For some time I have wanted to feature the HO Model Engineer’s Society (or HOMES) on this blog.
I was lucky enough to visit their former layout in the mid-1990s—before the age of smartphones and digital cameras, when photography was still hard.
I sent e-mails via the club’s web page once or twice, asking if anyone would send me some progress photos, but didn’t hear back. So I let it be.
But then Brandon Bayer recently started posting photos of the club’s new layout on the Canadian Railway Modeller’s group on Facebook.
I’ve “borrowed” some of those images for my blog. (Thanks, Brandon!) Below find some info about the club, which was founded in 1948—making it one of the oldest in Canada.
At first, the club met in member’s homes. It had a succession of layouts in various places until 1980s, when a new layout was begun in the basement of the Delta Bingo Hall.
The 42' X 52' layout was set in 1967, Canada's Centennial Year, and the geography depicted Hamilton to North Bay with the scenery showing all four seasons.
The club was forced to move in 1997 to Stoney Creek Plaza (where I saw it). This time the 42 X 62 layout featured Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo operations in the Hamilton and southern Ontario area.
In 2007 they were forced to move again. Now in their tenth location, at the Eva Rothwell Centre, they are far enough along to provide photos of a great looking layout.
This layout models the TH&B in the Hamilton area in the 1950s, with CNR, the CPR and NYC limited to live interchanges to get cars on and off the layout.
They also utilized David Barrows’ “domino” technique to build the layout—a good plan, considering how often they’ve moved!
Buffalo and Toronto are represented by staging. TH&B, NYC, and CNR trains enter the layout from Buffalo to the NYC yard in Welland, From there, the TH&B crosses the third Welland Canal on Bridge 15, reaching Hamilton via Smithville and Stoney Creek.
On their website, the club says “we're now in our seventh year building this layout, and when you stand back and take a look, it's starting to look finished. (It helps if you squint . . .)”
From what I can see, it already looks like a Great Canadian Model Railroad; I hope I can get to visit it someday.
About the TH&B: Based in Hamilton, the TH&B was jointly owned by the CPR and the NYC, although it operated as an independent railway for over 90 years. It was a bridge route giving the NYC direct access to Toronto and connections to the Canadian railway network. The Canadian Pacific, in turn, gained direct access to Buffalo and NYC's "Water-Level Route" to New York City and Chicago.
Click here to see more photos on the H.O.M.E.S. Facebook page. Click here to visit their website and read more about the club’s history and operations. Learn more about the TH&B from the TH&B Historical Society.