little canada
July 19, 2021 8:01 PM   Subscribe

While other billionaires seek to leave the mess they made back on Earth by riding on space fantasies, Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer escapes in miniature: a $24-million miniature Canada in HO scale.
posted by jjray (39 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can’t lie, given untold wealth, building a scale model of the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area train lines (Japan Rail, the metro, all private lines, too) is exactly what I would do, but in N-gauge, not HO. HO has always looked cartoonish to me, and even from a distance, the scale figures of people look fake.

It would be a glorious 3D model, with the subway system (and underground highways) built to proper scale. Even at N gauge, I think I’d need more space than Tokyo Dome. Every time I get the chance, I stop by hobby shops and just dream of the Sobu Line trundling past Ryogoku with little scale Sumo banners flying around the Kokugikan, or the Shinkansen gliding smoothly out of Tokyo Station.

Of course, the Mori Building company is already making a scale model of Tokyo, but as far as I can tell, it’s just so they can show how much of the good stuff the city had before they bulldozed it for playgrounds for the wealthy.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:15 PM on July 19 [13 favorites]


In 2013, they incorporated a company called Our Home and Miniature Land.

O Canada...
posted by subdee at 8:16 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


“They thought I was mad,” he says.
posted by Hypatia at 8:21 PM on July 19 [4 favorites]


HO huh? Couldn't have done it in eh scale?
posted by 7segment at 8:25 PM on July 19 [8 favorites]


the Sobu Line trundling past Ryogoku with little scale Sumo banners flying around the Kokugikan, or the Shinkansen gliding smoothly out of Tokyo Station.

I humbly beseech that your Tokyo microverse's Japanese train stations retain the custom jingles at each stop. Frickin love me some Yamanote train line tunes.

I also think these wacko projects are absolutely fantastic uses of vast sums of wealth.
posted by room9 at 8:27 PM on July 19 [7 favorites]


instead of Poppins it could feature Bobby Orr flying through the air.
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:05 PM on July 19 [1 favorite]


room9, considering just how much money I’d need to do this (a single 10-car Yamanote Line train set costs ¥24000/$225), I’m pretty sure little we could squeeze speakers playing door closing music for all the stops somewhere into that budget.

(It is pretty awesome how many stops have special music: Kaihimmakuhari on the Keiyo line, the closest stop to the Chiba Lotte Marines stadium plays the team song, while of course, Maihama in front of Tokyo Disneyland plays Disney music.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:28 PM on July 19


Not all rich people are terrible. I can get into this kind of nationalistic pride.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:50 PM on July 19


It's unclear if the miniature representation of Toronto will include an HO-scale Yonge-Dundas Square. If so, I hope to peer through the windows of 10 Dundas East and... wait, no. That way lies madness.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:07 PM on July 19 [6 favorites]


I love a gigantic scale model and so does every child I've ever met.

The City of Sydney Council has a pair of models of itself at 1:500 scale open to public view. That scale, not coincidentally, is the required scale for architectural models required for development application submission. Applicants show their building, and if it gets the OK, they get to build it, and the miniature goes in at the same time. It's a brilliant system.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:04 PM on July 19 [11 favorites]


I approve of this billionaire's project. It would be icing on the cake if the admission fee to see it were free, or at most a pittance.
posted by zardoz at 11:40 PM on July 19


I know it's Canada, but doesn't everything look ridiculously clean in that model? One of the things I like about this model of my North-East London neighbourhood is that it includes all the graffiti and genial chaos of actual life in a big city. I've even managed to track down a few of the real-life graffiti pieces the model reproduces.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:55 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]


> When he found himself unexpectedly unemployed at age 50, Mimi suggested he dig out the model trains he’d been lugging around since they met.

Happy husband, happy life.
posted by haemanu at 1:40 AM on July 20


I can't tell you how distressing it is to see those blorpy towers in Mississauga next to the Jays stadium. I had to spend a moment un-gaslighting myself.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:33 AM on July 20 [4 favorites]


Jorge Luis Borges has something to say On Exactitude in Science about the map becoming the size of the territory.
posted by BobTheScientist at 4:35 AM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Interesting that the firm is headquartered in Belgium. I would have assumed the Netherlands.
posted by BWA at 5:06 AM on July 20


I really dig this. It's simultaneously ambitious and humble. It's the kind of grand project that only someone with obscene amounts of wealth could attempt and yet it's scope is literally miniature in scale. He could be using his immense wealth and power to reshape the landscape as he sees fit, but instead he's building a toy facsimile of it in his basement. So many billionaires would instead treat the world as their toy instead of making a toy world for people to enjoy.

If I ever get obscene amounts of wealth, this is exactly the kind of thing I'd do with the generous sums I keep for myself after donating most of it to food banks.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:14 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


Describing a model of Toronto as Little Canada is so Toronto.
posted by oulipian at 5:35 AM on July 20 [17 favorites]


Toronto already has a scale model of downtown Toronto in the lobby of Toronto City Hall.
Not as odd or as detailed as Little Canada.
posted by ovvl at 5:52 AM on July 20


This is pretty neat but as someone who has dabbled in model trains and also goes to Canada a lot I am not looking forward to approximately 75,000 people sending me this link over the coming weeks.
posted by bondcliff at 7:15 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


@oulipian I was thinking the same thing at first, but there is a bit more than Toronto already, and plans for more "Canada" to come.

