January 19, 2010

Steam on the Prairies

Love trains? Looking for a train staycation this year? Have we got a deal for you. If you want to see steam, steam and more steam, then come to Winnipeg next May for Steam on the Prairies!

The Thousand Lakes Region's 2010 convention will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba on the Memorial Day weekend, from May 28 to May 30.

On Friday we'll begin with a chartered bus excursion to Portage la Prairie, rated by Trains magazine as one of North America's 10 best railfanning locations. The tour will be guided by Morgan Turney, Editor and Publisher of Canadian Railway Modeler and Railfan Canada. The CN and CP mainlines come within a few hundred feet of each other at the Portage yards, so be sure to bring your camera and extra memory cards! We'll also visit the former CP railway station at the CP Heritage Park Museum.

As a non-rail option on Friday, we have scheduled a guided tour of Lower Fort Garry National Historic Park, a beautifully restored 1830 Hudson's Bay Company Trading Post on the banks of the Red River. It is the oldest stone fur trading post in North America.

On Friday night we'll feast at a barbecue held at Bill Taylor's The Assiniboine Valley Railway. After our delicious meal, we'll enjoy riding the AVR's 1:8 scale trains well past sunset. The AVR has no less than three live steam engines in its roster of locomotives, including a scale model of CP's famous Royal Hudson!

On Saturday morning we'll have clinics. Our special guest will be Bill Schaumburg, Editor of Railroad Model Craftsman, presenting a clinic on commuter rail lines.

After the clinics, we'll head to the Prairie Dog Central Railway! We'll tour their shops and hold a swap meet, so be sure to bring your want lists and all of your model railroading goodies that you want to sell! Then we'll ride the rails in vintage woodsided cars behind their recently restored 1882 4-4-0 steam locomotive to the towns of Gross Isle and Warren. The Prairie Dog will then take us to the Hitch 'N Post Restaurant for our annual banquet.

On Sunday morning we'll hold our annual general meeting. The afternoon and evening will be free for layout hops.

The convention will be headquartered at the suburban campus of Winnipeg's Canadian Mennonite University. Their dorm rooms are available for far less than half the price of an average hotel room. Double occupancy prices start at less than thirty dollars! A limited number of larger suites with kitchenettes are also available at extra cost. If you wish to book a room on campus, the registration form has all of the contact information listed, including an e-mail address, a fax number and a toll-free number. If guests wish to purchase reasonably priced meals, the campus cafeteria will be open.

The CN Lines SIG, the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club and the CP Station Committee of Portage La Prairie will also be attending the convention.

You can find the registration form by going to the National Model Railroad Association's web site, then following the links to TLR (1000 Lakes Region), then to Conventions.

The basic registration includes the Friday night barbecue held at the Assiniboine Valley Railway, all clinics, the excursion on the Prairie Dog Central, the banquet at the Hitch 'N Post, and the Sunday layout hops. It does not include the extra fare trip to Portage la Prairie or the non-rail tour of Lower Fort Garry National Historic Park. If you are not a NMRA member, no problem. You can buy a 6 month trial membership for $10.

I hope that you've taken advantage of at least one of the Millenium Library's offerings.

In case you haven't heard, on Wednesdays, from September to March, their Reader Services Department is hosting a lecture series featuring teachers and researchers from the University of Winnipeg. On Thursdays the library is providing a showcase for Manitoba's musicians.

Their next lecture and concert features:

Jan. 20 - Prof. Brandon Christopher, UWinnipeg English, talking about "Making Codes and Breaking Codes in Shakespeare's England"

Jan. 21 - Classically Well Balanced, by Synergy, with Ryszard Tyborowski, classical guitar and Nenad Zdjelar, jazzy doublebass

Jan. 27 - Prof. Tracey Whalen, UWinnipeg Rhetoric, Writing and Communication: "Touching Upon Nationalism: Canadian Liberal Democracy and the Oka Standoff Picture"

Jan. 28 - Red, White and Blues, with Aboriginal guitarist Billy Joe Green & Mennonite musician Sister Dorothy singing the blues

It's all free, but seating is limited. The events are from 12:10 - 12:50 PM, so bring your lunch and come early to the Carol Shields Auditorium.

The schedule is subject to change without notice. To confirm, or learn about future events call the Reader Services at 986-8386 or

Check out the Children's and Teen Programs at the Winnipeg Public Library. There's lots happening there, too.

Have a great day. How can you miss - you're in Winnipeg!

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