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All aboard! Area railroad club keeps chugging down the tracks

Midland District Railroad Club hosting annual train show at North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre this weekend

For Richard Small, the passion he feels for trains is a real family affair.

The local man, who has always enjoyed riding the rails and counts many family members as former railwaymen, opted to take that passion to the next level and become a member of the Midland District Railroad Club a number of years ago.

"I was born into a railroad family," says Small, who notes he's excited about the return of the Northlander passenger train that will make 16 stops as it travels between Toronto and Cochrane. "There's nothing quite like riding a train."

The club holds its annual weekend show at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $2 for children.

“It’s massive,” Small says of the show that continues to attract both the young and young at heart. “We have people coming from all over southern Ontario and some from Powassan and New Liskeard in the north.”

The show features a diverse collection of model railroads from not just North America, but also the United Kingdom.

“There’s a wide variety of layouts,” Small says, adding one of the host club’s offerings is a modular setup, meaning members contribute various items, trains and tracks to build a large-scale railway measuring 50-by-20 feet.

As for the local railroad club, the organization’s roots trace back to the mid to late 1980s, when a group of individuals gathered  to enjoy everything about trains and railroading, according to Small, who’s been involved for the past two decades.

In 1989, the club had their first train show at the Midland Civic Centre (now the local courthouse) on Yonge Street.

“From there, the show has grown in size over the years,” Small says. “We now cover the entire surface of the skating rink at the North Simcoe Sports and Rec Centre.

“Vendors and exhibitors come from all over to see, and purchase that item they need to use on their layout. Or just to see the amazing layouts that travel from just as far away.”

Currently, the club has about 25 active members, ranging in age from 10 to 93 years old.

“Prospective members are always welcome to come out and visit us,” Small says. “We are located at the Huronia Airport, and meet from 7 to 10 p.m. on Monday evenings.”

For more information about the club, check out its Facebook page.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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