When I was young, my father bought me American Flyer trains because as he said, “They run on two rails, not three like Lionel.” That made them, in his eye and mine, much more accurate. My Dad and I built an 8′ x 8′ Flyer layoutd. The only problem with my trains was that they had American Flyer emblazoned on the sides of the tenders and not “Canadian National” like the ones I saw in the Spadina yard when we would drive by that area of Toronto.
1967 was an important year for me. Not only did our country’s Centennial provide me with a sense of nationalism, our school took a train trip to Stratford to see Twelfth Night. As we entered the yard, there was a lineup of CNR wooden vans painted in CNR Morency Orange and having the Maple leaf heralds on them. I was totally taken in by that colour scheme and planned to make my Flyer caboose fleet reflect that. I managed to get decals, HO of course, and repainted my locos and vans in CNR and CPR colours much to the eventual acceptance of my father. 1967 too was when Flyer went out of business just as I was developing an interest in making things accurate. The local hobby shops told me that S scale was dead and could not be had. Unfortunately, they neglected to tell me about the S Scale stuff a person could buy in mail order. That said, in 1969 I decided to go to HO because there were George Taylor CNR van kits there as well as single sheathed 36 and 40′ boxcars and a gondola. I built a number of these kits and when the brass HO Canadian steam models became available in the late 1970’s I finalized the change, taking down the Flyer layout and leaving the Flyer in its boxes. I did regret the change in size.
Flash forward to the early 1990’s. I did what a lot of Canadian HOers did. We would religiously buy just about any offering that the importers came out with that was Canadian with little regard to locale or region. I decided that I wanted to concentrate on a single area that would reflect my interest in the CNR and design a layout that could operate a close to the prototype as possible using the locomotives and rolling stock that would have run in that region. I used Peter Bower’s excellent book, “Two Divisions To Bluewater” as an inspiration and finally decided on Owen Sound to Park Head to Wiarton with staging as the theme for my layout. Everything was going well. I was culling the collection down E-10-a Moguls, H-6 ten wheelers and K-3 Pacifics which were all that ran up there during the steam era of the 1950’s. I had a pretty good space and a trackplan. Fortunately, before I started to build, I changed back to S scale because of 3 factors.
The first factor was my daughter Julia. Julia liked to put the old American Flyer around the Christmas tree. In the fall of 2000, I decided to get a ‘cheap’ Flyer boxcar, paint it green(her favourite colour) and put her name on it for the Christmas train. When I went to George’s Trains, I discovered there were no such things as cheap Flyer boxcars. They had now all become collector’s items! But the staff did show me a shelf full of Kinsman and Mainline Models S scale wooden kits decorated for mostly Canadian roads that someone had brought in from an estate. They were all reasonably priced at less than an HO resin boxcar kit! I decided to buy one and build it with Julia instead. But I needed some trucks. There were no Flyer trucks to be had a George’s and they told me to look online.
The second factor involved going online and visiting Craig O’Connell’s S Scale website which promoted all the manfacturers of S Scale. There I looked up trucks and found S Scale Loco and Supply. They did not have Flyer trucks for sale but they were promoting a brass S scale CNR E-10-a Mogul kit designed by Simon Parent! I was totally shocked. I had been modifying my HO Van Hobbies E-10-a to represent 86 and here was an accurate kit in my former scale. This was one of the Moguls that ran between Owen Sound, Park Head and Wiarton. I did a bit more checking and found PRS 40′ boxcars with CNR lettering and the coup de grace, 8 rung ladders. That was the third factor. It was bye, bye HO and back to S.
In 2016, a friend and fellow S scaler, Dan Kirlin passed away. I had settled on a track plan for my layout two years earlier. Dan’s wife declared that Dan had just completed his ultimate track plan. Upon hearing this, my wife Terry suggested I start instead of procrastinating so I did in the fall of 2016. I should mention too that Trevor Marshall came up with the idea of a Wiarton curl and Jamie Bothwell figured out where the wye at Park Head would go. Trevor also suggested the blog. Thanks guys.