Model railroaders from Port Alberni honoured for rail preservation

Ken Rutherford and Rick Lord put on annual model railroad meet in Nanaimo for 35 years

Ken Rutherford, left, and Rick Lord of Port Alberni receive honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)

Ken Rutherford, left, and Rick Lord of Port Alberni receive honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)

BY DAVID HOOPER

Special to the News

A pair of Port Alberni model railroaders have been honoured for their dedication to their craft over the past 35 years.

Ken Rutherford and Rick Lord, both members of the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society (IHS), organized and hosted the biggest model railroad show north of Victoria. The first Mid-Island Model Railway Meet happened in 1985 at Beban Park in Nanaimo. Over the years the meet evolved into an event with something for everyone: from serious modelers to rail fans young and old.

Several Vancouver Island modeling clubs set up elaborate layouts, with all manner of trains moving up and down. Dealers came from Vancouver and Victoria to sell model locomotives, track, railcars and accessories. As well there were books, magazines and artwork as well as a lot of rail memorabilia.

After so many years the shows worked like a well-oiled machine. “My girls grew up with the annual show,” Lord recalled. “As they matured, they took on the front desk with ticket sales and raffles.”

Rutherford and Lord always offered a table to the IHS to promote the Alberni Pacific Railway steam train operation. It was the ideal venue for promoting the steam experience available in Port Alberni: more than 1,000 visitors used to attend the model railway meet every year.

Profits from the annual meet were put back into rail-oriented projects, such as restoration of the Two-Spot—the first steam locomotive to work in the forests of the Alberni Valley—to the No. 7, Canfor No. 112 and the 1909 CN caboose.

Both Rutherford and Lord were also conductors on the APR steam train and served on the IHS board of directors starting in the 1980s.

Although the duo has not been able to put on the meet for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, their 40-year contribution to the preservation and presentation of railroad artifacts and history was recognized virtually at the annual meeting of the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region.

It was a surprise presentation and the first time for the heritage award. Each man received a framed print of a steam locomotive with a plaque included.

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Ken Rutherford of Port Alberni receives honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)

Ken Rutherford of Port Alberni receives honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)

Rick Lord of Port Alberni receives honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)

Rick Lord of Port Alberni receives honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)