Museum Classroom: Timeline of the Welland Canal

Lesson: Timeline of the Welland Canal
Topic: The Welland Canal
Sup-Topic: The History of the Community Over Time
Grade: 3-8

Activity: Timeline Photo Activity

Materials Required

  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Masking Tape
  • Blank pieces of paper (lined and not lined)

Materials Provided

  • Welland Canal Timeline Photos
  • Welland Canal Timeline Answer Key
  • Timeline of My Life graphic organizer

Pre-Lesson: Discussion of Time
With a partner or family member, discuss what time is. How do we know the difference between morning and night? How do we know how old we are? When we remember events that have happened to us, how do we know when it happened to us? Last week? Last Year? When we were three years old? These events make up the time in our lives. It can be recorded on a line of time, starting at our birth to the current day. This is called a Timeline. Timelines help look at time like a story. It has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Print off the Timeline of My Life graphic organizer and take 15-20 minutes to record major events in your life. If you are working with a partner or family member, take turns interviewing each other and record the events down on the graphic organizer under the appropriate spot. Events could include the birth of a sibling, big moves, starting school, meeting a best friend, vacations, or any other significant event in their lives.

One of the many jobs the Collections Technicians at the St. Catharines Museum have are organizing and cataloguing photos by their appropriate date. However, photographs at the Museum are not always labelled or have adequate information and it is up to the Collections Technicians to conduct research on the photos for more information. Estimates of what year a photograph was taken can sometimes be narrowed down by looking for clues in the photograph i.e., location, where the photograph was taken (i.e., buildings, houses, mountains, etc.), or how people are dressed, etc.

For this activity, you will need a large open table or floor space (i.e., living room, basement, bedroom). Print out all of the Welland Canal Timeline Photos. Create a long line on the floor using masking tape or even a long piece of string or rope. The left side of your line will represent the 1800s, the middle will represent the 1900s and the right side will represent the current day.

Note: if you are unable to print the Welland Canal Timeline photos, STCM has created a virtual timeline worksheet with instructions to complete this activity digitally. You may also make your own virtual template on a preferred computer program. Get creative!

Imagine yourself as a collections technician working for the St. Catharines Museum and using the knowledge you have gained of working timelines. With a partner, family member or by yourself, examine the photographs, looking for clues that may tell you when the photograph was taken. Once you have a guess, place the image on your time line. As you add more photographs, begin to analyze your timeline and see if you can notice the progression between the photographs from the First Welland Canal to the Fourth Welland Canal.

Wrap-up Discussion
Once all the photos have been placed, discuss with a partner or family member why you placed the photographs where you did. What clues and inferences did you make based on the photo? Does it fit in with the other photos? What previous knowledge did you use to help figure it out?

With a partner or family member, discuss the biggest differences between the photographs in the timeline. What has changed the most? When was the biggest changes or shifts happening? How has the use of the canal changed? How has the fashion, or types of machinery changed?

Add the moments from your Timeline of My Life graphic organizer to the timeline. If doing this activity with a partner or family member, both of you can add to the timeline. Either make a photo copy and cut out your timeline squares or if you have photographs of your timeline event, place it on the timeline. Can you find any similarities or differences between your timeline of events compared to the Welland Canal timeline photographs

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