The Century of Canada…

As I wrote before, Pembroke could tell two very different stories. On the one hand, it could represent the sleepy end of a branch line, a second entrant into a market barely big enough for one. On the other, it could demonstrate the unbridled optimism of the age of progress and of small towns like Pembroke in particular.

I choose the latter, but with a jumble of temporary massing models in the scene, it’s hard to tell. So this week I am experimenting with a textual cue. The quote from Canada’s first francophone prime minister reads

The 20th century shall be the century of Canada and Canadian development… For the next 100 years, Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come.

Sir Wilfred Laurier, 1904

I chose the Harrison font to evoke the turn of the century aesthetic and printed the text onto paper, which I cut out and taped in place. If it still sits well in a few weeks after the rest of the family has seen it, I will cut it in vinyl and make it more permanent. I may elide the word “men” to make it more inclusive, and will have to play with the font and spacing to make it fit on one panel.

What do you think? Is this reaching too far? Too pretentious?

15 thoughts on “The Century of Canada…

  1. I don’t think this is too far at all, Rene. It helps to establish the setting and convey a sense of the time and place in a very effective way – especially since your subject and time period are not readily well understood by most who visit the layout (I would guess). I also like how it physically wraps around the length of the layout, framing it something like you would see in a gallery or museum setting. That further reinforces how deliberately accurate and detailed you are trying to be in representing this particular place and time.

  2. You’re recreating the past in miniature… it’s already super pretentious 🙂 I wouldn’t change the wording at all. If you’re going to use it for your own means then use it as it is formatted and live with the interpretations that follow. Otherwise, just make something up that says what you actually want to say. Another point to consider is that unless you want to model people standing around reading didactic panels, then, in the long term, it is probably better to make models that don’t need didactic panels.


    1. Thanks for the thoughtful consideration, as usual Andrew.

      The Girl’s immediate response when she saw it this morning was, “Oh, gross!” So, I’ve elided the word “men” for now. After all, this is our home not a museum, and we can afford to be liberal with the quotation if it means connecting with the viewer for the intended message rather than disengaging them with unintentional offense.

      Good point about didactic panels, although I don’t think this is quite at the panel level. It takes almost exactly 10 seconds to read it out loud. I see it as more like an ambient suggestion.

  3. Conceptually framing the layout in this way is very original. Laurier was one of the heroes of my youth but, today, that quote feels very ironic. That creates interesting tension. In particular, the reference to the coming century reads different 116 years later, and tempers some of the nostalgic gloss that attracts me to period modelling. I think it makes the layout a springboard for reflection. That’s rare – and very cool.

  4. 1. I like the idea and I’m going to steal it.
    2. The shape and texture of the message in the quote seems to resonate with your setting and the spirit of your work wonderfully.

    Going back to my point number 1: my classroom layout is on constant display and “signage” that does some of the explaining is valuable. Especially when it uses our literary and artistic channels so nicely!

  5. Your sign reminds me that whenever I have visitors see my pike, whether they are rail fans or not, I always explain what geographical location it’s in, and the era. I tell a short story about the Canada Atlantic, sometimes throwing in information about JR Booth. It’s pretty much a set script, and now I’m thinking I should make up a plaque to go at the entrance to my shop/model railway room. It’s a very interesting idea and I like it. In regard to using “men”, it is a quote, and I have difficulty understanding why we have to amend history, but then I’m an old white guy. By way of a different example, there’s a big sign above the bar in the Naval Officers’ Mess in Ottawa the says “Fear God, Honour the Queen”. It’s a pretty archaic sentiment, but my daughters, who are adults now, seem to understand where it came from, and have no objections.

    1. Thanks Richard.
      I agree with the sentiment about amending history. However, as I said to Andrew, this is our home, not a museum, and the question of inclusion is not one I am seeking to address in the model.

  6. There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people.
    Winston Churchill

    Not 1900 but seems as relevant today as then.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.