Guy D. Laforge, a retired millwright of 63 years old, was born in Edmundston, New Brunswick in 1954. His birthdate, which he says is between April 11th and April 15th 1954, is almost a mystery, due to a hospital mix-up where the wrong date was registered as well as the church having the wrong date.
Guy’s favourite band is CCR and his favourite movies are the Indiana Jones series, which he watched for the first time with his wife. He admits that this led to the first issue he ever had with his wife: “She always goes along with my plans.” He explains. “I was scared that she was only doing this to please me.”
Guy was raised on a farm with a huge garden over 400 feet wide with rows of about 300 feet long.
“When we were picking cucumbers,” Guy says, “we’d put them in a wheelbarrow. One day gave 300 cucumbers! One year, we planted 185 pounds of onions. No one around had a garden like ours.”
GUY’S PASSION AND THE SITE
Guy’s favourite part of the entire site is the construction. “I love making the site. That’s the best part, aside from my wife! ” He goes on to explain that her support means the whole world to him, saying “She’s not only my other half, but even more than that.”
Since 2008, students have been hired every year to work on the site during the summer. Guy says that he really enjoys having students working on the site because “they have different ideas and strategies. They’re like a breath of fresh air and they have a younger point of view.” He says having students forces him to improvise and get things done.
When asked how this entire thing began, Guy admits it’s been for most of his life. “I’ve been interested in this for so long…even when I was five I played with trains. My first recorded layout was one I made for my son Stephane and his friend Danny.” The first piece of the entire collection is a shed that Guy made when he and his wife were still living in a trailer house.
As for the accomplishments he has made on the site, he says that everything he's built is a dream come true even though it isn’t finished yet.
THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
Despite having so many accomplishments on the site, Guy finds it important to say that he isn’t quite done yet. He has many ideas for the future, including a Railroad Worker’s Village, where people get to by miniature train, meaning that vehicles are left at the parking lot along with electronic devices. This village gives people a chance to go through a unique experience and to be a part of something.
“Everyone loves to be a part of something.” Guy says. “This place is special and we can share it with others and accommodate them so they can remember us.” Guy plans to do this by adding many things in the Railroad Worker’s Village, such as a drive-in (train-in) theatre that’ll play movies about trains (from new to old, silent and in black and white), an outdoor theatre, train-opoly, hiking trails and more.
“I started talking about my hobby and began meeting others with the same hobby.” Guy says, going into further details of how the story of Du Réel Au Miniature started. “We would expand and exchange ideas with one another. Then, in 1998, we opened the hobby shop. In autumn of that year we began to show the basement layout so people could see what the hobby was about. That’s how the collection began. Pretty much everything was given to us. The rest was word-of-mouth.
“Now we have over 8,000 pieces which cost a total of two dollars because the only thing we paid was a special sledgehammer found in a garage sale. Since then, it’s been like Christmas every day. We’re constantly receiving pieces for our collection and recycling projects.”
Guy stresses the importance of being thankful. “We also want to make sure to thank everyone who ever gave us anything.”
Du Réel Au Miniature has come a long way since it began and still has much distance left. The owners are always looking for new ideas and ways to expand the experience. The wheels in their heads are constantly turning and will continue to turn for the years to come. The journey of this place is one that I will follow for years after my summer here is over.