The History Of The Brantford Model Railroad Club
The Brantford Model Railroad Club was established in 1947. The members listed at that time (Jan. 11, 1947) were: Ronald Wood, George Jones, Harry Lewis, Ben Farrell, Milton Stewart, Walter Dixon, Roy Burger, Albert Bell, Eddie Cripps and A. Wadsworth. With no official club building at this point, these founding members would meet each week at a member’s home.
The next meeting was called by Milton Stewart to meet at Harry Lewis’ home at 59-1/2 Palace Street on Monday at 8 P.M. The last paragraph reads, “Come along and bring whatever equipment in the way of rolling stock, track, switches, switch motors, signals, catalogues, etc., you can conveniently carry. In this way, each of us can learn by the experience of others as to the best types of equipment to suit our individual requirements.” It looks like Milton Stewart was the club’s secretary.
Dated March 19th, 1947 a letter was sent to a Lloyd C. Riley of Hamilton, which reads, “On behalf of a small group – eight or ten – of Model Railroaders here in Brantford, I am writing to ask your permission to visit your layout in the near future.
We are just forming a Model Railroad Club and, having no layouts in the group to date, we are interested in seeing yours and getting an idea of what to expect when we make our own.
“If I may suggest a date, the evening of March 31st would be most suitable to us, as several of our members work night shifts and this date ties in with their shift changes.
“May I hear from you favourably soon? Yours very truly, Milton G. Stewart”
A reply was sent to Milton Stewart from Riley Hobby Service, 755 King St. East, Hamilton, Ont. on March 21, 1947. It reads in part, “I have consulted other club members… Do not expect too much as we are trying to get some work done before holding a public show, and we find it hard to get a good attendance.”
Dated April 22nd, 1947 a notice was sent out to all:
“The next meeting of the Club will be held on Monday night, April 28th, 1947, at the home of Al. Bell, 46 Grand View, at 8 o’clock.
“A full attendance is necessary at this meeting, as there are matters of importance regarding the club organization to be put before the members. “If you know of others who are genuinely interested in the hobby and wish to join the Club, they will be welcome at our meeting."
“For those who have no transportation, I will be at the corner of Market and Colborne, at about 7:45 to take you to his home.”
By the end of May 1947, the members were working on projects for the club but it was mentioned that they didn’t have anything concrete yet in the way of a layout space. In a letter to the London Model Railroad Club dated June 13th, 1947, Milton Stewart was asking permission to see the London Club’s layout. Partially quoting this letter, it reads: “Having just recently organized, we are anxious to see layouts of other clubs before beginning our own. To date, our efforts to find a club meeting place have been unsuccessful.”
The “O” Gauge club replied June 22nd, 1947, stating they meet on Tuesday and Friday nights at 8 P.M. They felt it wouldn’t be wise to come on the first Friday of the month since this was visitor’s night and they put on a show for the visitors. They gave the club detailed directions to the London Club and explained that holidays were starting soon for the 8 members of the club, so they should try to come as soon as possible. They summed up by saying, “We think you will find some things to interest you, though. We have a pretty big layout in construction and a lot of knowledge under our belts – most of it learned the hard way. …If we can give you a hand we will be glad to do so.”
There is no saved documentation from 1948 to 1955.
Even as far back as May 24th, 1956 a blank form from “The Brantford Model Railroaders” of Waterloo Street had to be issued to some members. It read in part, “Dear Member, Upon checking our records we find that you are ______ months in arrears which amounts to ______ … Please remit as soon as possible.”
There is no saved documentation from 1957 to 1959.
A side note regarding the purchase of the property, noted by George Jones, stated that each member was required to pay $10.00 to join the club. Shares were sold to each member for $100.00 and doctors paid $200.00 a share. No details were given as to how this was paid back but, by 1960 all members were reimbursed. The total cost of the building was between $2400.00 and $2500.00, George said.
In November 1960 a write up was done in The Expositor about the Brantford Model Railroad Club. The picture showed George Jones “guiding the journey of a freight train from a master control board.” A “block of garages,” as noted in the write up, was obtained on Waterloo Street, which formally became the Club’s place of residence. The layout included mountains, rivers, towns and bridges and included “800 feet of brass-scale railway track.” The layout consisted of 8 blocks or sections and “movement was controlled from individual master control panels.”
“The Brantford railroad’s electrical system has now become so involved that a professional electrical engineer is called upon to design and direct the installation of additional wiring.”
The article goes on to explain that the membership chartered an old steam locomotive and coach and travelled along a little-used railway track to Stratford where they were taken on a guided tour of a large railway workshop.
The article concluded, “Model railroading may at one time have been considered a young person’s pursuit. One need only glance, however, at the intent expressions on the faces of club members as they operate their railroad, to realize that they take their hobby as seriously as any railroad executive or locomotive engineer would take his regular job.”
On May 11th, 1962, then Secretary, Vern F. Johnson thanked Ralph Williams of Brantford for his donation of Model Railroad magazines.
In 1963 the taxes for the club were $25.17.
A letter was sent to Vern Johnson (Sec.) from Lefebvre and Lefebvre on May 14th, 1963, which reads in part, “Please be advised that we have checked over the garage property title and we have received your instructions as to Trustees. Please drop in and give us further instructions as to buying the property.”
On May 28th, 1963, an Indenture (binding agreement) shows the property being sold by William Allison, Mortician, of Hamilton and Robert Allison, Butcher, of Galt. The Brantford Model Railroad Club trustees named were George Jones, Larry Gillies and Edward Cripps. The sum of $1.00 was paid towards the “property known as the garage property to the wives Phyllis Allison and Norma Jean Allison.
On June 4th, 1963 Lefebvre and Lefebvre sent another letter to Vern stating, “We are ready for you to bring in the money to close the purchase of the Railroaders Club premises from the Allisons, but would appreciate it if you would come in to discuss the matter of taxes and rental before we complete our reports.”
June 8th, 1963 the sale was concluded with the Statement of Adjustments from Lefebvre and Lefebvre. It was titled “Allison Sale To Brantford Model Railroad Club”
Sale price $650.00
On July 5th, 1963, Vern wrote a letter to the City Treasurer, City Hall stating, “Enclosed you will find a cheque for the second installment of the taxes on the property now owned by the Brantford Model Railroad Club at the rear of Waterloo Court Brantford Ontario. This property comprises four garages located at the rear of Waterloo Court…”
On July 10th, 1964 Marc Lefebvre sent a letter to Vern Johnson of 13 Sussex Street which read in part, “… we have prepared and had executed a deed from George Jones, Larry Gillies and Edward Cripps, the Trustees of the Brantford Model Railroad Club, for the property owned by the Club in the laneway back of Waterloo Street. The same is being held in our file for safekeeping in case sometime you desire or require a change in the ownership of that property.”
There is no saved documentation from 1965 and 1971.
One application to join the Club was dated January 14th, 1972 Walter M. Jacobi, age 39 was introduced to the club by Geo. Jones.
In March 1973 Earl and Brian Armstrong joined the club.
There are three applications on file for February 1st, 1974. John Laing, Ron Hewitt and Robert Martin.
On January 3rd, 1975 Sid Copeland joined.
On December 1st, 1976 Ray Howells joined.
In July 1977 Gary Blenkinsop joined, introduced by open house advertisement and Bev Woods. The following month, in August Fred Crowley joined, introduced by Ray Howell and George Jones.
From 1977 to 1978 better records were preserved. The Officers and Membership list reads as follows:
David Gresser’s application to join was accepted July 14th, 1978.
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of 1978 are also in the envelope for this year.
In the envelope for 1979 are the Minutes of the Annual General Meeting, Membership List that remained the same as the year before and the General Resolution of the Brantford Model Railroad Club.
In 1980 the Membership List remained the same. The Minutes of the Annual General Meeting are preserved along with a Membership List and an invitation from the Greater Niagara Model Railroad Engineers to visit their club.
Some changes finally took place in 1981.
President – Kevin Wagner
An interesting file of the Treasurer’s Report notes the following for October 23rd, 1981:
1982 had some renovations going on in the clubhouse and listed a few meetings to discuss work and film nights. The use of both video films and slide shows were common then.
On January 14th, 1983 three new members joined the club, Geoffrey Gregson, L. F. Thorpe and Aleks Stefanovic. All three were accepted as full members on October 28th, 1983 at the Annual General Meeting of the Brantford Model Railroad Club.
