You know, sometimes you walk into a place and you think, "tourist trap"? It wasn’t; in fact, it was charming. The attention to detail, the skill and the imagination kept assaulting us. It wasn’t just that the dioramas in miniature existed, it is admiration for the modellers who created them. And, of course, it’s fun.
Upon entry, there are a number of war scenes…Canadians taking Caen in 1944, the Battle of Saratoga (1777) and the Battle of Bull Run…but then the really interesting displays begin. Follow the Great Canadian Railway on its journey from Vancouver in 1885 through the Rockies, past the scene of the driving of the last spike and on to the Red River and soldiers marching against Louis Riel. The train takes you through Toronto and past Quebec City to a fishing port in the Maritimes.
Another series of dioramas features the American West including a model of Custer’s last stand with a whirl of Indians surrounding the doomed soldiers. Lest you think that much of this is beginning to sound all a little bloody, we pass to flights of whimsy…Santa’s Workshop, the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, Gulliver in Lilliput, the dwarf’s diamond mine and Tatiana’s castle. There are a number of scenes from different Dickensian novels, a group of complex dollhouses and then it’s on to 17th and 20th century London.
Perhaps the best is saved for last…the circus displays. From the Florida winter quarters we travel to a city to see the circus train unload and side-by-side we find the big top, a fair and a rodeo. The detail in this last display is absolutely staggering. There are dozens of moving parts, and only the closest examination will reveal them all. Tourist trap? Not at all, a visit to a beautifully crafted miniature world.