My Muskoka Tour Home Page

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Welcome to my Muskoka Tour Home Page. This is a gathering place for a taste of what can be seen on the layout tour in the Muskoka region, about two hours north of Toronto, Canada.

The 2019 tour will take place again September 29, 2019. You can download a pdf of the maps from the link below.

The region is alive with some terrific model railroads, both club and personal layouts, and there are many spectacular model railroads in many scales. 

This year again there will be almost two dozen layouts in scales from N to G.

Muskoka Tour 2019

Photos of Brian Searle's fabulous layout

As a taste of what's to come, here are some recent photos of Brian's layout.

CSX lashupAction on Brian Searle's HO layout
HO yard actionLots of action in the yard
CSX on the HO mainlineRailfanning by the mainline
Conrail 3276Trackside scene on Brian Searle's layout

Looking back at previous years

I wasn't available to attend last year but those I talked to who did the tour said it was up to the usual high standards of previous years. I've revisited many of the layouts I have seen on past tours and have seen a few that I had only seen some still photos of in the past.

 Many members belong to the Niagara Frontier Region (NFR) of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) and/or the Canadian Association of Railway Modellers (CARM).

 We even have some Master Model Railroaders (MMRs) in the region, such as Al Crisp (MMR 430) and John Brown (MMR 449). Once again, their layouts were included this year. Al Crisp is one of the main organizers of the annual event.

I have posted photos and videos of the layouts I  have visited along with Gary Robinson, Martin Alborough and John Houghton of our NMRC club group.The first layout we went to was John Brown's highly detailed HO layout.   Here's a second look at John's Waubaushene Central. It includes a lot of Cheasapeake and Ohio interchange traffic. 

My thanks to Danosongs for the use of free soundtrack music. 

If you have videos that could use some music, try Free Music by

Here are some still photos of detailed scenes on John's layout.

ho car ferry Car ferry at Waubaushene
ho ferry End view of car ferry
ho company houses Company houses
ho deck girder bridge C &O bridge scene
ho wood trestle Wooden trestle and painted backdrop
ho loading dock Siding and loading dock
ho track workers Gandy dancers working on track
ho trackside station Trackside station and town

John has a great idea for stopping cars on grades. It is made with wire insulation and light, bendable wire.

Grade car brake
ho grade brake

Ron Colpitt's N scale
CP Revelstoke Division

I had videotaped a train operating on Ron's layout a few years ago. This year I revisited his layout. Ron was running a long coal train. The mainline winds through the entire basement and shares space with a family room, a bedroom, office, workshop and laundry room. Ron built the layout on top of custom cabinets and there are bookshelves above. The layout is highly detailed and amazing in its complexity. Here is a video of what he has accomplished.

Highlights of past Muskoka tours

In 2012 I visited layouts in the southern tier of the region that I hadn't videotaped before or hadn't visited for a few years.

 Here's a sampling. I revisited John and Laura Spring's extensive 20' x 30' HO layout that features TH & B equipment running on three levels.There are 8 yards, 2 helixes, a 28 stall roundhouse and steam and diesel power operated with DCC. The video also shows engine 51 on Dave Smith's ON30 Ontario & Eastern, Roger Hauka's Muskoka Regional Railroad with a motorized bascule bridge for entry, and John Clark's Blackhorse Junction Railroad that is a 1940s style layout with a terrific logging camp and bridges reminiscent of John Allen's Gorre & and Daphetid.

Photos of the Spring's layout

Cathedral and buildings
ho model cathedral

Crane and factories
ho model crane

St. Thomas station
ho st thomas station

Smithville station
ho smithville station

Cows by the tracks
ho model cows

Photos of Dave Smith's ON30 layout

Engine 51 as featured in the video
on30 engine 51

Waterside at the pier
on30 pier

Crane for lifting stone blocks
on30 factory crane

Brett Lake station
on30 station

Mine buildings
on30 mine buildings

Photos of Peter Hocking's HO layout

Peter makes great trees and demonstrates his techniques at the NMRA clinic at Trainfest in Milwaukee.

  He has some wonderful detailed scenes on his 7 x 16 foot HO layout. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.

ho model church Church and house on hillside
ho detailed house Closer look at the house model
ho model autobody shop Auto body shop scene
ho model woods Woods scene. Look out for the bear!
ho model clapboard house Clapboard house scene

 Here's a taste of some of the model railroads visited during past tours that are usually on the annual Muskoka Tour. Use the links on this page to previous tours or to layouts I have visited that will be on the tour this year. Some of the hosts have sent me some photos. I've put them here.

Muskoka Regional Railroad
of Roger Hauka

MRR track plan
muskoka regional railroad

To see more photos of Roger Hauka's layout, go to the Muskoka Regional Railroad. Here is a video I took during the 2013 Muskoka Tour.

