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A schoolhouse on rails

August 2019

Today, it’s quite common to see portable classrooms at schools across the country. They provide a cost-effective method for adding classroom space without having to build an addition to the existing school.

From 1926 to 1965, Clinton, Ontario, natives Fred and Cela Sloman were part of a unique program that provided classroom space to northern Ontario communities that didn’t have access to their own local schoolhouse.

Fred And Cela Sloman and their young children, who lived on the train, spent ten months a year travelling back and forth along a 150 mile stretch of track between Capreol and Foleyet in northern Ontario, parking their “schoolhouse” on a side-track for a few days at each community and teaching the local children.

After leaving about a month’s worth of homework for the students (the usual time before returning), the “schoolhouse” would be hooked up to a new locomotive and pulled to the next community.

Fred retired from teaching in 1964 and the railcar schoolhouse program ended 1967, due to technological advancements that made the North more accessible.

By 1982, the dilapidated former Sloman schoolcar #15089 was purchased by the Town of Clinton, with the encouragement of Cela Sloman and her daughter Margaret, and returned to Clinton from a storage yard in Mississauga.

Restored by a group of volunteers, the railcar was placed on a section of rail track in Sloman Park in Clinton and opened to the public as the CNR School on Wheels Museum. It is one of small number of wooden railcars remaining in Ontario.

The museum is open from the Victoria Day weekend in May until the last Sunday in September, Thursday to Sunday, and Holiday Mondays, from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Sources: https://www.clintonnewsrecord.com/2018/06/11/cnr-school-on-wheels-museum-open-for-another-season-of-entertaining-and-educational-experiences/wcm/9cdcf3eb-6259-7fcd-1806-bfc0e6c0123b

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/a-schoolhouse-on-rails/

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