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Welcome to The Canadian Atlas Online (CAOL) Learning Centre. With the terrific learning resources available here, you can make geography and history come alive in your classroom like never before! Our lesson plans and classroom activities are available to download in several formats to help both teachers and students engage more fully with this site’s content. Teacher-members of the Canadian Council for Geographic Education have prepared these free resources that meet curriculum learning objectives based on the topics featured throughout the CAOL.

You may select the resources by province, grade level, and topic. Alternatively, you can simply view all available lesson plans.

To view all available lesson plans click here.

Atlas themes Teaching level Province/Territory

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Telling the Story of Canada’s Railway

On November 7, 2010, Canadian Pacific (CP) and Parks Canada hosted a public celebration commemorating the 125th anniversary of the driving of the Last Spike and the completion of Canada's first transcontinental railway. In this lesson, students will write the script for a CP video that has no narrative accompaniment.

Train of Thought: An Annotated Timeline of Western Railroads and Critical Analysis of Events.

In this lesson, students combine critical thinking, chronology, writing and representation skills to create an annotated timeline of the development of the railway and its impact on Western Canada. Using both multimedia and internet resources, students research major events in the progress of the western railway system and categorize these events chronologically and in order of importance. The end result is a well researched timeline featuring illustrations, annotations and student insights into the building of the railroad and the nation.

Building a Railway: Human and Physical Considerations

Students will create a poster that compares the physical and human components required to build the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880’s to railroad development projects in the present.

Advances in Rail Research Project

The history and geography of New Brunswick could easily be studied by exploring the development of New Brunswick trains and railways. The focus of this lesson is to examine the development of technology as it relates to train engines, train cars and cabooses. Students will review and research the information on railways located on the Canadian Atlas Online (CAOL), particularly the development of trains over the last 120 years.

A Railway in Newfoundland? All Aboard for the Past!

By examining the story of the Newfoundland Railway, students will determine the reasons why the Newfoundland Government undertook the project; the geographical problems that had to be overcome in its construction; the problems that led to its demise; and what has become of the former railway property today. This study will examine how the railway aided the growth of industry in the region, influenced settlement patterns and contributed to tourism development. In analyzing this defunct project, students will also determine if a renewed railway of any sort is an alternate and greener source of transportation for the future.

Railways and Railway Stations of Nova Scotia

In this lesson, students will research, analyse, and write about the railways and railway stations of Nova Scotia. They will use the Canadian Atlas Online (CAOL) and other online resources to discover the history of Nova Scotia Rail, conduct other research on the history of rail within Canada and apply their knowledge through mapping and journal writing.

The economic impact of the Mackenzie Northern Railway and the Great Slave Lake Railway

This lesson examines the creation of the Mackenzie Northern Railway, more specifically the Great Slave Lake Railway, and the role it played in the economic development of the Great Slave region of the Northwest Territories. Students will research and participate in a debate on the impact of the Great Slave Lake Railway on the economic development of the southern area around Great Slave Lake.

Expanding Canada’s Rail Network to Meet the Challenges of the Future

Rail may become a more popular mode of transportation in the future due to increased population, higher energy costs, resource depletion, climate change, globalization, Arctic development and a desire for a greener world. In this lesson, students will use GIS technology to plan and map a new Canadian railway that will help to address the challenges of a changing world.

The Importance of Canadian Railways

Students will read and analyse maps, construct and analyse graphs and communicate their understanding of the importance of Canada’s railways and transportation systems.

Canada Rail Passenger Service: All Aboard for the Future!

For motivation, the lesson starts with a matching challenge that highlights famous passenger trains. The lesson next focuses on rail as a viable form of transportation in terms of its small carbon footprint. In the culminating activity, students complete a brochure that promotes a passenger service on a selected three-hundred kilometre stretch of rail shown on CANADA'S STEEL ROADS poster-map. They will name the train; indicate the route on a map; describe points of geographic and historical interest that can be viewed through the window; and create a trip-related activity for children.

The role of railways in the development of industrial areas

Encourage students to become aware of the role of the railway in the industrial development of the Great Lakes region and the St. Lawrence valley, as well as its role in an intermodal transportation network.

All Aboard: Railway Service Options for Saskatchewan

Students analyse a business proposal for a new rail service for the province and make recommendations for the most economically advantageous service options, based on research into past, present and future trends in railways.

Westward, ho! The Railway in the Economic and Social Development of Western Canada

Students will use online sources to learn about the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as it moved into Canada’s westernmost province. They will examine its significance from a social and economic point of view in order to recognize the role and contribution of the railway to the development of British Columbia.