FROM THE Heritage Minutes COLLECTION
A part of our heritage...
"Whenever and wherever people shall have occasion to congregate, then and there shall be the time, place and means of their education." - Reverend Alfred Fitzpatrick, 1920
Frontier College has been educating Canada's less fortunate citizens for over one hundred years. It was Canada's first institution committed to equal education. Its unique 'labourer-teacher' approach provided education to students and taught leadership skills to young university students. The Frontier College is a remarkable institution and is a testament to the dedication, motivation, and perseverance of its many instructors and students.
At the turn of the century, Reverend Alfred Fitzpatrick was concerned over the plight of Canada's frontier labourers. Most of these men were uneducated, illiterate, and often exploited by their employers. In 1899, Reverend Fitzpatrick began teaching out of a log cabin in Nairn, Ontario with no staff, some parish assistance, and little money. Over the years, Fitzpatrick's dedication to the workers in the lumber, mining, and railway camps attracted a small but dynamic following. Prominent men such as Dr. Norman Bethune, and Dr. Benjamin Spock began their careers as Frontier College labour-teachers.
Frontier College gained national recognition after the First World War. Fitzpatrick received government funding in return for "Canadianizing" the post war influx of immigrant labourers in the frontier. The College began hiring women in the 1920s to provide the same benefits to women labourers.
After World War II, the College launched literacy programs for remote communities, ex-convicts, people with learning disabilities, and street people. It also began working with teens, children, and families in urban centers, and established programs to promote reading among the young.
UNESCO gave international recognition to the Frontier College's work by awarding it the 1977 Literacy Prize for its "meritorious work in the field of adult education." In the past two decades the College has prevailed over a number of challenges and maintained its 'labour-teacher' approach and equality in education philosophy.
Heritage Minute Cast