About Us

Who are we ?

The Canadian Toy Train Association (CTTA) is a fraternal organization of model railroaders, train collectors and operators. Our Club includes men and women from all walks of life. Many members are located in the Vancouver and lower mainland areas of BC, but we have lots of members across Canada and the United States.

Our primary focus has been the collectible O gauge, S gauge and Standard gauge model trains. But new and used model trains of all scales are found at our meets. We’re dedicated to the enjoyment of operating and collecting toy trains models of all makes and eras.

We welcome new members!

We are a non-profit, independent association registered under the British Columbia Registry Services Societies Act. We’ve been around since March, 1974 but recently changed our name and became an independent non-affiliated Canadian train club.

The Canadian Toy Train Association serves about 175 members. We hold regular monthly meetings in Burnaby, B.C. (a suburb of Vancouver) on the last Sunday of each month except July, August, and December.

The Canadian Toy Train Association publishes a member newsletter called “Canadian Flyer”  9 times a year. The Flyer contains notices of events, pictures from our meets and public appearances, and articles of interest to our membership.

Click here to meet your CTTA Executive officers

Nominations and election of the CTTA Executive takes place at the Annual General Meeting, held as part of our September club meeting every year. Our President is Mark Horne.

Mark Horne

About the Toy Trains

Most members collect ‘O’ gauge, ‘Standard’ gauge, and ‘S’ gauge trains. In the early years of the model railroading hobby, these larger sized trains were deliberately made durable and tough to ensure play value and long life. As a result, most were not true scale models, with compromised proportions to allow big trains to run on small sized layouts. Because of these compromises, they were considered more like ‘toy trains’ than the more scale-like ‘HO’ scale models, which were more popular due to their smaller size and greater attention to detail.

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Today’s toy trains – from manufactures such as Lionel, Mike’s Train House, Atlas O and Williams by Bachmann – can now feature exquisite detail, many operating features, remote control and full sound systems made with recordings from real locomotives and railroad operations. Collectors and operators now enjoy ‘toy trains’ that are almost 100% accurate to scale, other than the oversized wheel flanges and couplers needed for smooth hobby operation.

Our members run and collect everything – from the earliest lithographed tinplate of Marx & Hornby from the early 1900’s, through the ‘Golden Years’ of Lionel, K-Line, Marx, A.C. Gilbert & American Flyer trains of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, to the most recently released modern electronic marvels and scale models from Lionel, M.T.H., Atlas O, Weaver and others.

What does the CTTA do?

Since “Toy Train” is part of our name, members enjoy getting together whenever possible to ‘play trains’. Operating and collecting model trains is our #1 priority!

In addition to buying, selling and discussing toy trains at our meetings, the Canadian Toy Train Association has one Modular Layout with model trains which travels to public train shows in the Greater Vancouver area, and a second Modular Layout making public appearances around Victoria and southern Vancouver Island.


CTTA Island Group at the Esquimalt Sports Centre for Buccaneer Days, 2013

Members can bring their personal trains to run on the CTTA layouts.

The CTTA participates by invitation at employee and family events of Canadian railroads, such as CN Family Day.

We coordinate one or more full-day bus trips every year to major train shows in Washington State. This usually includes layout tours and a group meal. We participate in other train shows and layout tours in BC and WA whenever possible.

We promote the hobby though friendship and comradery. Several members have layouts in their homes that they share on special operating nights throughout the year.

We participate in Social Media through our Facebook Group Web page, where members can post pictures and comments of their own. On our YouTube Channel, we publish videos of members’ model trains in action on their layouts, and compile playlists of other videos related to our interests.

The Canadian Toy Train Association offers wonderful opportunities to share your collection with other members, and at the same time to expand it through train shows, auctions, swap meets, CTTA meets and conventions.

CTTA Nanaimo Train Meet & COOTTS group

Once a quarter, usually the first Sunday in March, June, September and December,  CTTA hosts a train meet in Nanaimo on Central Vancouver Island.  The meet attracts enthusiasts from Victoria, Campbell River, Port Alberni and all places is between.  Occasionally, we even get members from Vancouver.  Known locally as the old COOTTS (Collectors Of Old Toy Trains) meets,  they consist of table sales, auctions, show and tell talks and annual raffles. These meets are open to all members of the public.

Club Car program

To add to our operating enjoyment and enhance our collections, we commission leading manufacturers to produce for us unique and very collectible Club Cars based on Canadian Railroad prototypes. We’ve produced a series of woodside reefers from Atlas O, a series of tank cars from Atlas O, a K-Line caboose, a series of Trailer-on-Flatcars from Weaver, a set of Budd RDC cars from Sunset Models and most recently a caboose and reefer from MTH. Pictured below is a recent example of one of our TOFC series cars.

2013 Weaver Pacific Great Eastern flat with British American Oil Trailer

These limited runs of Club Cars are made available for sale from time to time through Hobby Shops, Toy Trains magazines and by direct order from CTTA. As a member, you have a guaranteed opportunity to purchase these exclusive model trains, before they are made available through public channels.


About ‘scale’ and ‘gauge’

What exactly is ‘scale’ ? SCALE is the size relationship of a model to the real world.

Scale & gauge

What exactly is ‘gauge’ ? Gauge is the distance between the running rails of train track. Scales listed below are based on a real-life gauge of 4 foot 8 inches.

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Hobbyists and the model train industry frequently mix the terms together.

Our club ‘lingo’ generally means ‘O’ gauge to be inclusive of smaller O-27 Lionel to true 1:48 scale, which most American based manufacturers use today. O-27 refers to ‘O’ gauge trains that were designed to run on the smallest possible circle of 3-rail track, 27 inches in diameter.

True ‘O’ scale is 1:43.5. This is most often used for ‘premium’ O Scale locomotives and engines in 3-rail ‘O’ gauge, and is always used for 2 rail scale equipment. British ‘O’ gauge manufacturers usually use the correct ratio, 1:43 scale.

Standard gauge is rails 2 1⁄8 in apart, with trains in proportion from 1:22.5 to 1:29 to 1:32 scale.

‘S’ gauge is 1:64 scale.

The most common scale being ‘HO’ (Half-O), which is 1:87.

You can learn more about the different scales and gauges by visiting these Web pages: