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Our History

Frontier College is Canada's original literacy organization, with a rich and storied history dating back to our beginning in 1899. Take a tour of Frontier College through the decades. If you have photos or stories to share with us, please send them to information@frontiercollege.ca or use the

Submit Your Own Story page.

1899
Teacher and reverend Alfred Fitzpatrick founds Frontier College, sending trained individuals to logging camps, mines and railway lines. These Labourer-Teachers worked alongside the men during the day
Alfred Fitzpatrick founds Frontier College
1900
The Rocky Mountain Reading Tent in the early 19th century. Imagine a time when Canada had few buildings!
Reading Tent
1902
This lumber camp in Sudbury was one of Frontier College's first locations.
Sudbury Lumber Camp
1903
Frontier College starts up in Saskatchewan--before it is even a province!
Frontier College starts in Saskatchewan
1909
Station men clearing the muck, Northern Ontario 1909
Station men
1910
Men hanging out in a lumber camp bunkhouse.
Bunkhouse
1910
Men reading in a Frontier College tent, ca 1910
Reading tent
1910
Interior reading room of Victoria Lumber in Northern Ontario
Reading Room
1910
A workroom and bookshelves around the turn of the century.
Workroom
1910
Four Russian workers in the sleeping quarters of a lumber camp, ca 1910
Sleeping quarters
1910
Men in a tent classroom in the early 20th century.
Tent classroom
1911
Norman Bethune joins the Reading Camp association and is sent to work at the Victoria Harbour Lumber Company. He went on to become a noted physician and inventor.
Norman Bethune joins the Reading Camp
1912
Field work at Canadian National Rail (CNR) camp, 1912. Edmund Bradwin is on the right.
CNR camp
1912
This photo shows the diversity of the workers who participated in Frontier College programs while building the country's industry. Near St John Valley, New Brunswick, 1912
New Brunswick
1915
Instructor and class in a lumber camp, 1915
Lumber Camp
1920
A portrait of Frontier College's founders: Edmund Bradwin, Tom Fitzpatrick (seated), Alfred Fitzpatrick
Edmund Bradwin, Tom Fitzpatrick (seated), Alfred Fitzpatrick
1925
New Canadians outside the immigration hall in Winnipeg.
Immigration hall
1915
Men passing on the lumber road, ca 1915
Lumber road
1920
Jessie Lucas is hired as secretary-treasurer. Her dedication to maintaining records lead to an incredible archive of adult education resources. Today, she is remembered at the Frontier College headquarters.
Jessie Lucas is hired
1929
Dr. Margaret Strang becomes the first woman Labourer-Teacher to participate in the homesteading program, bringing education to children in remote Northern Ontario communities.
Margaret Strang: The First Woman Labourer-Teacher
1929
Dr. Margaret Strang becomes the first woman Labourer-Teacher to participate in the homesteading program, bringing education to children in remote Northern Ontario communities.
First woman Labourer-Teacher
1929
The Margaret Strang Settlement House
Settlement House
1935
An unemployed relief workers' camp in 1935.
Relief workers
1940
Labourer-Teacher Charles Jones teaches class during the '40s.
Charles Jones
1948
Letter from Edmund Bradwin
1950
Three cooks at a Canadian Pacific Rail work site, ca 1950.
Cooks on a work site
1950s
Workers in a classroom in the 1950s.
Classroom
1970s
Women and couples are recruited to work in cities and rural areas. Jane Henson becomes the first woman Labourer-Teacher to work at a copper mine.
Women and couples are recruited
1970s
Men laying down tracks in the 1970s.
Railroad
1980
Wear safety glasses! Miners pose for a photo sometime in the 1980s.
Miners
1977
UNESCO recognized our work in the field of adult education by awarding Frontier College with the 1977 Literacy Prize (also known as The Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Prize)
Frontier College receives the UNESCO medal
1986
Frontier College’s national headquarters is relocated to 35 Jackes Avenue in Toronto. The beautiful house (originally owned by Robert Laidlaw) was given to us by the National Ballet of Canada in exchange for the College's earlier headquarters.
Frontier College’s national headquarters is relocated
2002
Frontier College headquarters was named Gzowski House in honour of renowned CBC journalist and College supporter, Peter Gzowski.
Headquarters named Gzowski House
2005
The Summer Literacy Camps program began in five First Nation communities in Northern Ontario.
Summer Literacy Camps program begin
2009
Manitoba launches their first Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camp in Little Miskwaadesi (Turtle) Camp
First Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camp
2010
Our Summer Literacy camps grew in size and capacity during the 2010s.
Summer Literacy Camp
2000s
Seasonal farm workers reading a Frontier College pamphlet during class time.
Farm Workers
2015
The Summer Literacy Camps program grows to 99 communities across Canada.
Summer Literacy Camps program grows
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