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Canadian Confederation Essay Topics

Unit # 1

The  students will examine the major factors and events that led to the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867 and evaluate the challenges facing the advocates of union. They will also investigate regional interests and other factors that led to the growth of Canada, as other provinces and territories joined Confederation. They will extend their understanding of national issues by comparing negotiations among regional interests at the time of Confederation and comparing them to similar debates in Canada today.  (www.rhpl.richmondhill.on.ca)

Two excellent sources of additional information for this entire unit can be found at the following websites:
 1.    "The History of Canada Online"  http://bit.ly/qwKs5M
2.    The Library and Archives Canada has set up a website entitled "Confederation for Kids" which was written for children between the ages of 9-13 who are learning about why Canada became a country: http://bit.ly/aQ2lhB
3.  TVO has created an interactive webpage for kids to learn about famous Canadians and events called Time Trackers: http://bit.ly/OLQGYM

Day 1          WHY STUDY HISTORY?

As an introduction to Canadian history, and in an effort to dump the label that Canadian history is boring, we started the class with a discussion on why studying history is interesting.  We came up with a list of the following reasons:

·         To explain things,
·         To reflect on different cultures and eras of time,
·          To analyze human advancements,
·         To learn from mistakes and successes of past generations.

We followed this up with a short discussion on cultural differences that caused such tragedies as the Holocaust, the Tutsi versus Hutu conflict in the 1990’s and most recently 9/11, and analyzed what can be learned from these events.

We finished with an examination of historically significant events that upon being witnessed have a lasting impact on the observer.  We focussed on the social impact of hockey defining Canada within the international scene.  We looked at Paul Henderson’s game winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series versus the Soviet Union (my dad's generation), followed in my generation by Mario Lemieux’s game winning goal versus the Russians to win the Canada Cup in 1987 and finally my son's  generation in which Sydney Crosby scored the decisive goal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver versus the U.S.A.  These three events not only allow Canadians to feel a sense of nationalistic pride over different decades, but also demonstrate how important history can be when “shaping a nation”.

Week of Sept.  
(A)    We will start class by examining early photography of Brockville and discuss the similarities and differences of these same locations today. Check out this excellent web page put together by Brockville historian Doug Grant: http://bit.ly/pJCIGS 
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(B)    The students will then be asked to spend time familiarizing themselves with and defining key vocabulary that will assist them throughout this unit.   Due Sept.
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(C)    As well, the students will complete a mapping project that will enable them to understand the differences in the layout of BNA compared to present day Canada.  
For the map, the students are to:
1. label each of the colonies of BNA and use dashes (---) to indicate approximate land boundaries
2. colour each of the colonies a separate colour
3. label each of the major oceans that surround BNA 
Due  Sept.
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Day 4-5   BRITISH NORTH AMERICA 1850-1860
Sept. -Sept.
For this entire first unit, you may find it useful to check out this source for additional information:  http://bit.ly/piuqpc

For today's lesson you may find this link helpful: http://bit.ly/pdnQWE

(A)    During the decade of the 1850's British North America was undergoing rapid changes.  The entire expanse that we now know as "Canada" was at this time a loosely controlled collection of independent colonies of the British Empire.  There was little communication between the colonies and little desire to interact or trade.  The following link provides a good basic summary of life during this time: http://bit.ly/qGJoXH

Today the students are asked to examine life during the 1850's in each of the main regions of BNA and create a graphic organizer that summarizes the main features of life at the time.
1.  The Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland), 
2.  The Canadas (Canada East and Canada West) the area we now know as Quebec and Ontario, and 
3.  The West the large, mostly empty expanse of western BNA which now consists of the prairie provinces and British Columbia.
The students are to use the followingcriteriato organize their information: 
a) Name of Region, b) Size of Population, c) Major Ethnic Groups Within Region, and d) Key Economic Developments/Features 
Due: Sept.
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The entire documentary below is excellent, however focus on the part from 25 minutes to 30 minutes where the cable is laid and finally reaches Newfoundland.  It shows how arduous the task was and how much celebration there was around the world that the feat was accomplished.  Unfortunately, this first transatlantic cable (1858) failed after the initial success, but it did prove that it was possible.  By 1866, the technology had improved to the point that the messages could be sent almost ten times faster than the initial cable of 1858.
Mystery Quests - Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History
is a great website that fosters critical thinking (making inferences and drawing conclusions) in students.  The site offers various well known cases throughout Canadian History in which the final judgements in the case still invoke some doubt.  I would like to invesigate the case entitled "Heaven and Hell on Earth - The Massacre of the Black Donnelly's" in southwestern Ontario in 1880.  The website offers two assignments on this topic that I feel fit perfectly into the analysis of the lifestyle of the "typical" Canadian immigrant family during the decades leading up to and post Confederation.  To view the two assignments click on the following links:
1. MysteryQuest 10 - Life in the Townshiphttp://bit.ly/QfU3KI
2. MysteryQuest 19 - Life in Rural Ontario During the Late 19th Century: Hardship or Prosperity http://bit.ly/PDrxjy

Day 5-8          THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD and 
                    the American Civil War
Sept. -October

The following weblink provides a good general overview of the major incidences, outcomes  and personalities involved in both the Underground Railroad and the American Civil War.  It also provides fanatastic links to other websites for those who are interested in exploring more about these world altering historic topics.