The notice went out on September 18th, 1983 regarding the Annual General Meeting being held Friday, October 28th, at 8 p.m. sharp. Another notice was put out that on October 14th, 1983 the “Double Headers Railroad Club from Kitchener would be visiting our club.” One last notice for this year was for the annual Christmas Party being held on December 9th, at 8 p.m. The Secretary, John H.S. Norris, signed these notices.
Below is a summary of the Annual General Meeting. This was an interesting one.
Present were Fred Crowley, Kevin Wagner, Heinz Weber, Gary Blenkinsop, Dave Gresser, Vern Johnson, Bev Woods, Earl Armstrong, George Jones, Gordon Judge, John Norris, Terry West, Jack Whitehead, and Sid Copeland.
Vern brought up a point about voting new members into the club. A discussion ensued regarding Geoffrey Gregson having his probationary period extended to see if he could attend more regularly. Fred Thorpe and Aleks Stefanovic were welcomed as full members to the club.
It seems railroading the Executive into office for another year is a common practice. Terry West moved the present committee be re-elected. Seconded by Heinz Weber. Gary Blenkinsop moved nominations be closed and seconded by Earl Armstrong. Carried.
Under new business, George Jones told the members that the side of the building would have to be checked in the spring and possible repairs made. A complaint was received from a neighbour about the condition of the wall.
Vern Johnson moved the secretary contact all members in arrears. Seconded by Earl Armstrong.
Here is the good part. George Jones moved there be a smoking ban on visitor’s night. Seconded by Fred Crowley. “No smoking” signs will be put up.
The electrical committee will remain the same, Heinz Weber, John Norris and Gary Blenkinsop.
The attached Treasurer’s Report was also interesting as far as yearly costs went.
The Annual General Meeting was held on Friday, October 12th, 1984 in the clubroom at 8 p.m.
Election of officers for 1985 took place at the Annual General Meeting (1984) and Bev Woods nominated Vern Johnson for President, Dave Gresser for Vice President, John Norris for Secretary and Fred Crowley for Treasurer. Seconded by George Jones. Terry West moved to close nominations. Voted and carried.
Number of members 19.
One application was received on November 2nd, 1984. Ed Cripps (Big Top Hobby Shop) introduced Gerry Fairchild of Brantford.
A notice went out inviting past members to attend the annual Christmas Party and the second notice was for the party itself where slides, films and seasonal cheer would be available.
In 1985 the membership was the same and the Executive was voted in for another term. At this point the three doctors were still members, Drs. Terry West, Tom Kidd and Gord Judge.
A notice went out on February 8th, 1985 for a film night to be held March 22nd, 1985. The notice read in part, “We will be having the usual refreshments, served in the manner to which you are accustomed.”
A letter from the WOD Superintendent, Gordon Taylor on December 20th, 1985 thanked the Brantford Model Railroad Club for participating in the meet and invited them to join the meet being held in Chatham on March 22nd, 1986.
An interesting minute under new business stated, “… the lack of members present during the year and the lack of participating model railroaders in the club. It was decided to open the club up to five new members making 25 in all.” It was moved, seconded and carried. Obviously, membership was kept to a maximum of 20 people up until this time.
In February 1986 the membership nominated and appointed new Trustees, Sid Copeland, Fred Crowley and John Norris. The document was signed by all 18 members of the club, Johnson, Gresser, Wagner, Crowley, Norris, Woods, Jones, West, Weber, Kidd, Judge, Armstrong, Copeland, Howells, Blenkinsop, Thorpe, Stefanovic, Gregson.
One new application for May 2nd, 1986 by Duncan Gregson was accepted.
It is interesting to note who was or wasn’t present at the Annual General Meeting held October 17th, 1986.
Members present were, Vern Johnson, George Jones, Fred Crowley, Ray Howells, Terry West, Kevin Wagner, Aleks Stefanovic, Fred Thorpe, Bev Woods, Duncan Gregson, John Norris, Dave Gresser and Mark Freeman.
Vern Johnson wished to step down as President. After the required voting the new Executive was as follows, Dave Gresser was President, Aleks Stefanovic was Vice President, John Norris remained as Secretary and Fred Crowley remained as Treasurer.
Under New Business it was stated that the coffee fund was not covering the costs and it was decided to raise the price of a coffee to 20 cents per cup.
The total receipts for 1986 were $1,824.47
In 1987 three new members were accepted into the club. Pat Lawless, Lloyd Candlish, Al Wilson. This gave the Club a total of 24 members.
During this year’s Annual General Meeting it was decided to raise the dues to $4.00 per month or $40.00 per year if paid at the beginning of the year.
An interesting point was raised by Ray Howells regarding a membership application being turned down under the new Charter of Rights. If it was turned down, could the person sue the Club? Vern Johnson reported at the next Annual General Meeting that after discussing the matter with Mark Lefebvre the Club could not be sued because it is a private club.
As in years past, the hydro and taxes for 1988 rose slightly and the insurance remained the same. The number of members dropped by one to 23. Pat Lawless and Marc Freeman put out the first newsletter of the club. One humorous point mentioned in the newsletter was, “NO MORE BLACK JUICE FROM HELL!!!” It seems the club purchased a drip coffee maker, putting an end to “the horrors of instant coffee” and stuff floating in the coffee.
Dues were again raised to $5.00 per month or $55.00 per year if paid in full at the beginning of the year. Coffee was raised to 25 cents a cup. Moved by Pat Lawless and Seconded by Aleks Stefanovic.
The January 1989 issue of Grand Valley Central Lantern newsletter spoke about the concerns of the club and what projects were completed or nearing completion. It also mentioned the Executive remained the same with Dave Gresser – President, Aleks Stefanovic – Vice President, Fred Crowley – Treasurer, and John Norris – Secretary.
In September 1989 John Norris put out a notice stating that he was resigning as Secretary and as Trustee. Sid Copeland also resigned as a Trustee. And in a hand written note, Gary Blenkinsop also resigned as a Trustee.
1990 was an interesting year for the club. Income from dues was estimated at $1848.00 and a budget proposal put forth by the President, Pat Lawless, showed where $450.00 could be spent on scenery and another $150.00 could be spent on rolling stock and operations. One of the main concerns was not enough money being generated by the club. Pat suggested the club increase dues to $7.00 per month or $77.00 per year if paid by January 31st.
Comparing other clubs, Pat explained that the H.O.M.E.S. club paid $13.00 per month for dues. Plus each new member was required to buy one Athearn loco, one Rivarossi passenger car with interior, one caboose, three freight cars and a set of four ore cars. They were required to pay for these items themselves and paint them up in the club scheme.
The Guelph Model R.R. Club charges it’s members $6.00 per week or $312.00 per year. It was noted both of these clubs rent the space they occupy.
The budget and increase in dues was to cover expenses needed or planned for in the future for building maintenance, security (a new deadbolt added to the door), scenery, rolling stock and operations.
One new member joined in January 1990, Jamie Ivey of Port Dover but his name was not on any membership list at the time of the Annual General Meeting of that year.
On March 5th, 1990, Sid Copeland and John Norris retired as Trustees of the club. A resolution was passed to make Vern Johnson and Kevin Wagner Trustees along with Fred Crowley who was still a Trustee.
The Membership List showed:
A letter from Lefebvre and Lefebvre dated July 25th, 1990 indicates a question of the right-of-way around the property of the club building. People walking by the club and using the right-of-way and some of the neighbours building fences to cut off the right-of-way. A description of the right-of-way and a drawing of the area known as Plan 432 was attached, along with a copy of the deed. The lawyers were unable to decide who had rights of use and “squatter’s rights” were not allowed for a right-of-way. Fees and disbursements amounted to $57.50.
A Grand Valley Central R.R. timetable (#7) dated September 1, 1990 was printed showing southbound or eastbound being the superior direction.
The Annual General Meeting was held on October 26th, 1990 with ten members present and nine members absent. Marc Freeman became President and Pat Lawless became Vice President, switching roles from the previous year. Gary Blenkinsop remained Secretary and Fred Crowley remained Treasurer.
A three-page letter entitled, “President’s Message” explained how Pat Lawless felt regarding the club and it’s issues. There seemed to be a lack of interest in the club either because of the present layout or the lack of interest in the club. Water leaking into the club was a problem and Pat felt the present layout might need to go so wall and ceiling repairs could be made. He urged fund raising to generate money to increase rolling stock that was also lacking. He also brought up the issue of creating an Associate Membership for those who couldn’t attend on a regular basis. His final thought was to get rid of the bad attitudes and work towards a better club doing whatever it takes to make it work.
On November 2nd, 1990 Karl Bury joined the club at the age of 39.
