Rest in Peace Fergie

IMGP8550RawConvOur Beautiful Fergs

So, this post sucks.  Its mostly being written as catharsis for me, as I can’t cry anymore at this point.  Yesterday we had to make a horrible decision, to part ways with our beloved cat Fergie.  She was 16ish years old.  She was a rescue 13 years ago (from the fine people at when my wife got her, and they weren’t quite sure how old she was (2-4 was the best guess).  She had been sick for the past couple of weeks.  It had looked like she was getting better, then last night, it was back to the emergency vets and back to ground zero on her health.  We couldn’t bear the thought of making her continue to make visits to the vets (something she hated, our 3kg cat had a violent tag in the vets system, but she was all howl and no bite, the mean people who abused her as a kitten had destroyed her teeth), or risk making her suffer in pain for our benefit of keeping her with us when she was clearly in pain and discomfort.  Anyone who has owned a pet can no doubt understand how horrible this decision is to make.  But this post is about remembering how much we love her, how much happiness she brought us, and how hopefully she knew how much we love her and how hard we worked to care for her and make up for a lousy first couple of years of her life, even though every time I see this post I’m gonna cry for months.

Many Moods of Fergie

Every day when I got home from work she’d come running out of the office/train room with a look that combined “I just got out of bed” with “I’ve been playing with your stuff and you won’t know what I did” and come charging across the apartment looking for treats and cuddles.  My heart is going to break every day when I get home for the next bit without that happy combination of crying and purring our arrival home earned us.

Fergie befriending model trains

For a little kitty that played like she didn’t like people, she was full of love and affection when it came on her terms.  She was slow to warm up to me when I first came into her life, but over the years, she accepted me and would barge into whatever I was working on when she decided it was time for food, or litter box cleaning, or cuddles, or more often than not, treatses.  Even just a couple of hours in the apartment cleaning up after we got home have been constant reminders of the giant absence in our hearts.

Fergie is too cool for BB8
Whoo, Fingers!!
Fergie Squawking up a Storm
cropped-fergie-e1447778132418.jpgI could take the No Cats Allowed box away, but now I don’t want to.

So, I think I’m taking a break from the blog for a couple of weeks.  There are a bunch of half written or half thought out posts I could finish, but I think I’m calling time on 2017.  I may try to do a year in review post before I go away for a vacation on Boxing Day, or I may not, we’ll see how I feel.  I just know right now my heart isn’t into model trains.  It just isn’t the same without a loving furrball trying to get her hair into my paint and glue while I work, even if she was in another room at the time 🙂


Tuesday Train #84


It was 100 years ago tomorrow, December 6, 1917 during the First World War that the “Halifax Explosion” occurred.  The passenger car pictures in today’s Tuesday Train was built in 1896 for the Dominion Atlantic Railway, and by 1917 was used as the personal coach of the General Manager George E. Graham.  He and his family were eating breakfast in the car when SS Mont Blanc, a french ship loaded with high explosives detonated in Halifax harbour following a collision with the SS Imo.  Following the explosion, Graham ran up the line to the next surviving telegraph station at Rockingham to signal for help and relief for the thousands injured or killed in the blast.

Nova Scotia in Orillia as part of the closed Ossawippi Express restaurant before moving to the Toronto Railway Museum, upon delivery at the Toronto Railway Museum, and the Nova Scotia/Halifax Explosion display at the Toronto Railway Museum.

Following its retirement from the Canadian Pacific Railway (who owned the Dominion Atlantic Railway), the car was sold to the Upper Canada Railway Society, who used it as their private car on excursions in southern Ontario in the 1960’s. When the car, with a wood frame was deemed unsafe for continued use in excursions, it was sold on, first to the London Public Library, then to the Ossawippi Express restaurant in Orillia.  When the Ossawippi restaurant closed, and the cars were dispersed, the purchaser donated the Nova Scotia to the Toronto Railway Museum.  The car is now stored indoors, where it provides office and lounge space to the volunteers, and will eventually be restored, with unsympathetic changes made at the restaurant will be undone.

imgp6269rawconv3D printed Model of Nova Scotia in the foreground, alongside models of the other CPR coaches at the Toronto Railway Museum.
In typical Canadian Fashion, the Halifax Explosion and the Railway’s role was turned into a Heritage Minute, addressing the heroism of a Canadian Government Railways employee’s efforts to stop a train before the blast:

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.