After visiting the south shore of Nova Scotia, and a dip into New Brunswick to celebrate Grammie’s 100th birthday, we found ourself on PEI. We stayed with our friend Marshall Ouellet, who was Laura’s Katimavik parent before I’d ever considered moving to Vancouver. He also happens to be a model railroader.
The only other person I know on the Island is Chris Mears, my modern-day pen pal. So, before leaving, I reached out to Chris to arrange to meet him for the first time. It was a delight to meet him in the flesh; he is taller and younger than I expected. We shared some local draft in the old Kensington Station pub.
If you follow Chris’s blog, you know that he is a bit of a philosopher, and it should be no surprise that we had a wide-ranging and fun conversation. From Volvos to 3D printing and of course model trains, I can’t recall all we talked about.
I’ve been optimistic about the possibilities raised by new technologies in the hobby – 3D printing, on-demand etching and laser cutting. Chris opined that at some point, modellers will no longer start by asking what’s available, and begin instead by finding the subject and scale that speaks to them. Emerging technologies will enable them to achieve whatever they want. That will represent a shift in the hobby on the scale of the emergence of plastic models, and the consequent rise of the mega layout.
There is another shift that Chris can see easier than I can. There are no trains on the Island, but there are still modellers entering the hobby. Without a rail-fanning basis, new modellers don’t have the same nostalgic basis to influence them. They will find inspiration in the trains they have never seen.
The technological shift supports the inspirational shift, and the result is that one day we will see ever-more interesting layouts. There will be less of the Canadian Pacific early diesel era (nothing wrong with that) and more of the PEI Railway in cape gauge days. I’m giddy with anticipation, even though it will happen slowly over the next twenty years.
As expected, it was super to meet Chris. A two-hour lubricated conversation was equal to a couple of years of blog posts. Thanks to Marshall for picking up the tab, and I hope to see either or both of you in Vancouver soon!