The club held an open house on Friday, December 7th, 1990 and had their Christmas Party the following week.
On February 11th, 1991 Marc Freeman (President) put out a 6-page newsletter to encourage the membership to action. There was a real slump in active members, who were working on the layout, including Marc, as he brought out. At this point the club was still working on having a complete collection of the Model Railroader magazines. The club also built a 4’ X 6’ layout to raffle off during the DoubleHeaders Tour to raise some needed cash.
Marc also mentioned the open house held the past December and how the turnout was great but the membership turnout was poorly attended. He also mentioned the lack of security and with increased awareness of the club and its interior, he felt the club needed stronger security measures. As he put it, “…the present lock keeps us safe from little old ladies, small children and arthritic vagrants.” Marc talked about the construction of various areas on the layout and how little was being accomplished. He was pushing for greater interest in the club and tried to build enthusiasm to continue the various projects on the go.
Marc also mentioned three new members, Don Kew, full member and Keith Lee and Steve Couch as the first two new “Student Members” who all began their six-month probationary periods.
A letter dated June 1991 from Rogers Community 20 thanked the club for the Public Service Announcement they put in at that time.
Pat Lawless put some sketches on a page and asked the membership to come up with a company logo for the Grand Valley Central Railroad (the club’s railroad line) and submit it by the General Meeting to be held June 21st, 1991.
Two new applicants joined Brian LaRush on July 5th, 1991 and Barry Silverthorn on October 3, 1991.
A letter from Pat Lawless (V.P. & Secretary) to the Model Railroader Magazine on December 15th, 1991 indicated the club wanted to run a listing in “Club News” that the club had membership openings available.
In 1992 a lot took place inside and outside the club. There was trouble with Mr. Andre Lalonde at 100 Waterloo Street parking his vehicle in the right of way between 100 and 98 Waterloo, in effect blocking club members from parking beside the club building. This created a lot of complaints and the club’s lawyer was asked to look over the situation and let the members know what their options were. A strongly worded letter from Lefebvre and Lefebvre was sent to Mr. Lalonde letting him know he couldn’t block access to the right of way.
On February 21, 1992 Ed Dean joined the club.
On September 18, 1992 a special meeting was held to discuss and review the plan for the new layout (the present layout), funding by increasing the dues structure, a timetable to complete the project, the adding an Associate membership and dues for this type of membership.
More information was provided in “The BMRC Bob” Late Summer Edition. As the Secretary (Pat Lawless) explained, “Since we have no official name for the newsletter (as far as I know), I will be calling this issue Bob. (Surprise).”
Regarding the building, Pat wrote, “If you have visited the club recently, you were probably very pleased to find that you didn’t have to push your car out of the mud. The club'’ driveway has been graded and a truckload of gravel was brought in. Keith has been sowing his seeds out back and Marc has been playing Weed Terminator. During some spontaneous work sessions the dead leaves and brush were removed from between the club and the neighbouring garage, and the eavestroughs have been cleaned out as well. This has made a great difference in the amount of water flowing through the building during the past 40 days and 40 nights. We have also dug a trench between the two buildings to expose the drainage tile and outer wall of the club building. The next step is to remove the siding from the building and see what condition the walls are in and possibly add some insulation and vapour barrier.” (Sound familiar?)
During this time the club’s layout was completely demolished, the walls torn out and new drywall installed along with vapour barrier and two by fours as needed. The roof was also sealed against water leaks. A new cement floor was also poured.
The CASO theme proposed by Pat Lawless was dropped for the “new generic layout,” as it was described with double main on the lower with single main on the upper. It will have staging yards at each end and on both levels. And so this was the birth of the present layout.
As if they didn’t have enough on their plate, the club also hashed out an updated 1992 Constitution. The Constitution had fours pages of updates. The membership also approved a dues increase to $5.00 per week for two years to help fund the new layout and scenery.
Vern was voted as President
At this time the three positions were for a two-year term and the Treasurer was voted in by a majority vote of the Executive.
Note that a copy of the 1992 Constitution is in the envelope dated 1992.
The documents preserved for 1993 are next to nil. On January 3, 1993 Kevin Wagner went to Associate membership. On April 30th, 1993 William Luciani joined the club. By August 9th, 1993 Marc Freeman was an Associate member and a note in an Executive meeting mentioned a member, Jeff Mann. Barry Silverthorn quit the club but said he would still give the club discounts at his hobby shop at the train station. In all, thirteen members were delinquent in dues owing in total $1083.00. The club was entering a slump.
A mere three pieces of paper survived for 1994. An Executive meeting was held October 12th, 1994. It discussed the plan to purchase club throttles, the club’s financial status and making Doug Bissett a full member before the Annual General Meeting on October 21, 1994. There was a copy of the Treasurer’s report and a copy of the Agenda. No other documents were found. Bob Inksater also became a member. It was also about the time Marc Johnson became a full member, too.
In May 1995 the benchwork was in and track laid. The Expositor did an article on the club showing a picture of Ben Van Veldhuizen looking through the wall at Vern Johnson connecting a freight car to some other cars. The article explained the reconstruction work that had been done and noted that this was the third layout. The second layout was in place for thirty-five years.
The article explained that the club was modernizing its operations by means of a new system called Digitrax. It also mentioned that there were eleven members and membership was open. Dues were $5.00 per week.
On October 27th, 1995 the Annual General Meeting was held in the rec room of Vern’s apartment building. It was interesting to note the following members were present: Gary Blenkinsop, Aleks Stefanovic, Kevin Wagner, Fred Crowley, Ben Van Veldhuizen, Doug Bissett, and Vern Johnson. It was noted a quorum was reached.
A new dues structure was initiated at this Annual General Meeting. Full members would pay $20.00 per month. Associate members would continue to pay $2.00 per week.
Starting December 3rd, 1995 on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. it was decided to be open to allow more work time on the layout, prepare for open houses and show rail videos.
By 1996 the Club was not gathering any momentum. The B.M.R.C. Trackside News was a one-page flyer of sorts letting people know that memberships were available. It described the layout and benefits of joining.
At this point Vern Johnson was President, Aleks Stefanovic was Vice President, Fred Crowley was Treasurer and Ben Van Veldhuizen was Secretary. Members included: Gary Blenkinsop, Karl Bury, Eddie Valcourt, Dr. Tom Kidd, Bob Martin, Doug Bissett, Marc Johnson and Kevin Wagner. With twelve members, two of which were Associate members, the progress in the club was slow and enthusiasm was waning.
On February 4th, 1996 the club participated in the Trainshow held at North Park Secondary School.
In late February 1996 a meeting was held and a quorum reached. It was felt things were moving too slowly with the hand-laid switches and a vote was taken to purchase six new turnouts for future use. The members had trouble with the throw bars not working properly and were unsuccessful getting help with the situation. It was also decided that a meeting would be held at eight o’clock each Friday night to discuss what projects were the highest priority that day to get the membership to work on.
A third motion was to ask Norman Helms, author of “In the Shadow of Giants” to be a guest speaker at a show put on by the club. This was to be a fund-raising scheme for the club. The fourth motion made Paul Burns a full member.
A motion was made to limit the amount of money spent without membership vote and approval to be set at $25.00. The vote did not carry. Money was tight for the club because of the lack of members. With the amount of member’s dues barely covering expenses, namely hydro, insurance and taxes, buying scenery materials and track, ballast, etc., a major membership drive was needed.
By August 1996 Ben was unable to remain as a full member, again reducing the Club’s needed income. David Gresser would assume the roll of Secretary. Then, by October 25th, 1996 Bob Martin and Dr. Tom Kidd also dropped to Associate status due to work schedules. In effect, there were eight (8) full members and four (4) Associate members.
The Annual General Meeting held on October 25th, 1996 was attended by Vern, Aleks, Fred, David G., Marc, Doug, Gary and Bob. Absent, Karl, Tom, Kevin and Ben.
In an effort to increase income for the club it was moved to increase Associate dues to 50% of Full member’s dues. Passed.
A feeling of a lack of direction with regards club projects permeated the membership. After some discussion it was felt that a list of priorities be posted and this would be maintained by the President (Vern).
With the expenses being a main concern of the membership, another vote was taken to limit the spending of members to $25.00 without approval. Anything above that required approval of at least 5 members present on that Friday night. Passed.
The Club had hoped to do something special for its 50th Anniversary (1997) but money was limited. It was suggested to have an open house and have a donation jar at the door.
The Treasurer’s Report showed $400.00 less cash in the bank from the previous year.
