Picturing the Past
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Activity, printable version


Lesson 5: Canada’s Railroads, the Wilderness and Tourism

Learning Objectives

  • Cognitive: Students will learn that Canadian railway companies facilitated the growth of the Canadian tourism industry by promoting travel by train to locations across Canada and by the construction of wilderness resorts
  • Affective: Students will appreciate the relationship among economics, tourism and recreation
  • Behavioural: Students will explore and research tourism in their own region


Examine The Railway section of the website, as well as The Highland Inn and Outdoorsmen subsections in the Being There section. Pay close attention to the brochures.

As a group, discuss the railway’s promotion of wilderness tourism. Why did the railway begin to participate in the tourism industry?

You might discuss:

  • financial reasons
  • growing interest in wilderness vacations
  • the resorts or hotels that railways opened to promote tourism in your region


Split the students into groups of 3 or 4. Have them analyze the promotional material from the following sections:

The Great Escape: The Railway – Economics and Opportunity (brochures)

Being There: The Wilderness Resort – Highland Inn (brochures)

Being There: Outdoorsmen (magazine covers)

After examining the images from these documents, discuss the ways in which Algonquin Park was promoted to travelers.

You might ask some of the following questions:

  • What clientele seems to be targeted in the promotional material (e.g., men, women, hunters, fishermen/women)?
  • Are certain characteristics of the landscape idealized?
  • What kinds of differences are there in the general promotional material for the Park, the advertisements for the Highland Inn and the magazine covers? What does this say?
  • Are you surprised by any of the advertising? Does anything seem to be missing (e.g., the presence of Aboriginal peoples, industrial operations such as logging)?

Have each of the students research a segment of tourist promotion in their region. Considering the questions above, have them write a 500-word essay discussing the ways in which tourism is promoted, comparing the promotion of Algonquin Park in the early-twentieth century to modern tourism in their own area.

Other Resources: in English

Canada by Train


Canoes: The Shape of Success


Canadian Council for Geographic Education


Includes educational resources

Autre Resources: en Français

Le Canada par le train


Le canot : un succès renversant


Conseil canadien de l’enseignement de la géographie


Includes educational resources