Make way for some movement

Our efforts in January have been concentrated on completing our financial model, our business plan, and investor pitch.

We are now we are ready to present to potential investors. In the process we have added further detail to our two completed exhibits as seen above with our Gardiner Expressway filled with vehicles.


Animation and movement at OHML

While Our Home and Miniature Land takes model railroading to a new level, it’s a lot more than that. Add in the constant motion of moving vehicles and spectacular animation, and the exhibits literally come to life. Some 200 vehicles are in the process of being converted from static models to electronically-controlled/battery-powered cars, vans, buses, firetrucks, and even 18-wheeler transports. Each one requires meticulous work – dis-assembly, replacing the front axle, wiring in motorized lights, mounting the motor, installing the control system. A single firetruck might require up to 80 hours of work! What’s more, three copies of each vehicle may be needed: one runs on the layout, a second gets charged, and a third is in for repairs or modifications. That means 200 vehicles really means 600.

The animation side involves any moving thing that isn’t a train or vehicle. For example, hockey players in the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre actually ‘skate’ courtesy of mechanical linkages. Likewise, a garbage truck picks up and lowers a garbage bin, and construction cranes are busy ‘building’ high-rises. The intent is to have 10-20 points of interest in each exhibit, some of them animated. It is important to note that this is achieved with a great deal of collaboration among team members.

“We want to engage visitors and provide them with an immersive experience which will ultimately be a cross-Canada journey,” says Norman Carr, who along with James Steel does most of this precision-like work. “We are doing our job if the visitors leave and say ‘Wow!’”


Canada then: 1916 fire destroys Centre Block

On the night of February 3, 1916, a fire began in the Commons Reading Room of the Centre Block of Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings. Canada was in the midst of the Great War (World War I) and Prime Minister Robert Borden, along with his Cabinet, decided to meet at the nearby Chateau Laurier. Borden himself had to flee the building into the winter night without his coat and hat, and Martin Burrell, Minister of Agriculture, suffered burns to his hands and face. By the morning of February 4 the Centre Block was in ruins, but the Library and all its books survived due to the librarian and clerk. The librarian had convinced the architect who designed the Centre Block to use iron fire doors at the entrance to the Library while the clerk ensured the doors were shut before the evacuation. Still, seven people died in the fire.

The Victoria Memorial Museum, now home of the Canadian Museum of Nature, was a temporary parliament building during reconstruction. Almost four years to the day later – on February 6, 1920 – the new Centre Block opened. It was larger and one storey higher than the original. The interior walls were built with limestone and the floors made of marble. Not wood. An official inquiry offered no conclusion as to what started the fire, but speculation persisted that it was arson, possibly by a German saboteur.


Personal Profile – Norman Carr

Norman Carr’s official title at Our Home and Miniature Land is Vehicle Development Team Leader which means he sources all suitable vehicles for the exhibits. Unofficially he’s known as Q – the character from James Bond films. He is the one responsible for commercially available diecast models, plastic models and scratchbuilt models, and he has to do them in a scale of 1:87.

Years ago Norman visited Miniature Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany and he has long had an affinity for building very small vehicles, streetcars and model railways. When Our Home and Miniature Land was looking for modellers, he replied. He initially got hooked on making model aircraft at the tender age of seven, and then graduated to models of wooden boats and after that came trains. The skills he developed were further attuned with the technical expertise he picked up in his career at Ontario Hydro where he was involved in instrumentation and control at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and later in technology-based training. He also continued to do graphic arts on his own.

Norman enjoys card modelling, model railways, and tramway modelling, along with collecting die cast cars. His favourite book is Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and not surprisingly, his favourite movie is a James Bond flick – Dr. No.

Jacqueline Wong