Orélie's blog - Du Réel au Miniature
Par Orélie Albert
Du Réel au Miniature; An Endearing Pursuit
When I was assigned the duty of writing a blog about the “Du Réel au Miniature” Museum, to say I was ecstatic would be an understatement.
I can confidently say that this local exposition is my favorite in the area, thanks to its charms and welcoming warmth. Let’s not forget the obvious passion put behind such an ambitious project. The respect for cultural authenticity, people’s donations and the care put into the smallest detail is admirable and contributes to our proximity with the proprietors.
First off, a bit of context is in order; the museum’s full name is “Du Réel au Miniature: Railroad Interpretation Centre,” a rather accurate descriptive. The D.R.A.M., as I affectionately nicknamed it, is a familial exposition themed around Canadian locomotives and railway technologies of the early 20th century.
Each artifact on display is in some way related to our railwaymen, their duty and their daily lives aboard these revolutionary machines. We can also admire a 1/87th miniature model of a train’s journey throughout the Appalachians, covering around 900ft2 of the Laforge-Milliard basement itself. Outside, a motorized train built with recycled materials offers to draft up to 6000 lbs of cargo, or rather, of passengers wanting to enjoy a woodland scenery. Not only does this museum overflow with treasures of years past, but it is also a lifetime’s worth of hard work, or rather, two lifetimes.
Guy and Géraldine “Jeff” Laforge-Milliard promptly welcomed us, my coworker and I, as soon as we arrived. We spoke briefly about the objective of our passage before they offered the responsibility of our tour to Baba, an international student from the Ivory Coast. It’s with a bright smile and much enthusiasm that he guided us through the masterpiece that is this museum in the greatest – and smallest – detail.
During our passage, the artifact warehouse seemed focused around women and their contribution towards the exploitation of our railroads, a much-appreciated regard. Before anything else though, Baba wished to inform us that a majority of non-historically charged objects we could observe were made from recycled materials. An impressive sum of 600 000$ was saved thanks to the owners' will to not only give a second life to assumptively worthless things, but also to lend a helping hand in saving both the planet and future generations alike.
Surrounded by portraits of local railwaymen, we sat down for a brief documentary before Baba lead us to the model room, where we could admire the fruit of many hours of meticulous labor. The areas represented are all linked to Eastern Canadian locomotives and the country’s mystical autumnal landscapes. Stony mountains, crystalline rivers, warmly tinted trees, diverse wildlife and folks doing their own thing can be seen strewn about.
One last room is covered from wall to wall with photos of significant people and contributors to the museum, such as family. friends, and employees who took part in the maintenance and services offered as part of the tour. We can also find a tiny remote-controlled steam train accessible to children who’d like to become a conductor, even if only for a moment.
Passing by a collection of pocket watches, we reached the end of our journey, where Jeff and Guy were waiting for us. I then had the chance to have a discussion with them and ask a few questions. I would have loved to share their answers here, but I’m afraid my word count is limited, though you are welcome to interview the owners when you pass by yourself!
Alright, that will be enough from me. I think elaborating would be detrimental to your surprise when you pass by. Before you go however, let me conclude by hinting at two projects in development on the museum site. Read well!
Our first will require resilience, problem-solving skills and some level of physical prowess. You will be faced with a primal yet authentic challenge, which will leave you with a better grasp of your psyche.
Our second is most likely familiar to you. It’s a game, until it becomes a merciless war between its participants. Perhaps has it even caused ruthless rivalries within your own home, who knows? That’s enough said.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the proprietors at (506) 739-9644. Or if you’d rather pass by instead, the museum’s address is 1091 Victoria Rd, Edmundston. The site is open 7/7, 11am to 5pm. But of course, I’d recommend you contact them first to ensure they accept visitors at that time.
Alright, I’ll leave you be. Take a moment to relax while you’re here, yeah?
Merry Meet Again!
Edmundston Visitor Information Center