Collecting toy tractors in dad’s memory

Collecting toy tractors in dad’s memory
Mar 15, 2021

One Ontario man’s collection consists of nearly 5,000 pieces

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

When Dr. Ghislain Marleau isn’t seeing his patients at his family practice in Alexandria, Ont., he spends time adding to his toy tractor collection of about 5,000 pieces.

“The collection takes up probably two-thirds of my basement, and no pieces are the same,” he told “My basement is about 40-feet- (12-metres-) wide by 60-feet- (18-metres-) long. There are two rooms that are full of tractors and parts of other rooms that are full of the original boxes the tractors came in.”

Marleau started his collection in memory of his father, Henri, who passed away when Ghislain was only two.

Henri owned Marleau Garage, a John Deere dealer in St. Bernadin. Ghislain remembers seeing boxes of toy tractors around his father’s shop and the pedal tractor he received for his second birthday.

“You don’t remember much from when you’re two but those always stuck with me,” he said. “I remember just thinking to myself that if I ever had any money, I’d buy some toys too.”

A fire at the shop in 1962 forced Reynald, Ghislain’s oldest brother who had taken over the business, to rebuild it. When the garage reopened four years later, it did so as a Case farm and industrial equipment dealership.

“Just like my dad’s shop, this one had lots of toys on shelves too,” Ghislain said.

Marleau started to collect tractors in the 1980s after graduating from medical school and finding work in Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., almost 10 hours away from Alexandria where he would move in 1985.

“I think I bought my first tractor in 1982 and I’ve been buying ever since,” he said.

Marleau grew up around John Deere and Case equipment but his collection includes Minneapolis-Moline, Cockshutt, Kubota, Massey Ferguson and other brands. Most of the pieces are in 1/16th scale.

Recently, Marleau has started to build toy tractors from scratch.

With this new skill, he built his all-time favourite tractor – the Case Model 2470.

This toy was never released in 1/16, so Marleau invested more than 3,000 hours to recreate it down to the last of the 350 tiny bolts he installed.

“It’s built out of brass and the parts I couldn’t find I made my own molds,” he said. “I would do the measurements of the life-sized tractor and scale it down to 1/16. Everything in the toy tractor is exactly the same as the real one.”

Here are some facts to put Marleau’s 3,000 hours into perspective:

  • In 2006, NASA’s New Horizon’s probe reached the moon in under nine hours on its way to Pluto.
  • In 2019, aircraft manufacturer Qantas grounded 12 planes for repairs. The company announced it would take about 3,000 hours to repair each plane.
  • The Football War between El Salvador and Honduras started on July 14, 1969 and ended four days later.

In addition to collecting and building toy tractors, Marleau also writes about his hobby.

His work has been published in ‘Toy Farmer’ magazine and other specialty collector publications.

Top photo: A Case 2470. Ghislain Marleau spent more than 3,000 hours recreating a toy version of this tractor. photo.

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