We Canadians usually think of ourselves as living in an expansive country, second only to Russia, at least in terms of geography. So what would Little Canada have to offer us? Plenty.
Last Friday Peter and I ventured on the subway to the 2-month-old exhibition housed at Dundas Square, the brain child of Belgian businessman Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer. Referred to as a Model Citizen, Brenninkmeijer came to Canada as an immigrant and fell in love with his new country. He spent about 10 years and over 24 million dollars recreating his dream home – in miniature. His goal was to “evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity about Canada.”
The first section of the display is a reproduction of Niagara Falls. The falls and the Niagara River are created through the use of lighting, and the river flows at high speeds, steering a tiny Maid Of the Mist downstream to the dock where miniature passengers are waiting to board. We are so entranced that it takes us a while to notice the tiny spider on the top deck. In the background are small versions of iconic Niagara Falls buildings: the casino, the hotels and bars, and the ferris wheel on Clifton Hill. Buses, taxis and cars make their way along the streets, and passengers line up for rides. Soon the sun must be going down because it’s now night time at the Falls. Street lights and signage all become illuminated.
It’s hard to stop looking; there are so many tiny details to take in. We wander along past the floral clock, Brock’s monument, and the little town of Niagara-On-the-Lake. Then we come to the vinyards where miniature people are sitting at tables enjoying a glass of red, and a couple of tiny but rowdy kids are stomping on grapes in a tiny barrel.
Next on our journey we arrive at the towns of the GTA. In this part of the model country, fall has arrived and the trees are all decked out in leaves of brilliant oranges and reds. We explore Stratford with a miniature Festival Theatre in the middle of a performance, and Kitchener hosting an Octoberfest parade. We come across a Tim Horton’s outlet, with a small plaque explaining that this represents the very first Tim’s, built in 1964 in Hamilton. These plaques appear throughout the display, giving us added facts and details.
Then we make our way downstairs to the next display – Toronto. We begin at a TTC office building, with a space ship on the roof. Clearly Brenninkmeijer has a sense of humour! All the landmarks are here too: the CN Tower with its outdoor elevator and changing illumination, Union Station surrounded by taxis and buses and a GO train rumbling past in the background. We take in the Rogers Centre where the Blue Jays song plays every few minutes and the tiny jumbotron shows José Bautista hitting a home run. And to make the scene truly realistic, there are traffic jams at every intersection.
In yet another room we visit Ottawa. The Parliament Buildings are the highlight, and every 15 minutes a Canada Day celebration is held, with Oh Canada playing, tiny people waving flags and clapping, and a spectacularly small fireworks display at the end.
In Ottawa we also see the Rideau Canal, a beautiful tulip garden in bloom, and the Chateau Laurier Hotel. Peter becomes agitated. “That’s where we had our first dance!” he reminds me, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear. A guide rushes over with an idea: why don’t we have our picture taken in a dance pose, and then artists will create a miniature version of us dancing, which can be placed in the display?
Of course there is a cost for the “little-izing” service. But the idea is intriguing. We can be immortalized in this display! So, when you decide to visit this amazing exhibition, look for the piano at the Chateau Laurier Hotel and you just might see us, in miniature of course.
5 thoughts on “Little Canada”
What a cute story Sue, quite sentimental and unique. M.
Sent from my iPhone
This looks fabulous. If we were only there to see it. Fun to see the photos with it too.
Hope you and Pietro had a great Thanksgiving.
Love, Judy xoxoox
Well done Sue, thanks for this Tuesday blog.