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Port Haney diorama models history

Presentation featuring old photos of 224th Street in Maple Ridge on Thursday.
Simister’s Bakery and Leggatt’s Pool Hall

When new photographs of a building in old Port Haney arrives at the Maple Ridge Museum, model builders get excited.

Members of the Dewdney Alouette Railway Society have been working to perfect their landscape features on the railway diorama on the lower floor of the museum since it opened to the public.

On Thursday, railroader Daryl Birtch will present his PowerPoint show featuring the Simister Bakery building as it looked in 1926.

Both the bakery and the pool hall next to it stood on the east side of 8th Avenue (224th Street) downhill from Haney House.

Model makers were delighted to have the use of three Simister Bakery photos, each from a different angle.  This made estimations of size and proportions for the building relatively easy.

The method is to create a cardboard model of the structure to see how it fits onto the existing street scene on the diorama.

If you have not visited the Maple Ridge Museum lately, you will be surprised by the additions and changes to the model town, with CPR trains rolling past on double tracks.

The next stage is the creation of the final model, which is then painted and lit, a new feature for buildings on the diorama.

You may well ask how to know what colours to use based on a black and white photo.

Birtch has access to a computer program that translates varied grey scale tones to estimated colours.

It also helps to know that paint colour choices were comparatively limited in the 1920s and ’30s, the era of the model.

There is no problem with CPR stations, because they were all painted the same shade of maroon.

When it came to modeling the Bank of Montreal building, Birtch got permission to take a flake of paint off the present Billy Miner Pub to verify memories of its original colour scheme.

A future project to complete the diorama in this spot will be a model delivery truck to park in front of the bakery, now that there is a clear photo of the original.

Birtch expects they will combine features from perhaps two model kits to create a painted replica vehicle.

Alfred Simister opened his bakery and confectionery store in Port Haney after he moved here in 1921.

When the Fuller-Watson Department store moved uphill to the newly finished Lougheed Highway, Simister opened his new premises next door.  He unfortunately fell gravely ill in 1935, selling the business, which changed its name to the Hi-Way Bakery.

Another recent addition to the 8th Avenue street scene is the Mussallem Motors Garage, a stucco building uphill from Haney House.

• Birth’s presentation for the Maple Ridge Historical Society will be Thursday,  7:30 p.m. in St. Andrew’s Heritage Church (22279 – 116th Avenue).  Members attend free, but visitors are welcome for a $2 drop-in fee.

• For a visit to the Dewdney-Alouette Railway Society diorama with trains in action, come to the Maple Ridge Museum on Sunday afternoon, 1-4 p.m.


Sheila Nickols is past president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.