Dues were down by $1,500.00 over last year.
As of April 12th, 1997 there are 14 members, the newest member being Mike Carey.
By the Annual General Meeting in October the President remained Vern, VP was Gary Blenkinsop, Treasurer was Fred Crowley, and Secretary was David Gresser.
According to the Membership List dated January 2, 1998 the following were members: Vern Johnson, Aleks Stefanovic, Fred Crowley, David Gresser, Tom Kidd, Bob Martin, Gary Blenkinsop, Karl Bury, Doug Bissett, Mark Johnson, Kevin Wagner, Bob Inksater, Ben Van Veldhuizen, Mike Carey, Norman Blenkinsop, Pat Lawless and Duncan Gregson. Seventeen members.
An annoying problem the Club had to deal with came to a head by June 10th, 1998. The owners of 98 Waterloo Street were complaining to the Police on a regular basis about the members parking beside the club building. Finally a legal letter was sent to the owners stating that the Brantford Model Railroad Club owned the property and was entitled to access to the building via the ten-foot wide right of way. A copy was sent to the Club’s lawyers, Lefebvre and Lefebvre and a copy to Brantford City Police and City of Brantford Engineering Department. The owners of 98 Waterloo Street were further given notice not to trespass on private property or talk to members. If they wished to discuss anything at all they were required to contact Lefebvre and Lefebvre.
As of September 6th, 1999 another new member was added to the list, Ed Smith.
The Annual General Meeting was held October 22, 1999. It was poorly attended with only seven members present. During this year a break-in occurred but it wasn’t sure what had been taken. It was moved to add a steel bar across the door and add a lock to prevent further break-ins. Two “club owned” throttles were purchased for use on run nights.
It was also noted the Hydro had installed a meter reader on the outside of the building no longer requiring access to the club. The deadbolt was changed to render the old keys useless.
The insurance company required the club to install new ceiling tiles at an estimated cost of $300.00.
The number of members noted on the Treasurer’s Report showed 15 members for 1998 and down to 12 for 1999.
On July 19, 2000 a written estimate was given to the club to re-roof over top of the steel roof. The cost was estimated to be $4,800.00. It was never done due to a lack of funds.
The not so brilliant owner of 98 Waterloo Street had been harassing Janine Hann, our good neighbour at 100 Waterloo Street. With the assistance of the Club’s lawyer, Janine was able to get a Trespass Notice sent to him and registered with the police station to stop him from bothering Janine’s friends from visiting her and being harassed by this neighbour. Some people just don’t get it.
It was noted in the Annual General Meeting of October 27th, 2000 that two members of the club, Tom Kidd and Ben Van Veldhuizen had quit and two others did not seek full membership and were no longer attending. It was decided we needed a membership drive and a new flyer was designed to attract interest in the club. The dues were raised to $25.00 a month.
It was also decided to get a table at the January Train Show in Paris to sell off surplus magazines.
The club was having difficulty running trains on the layout. Dirty track was an issue and electrical problems were also an issue. It was decided to have a run night once a month until the track problems were solved. There was a desire to run trains on the first Sunday of the month but the turnout was very poor.
On March 23rd, 2001 Pat Lawless re-joined the club.
The Annual General Meeting on October 26th, 2001 was uneventful but the bank account showed a healthy $6,855.08 with 14 members. The hydro for 2000 was $297.03 and jumped to $632.30 for 2001. Insurance jumped almost $100.00. Taxes were down by $19.00.
On Wednesday, December 5th, 2001 the Executive, Vern, Gary, Fred and David met to discuss the purchase of additional throttles and decoders. It was decided to recommend to the membership that the club buy decoders only for club-owned locomotives. The purchase of additional throttles was denied.
Ironically, the Club’s Constitution was changed from the 1992 Constitution to the revised January 2002 Constitution. The newer version had four (4) pages in all.
The club had 15 members in early 2003.
On September 9th, 2003 long time member David Gresser (Secretary) died. Many knew David from high school onward and his wife Diana Lobb donated all his train equipment to the club.
The Annual General Meeting took place on November 7th, 2003. Due to the untimely death of David, a replacement Secretary was required before the meeting could continue. Doug Bissett was voted in as Secretary.
Mike Carey re-joined the club in November 2003.
On December 5th, 2003 a special meeting was held to amend the Constitution. It was re-named the Brantford Model Railroad Club Constitution Dec.4, 2003. It had all the wording changes in place. The document remained four pages long. It would later on be referred to as the “toothless Constitution”.
January 2004 was a busy month. Members were eager to learn new methods of doing scenery, especially if they had never tried it before. On Friday, January 9th, Seminar #1 was held introducing members on how to weather rock. Pat and Mike explained how to dry brush rock using various colours, adding ground foam and clump foliage. They also showed how to weather the track and ties.
The Paris show was Sunday, January 18th. The Club had two tables reserved for this event. The Ancaster Show was the following Sunday, January 25th.
An email was sent out to the membership on Monday, Jan. 26th to come up with a logo for the club to put on shirts, jackets, hats, sweatshirts, etc. The idea was to make the club look more professional during events we took part in.
The February 1st Newsletter discussed problems with dead track, sections of the layout working intermittently and coming up with suggestions as to when we should have run nights. February was an extremely cold month and it was suggested the cold was to blame for the way the Digitrax system was working. At this point, the club did not have anyone who could help us fix our issues with the system.
In an attempt to rekindle some interest in the club, which was waning, it was decided the club should have an extra work session to get caught up on some of these issues and order pizza. Beer was suggested but it was felt that with increased fines for drinking and driving, we would be responsible and leave the beer at home. This proved to be a great time for all and extra work did get finished.
As any member met Karl Bury for the first time, they would always raise an eyebrow in a questioning way about his character. He was rough around the edges and a hairy beast at first glance. He never minded sharing his gas with you either, regardless of which way it came out of him. I recall one time where he cleared out the club when something he ate earlier in the day was bubbling up in his rather protruding stomach. If gas masks were available we would have worn them that day.
Karl spent a lot of time on steamships. He worked for Lower Lakes Shipping. He was away a lot in the warmer weather but was home once the canals froze up. He spent a lot of his spare time reading while off duty. We thought of him as a walking encyclopædia. His knowledge of steam locomotives was phenomenal. The minor details between locomotives were argumentative for him but meant little to others. From his early teens he took thousands of pictures and slides of just about everything that rolled along the tracks.
He was rather clumsy with his hands, especially in something small like HO scale. Just don’t get too close while he was cursing. When he got his DT400 controller which had more than two buttons on it, he was forever hitting the wrong buttons. The madder he got, the louder he swore. It was hilarious to watch Karl try to press those tiny buttons with his massive fingers.
Karl died suddenly on Friday, February 27th, 2004 in his 53rd year. He was a member of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum as well as the Brantford Model Railroad Club.
A lot of activity took place within the first four months of this year. Gary, Pat and Mike were finishing the walls on either side of the city scene. Norman and Doug were working on the farm scene. People wanted to eagerly start new projects, which created a debate over what projects should be finished before starting new ones.
A Special Meeting of the Membership was held on Friday, April 16th at the club to discuss business not covered by the Annual General Meeting. Topics discussed were radios for communications while running trains, the formula used for distribution of club assets in case of closing the club. At some point it was decided that run nights would be every other week. At this meeting it was decided to change this to the second and the last Friday of each month. The club logo was determined to be a simple switch stand.
Further discussions followed regarding an open house or a barbecue at the club to introduce the neighbours to the club. Due to liability issues it was decided to give up this idea and just have a “members only” barbecue in a member's backyard. This was held on Sunday, June 13th, 2004.
A newsletter dated for June, July & August 2004 went to great length to explain the neighbour at 98 Waterloo Street and his desire to complain to whomever would listen. Again he complained to the police about parking in the right-of-way. The police officer that came by to investigate enjoyed his private tour of the layout and was amazed at what we had. The officer said in the end, ‘Anyone blocking the right-of-way will be ticketed but Friday nights were okay.’ With a smile and a wink, he was off. He had told us he was required to check out the complaint but could find no fault on our part. He also noted that the complainer was listed as a busybody at the station.
Vern Johnson went to the neighbour about four houses down the street and found out he was a friend of the complainer’s. Vern explained that if the right-of-way issue was taken to court and the city was to take back the property that rightfully belongs to the city, everyone in the area would be required to move fences, sheds and the one person had a garage that would have to be moved. It wouldn’t affect us other than where we park. The neighbours would not be happy with the guy at 98 Waterloo and it would create a lot of financial grief for everyone except us. He would certainly create a lot of enemy’s overnight. Vern told the neighbour he better talk to him before things got out of hand. Amazingly, we never heard anything from him after that.
