Frontier Facebook Frontier twitter
/About Us / Our History

Our History

Frontier College is Canada's original literacy organization, with a rich and storied history dating back to our beginning in 1899. Take a tour of Frontier College through the decades. If you have photos or stories to share with us, please send them to information@frontiercollege.ca or use the

Submit Your Own Story page.

  • 1899
    Teacher and reverend Alfred Fitzpatrick founds Frontier College, sending trained individuals to logging camps, mines and railway lines. These Labourer-Teachers worked alongside the men during the day
    Alfred Fitzpatrick founds Frontier College
  • 1903
    Frontier College begins in Saskatchewan (before it is even a province!)
    Frontier College starts in Saskatchewan
  • 1911
    Norman Bethune joins the Reading Camp association and is sent to work at the Victoria Harbour Lumber Company. He went on to become a noted physician and inventor.
    Norman Bethune joins the Reading Camp
  • 1920
    Jessie Lucas is hired as secretary-treasurer. Her dedication to maintaining records lead to an incredible archive of adult education resources. Today, she is remembered at the Frontier College headquarters.
    Jessie Lucas is hired
  • 1929
    Dr. Margaret Strang becomes the first woman Labourer-Teacher to participate in the homesteading program, bringing education to children in remote Northern Ontario communities.
    Margaret Strang: The First Woman Labourer-Teacher
  • 1929
    Dr. Margaret Strang becomes the first woman Labourer-Teacher to participate in the homesteading program, bringing education to children in remote Northern Ontario communities.
    First woman Labourer-Teacher
  • 1970s
    Women and couples are recruited to work in cities and rural areas. Jane Henson becomes the first woman Labourer-Teacher to work at a copper mine.
    Women and couples are recruited
  • 1977
    UNESCO recognized our work in the field of adult education by awarding Frontier College with the 1977 Literacy Prize (also known as The Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Prize)
    Frontier College receives the UNESCO medal
  • 1986
    Frontier College’s national headquarters is relocated to 35 Jackes Avenue in Toronto. The beautiful house (originally owned by Robert Laidlaw) was given to us by the National Ballet of Canada in exchange for the College's earlier headquarters.
    Frontier College’s national headquarters is relocated
  • 2002
    Frontier College headquarters was named Gzowski House in honour of renowned CBC journalist and College supporter, Peter Gzowski.
    Headquarters named Gzowski House
  • 2005
    The Summer Literacy Camps program began in five First Nation communities in Northern Ontario.
    Summer Literacy Camps program begin
  • 2009
    Manitoba launches their first Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camp in Little Miskwaadesi (Turtle) Camp
    First Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camp
  • 2015
    The Summer Literacy Camps program grows to 99 communities across Canada.
    Summer Literacy Camps program grows
Find a Program

Did You Know ?

In 1920, Jessie Lucas became secretary-treasurer of Frontier College and remained in that position for 43 years. Along with a handful of female Labourer-Teachers, Ms. Lucas was one of the first women hired at the College.

Back to Top