When I asked a friend in the Kitchener-Waterloo area which model railroads I should see during this year’s Doubleheaders tour, he said: “Make sure you visit Charlie Ellis’ layout!”
I took his advice, and I’m glad I did. Charlie has a great Canadian model railroad.
Charlie models CNR/CPR and BAR operations in the 1950s in the St. Leonard, New Brunswick/Van Buren, Maine area.
Scenery on the point-to-point layout is 95% complete; all the track is handlaid. Charlie uses Digitrax to control the trains.
I asked Charlie a few questions about the layout.
Why did you choose that era?
“The era reflects the railroad activity I experienced in my childhood. It didn't start out that way; I discovered HO model railroading in the 1960s and amassed collection of contemporary CN and CP models over the years, culminating in the construction of my model railroad starting in the mid 80s.
“At that time my two sons showed a keen interest in trains (I think it is in the blood) and we modeled the modern era along with a car card system for operations. When they grew up and left home, my interest in the modern railroad scene waned, as did operation of the layout.
“Then a friend in the hobby introduced me to DCC, and about the same time I realized that my real interest in railroads harped back to the good old days of the 1950s.
“So I sold off my modern railroad models (most of the stuff went to my sons) and started collecting models suited to the 1950's era and typical operations in the New Brunswick area that we model.”
Why did you choose that part of Canada to model?
“Our model railroad operations centre on the town of St.Leonard, New Brunswick, as the Bangor & Aroostook interchanged with the CNR there and the CPR ran on the CNR through there via trackage rights. Presto: Three of my favorite railroads all in one place.”
How do you operate the layout?
“My oldest son, while in university in the co-op program, had several work terms with CP, and being a computer and math whiz, wrote a computer program for the operation of our layout based on real railroad practices along with the basics of the car card system. We are still using that program.”
“Currently, I am part of a group of 5 or 6 other modelers, most of which have home layouts, and we rotate visits to each other's layouts on a weekly basis, focusing on operations.”
2017 was Charlie’s 10th year on the tour; if he’s on again next year, make sure you visit his layout if you are in town for Doubleheaders.