Canadian Association Of Railway Modellers (CARM)

The Canadian association is still operating in some regions of Canada. However, the Ontario Central Chapter of the Canadian Association of Railway Modellers (CARM) disbanded in 2013. We had 28 members but the membership has shrunk during the past few years. The region covers from north of Toronto to north of Barrie and west to Collingwood on Georgian Bay. It is a large geographical region and that has made it difficult to hold meetings due to the amount of travelling involved, especially in the winter months when the roads can be tricky.

We did construct a small 8-foot by 5-foot layout to take to train shows that we let the younger children operate. Many of the clubs and individuals with layouts at train shows do not allow others, especially young children, to run trains (except for our NMRC club). We set out to purposely build something that kids could run with our help. We also used it to teach railroad safety. We installed a level crossing where kids can make the crossing lights flash by pushing a button in the fascia.

The railroad was designed to represent, or at least, to suggest the region around Barrie, Ontario. One side has a town scene separated by a central backdrop from a rural scene on the other side. The layout had two 30" wide modules in the center (donated by the Nottawasaga Model Railroad Club) and 1-foot by 5-foot extensions at each end. These have a siding located in the right spot to connect to other free-mo modules should we have the opportunity to do so. We used Code 100 track and commerical turnouts for ease of construction on the CARM layout. We had been running the layout with DC and then upgraded to Digitrax DCC. We kept an F unit diesel on DC to make it simpler for the younger folk. 

We also acquired a standalone MRC sound system. This enabled the children to ring bells, toot horns and do other fun audio things. After all, the kids are the future model railroaders and we need to encourage them.

Layout history

Robert Hollywood, our Secretary/Treasurer, wrote up this history of the layout to give it some context for the buildings and geography:

Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada (circa 1950-60)

"Our CARM Chapter built this layout to tell the railroad story as it applied to Simcoe County, north of Toronto around Lake Simcoe. The county from its earliest days was shaped by farm and forest industries. Indeed, many areas in Ontario were opened by the railways to serve new mines and to take advantage of huge forest tracts opened by the government to logging. Our layout shows two sides of the Simcoe County story. One side displays the rural scene based on our farming heritage. The other side depicts the commercial/urban development that followed. Each sets out the role of the railway in serving the needs of the two communities.

The Urban scene

The thriving community of Angus was well-served by the Canadian National Railway (CNR) in the 50s and 60s when it still provided freight and passenger service, north and south. In the time period depicted, the Freeman Manufacturing plant was a leading Ontario producer of fine wood office furniture. Their product line featured desks, chairs, filing cabinets and shelving. Rail service allowed them to ship their products nationwide. Simcoe Machine Tool & Foundry was a small manufacturing operation that also provided a repair and maintenance service for a wide range of production machinery and farm equipment. Large pieces of machinery could readily be brought to the plant by rail, as well as the necessary raw materials for the work. Keeping area residents and businesses warm and operating in the cold Ontario winters was the key to the success of the McGraw Oil and Fuel depot. The large coal unloading shed could supply the many homes and businesses in the region.

The rural scene

Railway service to this rural area was vital to prosperity in this agricultural region. Businesses included the BAR-D ranch with its large beef cattle herd, plus large acreages of wheat and corn. The clear waters of the Wye River were essential to both the Hillsdale Grist Mill and Wilson Bottling. The nationally known name of Canada Dry was the major product of Wilson's. The beef cattle from the BAR-D were favoured by a number of packing houses in the Toronto area requiring a supply of stock cars for moving them to market. As an industry built on a quality product, the BAR-D continued to bring in new breeding stock to improve the already top quality of their beef. The many farms in the county kept the Simcoe Co-op elevator well stocked for shipping carloads of grain by rail to many large mills in Ontario. The Canada Flour Mill operation was kept busy bagging flour from the Hillsdale Grist mill for shipment by rail to a number of Southern Ontario bakeries."

Robert did his research to create this plausible story for our little CARM layout. It provides a rationale for the locomotives and rolling stock as well as the structures, even though our entire CARM layout is only 8-feet by 5-feet. 

You can find this area of Canada on Mapquest. Many railroads operated in Ontario from the late 1800s to the mid 20th century. Now it's the domain of CN and CP. Much of the old roadbed has been turned into walking trails and bike paths.

When the chapter was disbanded the layout was purchased by Paul Bailey's father (now deceased) and Paul took charge of the layout for he and his son. Paul has added considerably to the original layout. Paul was a member of our Nottawasaga Model Railway club but now finds it difficult to attend since we moved to Bygone Days in Collingwood. It's a fair hike from his home in Barrie, especially in winter evenings.

Bill Bradford and helpers set up
at a Holland Centre train show
CARM layout setup

CARM's raison d'etre is to promote Canadian model railroads. Not all of us who are members have layouts based on the prototype. My freelanced railroad, the Utopia Northern, was started long before modellers focused on representing prototype railroads. I've stuck with the freelanced theme although I tend to run a lot more CN, CP, BCRail, TH&B and other Canadian equipment. 

There actually is a Utopia outside of Barrie that is an interchange point for the Barrie & Collingwood shoreline. During January, 2010 we had a "fix-it" session to upgrade, repair and otherwise refurbish the layout in preparation for some upcoming train shows that we plan to attend.  

Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what the layout looked like at the time.

Layout repairs Jan, 2010
The city side.
CARM layout city scene

The rural side of the layout
CARM layout rural scene

Members at the November, 2009 meeting
at the home of Byron Simmons
CARM Chapter meeting

CARM layout video

We displayed the layout at the Midland Train Show in May, 2010.  Our aim was to encourage youngsters to run the trains and push the button to make the crossing flashers work. The kids loved it, regardless of their age.Here's a short video I shot at the show.

I also post all my videos on my YouTube site. If you're looking for free music to use with your videos, I suggest you check out  Free Royalty Free Music by

Below are some still photos of the layout at the Midland Show.

The city side of the layout
CARM city side

Engine CN 1278 passes the freight house
CN 1278

Rural road crossing
rural level crossing

scratchbuilt Angus railway station
Angus station

Industrial side of the layout
industrial scene

Level crossing signals
level crossing signals

The Simcoe mill
Simcoe mill

Small "Purity" dairy freighthouse
dairy freighthouse

TH&B van waits for assignment
THB van

On June 25, 2011 Central Ontario Chapter members went to the Nottawasaga Model Railway Club's layout for an operating session. I've posted some photos on the NMR club page.

For more information about CARM across Canada, go to the  CARM website.

Go from "CARM" to the Train Photos overview.

Go from "CARM" to the Barrie-Allandale historic rail tour, April 24, 2010.

Return from "CARM" to my Home Page.

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