wTrak coming to Chalmers-Wesley on Thanksgiving weekend

Photo: Tom Stephenson

Tom Stephenson, the creator of wTrak modular wooden trains, will be setting up trains, tracks, buildings and trees for children to play with at Chalmers-Wesley United Church.

I hear the train a-comin’! wTrak is a modular train set made of wood, which can be set up on long, low, narrow tables for children to play with at their height, and it’s coming to Chalmers-Wesley United Church, 78 Rue Sainte-Ursule in the Old City, on Oct. 12 and 13.

Come and bring the kids, the grandkids, your neighbour’s kids (or just be a kid yourself) to enjoy this model train on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m on Sunday after the worship service. Of course, everyone is welcome to attend the Thanksgiving Sunday service, which begins at 11:15 a.m.

Tom Stephenson, an aeronautical engineer and train aficionado from Kenmore, Washington (USA), will be setting up wTrak for all to see and play with in the lower hall of the church. Admission is free.

Why wooden trains?

Stephenson explained, “Our boys grew up with wooden trains – a toy that most children are familiar with. My parents took our boys to model train shows, but there was little for them to see at their height and even less that could be touched.

“With wTrak, kids can reach all the way across the narrow tables [18 inches wide, 16 inches from floor to table surface] to manipulate the trains around curves, up and down grades and over bridges. Track plans include switches, turntables and inclines, offering multiple routes and options. The tables have buildings, trees and scenic features just like the grown-ups’ layouts. Because the modules can be bolted together into long runs, even T-shaped layouts, there’s plenty of room for more than one child to play at the same time without running into another child.

“An interactive train night at our church has grown each year, with our fifth year this November. We’ve been able to support a few organizations that have a focused outreach to children and families, building and donating layouts for Seattle ReCreative and Spokane’s River City Modelers. When we get home, the layout travelling with us will be donated to the Western Maine Play Museum for use regionally. Wooden trains are accessible and universal!”

Stephenson continued, “Model railroad clubs also developed a number of standards to allow modules from different members and groups to be combined into larger layouts at train shows. ‘wTrak’ was envisioned as a ‘standard’ for wooden railway modules that could also be interconnected.

“These wooden modules have been designed and shared online as a resource to others with an invitation to create and share new ones too. Imitation and adaptation are encouraged,” said Stephenson.

For more details, visit wtrak.org – All aboard! – please join us at Chalmers-Wesley on Oct. 12 or 13.