The newsletter also noted the club was having a lot of difficulty running trains and the committee was looking for solutions. The T-shirts were in but not finished to date. There were a lot of people away on holidays and attendance was down. Things were moving slowly at the club. In the first paragraph of this newsletter it stated that this newsletter was once in a blue moon. As it turns out, the second full moon happening in the same month (July 2 & 31) is called a blue moon. This is a rare occurrence.
The September 2004 newsletter noted the existing problems of erratic running of trains on the layout, the low attendance level, the “complaining neighbour” issue had settled down and the club T-shirts were still not ready.
The October 3rd, 2004 membership list included: Vern Johnson – President, Gary Blenkinsop – Vice president, Fred Crowley – Treasurer, Doug Bissett – Secretary, Pat Lawless, Mike Carey, Mark Johnson, Bob Inksater, Norman Blenkinsop, Jeff Neeb, Brian Barrett as full members and Kevin Wagner and Greg Whayman as associate members (14 members).
An email dated November 3rd, 2004 by one member commented on our achievements to date which included, the design of the club logo and getting club shirts, the exterior wall was repaired, the interior had a major cleanup done and it was amazing what was thrown out.
The Annual General Meeting was held November 5th, 2004. Present were: Vern Johnson, Gary Blenkinsop, Fred Crowley, Pat Lawless, Mike Carey, Mark Westwater, Norman Blenkinsop.
Pat Lawless introduced a track-cleaning car that could clean the track very well if used on a regular basis. He was asked to make a few more. Also discussed was the preference of communications, telephone, intercom or radios.
Ed Smith had been a member at one point but had since quit. He was consulted by Vern to see if he would complete the wiring of the club layout for a set fee. Instead, Ed wanted “unlimited trackage rights” which would require giving a set of keys to a non-member. This went over like a lead balloon.
Some shirts, coats and hats were made available so we could decide on a size if we wanted to purchase them. The club’s logo would be stitched on for $5.00 plus the cost of the garment or hat.
Fred Crowley stated the club was financially in good shape.
The nominations for elections were postponed due to the sudden illness of Doug Bissett who was in hospital with chest pains. It was decided to hold the elections at the club on November 19th, 2004.
The special meeting was held at the club on November 19th, 2004. Present were: Vern Johnson, Fred Crowley, Gary Blenkinsop, Doug Bissett, Pat Lawless, Jeff Neeb, Brian Barrett, Norman Blenkinsop and Mike Carey.
Gary Blenkinsop won President, Doug Bissett won Vice President and Pat Lawless won Secretary.
The shirts were ordered for the club members.
An application was accepted from K. C. Kovacs on December 10th, 2004.
There is very little information preserved for 2005. On August 19th, 2005 an application was accepted from Chris Giles.
The Annual General Meeting was held Friday, October 28th, 2005. Present were: Vern Johnson, Mark Johnson, KC Kovacs, Norman Blenkinsop, Gary Blenkinsop, Doug Bissett, Fred Crowley, Pat Lawless and Jeff Neeb.
Pat Lawless had made three more track-cleaning cars. Club radios were put on hold to see if radios could be found like the ones we were using. A heated debate took place regarding members who were delinquent in their dues. Vern wanted members removed from the club if they were four months in arrears. It was decided, after the dust settled, that Fred would give a verbal warning to those who were three months in arrears. A written notice would be given if the member were 5 months in arrears. After 12 months a member would be removed from the club. The membership found this more acceptable. It should be noted that there was nothing in the Constitution to cover this issue.
Under new business items brought up included a more consistent way to collect dues, turnouts in Yates Yard needed to be identified, cup holders was an on-going issue that we needed more of them, Plexiglas was needed to protect the scenery nearest the aisles.
Elections took place. Gary Blenkinsop remained President, Brian Barrett was Vice President and Doug Bissett was secretary.
Under the Treasurer’s Report it was noted that the club had:
By January 22, 2006 the membership list included, Gary Blenkinsop – President, Brian Barrett – Vice President, Fred Crowley – Treasurer, Doug Bissett – Secretary, and Vern Johnson – Past President. The rest of the members were Mark Johnson, Bob Inksater, Norman Blenkinsop, Jeff Neeb, Mike Carey, Pat Lawless, KC Kovacs, Mark Westwater, Chris Giles and Kevin Wagner. 15 members.
A week later on January 27th, 2006 Aleks Stefanovic re-joined the club, which brought the membership up to 17.
On January 29th, 2006 a letter went out to the membership asking who would be interested in going to Fostoria, Ohio for a weekend in June. Up to this point the club did very little as a group to go somewhere. Once in awhile some would band together and go off rail fanning for the day.
The club was using a two-digit address system with our DCC (Digital Command Control) which allowed each member to have six allocations. This proved awkward when some members had more than six locomotives they wished to run. Other members gave up their assigned numbers to allow those with more engines to use these additional address codes. This proved to be an on-going problem during this time period.
On February 24th, 2006 Dick Belcher joined the club. The membership moved up to 18 members.
A newsletter dated March 2006 spoke briefly about procedures to follow when leaving the club. The running of trains on the second and last Friday of the month seemed to help find problems with the track and turnouts. The last four pages dealt with the Fostoria trip.
On Saturday, April 1st, 2006 in a joint effort with six other people, Brantford hosted its first layout tour, which was developed by Greg Whayman and Ted Black. Participants were: Greg Whayman, Balfour Model Rail Road Group, Jim Carmen, Rick Thompson, Scott Wilson, Brantford Model Railroad Club and Roger Chrysler. It had limited success based on the lack of advertising and word of mouth. Approximately 30 people viewed our layout.
On June 9th, 2006 nine members of the club took off for Fostoria, Ohio for some train watching. The 424 km trip took just five hours to get there.
By July 2nd, 2006 we had lost 1 member, 17 members in total.
The Annual General Meeting on October 27th, 2006 was held with 11 of 17 members present. This meeting discussed issues of members in arrears with their dues, Plexiglas around the layout, radios to speak to the dispatcher and cup holders. Under new business the north wall of the club building was seeping water inside during wet weather. Gary Blenkinsop remained President, Aleks Stefanovic became Vice President and Doug Bissett remained Secretary.
The January 2007 Newsletter stated that for the first time, the Club would use a laptop computer to show before and after pictures of the layout. It also mentioned that this was the club’s 60th Anniversary.
On January 26th, 2007 Nathan Henderson joined the club. By February 2007 Mike Carey had re-joined the club.
In memory of Karl Bury, Aleks Stefanovic put on a slideshow at his home on Saturday, March 3rd, 2007.
With the March 2007 Newsletter a point was addressed regarding the length of trains. Some members wanted to do multiple engine lashups and then pull most of the cars on the layout. This brought on some heated discussions as to how long a train should be and how many units should be MU’ed together. The newsletter finished by stating the members who wanted to try such stunts should do so after everyone else had left the club. It was also mentioned that this put unnecessary strain on couplers and other member’s equipment left on the layout.
The Second Annual Brantford Model Railroad Layout Tour took place on Saturday, April 14th, 2007 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The club had roughly 150 people go through and this was considered a successful event.
By June 2007 plans were being made for a trip to Horseshoe Curve in Altoona, Pennsylvania.
August 2007 turned out to be a rough month. One full member changed his status to Associate Membership, another member quit. The 60th Anniversary celebrations planned for August, having a barbecue and inviting the neighbours to an open house to see the club in action fell through due to a lack of volunteers to put it on.
By October 2007 another full member had changed his status from full member to Associate and one other full member quit. The club was down to 15 members, 4 being associate members.
The Annual General Meeting was held on October 26th, 2007 in the common room at Vern’s place on North Park Street. Thirteen members were present. During this meeting it was decided that the face boards be painted and the floor should also be painted. The Plexiglas should be installed after the painting is done. Vern was disappointed over the lack of interest in putting together a 60th Anniversary open house. It was decided to start the second level, staging yard now known as Aleksandar Yard.
A club trip to Altoona, Pa and Horseshoe Curve were discussed for the following year.
On Saturday, March 8th, 2008 Vern Johnson passed away at the age of 85, almost 2 months shy of his 86th birthday. Vern had been a member of the club since the1950’s.
