|The Scarborough Model Railroad formed in 1962, in what was then the Township of Scarborough, Ontario Canada, by a group of enthusiastic teenagers meeting at an Agincourt Hobby Shop. From April to the Fall there were monthly meetings in member’s homes. Then the club was offered the basement of the Scarborough Cleaners outlet at the Brimley/Lawrence plaza in suburban Toronto.The club was to stay in this location for 14 years! – during which time the club built a total of three layouts – two in the early years, which were basically learner layouts for the final version. In hind sight, one could say that they didn’t learn enough – the main line for the last layout was reputably built after the towns had been built and had to be fitted around existing layout structures, without shutting down club operation. The club focus was primarily on switching, in part due to the layout size available, in part due to the main competition – the Deleware & Rutland – which was aggressively mainline – timetable oriented.During this time period, the club had a minimum of 8 members, with a fixed maximum of fifteen members and a membership waiting list which was always full. In 1974, Scarborough Cleaners closed their Brimley Avenue branch and the club was forced to junk the existing layout and move.The club found a basement location down near Danforth & Kingston Road. We moved again after 6 months, due to rent price gouging on the part of the landlord. The club’s next location (early 1975), where we are at present on Jeavons Ave, was originally a sublease of the basement from what was then Centennial Kitchens. The basement had been an upholsterer’s shop and was pretty “grotty”, but the club was sick and tired of renovating. The members shovelled out the basement; slapped a coat of blue paint on the walls and started building.
Starting with the salvaged major and minor throat areas of Scarborough (which was all that was saved from the old layout) all the layout benchwork was put up in 6 months. Scarborough Yard, Scarborough Roundhouse, Scarborough Industrial and the outside loop was laid out and up and running within 9 months. The inner loop mainline to Great Bend was up and running in time for the Club’s first Open House at about the one year mark.
At this point in our history, we formally incorporated Scarborough Model Railroaders as a “Not-For-Profit” organization under the laws of the Province of Ontario. Also at this time and for the next few years the club held their open house in conjunction with a train show organized by the Albert Campbell Library, until this petered out and the club went out on their own with the Open Houses in the Spring and Fall.
The club’s HO layout has always been named the Scarborough Terminal Railway, although exactly how the management of this supposed “Terminal Railway” managed to lay their hands on and legally run on so much prize Southern Ontario right-o-way has remained a deep, dark secret to this day. (Rumour of Gaston B. Meany, Tess & Dudley Do-Right abound !)
In 1986 we acquired the main floor of the building, and the original N scale layout was started. In 1996, the N scale modellers, dissatisfied with their original work, and with a rough idea of the layout that they wanted, and with saws and sledgehammers in their hands, demolished the original N scale layout in an afternoon. Bench work, and track on plywood followed for a number of years. The town of Waldron was the first to be completed and scenicked.
A diamond, and a duck-under were removed in 1998, due to their limitation on train operations (they limited the length of trains on the mainline), and the saws came out to a small section of the layout in what is now the towns of Apex and Kaiser. Construction has continued on the N scale layout upstairs since. About 75% of the scenario is complete, with 2 major areas not even started, we still have many years of construction, track-laying, wiring, scenery, and structures to complete while we run trains through the completed sections of the layout. Today, the HO Scale layout occupies the basement, while the N Scale layout occupies the main floor.
Our open houses in the Spring and Fall have attracted 1000s of visitors over the years. In fact, the tradition of visiting the Scarborough Model Railroad has passed from generation, to generation, to generation. One visitor commented that he remembered coming to the open house as a cub scout, and he has been coming with his kids, 25 years later.
This is our 41st year. In 2003, the NMRA convention came to Toronto, and the SMR was on a number of the layout tours. For those of you who dropped by during the convention, we hope you enjoyed your visit.
We hope to see you all again at one of our open houses.
All images and text, © 2017, 2003 Scarborough Model Railroaders