On June 20, 2017, the site of Canada’s First Reading Camp is given historical recognition on Highway 17 in Nairn Centre, Ontario. Thanks to the efforts of Evelyn C. Diebel, resident of Nairn Centre and a Master’s Student in Adult Education–Community Development at St.FX University, a banner will commemorate Frontier College founder Alfred Fitzpatrick’s introduction of the Reading Camp to the workers at the lumber camp in Nairn Centre in 1899.
Fitzpatrick’s belief that “every place is a learning place” took the shape of Labourer-Teachers, young men—and the occasional woman—who tutored the workers in the evenings when their physical labour was done for the day. The reading camps represent one of the most innovative educational ideas in Canadian history: the strategy of bringing adult education directly to the learner.
Some notable Canadians were Labourer-Teachers: Dr. Norman Bethune, Roy McMurtry, David Peterson, Sven Robinson, Benjamin Spock, Dr. Margaret Strang, Mark Kelley, and more.
Photo: Robert Deschene (CAO, Clerk Treasurer), Brigita Gingras (Councillor [Deputy Mayor]), Stacy Sullivan (Frontier College, Community Coordinator Sudbury), Evelyn Diebel (Professor of Adult Literacy Cambrian College, Master’s of Adult Education Student, St. FX, Resident of Nairn Centre [29 years])