The Toronto Society of Model Engineers (TSME) is a non-profit group which meets from September to June on the 2nd Friday of the month from 7:30 to 10:30 P.M.
There is a wide interest in good craftsmanship of any sort so that past programs have included topics like: pattern-making, tools, foundry work, lost-wax casting, pumps, ball-turning, piston rings, bearings, tool sharpening, marquetry, horology, scale models, boomerangs, and painting, as well as a few auctions of used tools. Electronic topics must not be overlooked. Stepping motors, spark-erosion, light-beam control, counters & dynamometers, have all been featured. Traditionally the aims of the society have proved to be the encouragement of good craftsmanship and promotion of model making. The kind and quality of models is very broad.
The tyro is encouraged and the expert admired.
Over the years, emphasis has varied from sail boating, to locomotives, to tethered hydroplanes, aircraft, clocks and stationary engines, with various forays into tool making, and experimental engines including Stirlings. Steam engines have always been favourites and some member's triumphs can be seen at the Museum of Steam and Technology in Hamilton. However, other models that have shared the spot-light have included boats of all types from exquisite "glass-case" ones to sailing, or powered boats, even including the perpetually puzzling "toc-toc" boats. Sometimes optical items grasp attention such as optical comparators, or telescopes. Cars and internal combustion engines have been centre-stage and sometimes dioramas.
T.S.M.E. Historic Facts, Dates and Highlights
In 1933 the C.N.E displayed some models and five particularly interested people were invited to Bernie McIntyre's home in Sept. to talk about models. They arranged a meeting of 37 people at the East end Y.M.C.A. on 6 Nov. 1933. This meeting elected A.M. Brydon president and dues were set at 25 cents.
In early 1934 meetings began at the Radio College of Canada. In Jan.1939 at the old Physics Building Rm. 43, and by 3 Nov. a home for 25 years was found in Rm. 7 of the Botany Building, University of Toronto. In Sept.1974 the move was made to Room 102 of the new Physics building. In 1990 a move was made to 1001 Queen St. because the parking problem had become insurmountable. In September 2008, we relocated to the Toronto Air and Space Museum in Downsview. Since October 2011, we have been meeting at the Toronto Public Library facility at 888 Laurence Ave East.
While a few meeting notices had been sent before, a real newsletter called "The Modeller" began in 1969 with Duncan Heriot as editor and has continued to this day. Yachting and speed boating were popular in the 1930s & ‘40s with the International Speed Boat Races held in 1950 and a regatta in 1952.
Parkland very close to the place where the modern Bloor Subway train bridge crosses Mimico Creek was leased in May, 1945 for $20/year and became known as TSME Acres.
A track was set up and pond built. Although Hurricane Hazel's damage in 1954 was largely overcome, alteration of city roads made access poor and this caused the site's decline and eventual abandonment.
Locomotive meets were held at TSME Acres in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s as well as New Years' Day steamups. These languished when no track was available. But locomotive construction remained active. For several years TSME's portable track was set up on the grounds of Dr. Weynman’s house, east of Vandorf, Ontario, but had to be stored when the Weynmans moved. Most members with locomotives hold dual memberships with friendly clubs whose focus is in that direction.
Relationships with clubs of a kindred nature have been good and some visits to and from them have been enjoyed. Some expeditions to NAMES (North American Model Engineering Show) near Detroit, and to the wonderful Museum of Steam and Technology in Hamilton, and trips on board the lake steamships Pathfinder, Nonsuch, and Trillium have been highlights.
Visits by some members have been made to clubs in other countries, and a few international visitors have come to us.
A more-or-less annual dinner with Ladies was held for years, (originally at 85 cents a plate!). This has been supplanted in the last decade by what was dubbed "An Extended Intermission". It has proved popular and takes the form of a Spring exhibit of models with lunch for families and friends, customarily held in a rented church hall. Annual picnics have varied in success, particularly due to the weather. They have been held in many places from St.Catherines, to Peterborough, and Collingwood, the most recent being at a superb location near Orono, all in Ontario.
Members' models have been exhibited at a number of places. In 1934, 1947 and 1949 they were displayed in the Eatons' Toronto store, as well as in the Colosseum (Canadian National Exhibition grounds) in 1942, and at Cedarbrae in 1964. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s exhibitions were held at Upper Canada College, Toronto and at Milton, Ontario, as well as in Simpsons store in 1973. For more than the last decade TSME has displayed over 6 dozen models each Fall at the Toronto International Hobby Show in the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
Membership grew steadily from 20 in Dec, 1933 to nearly 80 by the war years, during which time about 60 attended meetings. Growth was slow after the war but in the 1970s paid-up membership peaked at 143. Recent years have seen it stabilize at about 80 members of whom 60 or so are present for most meetings.
Fees have risen from the original $1.00 annually to the present amount of $35
During the pandemic meetings moved to Zoom.