Ray Johnson unveils his massive model of the Titanic, years in the making

·2 min read
Ray Johnson's model of the Titanic is on display at Route 66 Diner & Pub in Carbonear. (Submitted by Pauline Yetman - image credit)
Ray Johnson's model of the Titanic is on display at Route 66 Diner & Pub in Carbonear. (Submitted by Pauline Yetman - image credit)

Ray Johnson is one of Newfoundland and Labrador's best known musicians, but few know that Johnson is also a Titanic history buff.

During breaks from touring with Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers, Johnson has been patiently puttering away on a huge model of the great ship, complete with electric lights, tiny lifeboats, and miniature passengers.

Now, to coincide with the anniversary of the Titanic sinking off the coast of Newfoundland, Johnson finally pulled the curtain off his model and show it to the world.

Ray Johnson's model of the Titanic is on display at Route 66 Diner & Pub in Carbonear.
Ray Johnson's model of the Titanic is on display at Route 66 Diner & Pub in Carbonear.(Submitted by Pauline Yetman)

In two soldout shows this week at Route 66 Diner & Pub in Carbonear, Johnson and some special guests took the audience on a Titanic history lesson, with the model ship as the show's centrepiece.

"When I started the model, I said, 'Is there anyone actually going to see her?'" said Johnson. "And it dawned of me that maybe I could do a presentation or two. And this is why it's happening now. It took 12 years to put it out there."

Famed folk musician Ray Johnson has spent 12 years patiently building a large model of the RMS Titanic.
Famed folk musician Ray Johnson has spent 12 years patiently building a large model of the RMS Titanic.(Mark Cumby/CBC)

Johnson teamed up with Pauline Yetman, owner of Route 66 Diner & Pub, a 1950s-style restaurant decorated with classic cars and paintings of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe — not the kind of theme that screams "Titanic." But for the shows, Yetman transformed the restaurant into a dinner theatre, with decor to match the show's glamorous subject.

"As you can tell by all the black drapes around, Elvis Presley has left the building," said Yetman. "So we've had to reinvent the building, reinvent downstairs to make it into the Titanic dining room."

Pauline Yetman is the owner of the Route 66 Diner & Pub.
Pauline Yetman is the owner of the Route 66 Diner & Pub.(Mark Cumby/CBC)

The first show was on Wednesday, when guests enjoyed the meal that was served to second-class passengers on the Titanic the night before it sank. On Thursday — the 109th anniversary of the sinking — the first-class meal was on the menu.

Johnson began working on his model 12 years ago. Along the way, he amassed so much information about the Titanic that he decided to write a book about it: The Titanic: A Catastrophe That Should Not Have Been, published by Downhome.

See an excerpt from the shows and check out Johnson's model for yourself by clicking on the video above.

The Route 66 Diner & Pub was transformed into the Titanic's dining room for two soldout shows.
The Route 66 Diner & Pub was transformed into the Titanic's dining room for two soldout shows.(Mark Cumby/CBC)

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