Vern had been on the Executive for a number of years and took his role as the President of the club very seriously. He went out of his way to make sure the club remained strong financially. With his background in finances, working for the Credit Union for many years, he paid close attention to dues and the health of the club. He was forever talking about dues and those who were in arrears should be tossed out of the club. With some moderation on the part of the rest of the Executive we managed to hang on to most of the members except the ones who had no intention of paying up their dues.
On Friday, March 28th, 2008, the Executive met at the club to find replacements for Trustees of the club. Under the latest Constitution, dated December 4th, 2003, only “full members in good standing” were considered. The Executive chose the replacements. Gary Blenkinsop and Doug Bissett were chosen to replace Vern Johnson and Kevin Wagner. Fred Crowley was the third Trustee.
The club was down to 11 full members and 4 associate members.
On April 9th, 2008 a letter was sent to the club’s lawyer, Lefebvre and Lefebvre to note the changes in the Trustees.
The third annual Brantford Model Railroad Layout Tour took place on Saturday, April 12th, 2008 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendance was approximately 111 people who signed the sign in sheet at the club. This was considered a successful day.
On May 14th, 2008 a letter was received from Robert Lefebvre (the club’s lawyer), requesting a copy of the Constitution and the Resolution for the newly appointed Trustees. Robert also wanted a copy of the latest membership list. One final request of Robert was to know if membership was open since he was a “lifetime model railroader myself.”
By August 30th, 2008 we had lost one of our associate members. Total membership was now 14 members.
On February 6th, 2009 Jim House joined the club. Unfortunately, on February 8th, 2009 we received a letter from Mark Johnson resigning from the club after 15 years as a full member. The revised membership list now stood at 10 full members, 3 associate members and 1 probationary member.
On February 20th, 2009 Rick Sywyk joined. We now had 2 probationary members. A couple weeks later, David Elliott joined on March 5th, 2009. We now had 3 probationary members.
There was a lot of turmoil going on in the club at this time. We no sooner got the membership list updated and something else changed. One of the full members, Chris Giles quit. One of the associate members, Dick Belcher quit. The club was at an all-time low. We had 9 full members, 2 associate members and 3 probationary members. We retained 14 total members but the income from dues was down, putting the club in a tight financial position. Other members were behind in their dues putting the club in greater jeopardy. One member quit because he couldn’t pay his dues.
On May 15th, 2009 Jake Stott joined the club. We now had 9 full members, 2 associate members and 4 probationary members.
By June 6th, 2009 Bob Martin had re-joined the club as an associate member.
Some members were constantly behind in paying their dues. This was frowned on by many members and some just looked the other way as if the problem would go away. Some, like Vern used to feel, would rather see them kicked out rather than having the club carry them. This brought on many mixed feelings and opinions. Some looked to the Constitution for something there to fall back on. But many referred to this Constitution as the Constitution “with no teeth.” Finally, to protect the club, it was decided that the padlock holding the bar across the entrance be changed. All members had to receive new keys for this lock. In effect we were protecting our equipment from theft or damage.
Thanks to the new members joining the club, the financial health of the club was improving. But we were having serious issues running trains on the layout. If someone shorted their train on a turnout or jumped the track, causing a short, the entire layout would shut down until the short was fixed. This created havoc for those trying to run their train. Finally, it was agreed that we needed help to fix our problems.
A former member, Greg Whayman was called in to help us figure out our problems. He was willing to sell us an upgraded Digitrax system. The price tag was over $2000.00. At the time I remember we felt we were being taken advantage of. In hindsight, that figure was probably a closer realisation of what was required to overcome the issues.
Basically, the club was using wiring that did not meet the requirements for the digital system that we were trying to implement. The equipment we had also needed to be replaced. On a shoestring budget, the club was trying to solve the problems at hand with haphazard remedies. As would happen later on, the club would need to fix it’s problems by a complete re-wiring of the layout and adding the digital equipment as we went along. The growing pains will cost dearly.
By June 20th, 2009 the club gets word that 2 controllers that were sent away to get repaired were so old that parts were no longer available. The controllers were returned unfixed.
The club needed to buy 2 new controllers, worth $300.00 and it was suggested we get more UP5 outlets at $20.34 each. There was a lot of debate over what we needed and what was necessary to keep us running. The costs just kept escalating.
On June 27th, 2009 an email went out to the membership. Mark Westwater was back as a full member. The email went on to say, “Last night was a run night or should I say ‘try-to-run night.’” Turnouts were causing major difficulties when running locos or cars with steel wheels over the turnouts. Some members were not watching if a turnout was against them or not. Coupler heights were not yet set and trains were coming apart. This added to the frustration of trying to run a train on the layout.
With the track causing so many problems it was decided that run sessions should be cancelled until we can get these issues resolved. The majority were in favour. As of June 29th, 2009 run sessions were stopped.
Different from past years, it was decided to hold the Annual General Meeting and a club barbecue at the same time. But this needed to be sooner than the end of October or early November. It was scheduled for Sunday, September 13th, 2009. To hold this outside required good weather and a large backyard. It turned out one member had the “perfect” backyard since his yard backed onto the CN mail line. Since we no longer had Vern Johnson’s common room in his apartment building to use, the meeting was held at Aleks Stefanovic’s home in 2008.
By the time this Annual General Meeting took place there were dues totalling $990.00 owing the club. It was decided to purchase a sheet of plywood to start the second level above Gary Yard.
Painting the floor was discussed and it was agreed to go ahead and get paint so the floor could be painted. KC Kovacs’ mother would get us the necessary primer and paint.
Other decisions made included buying a new shop vac, putting in a turntable on the second level at a later date, putting wheels on the cabinets so they could be pushed under the layout when not in use, a fall trip to Union Station should be pursued.
The Executive was railroaded into office for another term with Gary Blenkinsop as President, Aleks Stefanovic as Vice President and Doug Bissett as Secretary.
After the Annual General Meeting was finished at 2:34 p.m. we took a short break. Then we had the Special Meeting for Upgrading the Digitrax System. This 37-minute meeting was to determine the route we wanted to go with the purchase of an updated digital system. The club chose to stay with Digitrax. It was decided by the membership we would get a UR91 for radio controlled controllers, we had some but needed more PM42’s and we needed the command system and programming track. We also need more UP5 outlets. Because we were given a one time deal from Digitrax, any member who wished to purchase a controller, or a complete system for their own layout at home, were encouraged to put it all together under one purchase. Many members took advantage of the savings and got a controller or a home system. The order was placed on Saturday, October 3rd, 2009.
As of September 27th, 2009 we had 14 full members and 2 associate members.
An email went out to the membership on November 25th, 2009 to discuss that when we had our new system installed, we could use 2 digit or 4 digit codes for our locomotives. The membership agreed that the 4 digit system would be best since we could use the engine number as the decoder address. Any number with two or three digits would use 1 or 2 zeros in front of it for the 4-digit code.
The club got a rather strange jolt on January 22nd, 2010 when an application was received from Vern Johansson. Because the name was so close to Vern Johnson, we at first thought it was some kind of joke. After the initial shock left us, we welcomed Vern Johansson into the club. The total club members now reached 17 members.
This was short lived when KC Kovacs decided to quit about February 28th, 2010 to fulfill 2 life dreams to work on a real railroad and to pursue car drag racing.
The growing pains hurt a lot as we read, installed, read some more, uninstalled and re-installed the new digital system. We were unsure what we were doing was right or wrong. It sounded good, it made sense, but we just weren’t quite sure it was right. The email sent to all on March 26th, 2010 said it all. “Don’t mind my bitchin’. I’m just having a rough time trying to figure out why the layout doesn’t consistently work or consistently not work.” The system would work great one time and not work right the next. We were constantly rebooting the system in hopes the bugs would disappear. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. It was a very frustrating time for all. It finally started affecting attendance. On run nights, attendance would drop off or people would show up and not run their train. I should know, because I was one of those frustrated members who could not get my train to run once around the layout without numerous stops because of system crashes or shorts.
We eventually found out the wiring under the layout was where most of the problems were coming from. Later, as our knowledge grew, we determined that certain turnouts were not digital compatible and needed to be replaced. With more experience under our belts and learning quickly we needed to keep the track very clean, we found we were having more enjoyable run sessions with fewer disruptions from shorts.
The 27th Annual Doubleheaders Model Railroad Layout Tour gave us a chance to see what others had, how they made their system work and we took lots of pictures and asked lots of questions. Some of the things we learned were:
We needed to provide a power supply for the UP5’s so they wouldn’t take power away from the layout.
Clean track and minimal amounts of Rail Zip ensured good contact between the rails and the engine decoders.
