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Time’s up for Tiny Town as weather, vandals take toll on B.C. model village

Miniature structures modeled after Irish town
Tiny Town, a collection of miniature buildings beside the George Little House, is to be dismantled. (Staff photo)

What began as a labour of love by a Terrace resident to remember his Irish hometown will soon be no more.

Now weathered by age and with some damaged by vandals, the 19 miniature replicas of buildings in Jim Allen’s hometown of Youghal have sat beside the George Little House on city property for nearly 10 years.

With the city now demolishing the adjacent former Co-op garden centre the chainlink fence that protected the village affectionately called ‘Tiny Town’ will also be taken down.

Longtime residents of Terrace will remember several decades back when Tiny Town was at Allen’s Agar Ave. home.

Buildings were arrayed down the driveway beside the house and into the backyard, creating an attraction for locals and tourists.

Lights strung up during the Christmas season made it a must-see for those on a night time tour of lights around the city.

When circumstances dictated that Tiny Town needed to be moved, and with the possibility the buildings might be taken apart, a temporary home was found at the Skeena Mall in 2010.

When the mall was bought and extensive renovations began in 2012, the same volunteer group that arranged for the move to the mall then organized the move to city property, next to the George Little House.

The houses were set up to resemble a Main Street, and thanks to a work skills training grant provided to the Terrace and District Community Services Society, the miniatures were fixed up and repainted.

Allen’s replication of Yougal included a post office, a butcher shop, a shoemaker, a barbershop, an info centre and two pub buildings, one of which also contains an undertaker’s business.

Allen, who came to Terrace in 1956 to help build the Sacred Heart Parish, passed away in 2014 at the age of 80.

A handful of volunteers worked to maintain the structures and surrounding area for years.

Despite the protection of the fence the city now wants to remove, vandals have damaged some of the buildings.

“It’s very sad. It’s had its lifespan,” said one of the remaining volunteers, Debbie Letawksi from the next door George Little House.

She and Leonard Lindstrom, the George Little House maintenance person, are assessing the structures this week to better determine which ones can be moved and which ones can’t be realistically saved.

Letawski gave full credit to Yvonne Moen, a community historian and City of Terrace Freeman, in providing the impetus to preserving Tiny Town these past years.

She also listed Britny Sharron as one of the people who played a key role since the move to beside the George Little House by conducting tours and helping out.

Letawksi wants to keep several of the buildings and place them behind the George Little House.

“They’ll still give something for people to look at,” she said.

People who may want one of the remaining ones that are in good condition can phone Letawski at 250-631-9116.

“They are heavy and they’ll have to come and get them,” she said.

About the Author: Rod Link

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