(A)    In order for grade 8 students to understand the reasons that politicians had for initiating discussions about a union of the colonies of BNA, they must first have some background information about what was occuring in the USA in the mid 1800's.  Much of the talk of creating a union started with the commonly held belief (at the time) in Manifest Destiny (http://bit.ly/a3qBoS).  Many Canadians felt that an American attack was imminent, and the Civil War did alot to enhance those fears.

(B)    Over the next couple of history classes the students will examine several clips centering on theUnderground Railroad and the American Civil War.  The topics will include: short documentaries about the lifes of slaves; Negroe Spiritual songs with hidden messages about how to escape slavery; and two animated hero classics that feature the stories of Harriet Tubman (the Black Moses) and Abraham Lincoln (the American President during the Civil War).  For an excellent interactive storyline of a journey on the  "Underground Railroad" from the National Geographic website follow this weblink:  http://on.natgeo.com/kB4Dm

(C)    The following are a sampling of what the students will watch.  You can find the remaining parts of the animations and many other clips on these topics at www.youtube.com:

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A fun interactive weblink about the Underground Railroad can be found at Time Trackers Games - TVO found here:http://bit.ly/OLQGYM

We completed this section by watching the animated hero classic on Harriet Tubman.  This includes the story of Harriet Tubman's (The Black Moses) escape to the "Promised Land" and consequent return trip to assist her family in escaping as well.  I have included   the full 1/2 hour video here:
The American Civil War (1861-1865) - A Brief Overview
Animated Hero Classic - Abraham Lincoln


http://bit.ly/qoqSMm  http://bit.ly/qwKs5M  Watch the following humorous clip to learn how little the average Canadian citizen knows about Confederation and George Brown - who played an instrumental role in negotiating the terms that lead to the creation of the Dominion of Canada.

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To finish off the unit on Confederation, the students will complete 1 of 4 possible assignments about the concepts we have covered this unit.  An outline of the assignment is included in the list of files below.  I have also included the individual assignments and rubrics for each as well.  The video at the end shows an example of a song about Confederation that the students can use as a model if they decide to try this option.

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This portal will showcase the different methods used by members to teach History. We hope this resource will be of value to graduate students, new instructors, and established teachers who want to shake up their approaches in the classroom. We invite you to submit syllabi from all levels of classroom instruction, representing any geographical region or historical period, and written in either official language. All submissions should have a description of the course that will be searchable and can be up to 250 words in length.  We trust that members will use these shared resources responsibly.

Public History in Canada - Memory, Representation, Interpretation
Author: Laura Ishiguro
Course Subject: Canadian history / public history
Posted: January 15, 2018

This course is an introduction to public history in Canada. Through lectures, discussions, assignments, and activities, we explore how and why Canadian history has been interpreted or represented in public, and consider why it matters. Units explore common professional settings for public historical work in Canada; how historical interpretation enters our lives in more everyday ways; and controversies or points of contention in public history in Canada today. Like other 200-level courses in the UBC History department, HIST 236 is also designed to introduce key areas of historical practice including primary source analysis, historical writing, library and media skills, and (of course) public history.

This is a 200-level course with no pre-requisites, and is designed to be suitable for students with little or no background in Canadian history. (This means that the course doubles as an introduction to public history and an introduction to Canadian history.) In this version (2017-18), the assigned materials are almost all publicly accessible sources, and I am teaching the course with a parallel "light" version on Twitter that is intended to allow interested members of the public to follow along with course content - making the course both about public history, and a form of public history itself.

HIST 2500: Canadian History (York University
Author: Sean Kheraj
Course Subject: Canadian History
Posted: November 4, 2017

This is a syllabus for HIST 2500: Canadian History. This is an introductory survey course in Canadian history taught at York University in 2016-17.

Digital History, Skills and Tools for History in Canada
Author: J.M. McCutcheon
Course Subject: Digital History
Posted: November 4, 2016

What happens when the study of the past is presented in the digital realm? How does research and writing in a time when millions of significant primary and secondary source texts, photographs, videos, audio sources, artifacts, maps and much more have been made available via academic and public realms? Students will be introduced to a range of works on evaluating, interpreting and creating history using digital tools. Beyond course readings we will also critically engage a range of digital tools and resources as students will also learn how to construct, post, maintain and implement new media in their course work. This course will explore the current and potential impact of the use of digital media on historical analysis, practice, research and presentation.

This course will be taught with a blended learning model, including some flipped classes where students will watch relevant tutorials and lectures related to key concepts and then trouble shoot and collaborate in-class and using Adobe Connect.

A History of Women in Canada
Author: J.M. McCutcheon
Course Subject: A Survey of Women's History
Posted: November 4, 2016

This course will survey the history of girls and women in Canada from both a chronological and a thematic perspective. There will lectures along with interactive learning activities and discussions based on assigned readings. There will also be a focus on primary documents. Students will consider a specific identity, career or life cycle phase and explore change over time. Students will be encouraged to engage in social media tools for their projects and use technology to facilitate learning and enhance their research processes.

