Admissions Desk
88 Brunel Road, Huntsville, ON, P1H 1R1

Phone: 705-789-7576 ext. 3214

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Engineer for a Day

Green and black saddletank locomotive with number 2 on front

What would it be like to get behind the controls of a historic 1926 steam locomotive or a 1949 diesel electric locomotive? Imagine being a part of history by actually engineering the Portage Flyer Steam Train. Once the world's shortest commercial railway, it operated between North and South Portage near Dwight between 1904 and 1959.

Muskoka Heritage Place is offering you this unique opportunity. 

Our Engineer for a Day program provides you with the necessary training in policy, procedure and railway protocol

The Program Consists of:


Waivers - Program Information - Test study material - Telephone interview

Program Cost
2019 rate $250.00 + tax


Rail procedures test - orientation - practical locomotive instruction - practical locomotive training - couple the coaches and you are an engineer:

  • The first step is to contact Ron Gostlin to pick your ideal available program date.  
  • If approved at the pre-screening stage you will receive a modified version of our "General Operating Procedures and Expectations" to take away and study prior to program day
  • Bring a lunch because your full day program will begin at 10:30 am (steam locomotive) or 11:00 am (diesel electric locomotive) with orientation and our "General Operating Procedures and Expectations" examination.
  • After passing the examination you will receive one on one practical training from our certified engineer instructor
  • After you complete a practical instruction you will be given practice exercises and when our engineer instructor determines that you are ready to take the controls with a train full of passengers he will turn it over to you
  • The engineer instructor will never leave your side, will give you direction as required and will take the controls should any irregular situation arise
  • We encourage you to ask our rail personnel all of the questions you wish and soak up as much knowledge of the true operation of a steam or diesel electric locomotive as your day allows
  • The day wraps up by 4:00 pm and the level of achievement you gain over the course of the day will be directly relative to your proficiency and how well you take direction
  • Cost $250.00 plus HST and will not be accepted until the participant has accepted the "terms and conditions". 
  • All applicants must possess and produce a valid Driver's License
  • Only one "Engineer for the Day" program per day
  • Anyone that you may wish to bring with you must pay regular admission rates and because the program demands your absolute attention, they are not permitted to ride with you in the locomotive
  • Should you cancel your program and Muskoka Heritage Place is unable to rebook your date, your full amount will be forfeited
  • Muskoka Heritage Place reserves the right to refuse any application
  • Please note: Our 2019 Rail season runs from May 18th to October 12th, but not all dates are available
  • Available dates for 2019 will be released in January and the waiting list will be contacted in order, for date selection

For more information or to reserve your spot on the waiting list please email or call Ron Gostlin at 705-789-7576 ex 3210.


Please accept my sincere thanks to be passed on to all the Portage Flyer team who made my EFAD experience truly memorable. I cannot say enough about how patient and welcoming they all were with me, and how much I enjoyed the day. I would love to do it all again next year!!
Full marks to your organization for such a program.

Bob Graham - Engineer For A Day - August 17, 2017

Thanks to you, Greg an the rest of the crew, I had a wonderful day last Saturday. Please pass on my thanks to Greg, who guided me through the operation of the engine and what to expect, then calmly pointed out each mistake I made - forgot to take off the brake, forgot to open/close the drain for the cylinders, didn't remember something else. The challenge of going up and down the grades was something I hadn't expected, but it certainly kept me busy. I'm definitely not ready for the 'big time', but now with my little bit of experience, I feel like I've accomplished something I might never have done, had it not been for the Portage Flyer and the engineer for a day opportunity.
It was FUN!
David - Engineer For A Day - July 8, 2017


Bob Tyrrell - Engineer For A Day - July 7, 2016

I wanted to thank everyone involved for one of the greatest days of my life.
It was great to meet you.
All the staff was so kind to my wife Gena and me.
The patience exhibited by Greg Smith along with encouragement and reassuring advice was much appreciated.
All the support personnel were fabulous.
To say it is first rate operation you run is understated.
With most sincere gratitude I thank you all.
Bob Tyrrell

