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Canadian History

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Notes will be updated sporadically.


Class Notes


September 10


-         To understand aboriginal disputes that are occurring today.

-         To explore origins.

-         How did this country emerge?  Who was present?  What motivated them?

-         KEY ISSUE:  Worldview

o       Worldview helps to explain why people do what they do.

o       Worldview is the framework in which people answer the big questions in life: 

§         Who am I?  Why am I here?  Why do I exist?

§         Who is God?

·        Is this life all there is, or is there more?

§         What problems do we face?

§         What solutions can we come up with?

o       These questions are answered based upon:

§         The tradition in which you operate

§         The race of which you are a part

§         Questions of gender

§         Economic circumstances

§         Social circumstances

§         Class

§         Religion

§         The historical moment in which they lived (who had power, who didn’t, etc.)

o       However, people are completely unpredictable at times.

o       You have to pay attention to the bias of historians as well.


-         There was no natural reason that Canada should exist as a country.

-         Canada has no natural boundaries (mountains, rivers, etc.)

-         There are no specific ethnic groupings.

-         It has no natural patterns of communications across the country.

-         The natural flow is north/south, not east/west.

-         This country came about as the result of intentional decisions by people who were in positions of power at the time that the country emerged.

-         It came about as a result of a defined idea.

-         It is not historically an accident that Canada emerged as a distinct nation at the same time that the US civil war was being fought, Germany was being united, Italy was being created as a nation.

-         The question in Canada is “What would Canada be?”

o       Canada would be English because the English people were in power at the time.

o       Minorities (the French at this time) would be grudgingly allowed.

o       We would be distinctly NOT American.

o       We were to be a monarchy, and not a republic.

o       We were going to be Protestant, not Catholic, although French Catholicism would be grudgingly allowed a minority.

o       Canada would be capitalist, somewhat democratic, and imperialist expansionist.

o       There was no mechanism for dealing with minorities.

o       This can be seen in the first arrival already.

September 17, 2007

-         Article Summaries:  Look at the thesis of each article, and the supporting evidence for it.

-         Northwest area: practiced enslavement

-         Plateau people:  in the higher valleys between the mountains; connected with the people in the plains

-         Plains people:  live on buffalo; nomadic—move with the buffalo

-         Subartic and artic people:  hunters

-         Southeast:  Algonquin, Iroquois, Huron—significant population growth

-         The evidence of First Nations settlement is human artifacts (burial grounds, etc.), tools, pottery, and some smatterings of a leftover oral tradition.

-         Where did they come from though?

o       The prevailing theory is Beringia.  Somewhere in between 15000 BCE and 30000 BCE, people from Asia/Russia crossed a land bridge that existed then to come to North America..

-         In the 1930’s, at Clovis, New Mexico, the first indisputable evidence of human settlement in North America is found.

-         Carbon dating put this evidence at 12 000 BCE.

-         This theory is still believed today.

-         The simplicity of the theory is why it is still so popular.

-         The physical features of Northern and Southern aboriginal people resemble those of the residents of Siberia.

-         The question remains:  How did they survive across the ice fields of the north, and the long walk.

-         North American aboriginals had well defined cultural and social traditions.

September 24, 2007


-         Was very involved with the natural world.

-         Nature was a whole entity

-         While Europeans might characterize spirituality as a straight line with some important elements along the line, ending at the Second Coming.  The line is going somewhere.  In the Native view (a circle), everything just is.

-         Native spirituality has no institutional presence, which further frustrated the French, and other Europeans.  They believed the natives to be heathens because their religion was not institutionalized.

-         There was also no sense of religious toleration at this time—Europeans believed that you had to be a Christian; there was nothing else to it.

-         There is strong evidence that the Natives first readily received the Europeans in a warm fashion when they first came to North America.  They understood quickly that they might benefit from the trade and technology with the white people. 

-         However, when the Europeans begin to push a little to hard, the Natives begin to realize what they are losing in trade with them.


-         You have to be able to understand the past to be able to understand the impact of the event.  Specifically, the Europeans were more reliant upon the Natives than they allowed themselves to admit.

-         Wickwire uses Native accounts, whereas Trigger uses only European accounts.  Wickwire looks at the oral tradition.

-         Trigger’s primary source is the Jesuit records.

-         ISSUE #1:  Availability of sources.

-         ISSUE #2:  The oral tradition was not considered credible in the 1968, when Trigger wrote his article.

