Found in a peaceful, whimsical yard about 10 minutes south of St. Walburg, Saskatchewan, the Village of Henard greets you with a sprawled-out layout, a cup of coffee and a unique visiting experience. What started as a small hobby several years ago, this was the first summer the Village of Henard has been set up to this magnitude. If you look around the province of Saskatchewan, you will find a few model train hobby clubs that go from hosting workshops, sharing community displays and keeping the fascination for the miniature model alive and well.
What can a person learn from a small town in Saskatchewan? Keep in mind, we are talking about a REALLY small town. In fact, their slogan is that they “put the small in small-town Saskatchewan”. Occupied mainly by a variety of small figurines and decorated with small houses, the Village of Henard has taught us a few things about life that we feel are important to share.
It’s good to know your neighbors.
You can almost feel the sense of community in the small model village of Henard. You look in a front window and see an older couple playing the piano together. There are two brothers (twins, by the looks of things—guess there was a good deal on models…) working hard to complete their house. Someone is showing off their fancy car and chatting in the street. There is a decided sense of community, as we observe from above and peer into situations that we are shockingly removed from. It seems to be easy enough to make a backstory for each person found in the little village.
There’s something to be said about creative innovation.
Each piece in the village is carefully crafted and molded into looking like a small-scale replica. Imagination is needed to perfect the look. A replica of the Heinsburg, AB water tower was created out of recycled wood pieces, a windmill out of painted toothpicks, loggers are using small painted wooden spools as tools, garbage cans are carefully crafted out of extra building materials. You can ask about any piece and you will probably be pleasantly surprised about the thought put into its creation. Anything deconstructed to be used in the village often serves multiple purposes.
Perspective is everything.
There are two cats that live in the yard that houses the Village of Henard. To us, they are fun little domestic pets. Our furry feline friends. Relatively harmless, unless they are scratching up our furniture. To the people in the village, they are more realistically Cat-zilla. They nimbly prowl the village, towering over the logging company to take a drink from the stream as they pass through. This lesson in perspective is an important one, as it shows us the value of comparison and how we see things through the appearance of things relative to one another.
You can’t change base human emotions.
We are attracted to the sense of order and control that a model village brings to a chaotic life. We can easily imagine that their trades are doing well, people walking around don’t seem to be addicted to their phones and happiness is found at this 1:24 scale. But a model village goes beyond an idyllic place frozen in a time where all is well. You can also put your fingers on a sense of unease. Base human emotions don’t tend to change much from one era to another, or from one scale or another. You can almost detect the twitch of a curtain from the nosy neighbours peeking out on the street, or the cattiness in the conversation happening on the street. We have so many questions about the people that inhabit the small town and can easily project base human
emotions, that we can so easily relate to.
Everyone has a story. And everyone’s story starts somewhere.
There’s a lot going on in the Village of Henard. A group surveying for a new bridge, the hustle and bustle of the train station, new builds in the village, workers logging just off the river. There is surprising movement in each depiction. And you can tell each one has started somewhere else and you wonder—what brought them all here to the Village of Henard? The promise of a job? Was it the housing market? Somewhere safe to start a family? (Safe if you forget about Cat-zilla for a second…)
An interesting part about visiting the village of Henard was seeing the train shed. In reality, this is the shed where the trains are stored when they’re not in use. But it also signifies a gateway from something built in “regular size” to the transition into the model village scale. Both worlds mix in a stylish storage shed that can contain both regular sized humans and model figurines, with both looking like they are getting the trains ready to go.
As you can see, these life lessons taught by a small-scale model village in Saskatchewan can be applied to our large-scale communities. We recommend that everyone spend some time in a model village and determine the neat things we can learn from miniature spaces.
If you are interested in visiting the Village of Henard, please contact us. Though it’s closed for the winter, the Village will be open in the Spring and Summer months.
To read about another 60 Mile Series adventure, click here.