Picturing the Past
 

Stories 



SEARCHING FOR THE SUBLIME: ALGONQUIN PARK AND THE ORIGINS OF WILDERNESS TOURISM IN CANADA

In the nineteenth century, rapid industrialization and immigration were dramatically changing life in Canada. Cities became places of great tension and contradictions and the growing urban middle class sought relief in outdoor recreation. Established in 1893, Algonquin Park became an ideal escape. The railway made this vision of the sublime accessible. Among the many visitors, a few individuals arrived with strongly held scientific, aesthetic, religious, educational and feminist convictions and goals. These were the Searchers. They included John Macoun, Tom Thomson, Henry Burton Sharman and Fannie L. Case. Over the years, increasing numbers of tourists were drawn to Algonquin and other parks, participating in a quintessentially Canadian experience.


GUEST CHILDREN

The story was written to discuss "Canada at War" and the Canadian homefront during World War II. Told through the eyes of two fictitious characters,English school children sent to Canada to escape the German "blitz" in 1940, the story follows them as they make their way across Canada by rail from their landing point at Halifax, Nova Scotia to their destination in Vancouver, British Columbia. Topics discussed include: as Canada at War, Atlantic convoys, Canadian war effort, the rise of women in the work place, war rationing, and the British Commonwealth Training Program.


DEAR ELLIE: LETTERS FROM THE WEST Logo Flash

This is a fictionalized story of a trip across the Prairie provinces in 1937. The story highlights the growing tourist industry in this region in the 1930s, including the development of the large National Parks, Jasper and Banff, and the development of a string of luxurious hotels and lodges to attract the new tourist to the natural wonders of the Prairies and Rocky Mountains. The story also touches on the problems of the time — the Great Depression and the Prairie famine — and illustrates their impact on Canada and Canadians during this era.


CNR TRUCKING: EXPRESS AND FREIGHT VEHICLES

The operation of a successful railway is not always just about locomotives and trains. This story recounts the importance of trucking at the CN Railways from the 1940s to the 1970s as part of the overall operations of the railway company, to deliver goods swiftly from the door of the sender to the door of the receiver, before and after their shipment along the railway lines.


A TRAIN JOURNEY THROUGH THE OTTAWA VALLEY

In the past the railways played a central role in the development of Canada generally, and the Ottawa Valley specifically, but that importance has long since faded. This story offers a fictional journey through the Ottawa Valley to highlight the role the railways once played in the development of this region over the past one hundred years, and what has changed or faded from the local landscape since the “railway was king.”


THE CENTRAL VERMONT RAILWAY

Located mostly in the American state of Vermont, curiously this railway was operated for more than seventy years by the Government of Canada, as part of the government owned Canadian National Railways system. This story explains how this railway came into the possession of the CNR, offers the history of its operation, and outlines its unique significance to the development of Canada and to our economic and social relationship with the United States.


Credits