May 4, 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 for Steam on the Prairies.

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

On Friday there'll be a chartered bus excursion to Portage la Prairie, which has been 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, there's 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 Bill Taylor's The Assiniboine Valley Railway. After a delicious meal, we'll enjoy riding the AVR's 1:8 scale trains well past sunset. The AVR has no less than 3 live steam engines in its roster of locomotives.

On Saturday morning we'll have clinics. Our special guest, Ken Goslett, Contributing Editor of Railroad Model Craftsman, will be presenting a clinic on Forty-Five Years of Change, Canadian Railways since the end of steam.

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. 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.

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

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