The School Car

The CN “School on Wheels” program travelled along CN track in remote northern Ontario for 39 years (there were seven such school cars in northern Ontario). Mr. Sloman had one of the longest tenures as a teacher in these rolling schools, riding the rails and teaching in this mobile classroom while, in the same rail car, he and his wife Cela lived, raised, and taught their own five children.

The CN trains travelling the 240 kilometres between Capreol and Foleyet would move the School Car from siding to siding, allowing Fred Sloman to teach and bring the outside world to the isolated children of the north, which included those of newly immigrated railway section workers living along the line, woodsmen, hunters, trappers, and native Canadians.

The School Car would stay for a week at a time, before being moved to the next siding where some students would travel many miles by canoe, dog team, or snowshoe for classes. Mr. Sloman would teach any number of students of varying ages, then leave homework with them until his return visit about a month later. There are many Canadians who have fond memories of both the Slomans and their time at the School Car.

As one former School Car student recently wrote of the Slomans: “As an immigrant from Italy to this country in the early 1950s and being only a little over six years old and not being able to speak a word of English, it was truly a blessing to have the Slomans as our mentors, friends and extended family.