How then am I so different from the first [ones] through this way?
Like them, I led a settled life: I threw it all away
To seek a Northwest Passage at the call of many men—
To find there but the road back home again …
Stan Rogers, Northwest Passage
Classroom on Rails gives a group of promising young Canadians an unparalleled experience of their country. In seven weeks they’ll know Canada as few do in a lifetime, and this will equip them for a lifetime of learning and leadership. Their learning will be multi dimensional.
They will be exposed to the breadth of our land, its open spaces and settled areas. They’ll know the tundra, forests, prairies, mountains, highlands, gorges and coastal areas and activities that go on in each. This range and an immense diversity of peoples create a community that’s more than a country: a mini-United Nations in 5½ time zones.
What they experience will be more than a list of names and places or a collage of sensory impressions. There is a spirit that permeates and encompasses the whole. This is the kanata they’ll come to dis-cover.
In time spent alone and together in a natural and human cathedral, they’ll encounter in rapid succession currents faced by aboriginal and explorer, voyageur and venturer, navvy and newly arrived immigrant.
From this they’ll articulate a sense of time and place and belonging to a larger whole. They’ll share, hone and deepen this with classmates, instructors and other participants. They’ll present individually it and in small groups on the road and at the conclusion of the seven weeks.
Each generation of citizens, whether they call themselves canadiens, Québécois, Acadians, Westerners, Northerners or simply “people of the land” must spend time in company and in solitude to discover who they are in relation to this federation whose name means “village.”
Earlier generations expressed this as explorers, engineers, shamen, chansonniers, a Group of Seven, Mothers of New France, Fathers of Confederation, reformers, révolutionnaires tranquilles. Each added to a larger legacy: a whole we must harmonize, reclaim and make anew.
That is the goal of Canadian Classroom on Rails /Salle de Classe Ferroviaire for this generation.