Week one


It’s About People” produced by McMaster Alumni in conjunction with Thrillhouse Studios.
Credit: Digital Communications Intern Chris Rey Basalo ’18.

The ground floor of the David Braley Health Sciences Centre in downtown Hamilton is a more than just university building. Check out the excellent café on the ground floor for lunch or a coffee. But what makes the building really special is the modular train set that lives there.

Walk into the train room just off the lobby and you’ll be transported to another world. Ranging throughout an indoor garden is the expansive model railroad. The space is both quiet and magical.

You’ll marvel at the world-class miniature train set and its surrounding villages. This intricately detailed labour of love was built over seven decades by David Lee ’56. He began to construct it in the 1940s, and over the years it has won multiple national awards and been recognized across Canada for its realistic looking scenery and buildings.

After retirement and after their four children were launched into their own lives, the Lees knew they needed to downsize, and that included finding a new home for the train that now dominated their basement. By incredible coincidence, former Dean of FHS Dr. John Kelton was on a personal mission to find a model train to occupy the indoor garden space planned for the main level of the downtown health campus because of an experience he’d had as a boy. A timely newspaper article about incredible creation in the Lee family’s basement found its way to Dr. Kelton.

The fortuitous timing of these two events has resulted in the donation of the train to the downtown health campus in 2015. With the assistance of The Dundas Modular Railway Club, the train was removed from the Lee home and the layout was remodeled to suit its new location.

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