The Making of Canada
Author: J.M. McCutcheon
Course Subject: Survey of Canadian History
Posted: November 4, 2016

This survey course covered the major political, social, cultural, and military themes in Canadian history from the time before contact to the present. This course combined traditional lectures with workshops to learn about a diversity of approaches to studying Canadian history. Students examined specific events, people and learn to identify, critically evaluate and interpret a diversity of primary sources.

Students were introduced to digital tools like Zotero to help them manage their research and digitally born material relevant to course material like primary sources from Canadiana.org, digital newspapers, House of Commons Debates, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and online news sources.

Students also selected a novel related to Canadian history and evaluated the effectiveness of learning history from fiction.

History and Theory
Author: J.M. McCutcheon
Course Subject: Historical Research Methods
Posted: November 4, 2016

This course will examine the history of history within a global context. It will also include an analysis and study of specific theoretical frameworks used in historical interpretations and how the practice of history has changed over time. We will focus on the origins and development of historical narratives, practices, methods and ideas, and question the use and consequences of history in a variety of contemporary contexts.

Students will be tasked with understand what is history and how this idea, while common to all societies, has been studied and transmitted differently. How have and how do historians undertake historical inquiry? Other questions that will we consider includes: What role does history play in daily life? Communities? Nations? What is the use of history? What is the relationship between history and theory? What distinguishes history from other disciplines? We will use contemporary media sites, blogs, and other resources frequently.

As students of history and members of the university community, we should question and reflect critically on the diverse uses of history in contemporary society. Students should also begin to think about your own epistemological position – how do we know what we know about the past? How important is what is not known?

American History: Revolution to Reconstruction, 1776 to 1877
Author: J.M. McCutcheon
Course Subject: American History
Posted: November 4, 2016

This course was a general survey of U.S. history from the American Revolution (War of Independence) to the Civil War and if time permits, a consideration of the Reconstruction era. Lectures and readings provided students with an overview of the major social, political, cultural, economic, and demographic trends that affected and challenged the American republic between 1776 and the 1870s. Students considered how history was constructed and specific historical events have been commemorated and depicted over-time.
Students used the Valley of the Shadow website to complete their final research project by doing history. Students were also introduced to digital tools to further enhance their analysis of the past.

Material History and Material Culture in Canada
Author: J.M. McCutcheon
Course Subject: Material History
Posted: November 4, 2016

This course explored Canada’s history using material history methods and material culture research. Using inter-disciplinary approaches including, but not limited to archaeology, art history, Indigenous studies and museum studies, students examined and contextualized artifacts and objects to learn about Canada’s past. The course followed a thematic approach that included a consideration of pre-Contact material cultures, New France, British North America to the twentieth-century. Students were introduced to digital tools to display artifacts and to systematically analyze sources and objects relevant to Canada’s material past. Students will have opportunities to visit and become familiar with collections from institutions like the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian War Museum, the Museum of Science and Technology and the Library and Archives Canada. Students went on a walking tour and visit to Laurier House on Laurier Street. Students evaluated, interpreted and created history through their course work throughout the session.

This course may be taught with a blended learning model. A survey of student access to the Internet and devices for learning will be undertaken during the first week to determine how to approach this element of the source. We may have some flipped classes where students will watch relevant tutorials and lectures related to key concepts and then trouble shoot and collaborate in-class and using Adobe Connect.

Legacies of Indigenous Education in North America
Author: J.M. McCutcheon
Course Subject: History
Posted: November 4, 2016

This course examined the complex history of Indigenous education during the colonial era, through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the American context, how Native American children experienced boarding schools and federal education policies will be compared with the diversity of approaches missionaries, Church officials, bureaucrats sought to erase Indigenous identities and culture using Christianity to ‘civilize’ and educate. Students will study the history and legacies of schools, federal policies, inter-generational trauma to consider the processes of decolonization, reconciliation and healing in contemporary society.

Modern Germany, Part 2 1945 to the Present
Author: Lisa Todd
Course Subject: German History/European History
Posted: May 11, 2016

This upper-year lecture course examines German History from the end of World War II to the present. Beginning with the Allied occupation of Germany in 1945, we will study the formation of two separate states: the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. Using the tools of social, cultural, political, and gender history, we will then consider everyday life under communism and democracy, relations between the two Germanies, and the role of these states in the Cold War. We will analyze the rise of left-wing terrorism, consider the role of the “68ers”, discuss the role of atonement for the crimes of the Holocaust, and compare the lives of workers in the two states. We will then trace the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and think about the many challenges Germans continue to face following (re-) unification.

We will read primary documents and view documentaries and popular films (such as The Lives of Others and Good-bye Lenin) to further consider the interconnections between popular culture, memory, and political systems. Students will complete regular written assignments using primary documents from the on-line website German History in Documents and Images, a research essay, a midterm test, and a final exam.

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