Buildings of Liberty Village 1 – Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company (40 Hanna Ave)

As I work on designing the track plan, and how I am going to build the layout and fasten it to the top of the furniture that will support it, I am also busy looking at the buildings I will be modelling to provide industries for switching.

This is the first of a series of posts on the buildings I will be modelling in part should the Liberty Village layout come to pass.  The first industry and building I am going to profile is one which will be a focal point of the layout in terms of appearance, but is an industry which won’t be rail served (by an active track at least).  The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company produced Billiard Tables, Bowling Alleys, and other game and other bar/entertainment supplies.  The Brunswick Company still exists to this day and is still making pool tables (just not at the Liberty Village site in Toronto).

IMGP4433RawConvThe restored Brunswick-Balke-Collender factory and boiler house buildings at 40 Hanna Ave.

Brunswick started to acquire the land which formed the Toronto site in 1905, and commenced construction of the factory following this.  The plant remained in operation until 1960 when Brunswick sold the land.  During operations, there was a railway siding along the east side of the building on Hanna Avenue which had loading docks for boxcars.  The yellow brick is both unique in liberty village, but also a very historic Toronto thing.  The yellow brick is very possibly a product of Toronto’s Don Valley Brickworks, as the glacial clay used for much of the brick made there before the 1970’s resulted in the yellow/buff brick colour.  Many buildings in Toronto built with Don Bricks can be identified by this brick colour (I have a buff Don Valley Brickworks brick complete with “DON” stamped into the surface which I “may” have acquired on an urban exploration before Evergreen’s restoration of the plant started).

IMG_4384.jpgExtract of 1945 Underwriters Insurance Plan of Toronto showing the Brunswick-Balke-Collender plant, Volume 2 Sheet 94. Toronto Public Library Collection.

40 Hanna has been converted in recent years to office and retail uses.  Unlike many old industrial buildings, it hasn’t been torn down or converted into residential uses.  The City of Toronto applied a formal Heritage Designation to the property in 2015 under the Ontario Heritage Act.  This ensures that the building cannot be torn down or modified without the involvement of the City and ensuring that the heritage aspects are protected.  A detailed history of the building and why the formal designation was sought is included in the Evaluation Report posted on the City website in the Council Minutes.

The City has permitted modifications to the Boiler House building to create usable space.  The Boiler House building is now accessible as a branch of a bank.  Changes approved by the City included permitting the creation of new windows and doors, which were designed to resemble the brickwork and detail of the existing doors so that they look like part of the fabric of the building.  For my purposes in modelling, these extra openings won’t be there, so I’ll be able to basically ignore them.

The Boiler House building and chimney.  Now converted to make the interior space usable, and with a row of new windows in the east wall to let light into the interior of the building.

For the layout, I have space for a slightly compressed version of the boiler house, with the south wall of the building forming a background building.  Both will be constructed primarily using brick pattern sheet.  I will print custom decals for the wall signage on the main building.  There were at least 3 rows of signage based on the pre-restoration photos.  When the signage was redone several years ago, only the roof level company name signage was restored.  The top level was as restored, the company name, the 2nd level down looks like “English American Pocket Billiard Tables” and the 3rd level down was “Bowling Alleys and Supplies”.  I am still on the search for pictures of the building where the signage was in better condition and more legible than those I’ve found to date.  The 2nd level sign is very washed out in the couple of pictures I’ve found, and while it looks like the first word is “English”, I don’t know enough about pool/billiard tables to know if that actually makes sense.

IMGP4417RawConvThe south wall of the Brunswick-Balke-Collender building, showing the restored signage on the roof level (there was signage on the next two courses of brick down as well, the historic pictures I’ve found of the building aren’t clear enough to read them in their entirety though.

Tuesday Train #82


CP 1401, an FP9A locomotive (on the outside) which has been completely modernized on the internal mechanical (it is basically a GP-38-2 in an F Units Clothing) hauls the Canada 150 “Connecting Canada” train through Brighton Ontario on July 12th, 2017.  Bringing up the rear of the train is a “Theatre Car”, which has tiered seating and a picture window for executives reviewing the railway as the train passes over it.


