Our clubhouse layout is a representation of CN's Meaford sub-division, which ran from Barrie to Meaford, ON. Our main emphasis is on Collingwood, the largest town after Barrie, and a shipbuilding centre until 1986, when the shipyards were permanently closed.
Collingwood was also a major trans-shipment point for grain heading east from the praries to eastern Canada and Europe. This, too, went by the wayside with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957 and ocean-going ships could sail all the way to the top of the Great Lakes and load grain directly.
Some very large boats (for some reason Lake Freighters are called boats, not ships) were built in Collingwood. One of the largest was the "Black Bay", launched on 20th September 1962. She was renamed "Canadian Voyager" in 1994 and, after a chequered career, scrapped in Aliaga, Turkey 40 years to the day she was launched.Our model of the 'Black Bay' was a radio controlled, motorized 1:120 scale model of a lake freighter built by Don Near of Hanover, ON, who donated it to the club in 2017. The real 'Black Bay' was 730 feet long whereas our model is a shade over 6'‐0".
The late Bill Hambly built the model of the Thornbury girder/trestle bridge and the water of the Beaver River flowing underneath, as well as the two trestles. The trestles are replicas of those that carried the track over two small creeks between Thornbury and Meaford. The railway route, including the trestles, are now part of a bicycle/walking path that runs for 34km (21 miles) between Collingwood and Meaford.
Club member Brad LeBeck is a carpenter and built the helix, making the base in his workshop. From there it was transferred to the club and installed in the layout. It is 5'-0" in diameter and has four complete loops, raising the track 16". It still needs some backdrop scenery on the lower level, but the upper level is finished. When we first ran trains on it we found it disconcerting not knowing where on the helix the train was, so Martin Alborough made up a panel with LED's that indicate which of nine electrically isolated blocks in the helix the train is on. The colours of the LED's indicate whether any given block is occupied or not, and by watching it for a few seconds, one can tell if a train is going up or coming down.
Our 'Arborists' were kept busy making the trees for Blue Mountain, mostly 'bottle-brush' type to represent evergreens. It doesn't look like it but there are about 350 trees on the mountain, with a lot more to go on the rest of the layout!
Barry Ruse and Jay Parkes create wonderful scenery. Most of Thornbury's scenery is Barry's work, and most of the remainder is by Jay. The buildings are by Bill Hambly, Martin Alborough and Al White.
Jay created all of the scenery on the upper level which includes the fall diorama.
There were four tracks sorting tracks at Collingwood's grain elevators. Two holding empty cars, waiting to be loaded, and two for cars already loaded, ready to be shipped onwards. The location of the grain elevators, dock and sorting tracks made for a natural harbour, much to the joy of local sailors. Bill Hanke made the model of the elevators and the office and Bill Payne the barge and sheer legs and housing.