|Bill Taylor during his annual AVR Christmas display.
For model railroaders from across North America, no visit to Winnipeg was complete without a visit to the Assiniboine Valley Railway, a 1.6" scale 7.5" gauge riding layout located on a seven acre site at the home of Bill Taylor.
Bill, a life-long model railroader and long-time member of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club, started the AVR in 1995. Today has a mainline run of 3,700 feet, with seven sidings and a station/clubhouse.
In addition to regular open houses from spring through fall, the AVR hosted special dinner trains, operating sessions and even was used for wedding photos.
|Wedding train on the AVR.
But the highlight for many Winnipeggers was the Christmas runs, when Bill decorated the railway with over 100,000 lights and offered rides through a winter wonderland. Money raised during the rides was donated to local charities.
"That was one of the highlights of his life," said his wife, Mary-Lou. "That was what kept him going."
Bill built the AVR for a simple reason: To bring joy to visitors. But the AVR, and the Winnipeg model railroading community, is sad today. On August 26, after several years of struggling with various illnesses, Bill passed away at the age of 68.
|Bill with dinner train patrons.
Right now, the future of the AVR is not certain. The annual fall dinner train has been cancelled, but the September open house will go ahead as planned. AVR members will be meeting in the next few weeks to determine how best to proceed going forward.
Of his wonderful railway, Bill said: "I like to share. We don't really own anything, we're just stewards of it while we're here. We share it and let the people enjoy it."
|Bill (far left) with AVR members in front of the station.
Rest in peace, Bill.
Click here to see more photos and a video of the AVR. Click here to visit the AVR website. Click here to read an article about Bill's passing in the Winnipeg Free Press. For more in this death and the model railroader series, click on the label on the right.
|At St. Croix, Wisconsin.