John Henderson - Engineer For A Day - August 15, 2015

I cannot thank you and your (MY) crew enough for a most remarkable day. I certainly enjoyed my day as engineer. I've seen a lot of steam shows over the years and find myself mesmerized by the old traction engines. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would get the chance to run one. What a beautiful little engine. Please thank Greg for his instruction, his guidance but more importantly his patience, great instructor. Thank Cole (good name for a fireman) and Luke my brakeman. I guess the credit goes to my girl Sandy, she wanted to something special for my 65th birthday and she couldn't have picked a better present.
Sincerely, John Henderson

steam locomotive with side label "The Portage Flyer" and the number 2

"When I heard that I could be engineer for a day at Muskoka Heritage Place, I signed up quickly. On Canada Day I showed up for intensive training in the morning, and in the afternoon I drove the steam locomotive under the direction of the chief engineer. I became part of the train crew; in the safe presence of Greg Smith I took the throttle, the brake and the whistle, plus a few other essential parts whose names I can't remember but whose functions I knew. Line up, train lovers, for the thrill of a lifetime! Where else can a person actually drive a steam locomotive! Thanks folks.

Marge Denis - 1st Engineer For A Day - July 1, 2012

engineer in steam locomotive

It was truly a great experience. Who knew something that weighs tons could be so responsive to such little pressure. It was an experience that I will always remember. I will be recommending the program to anyone interested and wish you all the best for the future of this idea. I can't think it will be anything than more successful as the word gets out. You might have to build a second line!!

Robert Low - Engineer For A Day - August 10, 2012


In June 2012 I was surprised and pleased to receive a gift certificate from my Rotary Club of Huntsville, to be "the Engineer for a Day" on the historic Portage Flyer Train. Can you imagine I was going to operate the train for a day!

My busy day began with a knowledge test for operations of the train. Greg Smith, the train Engineer, introduced me to the steam engine, explaining all the moving parts and the controls that I would use later that day. Wayne Shaw, the train Fireman, showed me around the train shed discussing the other engines of the Muskoka Heritage Place train system.

Near 12 noon, Greg and Wayne got the steam engine ready to go and we moved out of the shed to hook-up the train coaches to make the first run of the day. On that trip, Greg instructed me how the engineer performs his or her duties.
As the "engineer for a day", I drove the train down to the Fairy Lake Station, uncoupled it from the coaches; proceeded to the turn-table where two members of the train crew turned the engine around, then re-coupled the engine back onto the coaches, for the return trip to the Rotary Village Station.

I had the time of my life! It was great to operate "45 tons of rolling train equipment", wanting to give the paying customers a smooth ride and to perform my duties, with skill, as Greg, the real engineer, had earlier instructed me. I found Greg, Wayne and the rest of the train crew, very helpful in their explanations and guidance, to help me do a great job!

As a child I can remember in Nova Scotia the steam engines that the Dominion Atlantic Railway operated in the Annapolis Valley. Our farm was about 3 miles as the crow flies from the train tracks. On a winter's evening you could hear the train working its way up the valley blowing it's whistle for the crossings. To do the same thing here in Huntsville in 2012, was very special!

Gord Mitchell, Past-President of the Rotary Club of Huntsville
Engineer For a Day August 28, 2012


Your organization did an absolutely tremendous job on the EFAD program, and you and your team, deserve my heartfelt appreciation.

I was looking forward to this day for months and felt, at times that I was about 8 years old and waiting for Christmas to arrive. You can say that my expectations were pretty high.

Well, did your team every perform! Not only was I welcomed, I felt that I was included. Your team, Greg and Dusty and the conductors and the young woman selling tickets, made me feel a part of the experience and not the buyer of the experience. Their attitude of inclusion made the day - which was already fulfilling a childhood fantasy - even more special.
When I think of this day in the future, I will remember the feeling of belonging as much as I will remember the actual event. Man, was it a thrill to actually drive a steam engine!!!!!

Please thank your team for me - they are a terrific group of people who made my special day even more special than I could have hoped for.

Brian B.
Friday August 8, 2014

I just wanted to say again what a fantastic time I had last week as the Engineer for a Day. Thank you fro your friendly and smooth organization of the process, you have a great setup there that you must be proud of.
Please wish Greg well for me, he is a great teacher, highly knowledgeable and an all-round friendly guy, making the day into one of the greatest, most enjoyable experiences of my life.

Matthew B.
Saturday July 12, 2014

I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the day I spent as "Engineer for a Day". The crew were certainly a fun bunch to spend time with (I should say they had all five or your core values covered).

Mike P.
Saturday June 28, 2014

I had a wonderful day!
Thanks to all of you for making it so enjoyable. I highly recommend your program and Muskoka Heritage Place to all of my friends.

Pat R.
Friday July 4, 2014