We learned that the Atlas cleaning car in between two locos worked best. The use of alcohol in the car was best.
We learned that two locos using bell and horn could be drawing as much as 2.5 amps of power. We are using 5 amp boosters. So in effect, four locos could be using all the power from one booster.
An indication we need more power is if our loco is running slowly or we lose control of it, then we need to up our power supply.
Finally, we learned to use plenty of feeders under the layout. We should have feeders at a maximum of every six feet or less.
We also discovered that the DT400 controller uses more power than other controllers.
By August 22nd, 2010 the work is progressing on installing the first PM42. The Aleksandar Yard on the upper level now has cork roadbed and the track is spiked down. Members are working on various projects on the layout. The lift up floor sections were being installed to prevent people from falling down the steps of the duckunder. The club seemed to be running in high gear.
By September 15th, 2010 we had 15 full members and 2 associate members.
The Annual General Meeting and Club Barbecue was held on Sunday, September 19th, 2010. There were 14 members present.
The membership agreed to paint the floor during the month of October. Screens were installed on the gutters. The membership wanted an air conditioner to cool off the club but the cost was beyond our means at that time.
Jake Stott moved to amend the Constitution of December 4th, 2003. All were in favour. A copy of the “Proposed 2010 Brantford Model Railroad Club Constitution” was passed out to each member. Approximately forty-one items were discussed, voted on and approved or tabled for further discussion during this meeting. Aleks Stefanovic was voted President, Pat Lawless was voted Vice President and Doug Bissett was voted Secretary. All were acclaimed. The four-hour meeting ended at 4:45 p.m.
With the introduction of a new and improved Constitution, came other responsibilities that needed to be addressed. One item was Executive Meetings, which needed to be held quarterly to address any issues pertaining to the club.
This Constitution had 15 pages and it fully explained the responsibilities of each member, Executive Member and Trustee. It explained the voting procedures and how many votes were required for various items being voted on. It explained in detail the procedures to follow when someone was behind in their dues and at what point they could be expelled from the club. Rules of conduct were another area lacking with the old Constitution. This allowed members to be expelled if they were found to be stealing, not getting along with other members or displayed any anti-social behaviour.
The Constitution of December 4th, 2003 had no teeth to do anything about any circumstance that may arise. The Constitution before that was worded like a legal document, which made parts of it hard to understand or even impossible to determine the full context of what it was saying.
In the end, Jake Stott and myself, Doug Bissett, put in many hours hashing out the wording. It was time consuming and a matter of reading over each paragraph several times to make sure it covered all the points that we wanted to cover. This literally took months to accomplish. Once this process was done, the Executive went over it with recommendations being made to the membership. It would take almost two years from start to finish to get the Constitution finalized and printed with its index.
On October 3rd, 2010 the first Executive Meeting was held. It took three hours to set up and go through all the necessary items. Certain policies were set up to cover visitors entering the premises, using the duck-unders, email etiquette, visitors allowed in the club on the first Friday of the month only and children under the age of sixteen needed to be accompanied by an adult. The club had also set up committees to look after certain areas. These are Electronics Committee, Social Committee, Building Maintenance Committee, Prototypical Operations Committee, Fund Raising Committee and Track Maintenance Committee.
The second Executive Meeting was held on Sunday, November 7th, 2010 and this two-hour meeting finalized the Visitor Rules to be posted at the door, the membership application was revamped to get a better understanding of what people were looking for by joining the club, the floor was almost done as far as painting went.
Under New Business, policies were put in place for members after Gary fell, hurting his back and Fred jumping off of his tailgate and hurting his ankle. Members must have someone to help them while working on a ladder or doing electrical (120 volt) work.
The final Executive Meeting for 2010 was held December 5th, 2010. The Executive had accomplished a lot by this third meeting. Visitor Rules were now posted at the club. The improved membership application was approved and revised. The coffee float had been changed from $25.00 to $100.00. A copy of the Club Rules would be posted at the club and all members were required to read and sign them.
With the new Constitution in place informally, for the first time in a long time, no one was in arrears. The club’s bank account was healthier. KC Kovacs had re-joined as an Associate Member and Bob Inksater has changed to an associate member.
Five Articles of the Constitution had been dealt with during this meeting as well.
On January 14th, 2011 Kyle Stefanovic joined the club.
Aleks Stefanovic sent out a project update on January 15th, 2011 detailing the progress made in many areas and how some members were able to resolve track and turnout shorting issues. Other turnouts would be replaced in different areas to resolve derailment problems. From an operational point of view, the club was making much progress at eliminating running issues and traffic flow. This would boost morale and make it easier on run nights to have a great running session.
Defining club policies and keeping a close eye on club finances made the Executive Meetings more valuable than ever before. The club was building up some money in the bank, a necessary thing in case of an emergency situation that required legal retainers or building materials. Money was being generated from sales of donated items as well as the sale of loads being produced by Pat Lawless and his helpers. The coffee fund was generating enough cash to make purchases from this money rather than deleting the bank funds. Things were looking up for the club.
On January 21st, 2011 Brian Drury joined the club.
On March 12th, 2011 the Executive held another meeting. The revised Club Policies would be emailed to all members and a copy posted at the club. All members would sign a copy and it would be kept on record. Preparations were made for our first Bi-Annual General Meeting to be held on March 19th, 2011. This two and a half hour meeting covered five out of the six items that were tabled from the last Annual General Meeting held in September 2010.
On April 29th, 2011 Eric Crow joined the club.
The revised membership list for May 15, 2011 had the following names, Aleks Stefanovic – President, Pat Lawless – Vice President, Fred Crowley – Treasurer & Trustee, Doug Bissett – Secretary & Trustee, Gary Blenkinsop - Trustee, Bob Martin, Jim House, Rick Sywyk, Jake Stott, David Elliott, Brian Barrett and Mike Carey as full members. The three probationary members were Kyle Stefanovic, Brian Drury and Eric Crow. The associate members were Kevin Wagner, Norman Blenkinsop, Bob Inksater and KC Kovacs. This totalled 20 members.
It was too good to be true but on June 10th, 2011 Ken Hunt joined the club. You could almost see the dollar signs popping up as our membership was growing in leaps and bounds.
Then, on June 11th, 2011 Rick Sywyk resigned due to a conflicting work schedule.
On June 24th, 2011 the club received a thank you letter from the H.O.M.E.S. club thanking us for showing them our club.
By July 16th, 2011 Brian Drury has quit for health reasons. He was a great scenery person with very good skills.
On August 26th, 2011 Cory Gibson joined the club.
The next Executive Meeting was held on September 3rd, 2011. This meeting covered a lot of points that would be discussed at the Annual General Meeting scheduled for eight days later.
On September 11th, 2011 the club had its Annual General Meeting. The Constitution was officially finalized to most everyone’s satisfaction. A lot of discussion went on regarding the electrical components required to update the Digitrax system. It was probably the clubs longest meeting ever held at four and a half hours long.
On September 23rd, 2011 Jake Stott resigned. Being the key to a better Constitution, it was a sad day to see him go. Being a member of two other clubs and working shift work really made his time available very slim. But we thank him for getting us into a Constitution that had some “teeth and a good bite”.
By November 5th, 2011 Kyle Stefanovic has resigned, heading out west to start his new career.
A two-page welcome letter designed to give the new person some insight into the club, the history and how we operate was developed and with some wording changes at the Executive Meeting on November 5th, 2011 was approved for distribution. It was also decided that a copy of the membership list and a copy of the club policies be handed to the new person as well. This was developed on the basis of what most people asked either before or after joining the club.
On January 15th, 2012 the club had one of their better years of selling things at the Paris Junction Model Train Show. For a few shows, the club also had a table at the Ancaster Flea Market. The club never did very well at this show.
The second Semi - Annual General Meeting of the Brantford Model Railroad Club since the introduction of our new Constitution was held on March 25th, 2012. With a small revision to the Constitution, this meeting went well.
By April 1st, 2012 we had 15 full members and 4 associate members.
On April 21st, 2012 we participated in the 6th annual Brantford and Area Model Railroad Layout Tour. This year had 14 participants but through a lack of advertising or interest, the numbers were down. The club had 54 visitors. Most of the other participants said the same with attendance being half of what other years had been.
On June 9th, 2012 Steven Sault joined the club.
On July 13th, 2012 Stephen Crandell joined.
Below are a few selected pictures of the layout as it grew.
The following pictures show where we are at, at the present time.
The outside of our club has changed little over the years but it is maintained.
Below are a few pictures of the dispatcher’s board and the duck under doors we installed to keep members from falling.
