It’s taken model railroader, Sheldon Oglestone, close to 10 years to bring his beloved Ontario North to Morrisburg, and he now wants to share it with the public.
Oglestone has re-constructed the place of his childhood and early years in Northeastern Ontario in his basement using his love of trains and model railroading as a base. The extensive layout features Oglestone’s home community of Temagami (60 miles north of North Bay) and the Ontario Northland train system which connects communities from North Bay to Moosonee to James Bay.
A locomotive engineer, Oglestone was employed by Ontario Northland before he began a 14 year career in the Canadian Military.
He never lost his love for trains nor the area he grew up in, and so, 25 years ago, he turned his memories towards model railroading.
After retiring from the military, he and his wife Florence moved to Morrisburg (Florence has roots here), from Osgoode, where he left behind a model railroad layout “that was pretty much wall to wall in an 18 by 18 foot room.”
A year after he settled into his Morrisburg home, a new layout was started, and now he says, it is “99 per cent finished.”
For that reason, he has decided to open it as “The Ontario Northland Museum” to the public, by appointment only, starting this Saturday, January 14, from 2-4 p.m. Although there will be no admission charge, donations will be accepted and these donations will be given to the Dundas County Food Bank.
Visitors to the Museum can expect to immediately feel Oglestone’s love for the railroad, model railroading and his home community.
“I still go up once a year and run the real ones (trains). They still let me play with them. I do a little fishing. I speak Cree, and I have a lot of friends up there.”
Oglestone also has a lot of friends in the Morrisburg area, and many of them are fellow model railroaders. Shortly after he arrived in town, he was tracked down by fellow model railroader Steve Skerry and together they formed the Seaway Model Railroaders club which meets regularly at the McIntosh Inn and now has 28 members.
Many of the members enjoy visits to Oglestone’s basement where, “I invite the guys over, and we play with it. It’s sort of a game.”
Oglestone has 18 trains, (not all run at the same time) which have all the bells and whistles…sounds and lights.
He has passenger and freight trains running through Temagami, Moosonee, Cobalt and Cochrane and, from memory and extensive research, he has constructed a number of buildings located in each of these communities in the years from 1955 to 1975.
The first step was to lay out the track, followed by the landscaping which includes hills, ponds and bush lots. There are both lumber and mining camps and farms and farmlands.
He even constructed a Tim Hortons at Cochrane, which, he points out, is the birthplace of Tim Horton. Ironically, Cochrane didn’t get “a Tim Hortons until 1995.”
There is an actual model of the Latchford Bridge over the Montreal River and the now closed iron ore “Sherman Mine’ at Temagami. Also featured is the famous “old Cochrane Train Station.”
In nearby Temagami is located the ‘actual’ Busy Bee Restaurant and Grant’s Home Hardware.
From his imagination, Oglestone has added some fun setups, such as a car crash, where, “the guy wasn’t hurt bad enough, so I broke his leg.”
In another spot, bears are climbing over a vehicle stopped along a roadway and nearby, police have a motorist stopped and the SWAT team is out in full force.
Reimer Express Line and Coca Cola trucks are all making their deliveries.
“It’s mostly been from memories, all compressed of course. I’ve actually had people come up from New York to see it. A lady came with her son from New Hampshire and he didn’t want to leave. Everyone who sees it is thrilled.”
“It’s a hobby. It’s a relaxing thing to putter about and now that it’s 99 per cent finished I want to share it.”
Those wishing to visit the Ontario Northland Museum located in Sheldon’s home at 28 Blake Crescent in Morrisburg, are invited to call 613-543-2445 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be open, by appointment only, on Saturday afternoons.