Sunday, 12 June 2011

Canadian Heritage: lost again

Montreal Railroad Association

  The largest operational model railway display in Canada and probably in North America is about to be demolished due to the sale of the display’s building by its owners, the Canadian National railway. This display was constructed over 38 years by 300 members of the Montreal Railroad Modelers association. According to club’s website:

“The Montreal Railroad Modelers Association was founded in June 1950 by a group of five aeroplane modelers that had switched to model railroading after the city of Montreal banned them flying their model aircraft in Mount Royal Park.
In October 1973, upon the sale of the (original club site) building, the founding Association, with a few more members, relocated to our current premises. This unique site adds a new dimension to our club and its layout. It is situated in a building beneath the railway viaduct serving Montreal Central Station. Belonging to the Canadian National Railway, at 891 Saint-Paul St. West, our warehouse-styled premises housed a "Lost Railcar Location Department” during the 40s, and CN's Telecomm/Telex facility occupied the ground-floor until mid-90s”
Railway layout map
  The layout has 4900 feet of track, 527 switches, 7 secondary branch lines, 6 yards, 18 stations, 18 bridges, 17 tunnels, 4 complete towns, special sections including Georgian Bay, Mont-Joli, Grande Prairie, Stoney Creek Ridge and Montreal's Windsor Station, 11 industrial sectors, 12 major industries and 68 small to medium industries over 6000 sq. feet of layout. The video shows about 14 minutes of the approximately 40 minutes that would take to display the entire journey around the track.
  The Winnipeg free press article stated:

When the project began, decades ago, the Griffintown district just west of Old Montreal was gritty and industrial and home to the railroad.   Today, it's filled increasingly with high-end lofts and condos.
"It's sad because it is a masterpiece of many years, with hours and hours of work. But it's ending — and that's how it is," said Robert O'Shaughnessy, an association member and former president.
Railway bridge
  The official statement from CN said that “It’s a business decision.” This reminds me of the quote from Oscar Wilde that “the cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” I f the Canadian government hadn’t created CN with taxpayers’ money between 1918 and 1923, it wouldn’t exist - so much for corporations sense of loyalty to their founders and care about the heritage of the country. The company was privatized by the federal government in 1995 which means shareholder value is the sole determinate of decisions, a warning with respect to the current thrust of “infrastructure realignment” taking place in Europe and North America

No comments:

Post a Comment