Ken Bartlett's Algoma Central Railway

Ken sent me some photos of his layout in 2012. I've added a video I took in 2013 when I had the opportunity to visit his layout.  Ken says he started building the HO layout in 2001. The era is the 50s. It is a continuous run DC layout with two helixes. (Ken was in the process of changing to DCC.)  He built the Agawa canyon from books and pictures. The Agawa station was only a white sectional house in the 50s.  The canyon lodge is visible in the back left of that photo.

There is a photo of the Montreal River trestle with the hydro dam below. The next photo location is now known as Bear Lake hunt camp and Bear Lake trail. Back in the 50s it was known as Paddy's cabin and Paddy's trail. There is also a photo of the south end of the canyon where Bridal Veil falls is located.

 Another photo is of Ken's model of the Hawk Jct. station and maintenance yard. The ore plant is the Wawa sinter ore plant. The ore was shipped from the Helen mine and is changed into ore pellets. 

 Ken has also modelled the Sault Ste. Marie steel mill.  There's also a photo of a train climbing out of the canyon and another photo of the canyon and trails.

I've added a few photos I took on that 2013 Muskoka Tour. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.

model railroad ore sintering The ore sintering plant
model railroad steel complex The industrial complex and steel mill
model railroad crane The crane and yard area
model power station Montreal River trestle and hydro dam
station Agawa station
model train approaching Train approaching
mainline Mainline
forest Forest
Agawa canyon Agawa canyon
city and yard City and yard
big curve Big curve
ho town Industrial area

Here's a short video of Ken's Algoma Central.

Bill Smith's G scale layout

Bill told me he started rebuilding his layout in the Spring of 2009 after moving from Vankoughnet near Bracebridge to Beaver Ridge Estates mobile home park south of Gravenhurst. He built the railroad on a pad of pressure treated 2 X 6 inch lumber and a roadbed of plywood instead of crushed gravel. 

For those building garden railroads Bill noted that this method has had minimal effect from winter frost greatly reducing maintenance. He has about 300 feet of track. There is a Muskoka style downtown, a rural commercial/industrial area, and new this year, a plywood lake.  

The 7 X 15 foot lake is pictured below. The lake is bordered by a 2-storey Bed & Breakfast hotel, cottages, and a model of the steamship Segwun that cruises these waters. The model is scaled down, otherwise it would be 8 feet long! Bill cleverly installed an island between the scale model buildings to fool the eye.

There is also a scene reminiscent of the early 1900s with a steam loco on the wharf at Gravenhurst.

Bill operates with three LGB locomotives: One steam and two diesels. Three other locos are parked on dead tracks for effect. The railroad is under three large pine trees and is surrounded by gardens Bill's wife looks after. Visitors often enjoy the gardens as much as the trains making this a true garden railroad.  Here are a few scenes from Bill's G scale outdoor railroad that he sent to me. Visit it on the Muskoka Tour.

G scale layout

Around the garden under the pines
G scale mainline

The lake with steamship Segwun
G scale lake

John Brown's HO layout

This is a beautiful layout that is 98% scenicked (is a model railroad ever truly finished?).  John Brown's "coal country" HO layout features the Chesapeake & Ohio and Virginian with many scratchbuilt scenes based on real locations.  There is also a third Ontario-themed railway, the Waubaushene Central. John usually operates with a dozen operators using a car card system. One removable section featuring a car float operation is often displayed at train shows in Ontario, Canada. 

  The 22 x 26 foot layout is located north of Toronto near Coldwater and Waubaushene on Georgian Bay. John's other hobby is rebuilding and running his track inspection "speeders" on prototype railroads. I've included a photo here.

railroad speederJohn's speeder

For some still photos for closer study and a video tour, go to John Brown's layout.  John's HO model railroad was featured during the Muskoka Tour, September 30, 2012.

A fabulous live steam railroad

You are no longer able to visit Ambrose's live steam railroad, but the pictures are worth seeing.  For the first time a live steam railroad was on the 2012 tour. It's in Craighurst, near Barrie. I had the opportunity to ride it. Unfortunately, this layout is NOT included on this year's tour. Here's a short preview from an earlier video that was given to me.

A ride through the woods

I boarded Ambrose's train at his station platform for a 2500 foot ride through the woods on his property. Come on along.

I will update this page with more about each year's Muskoka Tour.  If you've missed the tour in the past try to include it in your agenda for this autumn. It's worth the effort.

   For more information about the Niagara Frontier Region and upcoming events go to the nfr website.

Previous Muskoka Tour Layouts

Here's the video I took on the 2011 Muskoka Tour.

See the 2009 Muskoka Tour.

A look at an operating session on Al Crisp's layout.

Go from "muskoka-tour" to my Train Photos overview link page.

Return from "muskoka-tour" to my Home Page.

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