From the article: "This tiny world, which Brenninkmeijer calls Little Canada, currently features astoundingly accurate renditions of Toronto, Ottawa, Niagara, the Golden Horseshoe and Quebec City. Over the next several years, it will grow to include Montreal, the Prairies, the Rockies and both coasts, as well as a temperature-controlled Little North"

Honestly though, I've lived in Montreal for a good number of years and I still often get homesick for Toronto - watching the video at the end of the article made me very happy.
posted by Laura in Canada at 7:25 AM on July 20


Rich people gonna rich.
posted by signal at 7:27 AM on July 20


Jorge Luis Borges has something to say On Exactitude in Science about the map becoming the size of the territory.

There is a non-zero chance that I currently live in a 1:1 scale model of Canada.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:56 AM on July 20 [6 favorites]


It is pretty cool, I'm not really complaining. It's just that from the perspective of someone living in St. John's, Newfoundland, the noncommittal ambiguity of the phrase "both coasts" (and the fact that they seem to have started with Toronto, Ottawa and ...Hamilton?) is not much reassurance that their Little Canada will include any landscapes I've lived in.
posted by oulipian at 9:45 AM on July 20 [2 favorites]


If they don't do Moose Jaw, I will be very disappointed.
posted by clawsoon at 10:57 AM on July 20


If they made a whole Canada at H0 scale it would be 60 kilometres across.
posted by RobotHero at 10:58 AM on July 20 [4 favorites]


If they made a whole Canada at H0 scale it would be 60 kilometres across.

More, actually. HO scale is 1:87, and Canada is 5780 miles across, so HO scale Canada would be 66.4 miles across.
posted by mightygodking at 1:20 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


I may have swapped km and miles somewhere in there. The Canadian way.
posted by RobotHero at 3:29 PM on July 20


I'm bewildered-- why is this billionaire luxury welcome at Mefi, but those rocket hops aren't?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:14 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


HO Canada…
posted by adamrice at 6:50 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


More, actually. HO scale is 1:87, and Canada is 5780 miles across, so HO scale Canada would be 66.4 miles across.

Another solid argument for the sensible and aesthetic superiority of N gauge.

As far as this being better received than billionaires going to “space,” one, I imagine that someone taking their excessive generational wealth and engaging in a hobby that (as shown by the comments, mine included) a good number of people fondly dream of being able to do, and two, I have yet to hear anything about how this family being horrifically exploitative assholes forcing their employees to piss in bottles to satisfy an in house efficiency make.

Aside from all of that, the article mentions that he’s employing a shit ton of people, model makers and fabricators to build this. I’ll never have the wealth to build my dream of a train model of greater Tokyo, but I’d jump at the chance if offered a job building one.

Yes, every billionaire is a failure of policy, and I don’t love the fact that generational wealth of this kind and degree exists, but I guess at least I’m glad he’s spending his wealth on this and not stocking an island with humans to kill for sport.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:39 PM on July 20 [3 favorites]


I'm bewildered-- why is this billionaire luxury welcome at Mefi, but those rocket hops aren't?

Personally, I see this as a rich person spending money on a normal hobby. Sure, it’s still exorbitant amounts of money but it’ll be a museum so normal people can enjoy it, it does far less environmental damage, and they’re clear that they’re really just doing this because they enjoy it.

Plus they created all of this themselves. The space billionaires are using others work for their gain. And these guys are also not pretending to further humanity or some bullshit like that.
posted by shahzebasif at 8:59 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]


the lack of hubris in this is extremely refreshing, compared to the standard list of things ultra-rich people do.
posted by sagc at 9:47 PM on July 20


I'm bewildered-- why is this billionaire luxury welcome at Mefi, but those rocket hops aren't?

a) The dude likes model trains. Model trains make people happy.

b) Model railroading is down to earth and mostly harmless. It's a basement layout and like most model railroaders he wants to share what he made with other people.

c) Even though it's an unusually large basement layout and some of those trains may enter tunnels, that hardly compares with Bezos' trip in the most penis-shaped rocket ever.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:29 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Lots of little details to delight and astound, but the one that got me in the video at the bottom of the article? Using small video displays to mimic the doors closing on a UP Express train before it leaves the station.
posted by chrominance at 9:56 AM on July 21


There is a non-zero chance that I currently live in a 1:1 scale model of Canada.

When we visited The Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA, they had a side exhibit of photos and documentation of 1:1 model railroads in America. I thought it was genius.
posted by ovvl at 4:49 PM on July 21


You don't have to be a billionaire to have a serious commitment to model railroading you can be like Rod Stewart who has been working on his model for 23 years or even the list of celebrity model railroad enthusiasts.
posted by jadepearl at 8:33 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


People are still doing tilt-shift?
posted by bendy at 9:38 PM on July 21


Miniatur-Wunderland does contain a tiny, working model railway in the correct building in it's depiction of Hamburg's docklands. I couldn't make out if it contained yet another, tinier replica inside.

I was there in 2019. I wonder if the contributors there have spent all lockdown adding to their busy, tiny world, the busyness but a distant memory at the time?
posted by Harald74 at 3:39 AM on July 23


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