a street shot of the model Toronto downtown

GO Transit vehicles helping Little Canada make a big impression

Miniature GO buses and trains have been spotted moving along parts of Little Canada, a new exhibit that brings some of the country’s greatest landmarks and cityscapes to life – in tiny form. Take a closer look.

Think of it as a road trip, without the car or travel restrictions.

Inside what was once a massive gym at 10 Dundas Street East is now the home of Little Canada, a tiny attraction that’s catching the eye of Torontonians in a big way.

The highly detailed and immersive miniature attraction offers a unique journey through the sights and sounds of five destinations – Little Niagara, Little Toronto, Little Golden Horseshoe, Little Ottawa, and Pettit Quebec.

a street shot of the model Toronto downtown
The whole thing looks like a scene from the movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. (Nitish Bissonauth photo)

GO vehicles can be spotted at several stops on the Little Canada Tour.

Little Toronto for instance features a miniaturized GO train leaving the very-detailed model of Union Station and heading toward Mississauga’s iconic Absolute World towers and then westbound toward Little Golden Horseshoe where you’ll find a miniature Oakville, Burlington, and Hamilton.

At 1:87 scale, also known as HO gauge, the mini GO buses and trains immediately caught the attention of rail fans.

“I like the details, it’s all accurate and it literally looks like real life,” says Adonis Foster who spotted a GO train pulling into the station in Little Niagara.

A person taking a photo of a GO train pulling into a station
Adonis Foster capturing a mini GO train pulling into the station in Little Niagara (Nitish Bissonauth photo)

Foster, a rail fan who’s visited with his family, says he was excited to see the small scale GO trains and thought public transit was a nice touch.

“It’s like you’re staring at everything in third-person, I’ve always wondered that be like.”

The big story behind the little world

It’s the vision and dream of Jean Louis Brenninkmeijer, the president and founder of Little Canada.

According to the Little Canada website, Brenninkmeijer immigrated to Canada with his family in 1999 and began learning about Canada while helping his kids with their homework.

Fascinated by the history, he quickly fell in love with the country.

people looking at the model Little Canada
Little Canada allows visitors to see part of the entire country under one roof with guides to help answer questions along the way. (Nitish Bissonauth photo)

In 2011, he visited the Miniatur Wunderland, a similar attraction in Hamburg, Germany (which also happens to be largest of its kind in the world). Inspired by what he saw, he decided to do something similar for Canada.

Brenninkmeijer decided the best way to do that was to take inspiration from a model railway set and shrink the country to a 1:87 scale and send out emails to various model railway clubs in the GTA and Hamilton area.

A model GO train sitting idle at a station
A model GO train sitting idle at what looks like a replica of West Harbour Station. (Nitish Bissonauth photo)

He received a response from Dave MacLean, a two-term president of The Model Railroad Club of Toronto.

With a shared passion and vision, the two assembled a team of talented individuals and 10 years and nearly 200,000 hours of work later, their small dream has become larger than life.

Little Canada incorporates every detail you can think of. Including moving cars, boats and in some sections, GO trains and buses.

photo of the Don Valley Parkway model with traffic at Little Canada
A look at the DVP in Little Toronto where even the classic city traffic is on point. (Nitish Bissonauth photo)

According to a press release from Little Canada, they plan to consistently expand the attraction with new destinations until the whole country is covered.

Little North is currently under construction and will be the next addition to Little Canada.

So, if that pandemic induced travel bug has you itching for a trip, take a short journey on an actual GO train or bus downtown – there’s a whole tiny country out there to explore.  

Read more about the Little Canada attraction, here.

Story by Nitish Bissonauth, Metrolinx bilingual spokesperson and media relations specialist.