-         The natives thought Simon Fraser was Christ

-         Why does a historian record the things that they do?

o       The Jesuit records were written for the public consumption of the people of France.  They were hoping for financial aid for their mission efforts from the people back in Europe.

-         Wickwire wants the reader to see themselves as “the other”


-         Only one authenticated Norse settlement in North America:  Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland.  This was more of a harbour than a permanent settlement, however.

-         The Norse were looking for a more hospitable place to settle than this northern area, but there seems to have been some resistance from the aboriginal people.

-         1450:  John Cabot is the first European to do some more serious exploration of North America.  His trips are made possible by the technological advances of the Renaissance.

-         John Cabot went to Henry VII (England) suggesting that he fund Cabot’s next exploration.  In 1497, Cabot takes the Matthew into the North Atlantic.  The ship was 24 metres long, and 7 metres wide.

-         He reaches Newfoundland and thinks that it is Asia.  He claims the land for England, and returns to England quickly.  Cabot’s return to North America, though, lead to his demise, as he was never heard from again.

-         In 1570, the English return for the fish.

October 1, 2007

-         ID Exam #1

o       30-45 minutes, choice of six or eight out of ten or twelve options.

o       Material for the test will cover to the end of the October 1st class

o       Must identify and give the historical context and importance of each item.

o       CHAMPLAIN will absolutely be on this test.

o       Point form is ok.

October 15, 2007


-         Prior to 1763, the boundaries between French and English territories in North America were very fluid—there was an ebb and flow to the boundaries.

-         At their peak, the French holdings in N.A. extended as far south as Louisiana, as far north as Hudson’s Bay, as far east as Acadia, and as far west as the fur-trading areas by the Great Lakes. 

-         The St. Lawrence Valley is the centre of all the imperial dominance disputes.

-         Acadia is caught in between British and French territory.

-         Acadia is an offshoot of France’s earliest attempts to establish themselves in North America.

-         The French government wasn’t completely committed to the settlements in Acadia—they were after the St. Lawrence Valley region.

-         1713—Acadia is surrendered to the British for the final time.  This sets the stage for two things:

o       The period of the greatest prosperity that Acadia had ever experienced.

o       The deportation of the Acadians.

-         The history of the Acadians have focused primarily upon their deportation, and then tried to figure out what happened from there. 

-         Naomi Griffiths has argued that people have tried to look at political authorities and what they were doing leading up to this deportation.  She believes that we need to look at the Acadian way of life prior to the exile to understand what was happening.

o       The Golden Age of the Acadians was the time wherein the Acadian character is established (1713-1748).  The British are in control of the area during this entire time.

o       Her most compelling sub-arguments:

§         The policy of neutrality—some of the natural leadership that existed in the Acadian community, as well as some influence from the church.  They are not a down-trodden people at all.

§         The demographics—the population in Acadia was expanding rapidly.

§         Economically successful

§         Healthy environment

§         Peace.

-         Elizabeth Mancke’s article was concerned with the Acadian connection to the creation of government in Nova Scotia.

-         After the 1713 takeover, there is a recurring theme:  The Acadians are asked to take an oath to the British monarchy.  The Acadians refuse, because it was unwise if the French were not gone from their lives for good.

-         The Acadians simply wanted to be left alone—they became known as the “Neutral French”

-         They were afraid that if they swore allegiance to the English, they would be bound by English law—especially that they could not exercise their Roman Catholicism.

-         The Acadians were also afraid of the Iroquois—they might not like the Acadians making an alliance with the English.

-         They were also not sure if they would be staying in Acadia.

-         The Acadians say that they will take the oath of allegiance if they do not have take up arms against the French in the future, but the English will not agree to that.

-         The fact that the British could not establish a colony in Nova Scotia like all of their colonies elsewhere changed the way that they (the British) thought about “empire”.  They now had to consider how to think about a multi-ethnic empire.  This problem will be even more in their face when they take over Quebec.

October 29, 2007


-         1776-1783 American Revolution

-         John Locke

o       All men are free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  No government has the right to interfere with that freedom.

-         Edmund Burke

o       The father of conservative thinking

o       Government and the state develop slowly and organically

o       The change is based on needs, and on the history

-         Declaration of Independence—if the government persists in doing what the people being governed do not want, then those people have an inalienable right to overthrow the government.

-         The French got involved on the side of the American colonists—sent supplies to help the Americans

-         The war drags on for seven years, and the British population speaks up in defiance of the government’s actions.

