While our historical buildings are not open this Christmas we do have some special window displays for you.
First up is our display of a miniature train. Model trains have long been associated with Christmas, partly because they were such a highly anticipated Christmas gift. Here at Westfield our model train enthusiasts have been putting on model train displays in our Hardware Store. Our set up is using the once popular American Flyer models. Although best remembered for the S gauge trains of the 1950s, American Flyer was initially an independent company whose origins date back nearly a half century earlier. In 1906 William Frederick Hafner began making clockwork toy trains that were available through catalogue outlets like Montgomery Ward Department Store.
The first electric American Flyer was introduced in 1918. This O gauge model was simply a windup model with an electric motor. The American Flyer company did well in the 1920s selling more than a half a million trains. By the late 1930s and early 40s the trains were fairly accurate and boasted not only a chugging noise but generated smoke coming out the smokestack.
The interest in trains waned in the 1960s and the company finally filed for bankruptcy in 1967, but here at Westfield the interest in model trains and our Locomotive 103 seems stronger than ever. Ask any small boy and girl – well actually ask anyone at any age- as they take a gander through the window at the Hardware Store.
Our second window is filled with miniatures of another kind- furniture. Furniture that we most often associate with dollhouses. Did you know that dollhouses for young girls were not really toys but a teaching tool to help a girl know how to order and organize a house? The earliest known baby house, also called small house or dollhouse, was made in the mid 1500s. Beyond being a teaching tool, the small house was an emblem of status and wealth for the rich and royalty. Some of the most famous dollhouses are Queen Mary’s dollhouse at Windsor Castle and the Thorne Collection of Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago.
While dollhouses have been a child’s favourite for years the world of miniatures, dollhouses and buildings, and what is known as room boxes, have become a passion for young and old. This year at the Dry Goods Store we have captured Christmas moments in miniature including a table set with yummy Christmas treat. The attention to details is so life like. Here’s a hint- take a look at the window display on the right and then take a look at the miniature display. Do you see something familiar?
Our displays are available until January 2. As an added treat, on Sundays, Dec. 12 and 19 from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. a Westfield volunteer will have the train operating on the track and can be viewed from outside through the picture window. The General Store and Gift Shop are also open from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. Remember your mask if you are going to go inside either of the two buildings or need to visit the washroom. The cost is $15.50 per car load and you can buy your ticket for this visit when you arrive.