Railways are more than just a means of transportation; they connect people across long distances, promote the exploration of new places, and have long captured the popular imagination, from the young to the old. This fascination with trains increased the popularity of toy/model trains and the worlds they travelled, as shown by this photograph.
This image depicts siblings Wilson and Ruth Moorhouse playing with a toy train on a porch, and is one of more than 800 photographs of the Moorhouse family taken by Wilson and Ruth’s father, Walter, an amateur photographer based in Islington, Ontario.
Although shown as a positive image here, this record from the Archives of Ontario’s Walter Moorhouse fonds (C 231) is a glass plate negative. The introduction of glass plate negatives in the mid-19th century meant that images could be produced multiple times. Wet plate collodion negatives were used from 1852 to 1900, but they were difficult to process and were thus largely restricted to professional photographers. Dry plate silver gelatine negatives were commercially produced beginning in 1880. Their ease of use and wide availability helped to make photography an accessible hobby for amateurs like Walter Moorhouse.