-         1775:  the American colonists invade Quebec because:

o       1.  They believe the people in Quebec will welcome them because they had just been conquered by Britain.

o       2.  They see this as a way to get back at Britain.

-         In the end, the British did very little to protect those in the colonies who fought for them (both Loyalists and Native populations).

-         Loyalist Elite—given land and money after the war.  Were upset at not having as much governmental power and control though.

November 5, 2007

-         Canada as an “imagined community”

o       Canada does not really have a natural geographic existence

o       It would be British in its orientation

o       It would be white

o       This would be a capitalist country in its economic orientation


-         Fishing industry

-         Fur trade

o       Establishes a  British presence in land that is left to the British

o       The Hudson’s Bay company was left to create order in this area

o       They joined the Northwest Company

o       This latter company had always been aggressive in its westward expansion because it is always looking for new sources of high quality furs

o       It was managed by Scottish immigrants to Montreal, but its labour force were French Canadian voyageurs and Native people who did the trapping.

o       This company grew by forcing out smaller operators.

o       The Hudson’s Bay company is eventually taken over by the Selkirk family, who decide to expand the company.  In 1811 the family is given a large chunk of company land and established a settlement at the Red River (later becomes Winnipeg).

o       The joining of the two companies creates a massive company that controls most of Canada

o       The profits are going to Britain, however, and the St. Lawrence area begins to focus less on furs and more on agriculture.

-         Timber industry

o       Encouraged early on by the British government

o       High duties on timber from places other than its colonies

o       “Ecological Imperialism”  By the 1850s about 1/3 of the forests in Southern Ontario had been cleared, by 1875 that number was up to 75% and by 1914 it was 90% (Text, page 284).

-         Wheat

o       Becomes a staple of the St. Lawrence Valley area

o       Easy to grow in this area

o       Easy to ship

o       Profitable for farmers in North America

o       The wheat boom led to the establishment of towns and villages

-         Adam Smith (1776) publishes a book called “The Wealth of Nations” which is hugely influential in the area of worldview.

o       “The world is run according to natural laws, and the purpose of those natural laws is to allow people to be free.  Freedom is the highest possible human value.  In the case of economics, the natural law at work is the law of supply and demand.  Trade should flow according to the law of supply and demand, not according to government regulation.”

§         Price is determined by supply and demand, according to this theory.

§         The government’s task is to allow the market to operate without interference.

-         The British abandoned mercantilism in all of its colonies, not just in North America

-         This also changes British foreign policy, because they want to have good relations with countries with which they hope to trade.

November 26, 2007


-         1st article thesis:  As the church helped lower Canadians move from the period of imperial power, and after the failure of the patriots and their efforts, the church stepped in.  The church brought about the temperance movement and helped society;  on the other side, the temperance movement helped to strengthen the church’s position in society, thus further establishing the church in lower Canadian society.  Failure of the Rebellion of 1837 is directly linked to this Temperance movement  (1848-1851).

-         Ultramontane

-         “The Orange Order”  Irish protestants; original settlers of St. John’s and Portland


-         Five Founding Families of Victoria

o       Mixed race families

o       Female descendants of these families were much better at assimilating than the male descendants.

o       Mixed race males are at a disadvantage because there is an overabundance of white Protestant males to fill employment opportunities and to marry the few women in the province.  The surplus of males made it difficult  for mixed race males when it came to competition for spaces in public life.

o       The settlers in B.C. were trying to be more British than the British in this new community.  Thus, power is assigned to males, whereas women were subservient.

-         Hardy Backwoodsmen:  Wholesome Women and Families

December 3, 2007


-         Moodie was born and raised in Britain as part of the gentry class.

-         Upper-middle class with people to do their labour for them, and lived fairly well.

-         Protestant Anglican

-         She comes to Canada because she is in search of a better life because her family is running out of money, and all the advertisements for Canada indicate that it was a land of wealth and opportunity.  She believes that these were all lies that they were told.

-         She is disillusioned by her experience in Canada

-         She has all the prejudices of a person of her class

-         She is not afraid of the Natives

-         RELIGION

-         Moodie had a reliance upon God and direct acts from Him

-         God is the only One that got them through their life in the bush.

-         She does not dwell upon the fact very much that she is a Protestant

-         There are times when she feels that God has abandoned her.

-         She wrote the book to make money; also, as a cautionary tale to the gentry, and to tell the lower class that they can improve their life by coming


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