Skip navigation links (access key: Z)Library and Archives Canada - Bibliothèque et Archives Canada Canada
Home > Browse Selected Topics > SOS! Canadian Disasters Franšais

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Banner: SOS! Canadian Disasters
IntroductionDisaster Media ReportsSearchHelpWaterEarthAirFireIce

Educational Resources

Lesson 4 - Ice Disaster Lesson


In this lesson your students will learn about ice disasters by role-playing a royal commission inquiry into Canadian ice disasters.


  1. Bookmark the following websites:

  2. Print the Handout 4.1 Royal Commission Report and make copies for your students.


120 minutes



There is a reason Canada is nicknamed "The Great White North". In most parts of the country, we experience four distinct seasons throughout the year, and from late autumn through mid-spring, we can count on the presence of snow and ice. Normally, we're prepared for anything winter can throw at us. In fact, we embrace snow and ice. We bundle up in parkas and toques and enjoy the season. We ski, toboggan, snowmobile, play hockey, build snowmen and smile through billows of visible breath. But ice can be just as dangerous as it can be fun, and when it catches us off guard, the results can be disastrous.

Body of Lesson

In this lesson your students will learn about three major Canadian Ice Disasters:

  • Chilkoot Pass Avalanche of April 3, 1898
  • Sinking of the Titanic, April 14, 1912
  • Ice Storm January 5 - 10, 1998.
  1. In order to handle these three major events in an interesting and engaging way and to also make your students aware of how government investigates issues, controversies and disasters tell your class that they are going to take on the role of an official government inquiry or royal commission.

  2. You could begin by discussing with your students what a Royal Commission is. There are many examples to be found through a search on the Internet. Here are a few websites that you will find useful:

  3. Now organize your class into three Ice Disasters Royal Commissions. Each team will be responsible to prepare a Royal Commission Report on one of these Disasters:
    • Chilkoot Pass Avalanche of April 3, 1898
    • Sinking of the Titanic, April 14, 1912 or
    • Ice Storm January 5 - 10, 1998

  4. Use the Handout 4.1 Royal Commission Report to help students in their research and report. Use the primary sources and secondary sources provided on the SOS! Canadian Disasters website at as well as the following websites to find the information you need to complete your Royal Commission report:

Chilkoot Pass Avalanche of April 3 1898:
Write Yukon/Klondike Gold Rush/Chilkoot Trail:*D2*C4&a=*99*94T*7D*29

Parks Canada Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada:

Parks Canada National Historic Sites of Canada in the Klondike:

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park:

Sinking of the Titanic, April 14, 1912:
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Titanic Research Page:

Titanic ~ Maritime Museum of the Atlantic Online Info Sheet

Titanic ~ The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax, Nova Scotia

Titanic Artifacts ~ Wireless Log

Ice Storm January 5 - 10, 1998:
The Ice Storm of 1998 - Disasters and Tragedies - CBC Archives

The Ice Storm of 1998 - For Teachers - CBC Archives

Ice Storm 98: Main Page - Ice Storm '98 - [Meteorological Service of Canada - Green Lane]

Report by the Nicolet Commission


  1. After each group has completed its report ask them to present their findings and recommendations to the class. Then try to come up with some overall recommendations to tie the reports together:
    • Is there something we can do to prevent Ice Disasters?
    • Are there better ways of handling these disasters when they do occur?
    • Do we need a permanent Ice Disaster prevention and emergency team in place?

  2. You could send copies of your Royal Commission reports to your local Member of Parliament or to the Cabinet minister in charge of emergencies or natural disasters or even to the Prime Minister.

Assessment Opportunities

Use the Handout 4.2 Royal Commission Inquiry into Ice Disasters: Assessment Rubric to assess the results of each students work in producing the Royal Commission Reports.