We finally agreed on a season for the layout. It was a crucial decision to take before printing the backdrop and starting doing scenery.
Our choice is late spring, in May, when leaves appear in their soft shade of greens. It is mainly motivated by the fact our backdrop was shot in May but also for scenic interest. Winter trees offer little foliage to hide transition between a scene or a building and the backdrop. In contrary, summer trees can really hide a lot of interesting visual spots with their dense foliage. However, early spring trees can play both roles with problem.
And personally, I must admit it is one of my favourite seasons.
Thus, the only remaining question is selecting a specific year which isn’t easy to answer. But this is primordial to focus when building the freight car roster. Here are some thoughts collected over the last years, proof that selecting an era wasn't a trivial process.
At least, we can identify 2 extreme dates by to events. First, we know we won’t run regular passenger trains. This means our era is after the regular service ended in 1976-1977 (thought special excursion trains occurred, in particular the ill-fated Tortillard in the early 80s). Second, we want to operate Dominion Textile plant at Montmorency which closed its door circa 1985-1986 (testimonies and written sources are diverging). This means the target area is somewhere between 1977-1984.
Another important fact is the rolling stock we have on hand. The most “recent” stuff to hit the rail will be the new Atlas 50’ NSC Plug Door Boxcar. The Grand Trunk ones (often seen on Murray Bay Sub during the 80s-90s and 00s) were built in 1979, CN ones were built a year later in 1980.
That means we can push forward our operating era somewhere between 1980 and 1985. I’m not that excited to choose a specific “year” or “day”. But I can confidently say the layout try to depict Class I railroading on a Eastern Canada branchline during the early 80. It also means we can run almost simultaneously - without warping history – GP9, RS18 and M420. And the most interesting fact, is that we all witnessed this era when CN was the king in Quebec City area and CP was fading away.
As you can see, the header has been changed accordingly.