A pair of model railroaders who have been sharing their hobby on the mid Island for 35 years have been honoured for their dedication to their craft.
Ken Rutherford and Rick Lord, both members of the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society, have organized and hosted the biggest model railroad show north of Victoria, with the first Mid-Island Model Railway Meet happening in 1985 at Beban Park in Nanaimo. Over the years the Nanaimo Model Railroad Show evolved into an event with something for everyone: from serious modellers to rail fans young and old.
Several Vancouver Island modelling clubs set up elaborate layouts, with all manner of trains moving up and down. Dealers came from Vancouver and Victoria to sell model locomotives, track, railcars and accessories. As well there were books, magazines and artwork as well as a lot of rail memorabilia.
“My girls grew up with the annual show,” Lord recalled.
After so many years the shows worked like a well-oiled machine. Rutherford and Lord, both from Port Alberni, always offered a table to the heritage society to promote the Alberni Pacific Railway steam train operation. It was the ideal venue for promoting the steam experience available in Port Alberni: more than 1,000 visitors used to attend the model railway meet every year.
Profits from the annual meet were put back into rail-oriented projects, such as restoration of the Two-Spot – the first steam locomotive to work in the forests of the Alberni Valley – to the No. 7, Canfor No. 112 and the 1909 CN caboose.
Both Rutherford and Lord were also conductors on the APR steam train and served on the IHS board of directors starting in the 1980s.
Although the duo has not been able to put on the meet for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, their 40-year contribution to the preservation and presentation of railroad artifacts and history was recognized virtually at the annual meeting of the National Model Railroad Association-Pacific Northwest Region.
It was a surprise presentation and the first time for the heritage award. Each man received a framed print of a steam locomotive with a plaque included.