O’LEARY -- As a child growing up in Summerside, Rev. Ewen Moase would sneak off to the rail yard to watch the trains shunting around the yard. The errant piece of coal he brought home became his mother’s clue as to where he had been.
When he was six his father purchased for him a Hornby-Triang train set, and so began a lifelong interest in trains and module trains.
“We put it on a piece of plywood, and I was hooked. Wore the thing out,” he recalled with a grin.
“I built my first layout when I was eight. Don’t ask me how many layouts I built sense.”
The O’Leary United Church minister, along with Sally Betts are the organizers of a Christmas Wonderland day to be held at the O’Leary Christian Education Centre (CEC) on Saturday, December 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and featuring the UMG Module Train Group. Moase is a member of the group.
Model train enthusiasts Moase said, come from every walk of life. He is expecting at least six members of the group to attend with their modules. They will build an L, U-shaped layout in the CEC over 40 feet in length. The whole layout will be operational, complete with buildings and rail yards.
Local businesses will be decorating Christmas trees for the special event and spectators will have an opportunity to vote for their favourite tree. There will also be a Christmas bake sale, and anyone who brings a food item for the West Prince Caring Cupboard will be invited to decorate a gingerbread man in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen.
As well, Don’s HO Service in Moncton and Maritime Hobbies and Crafts in Halifax have each donated a train set, which can be claimed through a silent auction.
There will also be door prizes and free hot chocolate.
“These guys like to run their trains. It’s a hobby for them,” Moase said in explaining while members of the UMG Module Train Group are coming to O’Leary to put on a show.
It is also an opportunity to promote their hobby to others.
“The hobby’s great in the sense you can do it on your own, you can be a carpenter, electrician, model-builder, whatever. It operates like a real railway,” he said.
“It’s always under construction,” Moase said of his own 12 by 17 foot 1960s circa Canadian Pacific layout. “The beauty of it is you can work at it and if you get tired of it you can leave it and come back to it. It is for me a great stress-reliever. It’s fun. I pick away at it.”
“I’ve made friends worldwide with it,” he adds.
Christmas Wonderland is a fundraising event for the O’Leary United Church.