The People Project: Scott Gibb

August 8, 2017

Gibb, 89, is part of the Saskatoon Railroad Modelers, a group of model railroad enthusiasts who created the miniature train exhibit at the Western Development Museum.  He said model railroads have given him a way to preserve his memories of working for CN as new technology took over.  What started out as a solitary hobby has become a social one.  Members of the group meet at the museum every Saturday morning to work on the small train or their larger setup that sometimes fills vacant galleries at the WDM.

“I was, I guess you could call it a loner because I didn’t know any other model railroaders. I found out later that a lot of them were the same thing, afraid to admit that they were model railroaders,” he said.

In 1991, a group of five men started building the exhibition. Since the tiny train took its first lap in 1992, it has made more than 433,000 trips as children push the tantalizing red button that brings it to life. On a busy week it can reach 1,000 round trips. The group calculated it has travelled more than 4,000 actual kilometers, roughly the distance from Regina to Halifax.

Gibb said model railroading has made his retirement enjoyable. He eagerly points out the weathered, wooden ledge in front of the original exhibit. The chipped surface is covered in teeth marks from children too small to see overtop. Some of the marks are 25 years old.

“We daren’t varnish it again because it will cover them all up,” he said. “Just to see them come down here, bang, bang, bang on the button to see the train start running is just heartwarming.”