To Caledonia, Lowbanks and beyond with Chris

Caledonia station

Yesterday was one of those beautiful autumn days that make Ontario great. It was also the day of the annual S Scale Can-Am Social – a gathering of 1:64 enthusiasts at a community centre in Lowbanks, in the Niagara Region. So my friend Chris Abbott and I made a day of it.

A massive marathon in downtown Toronto on Sunday morning meant I had to get out of the core early, because several main streets in my neighbourhood would be shut for a few hours. So Chris and I got in touch with a friend who is not in the hobby and met up with him for breakfast in Dundas, Ontario. From there, we decided to take the scenic route to Lowbanks.

A run down Highway 6 took us into Caledonia, where Chris and I stopped to check out the preserved train station:

Caledonia station

Caledonia station

Caledonia station

 photo Caledonia-2016-X-05_zpsikzdmwif.jpg

Caledonia station

Caledonia was the first major stop south of Hamilton for the mixed train that serves St. Williams and Port Rowan. It was also an interesting junction between two CNR subdivisions, and an important source of traffic in the form of a nearby gypsum plant.

Sometimes, I think about modelling something other than what I am currently doing (I’m sure many hobbyists do that, if only to confirm that what they’re modelling is, in fact, the right thing.) When my mind wanders from Port Rowan, Caledonia comes to mind as a strong possibility. But some exploratory doodles have failed to show how I could make it work in my layout space, so it’s an idea for the “Somday, Maybe” file.

From Caledonia, Chris and I worked our way through Cayuga and Dunnville to Lowbanks, arriving just before lunch. I enjoyed catching up with fellow enthusiasts and learning about their projects. The organizer, Jim Martin, encourages attendees to share mini-clinics – lasting no more than 15 minutes – on various aspects of S scale. This year, I contributed a clinic about re-painting and re-lettering S scale die-cast trucks into prototypes that would be seen in southern Ontario in the 1950s:

S Scale Social - My truck clinic
(Click on the image to read more about the trucks in this photo)

Every year that I attend this gathering, two things happen:

First, regardless of the forecast, I’ve enjoyed a spectacular day on the north shore of Lake Erie. I’m always tempted to grab a chair from the community centre and sit outside.

Second, this event has become a bit of an S scale-specific flea market and I always think, “This year, I’m not going to find anything that I want”. After all, I have a pretty tight modelling focus. And yet, every year, I’m surprised to find something to buy. This year was no exception, as I picked up a cool little water column:

RRM - Water Column

This is a River Raisin Models import from October 1991. The prototype is a Poage Water Column, and this particular one features the Fenner telescopic spout.

No, I don’t need one for my layout. But it’s cool. And hey – Caledonia had a water column…

Great to see everybody, including some new faces at the event. And, Chris, it’s always fun: Thanks for a wonderful day out!

9 thoughts on “To Caledonia, Lowbanks and beyond with Chris

  1. Sometimes I read something like: “The prototype is a Poage Water Column, and this particular one features the Fenner telescopic spout.” I think to myself “What the what…learned something there that I didn’t even realize I could not know!” I never cease to be amazed at how many layers of things there are waiting to be learned and how often we’re introduced to those as a result of this hobby.

    If you need me I’ll be prepping the water columns corner of the next RPM and a new talk in my be all you can be series: “Water columns and you: Beyond the pipe.”


    • Hi Chris:
      I’d love to claim that I’m a font of knowledge. But I grabbed the information about the water column off the box.
      River Raisin Models included a nice little write-up on columns, though – noting that at one time, there were more than 10,000 such columns in use across North America. It also points out that many were still in use by MoW crews (although it doesn’t specify for what) long after steam locomotives were retired.
      Finally, the note provides information about placement on a layout (distance from centre of track, elevation of concrete well above railhead, etc), and points out that the ground in the area around the column should have lush green grass, due to the overflow of water from filling tenders.
      Pretty good information… and much appreciated.

      • It’s neat that the manufacturer made such a point of providing this level of detail for the model.

        I would have never known or even thought to have conducted that level of research but am sure glad to have read it.

        The note about the grass makes perfect sense…now.



  2. Hey Trevor,

    it’s not just Ontario that a nice Autumn day makes great – I had a similarly great day out on Friday driving across the English Midlands to attend the Model Engineering Exhibition.

    I like the use of the box as a view block/plain background for the picture of the picture of the water column


    • Doesn’t the UK always have nice seasons? England is the Green and Pleasant Land, after all…
      Thanks for the comment on the box. It was a quick and easy background.

      • In the right frame of mind, then Yes, there is enjoyment to found in every season in England. This autumn in my part of the country is notable for the warmth of the days and the length of this warm spell, and almost boring predictability of the weather. Such weather makes travelling to a train show and extra pleasure!

        And, I’ve just noticed; are you shown in a reflection in the second window pane? If so, another clever touch,


  3. UPDATE, OCTOBER 24: Chris shared some photos of our trip with me, so I’ve added them to this post. Also, my wife and I were passing through Caledonia yesterday and I took some additional photos of the station, which I’ve added to the post.

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