Kingston resident Eric Gagnon has recreated the historic CP and CN rail lines that used to run in the downtown core as a model train city in his basement.
The retired lab technician has spent the last three years of the COVID-19 pandemic painstakingly building what the area from Montreal Street to Ontario Street looked like in the 1970s in miniature.
Gagnon says it was an important moment in the Limestone City’s history, when the two rail lines were the lifeblood of industry before the downtown lines were demolished later that same decade.
“I think the 1970s … what I find is [people tell me] , well my dad worked at that plant or my dad worked in that factory. You still have some of that but a lot of those people that worked there are gone so those memories are gone. This sort of reawakens some of those memories,” Gagnon told Global News.
Model trains have always been a passion for the Kingstonian, something that he shared with his father growing up.
“You can sort of picture yourself in that area if you recognize those areas, so it’s almost like being there, sort of recreating an era that’s gone,” he said.
Until now, his work has featured other cities. Recreating his hometown only became a pet project and a labour of love over the last three years.
“It’s great. He all of a sudden decided to change his railway from a western community-based railway and all of a sudden based it on Kingston, so now it’s recognizable of the buildings that he’s actually showing me what he’s working on,” said his wife Karen Gagnon.
Gagnon’s historical research has already spun into a blog and multiple books and he’s not finished yet.
“I’m at the stage now where I can go back and improve things like the tannery that were sort of not done that well, as well as I’d like the first time, so I sort of like to work on different scenes and share those with people through photos,” said Gagnon.
Eventually, Gagnon says he will move on to recreating other model train cities. For now, though, his passion for this little piece of Kingston history shows no signs of slowing down.
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