Form 7355 – Safety Rules – June 1, 1952

Sometimes when you go to a Train Show, the thing you spend the least on is the winner of the day.  I went to the Ancaster Train Show today with some friends, carpooling out from the City, then going for a relaxing pub lunch after before returning to the City.  With layout planning dominating my thoughts, I haven’t been getting much work done on building models, and, to be frank, the joy of the thought of building a layout has me focusing on finishing things that are on my workbench to clear it for layout building projects, rather than looking for more to start.  On the day, I didn’t spend very much at all.  I bought a single reference photo of a CPR Steam Locomotive, a detail part (singular, sad really), a sheet of decals, and a couple of pieces of vintage CN paper (A 1947 Eastern Canada Passenger Timetable, and a 1952 set of Safety Rules). (Edit: I also got a 0-6-0 Steam locomotive, but I didn’t pay for that, it was a generous gift from a fellow modller who reads the blog Rick De Candido as an opportunity for a future project, see the single photo I bought and some future post about it!)

The Safety Rules, are the clear winner of my day, for a whole dollar, I got a copy of a June 1952 Canadian National Form 7355, the Safety Rules for Train, Engine, Yard and other Transportation Employees.

IMGP4306RawConvA little yellow book with 36 pages of Safety Rules, in force as of June 1, 1952

These are a wholly entertaining read, looking at how Health and Safety matters were treated 65 years ago.  “Obedience to the rules is essential to safety”.  The rules read like a how to manual of how to blame the employee if something happens to them, in the guise of a set of rules to make sure they operate the railway safely.

IMGP4309RawConvThe Index and General Notice inside the front of Form 7355

Now, while these rules may not have a lot of applicability on a model railroad, one fun thing caught my eye when I got home and actually looked at it closely (because lets face it, for a $1, I bought without even thinking twice).  Form 7355 has a sign and tear our page in the front for record keeping.  Upon issuance of the rules, and employee had to acknowledge the requirement to know the rules and obey them.  The receipt was to be torn out and maintained by a supervisor or foreman.  This is the kind of paperwork you could easily re-produce and use as part of an operating session.  Each new operator has to sign on and acknowledge they will be bound by the railways safety rules.  At the end of the Op Session, it can be a little souvenier of their visit to your railroad and era.

IMGP4308RawConvReceipt Page of Form 7355.  Something you could require all your Ops Session crew to sign to ensure they are fully on board as railroad employees following your safety rules.

As is often the case, the show was much more fun just for seeing friends and chatting shop than it was in terms of buying anything.  As always it seems, there were lots of shiny things to try and draw you in to buy, but for today at least, cheapness won the trip for me!


Lest We Forget

3150740152_6300093d54_oMy Great Grandfather Bob West’s medals from his service in the First and Second World Wars. From Left to Right, The 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945.

On November 11th each year we take a pause to remember those who have served, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in war.  It is an opportunity to thank those who serve and have served, and to remind us all that war is never the right answer, it only brings pain and suffering to all involved.

My Great Grandfather Bob West, of Newtownbutler County Fermanagh Northern Ireland was one of the young men who volunteered for the “glorious” cause.  He fought at Ypress and the Somme in 1916 and spent 3&1/2 years France on the Western Front. In World War Two he served with the Pioneer Corps around the Bristol Channel in England for 6 years.  His obituary is reproduced below that details his small part in the war, and the perfectly normal life he went on to lead between the wars and after World War Two.  I don’t really have any memories of him, just fleeting ones, so unfortunately, I don’t know how his experiences changed him, but I take time every year to think about him and the hundreds of thousands of others who served, and those who were not as lucky as my Grandfather to have survived to return home and lead a full life.

Obituary 1986 Bob WestMy Great Grandfather West’s Obituary

I was born and raised in Canada, my parents having emigrated from Northern Ireland after they were married, and grew up in an era where an ever shrinking number of First World War veterans like my Great Grandfather in Northern Ireland were still alive, but I have vivid memories of them coming to my elementary school each year for Remembrance Day ceremonies.  As a child I didn’t understand and couldn’t comprehend what they had gone through, but as an adult, the imprint of the war on them is now clear in my memories of them, and their desire to make sure my generation and future generations remember their sacrifice, so that no others will have to suffer through war and destruction the way they did.  Lest we Forget

15760291871_349397138e_oCanadian and British Legion Poppies, a symbol of our remembrance

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae