Out and About

“When I am grown to a man’s estate,
I shall be very proud and great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.” -Robert Louis Stevenson: A Child’s Garden of Verses

Mr. Stevenson, it would seem, certainly knew a thing or two about children and their attachment to toys — an attachment which, for many, never really goes away.

Don’t believe me? Just think for a moment of your favorite childhood toy (or toys). I’d bet good money it would take mere for an image to spring to mind. Maybe it was a favourite teddy bear, a much worn rocking horse… perhaps a set of paint-chipped tin soldiers? Chances are some of you may have held on to a cherished childhood toy. Sitting on my bed is not only the teddy my mother gave me when I was born, but her own rather ragged teddy as well — a combined “teddy age” of nearly 200 years!

A highlight of the year for toy fans is the Toronto Toy Show (April 19, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m). Now in its 15th year, this is the premier classic toy event in Canada for both the serious collector and the browser in search of a little nostalgia. Antiquend collectible toys on display include wind ups, dolls, teddy bears, board games, books and wooden boats. And you’ll no doubt remember some of the famous brand names, including Dinky, Matchbox, Meccano, Lionel and — a real pull for your granddaughters — the ubiquitous Barbie doll in all her many incarnations.

Admission to the show is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $3 for youths aged 6-16 (kids under 6 admitted free). Location: International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd., Mississauga. For more information call (905) 945-2775.

On Friday, April 17, at 5 p.m., a “mini toy meet” (admission $5) will give collectors a chance to share their knowledge and trade tales from the trenches, as well as add to their collections. The informal gathering attracts upwards of 150 enthusiasts from around the world — for a small fee, you can also rent a table and sell some of your own items.

Two toy auctions are also scheduled: April 17, at 7 p.m. (preview at 5.30 p.m.); and Saturday April 18 at 10 a.m. (preview at 8 a.m.). Both will be held at the Howard Johnson’s Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel, 600 Dixon Rd.

Footnote: Some of Canada’s finest museum’s contain exhibits of toys illustrating social history, folk art, or innovative technological advances. One of the most interesting is the Percy Band collection on permanent exhibition at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. Also in Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum features toys in a number of its collections: Greek/Roman, Egyptian, European, Canadian, as well as their fine toy soldier collection of almost 1,000 pieces donated by Hal Jackman, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Allllll aboard!
Model railway enthusiasts also have much to look forward to this spring. Topping the list is the Great British Train Show (April 25 – 26), showcasing model railways and memorabilia from the country whence it all began. Numerous dealers specializing in British railway products — from the golden age of steam to modern times — exhibit their wares, and static displays and operating layouts will certainly enhance the experience. The event, sponsored by the Platelayers Society, is being held at the Jim Archdekin Recreation Centre, 292 Conestoga Dr., Brampton, Ont. Admission: $4 ($2 for seniors and children). For further details, call (905) 458-8967. Other model railway events to check out include the Lindsay Model Railway Show (April 4/5) — phone (705) 887-5892; and the Midland Model Railway Show (May 23/24) — phone (705) 526-2697.

Speaking of railways, you might want to check out Hamilton’s Museum of Steam and Technology. Until May 3, the museum is hosting a fascinating exhibition of model locomotives of all kinds, as well as artifacts and stories about the men and women who worked on the railway. While you’re there, be sure to check out the museums two Canadian-made 70-ton steam engines, the oldest surviving examples in the country. The museum, housed in Hamilton’s 1859 Waterworks Pumping Station, is located at 900 Woodward Ave. For further information, call (905) 546-4797.