Canadian history sizes down in small scale model competition

A Winnipeg scale model builder is using his craft to showcase a large piece of Canadian history in miniature form.

Gilles Messier created a model Type B Fallout Reporting Post based on one he found near Victoria Beach, Man.

Messier’s creation is based on a cross-Canada network system of Fallout Reporting Posts, 200 of which are located in Manitoba. According to the Manitoba Historical Society, the stations were commissioned by the Canadian government during the height of the Cold War in 1962 to measure the pattern of radioactive fallout if a nuclear explosion occurred.

“After a nuclear attack, volunteers from the RCMP, from the forestry service, from the railroads, all sorts of organizations will go down into these fallout reporting posts to stay there for two weeks and report on the drift of radioactive fallout from the bombs,” Messier said. “So you could be able to tell where it was going across the country.”

Messier said his research inspired him to create a scale model of the shelter for ValourCon, an annual building competition organized by the International Plastic Modellers’ Society (IPMS) Winnipeg division.

“Everything in here is accurate,” Messier said, referring to his display. “I’ve measured these shelters myself, I’ve researched all the equipment that would have gone into them. So this is an exact representation of this forgotten piece of Cold War history.”

He said he’s also using the model to promote a full-scale fallout shelter restoration project he’s working on in Miami, Man.

Messier’s display was one of more than 150 models at the St. James Legion Saturday, marking the first ValourCon competition since the pandemic.

While ValourCon has been going on for around 20 years, the club’s president said Saturday’s event was one of the biggest yet.

“I attribute that to pent up demand,” said Jim Grant. “I guess people had nothing to do for the last four years. So they were sitting in their basements building models, and if you look at some of the work on the tables, you can see that time (was) well spent.”

Designs range from military crafts to cars, and even include newer styles influenced by anime artwork.

“Anything at all – people will build models of it, so there’s a huge variety here,” said Messier.

Visitors also had the chance to purchase models from some of the vendors.

The club operates on a volunteer basis and first started gathering in Winnipeg in 1969. It’s now one of 20 IPMS branches across Canada. Those interested in joining IPMS Winnipeg are encouraged to visit the club’s website and social media pages.

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