Calgary's SUPERTRAIN: Super Fun For Everyone!

I think I found train heaven….

One of the highlights of the show was the model based on downtown Calgary made of lego.  I especially loved the use of colour.  The narratives and sense of humour in the models was outstanding.  Be sure to checkout the strange vignette section later in this blog.

One of the highlights of the show was the model based on downtown Calgary made of lego.  I especially loved the use of colour.  The narratives and sense of humour in the models was outstanding.  Be sure to checkout the strange vignette section later in this blog.

Others!

One of the great things about living in a city are the numerous opportunities to learn more about what makes others tick. And the hobbies and interests of others intrigue me – be they cosplay, gardening, quilting, orchids, bingos, skateboarding or in this case, those who bring their trains trains out of their basements to share with others.

For years, I have seen the banners on the overhead bridges promoting an annual Calgary Train Show but never attended – until this year.

An added bonus was it was being held at the Genesis Centre in the far northeast one of Calgary’s growing number of mega community centres (with multiple arenas, gyms, meeting rooms, as well as a YMCA and Calgary Public Library), which I have never been to.

The Bow Tower with the Happy Head in place of ghost-like Wonderland sculpture was a fun surprise!

The Bow Tower with the Happy Head in place of ghost-like Wonderland sculpture was a fun surprise!

Train Heaven

We (I have a three year old friend who loves trains and thought it would be fun to go with him and his Dad) arrived shortly after it opened on Sunday morning at 10 am to find the parking lot already almost full. 

There was a mini three-car CPR train next to the parking lot for kids to play on and for photos - definitely, a good first impression. As did the many food trucks lining the grand sidewalk to the Centre.

Admission was quick and easy - kids under 15 are free; adults $15. 

A few steps and you are looking down into a vast multiple arena expanse that has been magically transformed into train heaven – whether you love to play with trains, learn about Canada train history, find out more about unique train trip opportunities, create your own basement train heaven, or even just people watch.

The 100+ exhibitors were very friendly and knowledgeable, willing to share information about their model train experiences.  There were lots of new and vintage train sets to purchase along with hands-on opportunities to learn how to construct buildings, trees and other elements to create your own fun vignettes.  Did you know,  you can download templates for miniature life-like buildings for only a few dollars?  There were lots of great tips being shared.

Here are some SUPERTRAIN postcards?

This was only half of the displays and exhibitions. 

This was only half of the displays and exhibitions. 

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next train. 

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next train. 

This is a work in progress, started 10 years ago by Ross and Scott Tyler who are now 17 and 15 years old respectively. 

This is a work in progress, started 10 years ago by Ross and Scott Tyler who are now 17 and 15 years old respectively. 

It was fun to learn about all of the railway adventures and museums in Western Canada.

It was fun to learn about all of the railway adventures and museums in Western Canada.

Just a few of the railway artifacts available. 

Just a few of the railway artifacts available. 

This gentleman was demonstrating how the telegraph worked. 

This gentleman was demonstrating how the telegraph worked. 

Big kids in a candy store? 

Big kids in a candy store? 

Model building demonstration. 

Model building demonstration. 

All of the buildings in this model were built using templates downloaded from the internet. 

All of the buildings in this model were built using templates downloaded from the internet. 

Strange Vignettes

For those with a keen eye, the best surprise of the event for me was the subtle - and not so subtle - sense of humour of the vignettes the model railroad builders have created.  

Who says grumpy old guys (yes, it seems to be mostly an old men’s club, just like quilting is a women’s club) don’t have a sense of humour?

For those who don't know, K D Lang is a famous Alberta singer songwriter and an advocate for not eating meat. 

For those who don't know, K D Lang is a famous Alberta singer songwriter and an advocate for not eating meat. 

What at first looks like an everyday busy street scene has nude sunbathers on the rooftop, as well as two guys mooning the neighbours.  

What at first looks like an everyday busy street scene has nude sunbathers on the rooftop, as well as two guys mooning the neighbours.  

This search is happening at a US/Mexican boarder crossing, while next to them immigrates are crawling under the fence (see next photo).  

This search is happening at a US/Mexican boarder crossing, while next to them immigrates are crawling under the fence (see next photo).  

Another street scene -  look closely and you will see police shouting at people at the Transit Hotel and what looks like ladies of the night on the front porch of the hotel. 

Another street scene -  look closely and you will see police shouting at people at the Transit Hotel and what looks like ladies of the night on the front porch of the hotel. 

Many of the vignettes seem to deal with crashes.  Boys will be boys?

Many of the vignettes seem to deal with crashes.  Boys will be boys?

Look carefully and you will see the cafe is on fire and someone is being taken to the ambulance. There is more rooftop activity and of course the "Jesus Saves" sign. 

Look carefully and you will see the cafe is on fire and someone is being taken to the ambulance. There is more rooftop activity and of course the "Jesus Saves" sign. 

You could easily miss this rescue mission as this was part of a huge display.  Note the rock climbers on the left as well as the rescue taking place.  

You could easily miss this rescue mission as this was part of a huge display.  Note the rock climbers on the left as well as the rescue taking place.  

The attention to detail and the narrative in the displays was amazing. 

The attention to detail and the narrative in the displays was amazing. 

Loved the slam dunk in this vignette. 

Loved the slam dunk in this vignette. 

This maze had the smallest people I have ever seen in a model.  I couldn't help but wonder if the designers of this model making a statement about modern life? 

This maze had the smallest people I have ever seen in a model.  I couldn't help but wonder if the designers of this model making a statement about modern life? 

SUPERTRAIN History (from website)

SUPERTRAIN is presented by the Calgary Model Railway Society (CMRS). CMRS has almost 400 members from Calgary and area who share an interest in the hobby of Model Railroading, and a desire to showcase the hobby to the public.

Organized model railroading in Calgary goes back to 1934, when the first club, Calgary Model Trainmen, was started. CMT continues today, and over the years has spawned dozens of other groups and clubs. Throughout the years the various clubs held their own shows and exhibits. In 1994, several of these clubs decided to work together to put on a major Model Railroad Show for the public.

The first model train show to use the name SUPERTRAIN was held in March 1995 at Mewata Armouries, featuring 28 displays and exhibits. By 1999, SUPERTRAIN had outgrown Mewata, and a new venue in the Big Four Building at the Stampede Grounds became home for the show. By this time, SUPERTRAIN had become an annual event on Family Day Weekend, and as many as 14,000 people attended over the two day show.

Today SUPERTRAIN has become Canada's biggest and best annual train show. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Calgary Model Railway Society.

Visit them at www.calgarymodelrailway.ca

Last Word 

SUPERTRAIN is just one of many fun festivals and events that happen almost continuously in larger cities.  In just the past week, alone film buffs got to enjoy CUFF (Calgary Underground Film Festival), pet lovers had Calgary Pet Expo and train fanatics had the SUPERTRAIN.

Later this week, 100,000 costume lovers will invade Stampede Park for Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo (April 27 to 30), as well as the colourful and playful Parade of Wonders happens on Friday, April 28th from Eau Claire to Olympic Plaza. And the Calgary Horticultural Society's Garden Show happens at Spruce Meadows this weekend. 

Gotta love the quirkiness of urban living!

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