Making a Scene

So I regularly trade text messages with a number of other model railroaders, sometimes about trains, sometimes not. I sent the overview picture below last night after snapping it while ballasting track, and as I looked at it, while I see all kinds of things that need doing, I also see my vision for the layout starting to really emerge, unfinished scenery or not. It was a feel good moment, of “hey, it really is really happening”. It made me smile on a Thursday night, and I felt like sharing that with friends.

Birds eye view looking east on Liberty Street taken while ballasting track behind me. This is not the normal layout view a guest will get.

One of my friends in the text chat, a very astute observer and excellent modeller asked about the white poles, and if they were telephone/power poles. They will be when I get them done. They have a fair bit of work needed still, at this stage, they are cut to height and in place to make sure I didn’t create any pinch points where trains couldn’t actually get past them. I very nearly did, but all appears good.

His question was, were they really that close to the tracks? And my answer, amazingly was yes, they pretty much were. That prompted me to send him a couple of the Toronto Archives pictures from the 1970’s (ish) period, after when I am modelling, but things like the tracks and streetpoles didn’t move much. They are still basically in the same locations today for the street poles at least (the tracks are sadly mostly gone!)

Left, Toronto Archives Picture (series 1465, Folder, 0051, Item 0007), on the right, as close as I could get my hands in to recreate the view looking east on Liberty Street at Jefferson Avenue.
Left, Toronto Archives Picture (series 1465, Folder, 0037, Item 0023), on the right, as close as I could get my hands in to recreate the view looking west on Liberty Street at Hanna Avenue.

I then sent the two layout shots as well.The two comparisons above I think nicely capture what I am looking to achieve on my layout in recreating Liberty Village. Even though I am modelling an earlier era when more of the tracks were still in use, the Toronto Archives Pictures really do help to set the scene. Most of the buildings have been restored or altered now, and the tracks are gone as I said. While some of the details around the edges are wrong, the feel of the area is very much the same in the few pictures I’ve ever found that might be 1950’s vintage.

Its urban, its what I wanted my layout to be. As reasonably accurate and prototypical recreation of a little part of the City I call home, and amazingly to me, it seems to slowly be emerging. Still lots of work to do. Won’t be done by Christmas as one of the other modellers on the group chat teases, but I might just be running solo test operations by then with all the track ballasted and the switch machines in to find all the places the trains don’t want to run right!

6 thoughts on “Making a Scene

  1. Those comparison photos really tell the tale – and prove that it really was that tight back then. Great work!

    • Thanks, it really drives home the differences of what you could do when dealing with 40′ boxcars and small 0-6-0 steam or first generation four axle diesel switchers vs the monsters out on the rails today. This was not an area for 50&60′ modern boxcars or six axle modern locos!


  2. Definitely looking good Stephen. Some very picturesque perspectives you’ve got there. Interesting to see how the trackage is now sinking itself into the groundwork and somewhat disappearing and leaving the spotlight to the urban canyon. You efforts are really paying off since I last visited.

    • Thank you Matthieu, I hope you are keeping well. February seems like a lifetime ago doesn’t it? Hopefully by the time we get together again we can actually run some trains together!

      Stay well!


      • Doing well Stephen! It’s a pleasure to see what was basically tracks on plywood morphing into a real urban space. I certainly hope to pay a due visit in Ontario when times will be auspicious again! Take care!

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