of the Trans Canada Trail.

Oops! No handrails on the front of the
lead unit. You shoot whatever comes
along at a train show.

Dave's HO scale Quintette Tunnels modules are part of the Calgary Free-mo group. He estimates it took him about 800 hours to build the modules, which also features a transition module called Watertower Creek. Watertower Creek is a prairie scene and a tall timber area leading to the tunnels.

The scenery on the modules is constructed from extruded Styrofoam. Dave painted the rocks grey, then drybrushed on other colours. Trees are made from various materials, such as twine and furnace filter material, while a few were purchased. Dave's work earned him the Master Scenery certificate from the NMRA.

Canyon view on Dave's modules.

These photos of the Quintette Tunnels modules were taken at the 2012 Calgary Supertrain show.

Dave's wife Laura also helped with the construction of the modules. You can take a "cab ride" through the modules by watching this video on Youtube. For more about the Kettle Valley Railway, check out McCulloch's Wonder, a book from Whitecap Books.


  1. Dave's Model is phenomenal and having been to the Othello Tunnels, Hope BC...I can say this is work par excellence !! His observation, dedication to remain true to the subject and period, make this a true Canadian masterpiece. Dave & Laura are a fantastic team and bring out the beauty of the Quintette Tunnel Modules in the details. Great work & look forward to seeing more !! (The cab ride on youtube is amazing - RR)

  2. I have an extra copy of McCulloch's Wonder Anniversary Edition available, if any M&M readers are looking for one.

    Eric Gagnon