Growing up, Jean-Louis Brenninkmeijer had a model train set in his basement. He used to create tiny scenes filled with people, vehicles and houses. “I had this dream of taking it out of the basement and making it bigger,” he says. “I wanted people to see it.”
In 2011, he quit his job in renewable energy to build a coast-to-coast miniature replica of Canada. Inspired by Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany—the world’s largest model train exhibit, with detailed replicas of cities in Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, Switzerland and the U.S.—Brenninkmeijer assembled a team of 15 artists, builders and tech people to recreate illustrious miniatures of Ottawa, the Golden Horseshoe, the Rockies, the Arctic and the GTA, with Toronto in full focus. The entire exhibit is interactive: motorized cars and trucks zoom down the 401, traffic lights change colours and the entire display is timed to transition from day to night every few minutes (in the Toronto skyline alone, there are 30,000 LED lights).
Check out more about the mini-Toronto museum at Toronto Life