A Bit of History
Hedley Junction was once a major railway interchange between Quebec & Lake St. John Railway (future Canadian National Railway St. Raymond Subdivision) and Quebec Railway Light & Power Co. (future CNR Murray Bay subdivision) before a swing bridge was built on St. Charles River to get to Quebec City Harbour in 1890. At this very junction was the original QRL&P Hedleyville station welcoming pilgrims going to famous St. Anne de Beaupré Basilica.
Credits: Livernois, Train wreck at Hedleyville circa 1890, banq.qc.ca (2010)
On the following years, an important yard named Limoilou grew north to the junction. On the northern side of this very yard, on Canardière Road, was former Q&LSJ passenger station known as Lairet Station. The wood building, converted in a restaurant then in a pawn shop, survived until summer 2007. In 1919, Quebec Bridge was inaugurated and the Transcontinental Railway (future CNR Bridge Subdivision) linked for the first time Quebec City to South Shore and New England's railway network, ending an economic isolation going back to 1856.
The Old Layout
This layout replace the first club layout depicting the Bassin Louise (the harbour located on St. Charles River south shore) as it could be seen in the mid-50’s with its iconic Bunge Grain Elevator. It was completely torn down over the last months.
The original layout was U shaped with a swing bridge connecting both legs. First built in my grandfather’s basement; we moved it in one of our member’s own basement after humidity and temperature issues. However, the new room configuration wasn’t very forgiving and we had to knock down a drywall in the laundry room to maximize the space. Over 3 years, this layout quickly expanded in the adjacent room where Hedley yard and its roundhouse were first built. Finally, like a cancer in terminal phase, another extension spread into the garage through a 10 feet long amovible bridge. At this point, operation was at best an aimless nightmare. After many attempts to rationalize the trackage, we decided to start from scratch with a new shelf layout duplicating the possibilities around Hedley yard.
The New Layout
The actual shelf layout in HO scale is set in September 1957, according to an Underwriters Insurance plan issued that same month and year. Using different era-related rolling stock, it can easily be backdated to the 1930’s or operated until the early 1970's, since the area suffered from little changes during this era. Most of the buildings will be replicated full-size in styrene.
The new layout was completely designed according to the real prototype. As faithful as it can be with space available, it retains all the prototypical industrial trackage with a simplified version of the yard. We used Lance Mindheim’s design principles as a guideline and are largely indebted to him, even if he’s not aware of it! No wonder his work inspires many model railroaders all over North America and overseas.
Originally located outside the old city limits, north to St. Charles River, Hedley Junction finally became part of the downtown itself few decades later. The original trackage was built by visionnary railway contractor Horace Jansen Beemer (1845-1912), one of the best railroader of La Belle Province in the 19th century and sadly the most forgotten too. He developed the north shore railway network between Ottawa and Quebec City, including Laurentides and Lake St. John.