Finally, here are a few pictures taken by club members not to be seen on the rails around here anymore.
In December 2012 the membership consisted of the following:
During 2013 we saw a number of changes take place in both the wording of the Constitution and the membership list. The Executive felt the wording was too harsh in referring to arrears in dues and so this was changed, giving members more leeway when paying dues. The membership changed with a number of members quitting and a few new ones starting during this year.
In September 2013 our club Constitution was revised.
As of December 13th, 2013 the members were:
Overall, the Brantford Model Railroad Club was in good shape financially and having enough members to acquire needed items to carry on with projects both under the layout as well as on top. We were in need of new wiring, block control to minimize shorts on the layout and scenery was being replaced or updated. The activity at the club was on the increase and the results were showing.
The Club continued to grow in 2014. Fundraising continued to give the club needed financial support which allowed the bank account to remain untouched other than to pay utility bills. There was a lack of interest in doing any club outings and so none were done.
Work continued on the layout rewiring program and John Dixon and Pat Lawless were instrumental in keeping it moving forward. For the first time in the history of the club, a potential member was voted out of the club. This brought about mixed feelings from the members but due to our private classification as a club, we were only required to pay back unused dues to the person in all fairness to him.
On January 1, 2015 the membership list read as follows:
The club’s flyer was updated on January 11th, 2015.
On the weekend of May 15th to 18th, 2015, a trip was scheduled for Fostoria, Ohio. For the members who went it was a great time and there were plenty of trains to see. This was the Victoria Day, May long weekend.
After the Annual General Meeting on September 12th, 2015, the Executive changed to as follows:
By the end of August 2016 things are changing once again. Fred Crowley has stepped down as Treasurer for personal reasons. As a long-time member of 39 years of The Brantford Model Railroad Club, Fred has been the Treasurer for the majority of those years. It was with heavy hearts that we watched as he passed on the books to the next treasurer, Stephen J.
The membership has once again seen a change. As of August 29th, 2016 the membership was:
On September 10th, 2016 the Annual General Meeting was held at Stephen J’s home in Paris (as it is held there every year). A barbecue is held after the A.G.M. The change in Executive was as follows:
Along with the usual reports and suggestions, other things that were in the works included the preparation for the club’s 70th Anniversary which will take place during 2017. Most significantly was the planning and execution of the Clubs’ visual optics. The exterior was repainted first. The interior was then revamped, which included the ceiling being painted, and the walls repaired and painted. The layout fascia was painted as well as the attachments that make the ‘engineers’ jobs easier when operating the trains. A 50 foot plus drop curtain was installed to hide all workbenches located beneath the Yates Yard – which runs between the power plant all the way to the return loop farm scene – which keeps this area neat and tidy. The revitalization program certainly boosted the pride and enthusiasm of the Club members.
By no means was this project the only mitigating factor in the pride of the Club. Individual members are all working behind the scenes in various capacities, be it fundraising, scratch building, layout maintenance, rolling stock compliance, project leads / coordinators, track foreman, and the list goes on and on.
The Brantford Model Railroad Club will start its’ 70th Anniversary in January 2017. What has kept the club going for this long? What draws ordinary people from all walks of life together? This club has seen doctors, lawyers, policemen, factory workers, truck drivers and students all working shoulder to shoulder to build a miniature world in 1:87 scale or better known as HO scale. Building benchwork requires some woodworking skills. Laying track and doing scenery requires a lot of practice to develop the skills to do a scene realistically. You almost have to be an electrical engineer to understand the wiring under a layout these days. The hobby requires many skills. We may be good at some, all or none. But that was why we joined. We wanted to learn how to lay track properly. We wanted to know the proper way to glue scenery to our layout at home. We wanted to converse and associate with those who have the same interests as ourselves.
It takes a lot of time to plan a layout, build the benchwork and lay track. It can take years to scenic it all. The fruits of your labour come from running your train around that layout and know you have done a good job. Like the club, individuals have different depths of interest. Some are happy just running their trains around the layout. Others like to run their trains in a more prototypical way, following what the real railroads do. Some like a challenging layout that requires forethought before doing a move.
The club’s mission is to promote the hobby. By showing children that their first train set was a toy but they too can build a layout and get involved in the hobby, we are educating young ones about the proper respect for real trains, safety around trains, the joys of owning and operating a locomotive that blows a horn, rings a bell and rumbles as it accelerates. There are many hours of fun and challenges involved with this hobby.
It was always a motto of the club that this is a hobby, not a job. When you take the fun out of anything, it becomes a burden, something you no longer want to do. As members of this club, we feel that if you don’t want to work but you just want to talk or have a coffee and watch others work their magic at the club, then so be it.
The Brantford Model Railroad Club has lasted this long because people come and go, but the building is still standing and those involved with it at the moment are doing everything in their power to make it work, to keep it going and provide hours of enjoyment for all. By taking pride in their club, all members have promoted the club with good intentions. They work as a team to keep the building in good repair. They work together as hobbyists to improve the layout or replace what is broke so we can all enjoy the layout.
You can’t total the number of man-hours spent by members who have taken a project home and assembled a model at home in their spare time. You can’t add the hours spent inside the club on other days of the week besides the regular Friday nights. Some members have spent many extra hours each month doing things we may not think about but take for granted. And let us not forget the costs some have incurred by their generosity and have not asked to be reimbursed. These are truly dedicated people to their beloved hobby.
Finally, where is the satisfaction? Is it on the smiling faces from the camaraderie of the membership? Is it the fact a member can run a train around the 20 by 40 foot layout and know he will never have anything that big in his own house? Is it the ability to have numerous members operating numerous trains at the same time together as a network? Is it knowing you have had a share in building this layout and perhaps the previous one as well? Maybe it is the look on a child’s face when he comes into the club and sees all those engines pulling cars and blowing horns and ringing bells.
For over 70 years the Brantford Model Railroad Club has done just that. They have replaced old technology with newer technology. They have worked together to build a dream from lines on paper to a working miniature world that moves and makes sounds like in the real world. It brings hours of enjoyment for all that take part in the hobby. This is our club, our hobby.
Growing, ever changing, we forge on in our efforts to improve our club.
Happy Anniversary Brantford Model Railroad Club.
Past and Present Members
George Jones, Ronald Wood, Harry Lewis, Ben Farrell, Milton Stewart, Walter Dixon, Roy Burger, Albert Bell, Eddie Cripps, A. Wadsworth, Vern F. Johnson, Larry Gillies, Walter M. Jacobi, Earl and Brian Armstrong, John Laing, Ron Hewitt, Robert Martin, Sid Copeland, M. Ray Howells, Gary Blenkinsop, Bev Woods, Fred Crowley, Kevin Wagner, Dr. W. Terry West, Jim Telfer, Heinz Weber, J. M. (Mac) Laing, Don Munn, Dr. Tom W. Kidd, Jack Whitehead, Dr. Gord A. Judge, David Gresser, John H. S. Norris, Geoffrey Gregson, L. F. Thorpe, Aleks Stefanovic, Gerry Fairchild, Duncan Gregson, Mark Freeman, Doug Wheaton, Pat Lawless, Lloyd Candlish, Al Wilson, Karl Bury, , Don Kew, Keith Lee, Steve Couch, Brian LaRush, Barry Silverthorn, Ed Dean, William Luciani, Jeff Mann, Doug Bissett, Bob Inksater, Ben Van Veldhuizen, Eddie Valcourt, Marc Johnson, Mike Carey, Norman Blenkinsop, Stephen Jurkus, Ed Smith, Jeff Neeb, Brian Barrett, Greg Whayman, K. C. Kovacs, Mark Westwater, Chris Giles, Dick Belcher, Jim House, Rick Sywyk, David Elliott, Jake Stott, Nathan Henderson, Vern Johansson, Kyle Stefanovic, Brian Drury, Eric Crow, Ken Hunt, Cory Gibson, Steven Sault, Stephen Crandell, Glenn Patterson, John Dixon, Hans Wissman, Norman Blenkinsop Sr., Anton Dyak, Michael Iezzi, Dakota Lee, Jason Lindsay, Keldon Ledward, Logan Martin, Wade Ryan, Stephen Nicol, Frans VanGerwen, Doug Fearon, Michael Goncz, Chris Weileder, Jason Gordy, Taylor Gaines, Jules Mirza, Ron Feth, Jules Mirza, Taylor Gaines, Paul Giannico, Zakary Mirza-Couture
If I have missed anyone, my apologies, these are the only names noted in club files.
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