NOTTAWASAGA MODEL RAILWAY
The club has been in operation for more than 30 years. It was started in Collingwood, moved to Wasaga Beach for about 10 years and is now back in Collingwood at Bygone Days Heritage Village. Most members live in the beautiful Southern Georgian Bay area, but one, a seasonal resident and our "honourary American", hails from Warren, Ohio.
In the early days, we only had a small modular layout, which still lives and is what we take to model railway shows. Members used to meet in one another's houses and operate the host's layout or work on one or two modules in his/her garage. It wasn't until we moved into our clubhouse in the east end of Wasaga Beach that a permanent layout could be built. Six of the exhibition layout modules were an integral part of this layout, which meant we had to partially dismantle it every time we went to a show. We also had to maneuver the modules through a single-leaf door, over a stair landing with the handrails removed and carry them down a fairly steep slope to load them into a trailer. It was a difficult and complicated exercise and could be very tricky, especially in the middle of winter.
It was a typical DC-powered layout until 2010, when we converted to DCC.
We had to vacate the Wasaga Beach clubhouse in May 2014 and for six months we met in Brad Lebeck's workshop where he generously let us set up the exhibition layout modules so we could work on them.
John Worts, who at the time wasn't a member of the club, took an interest in our plight and approached the chair of the F.W. Fisher Foundation, the organization that operates Bygone Days Heritage Village, and as a result we were offered space in what was once a pig sty. Suffice to say that a fair amount of work was necessary to make our new premises suitable but this is now complete and construction of our new, permanent layout is well underway.
The club was federally incorporated as a 'Not for Profit' corporation in December 2014.
The name "Nottawasaga" is that of our watershed river, and is derived from the Ojibwa words meaning "Iroquois" and "river outlet or bay". It was first shown on a map by Robert Pilkington, Col. John Simcoe's aide-de-camp, in 1793, and spelled Nawtawaysaga. Various other spellings have been noted but by 1819 it was as we know it today.
Wasaga Beach is situated where the river enters Georgian Bay and is the main centre on the world's longest freshwater beach. The population can explode from 18,000 full-time residents to over 100,000 on summer weekends. In winter the hills around Collingwood offer the best downhill skiing in Southern Ontario, plus there are numerous cross-country ski trails and hundreds of kilometres of marked snowmobile trails in the area. Curling is also popular and quite a few hardy souls like to head out onto the frozen Nottawasaga Bay for some ice fishing. But for us, winter is the time to work on the railway.