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The Rugged Road to Learning

Accession number: 
Production Years: 


Film Properties: 
Length (feet): 
2131 (28mm), 1988 (35mm), 792 (16mm)
Length (minutes): 
Holding Institutions: 

Library and Archives Canada: 28mm, 35mm, 16mm, Digibeta, VHS.
"Documentary film advocating the consolidation of rural schools and the use of mass transportation for children attending the new centres. A day at the little red school house is shown unfavourably. Children tire themselves walking to school in deep snow, have to warm themselves around the wood stove, get bored when teacher spends time with more advanced classes, eat lunch around the stove, etc. The film makes a point that two tramps are prowling around in the woods and on the road the children must use to return home. Two young girls, returning home from school, take to the woods to avoid the tramps they see on the road. Two boys get worried when the girls are late in regaining the road. Finally, the girls reappear. In the meantime the parents of the girls and boys get worried in their turn because the children are late coming home. Everybody relaxes when the children show up safe and sound. Sequences on a Ratepayers Association meeting regarding consolidation of rural schools. The vote is taken in favour of consolidation. View of a large consolidated school encompassing five Ontario county districts. The school is opened by the Ontario Minister of Education. Sequences on life at the consolidated school. Children are conveyed to school in large sleds, appear more lively and interested, study subjects preparatory to high school entrance. Shots of students doing shopwork, domestic sciences, and extra-curricular activities."

"This film advocates the consolidation of rural schools into larger education centers and the use of mass transportation for children attending these new schools. The Rugged Road to Learning dramatizes a day in the life of children who, before consolidation, had to travel through the snowy woods to attend a cold country schoolhouse. Later in the film, a larger, consolidated school encompassing five Ontario country districts is featured favourably. Scenes show happy and lively children who are ready to learn. The use of dramatic scenes to underline a film's message was a common technique by the 1920s. Although this film is far from subtle, it was well understood that "the great mass of the movie public want to be amused and entertained not instructed, and if they are to be educated it must be in a subtle, delicate manner" (Rankin, p. 936).

Rankin, Norman S. "With the Edison Players Across the Contintent." Man to Man Magazine. Vol. 6-7 (June 1910 to January 1911), quoted in Peter Morris, Embattled Shadows: A History of Canadian Cinema, 1895-1939. (Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press), p. 91."