HIST 329 (6 cr): Canadian Social History

HIST 329

Course Outline

Mode of Delivery

This is a print-based, correspondence course.

Course Description

History 329 Canadian Social History is a study of selected topics in the history of Canadian society, including frontier settlement, rural life, religion, social and institutional structures, immigration and ethnicity, social movements, ideology, family life and life cycle, demographic change, labour, industrialization and urbanization. This distance education course uses traditional as well as extensive video sources to survey selected topics in Canadian social history from the early 1600s to the 1970s. It explores the social and economic processes that brought Canadians together and structured relations among them through time. Using the concepts of gender, class and race/ethnicity extensively, it pays particular attention to the impact of immigration, industrialization, and urbanization on the development of Canadian society.


None, although a general knowledge of Canadian history is recommended.

Intended Student

History 329 is aimed at upper division students majoring in history, at other third- and fourth-year students in the humanities and social sciences, and at non-degree or part-time students interested in the social history of Canada. Although there are no formal prerequisites and no previous coursework in Canadian history is expected, a basic knowledge of the events that shaped Canada’s past would be helpful. It is recommended that students who lack this background obtain a copy of any of the standard accounts of Canada’s past to refer to as the course progresses.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. describe the shape and character of Canadian society as it developed over time, from the pre-industrial era, through industrialization to the post-industrial era of today;
  2. appreciate the relationships between economic and social processes and individual experiences;
  3. demonstrate a critical awareness of the nature of historical knowledge, with an emphasis on the way historians construct arguments and use evidence;
  4. recognize and explore the key debates and controversies in Canadian social history;
  5. analyze a wide variety of primary documents and feel comfortable making judgments about their provenance, relevance, and usefulness; and
  6. demonstrate new skills in analyzing material critically, constructing arguments and presenting written material in a clear, concise fashion.

Course Overview

Canadian Social History is divided into four sections, with four units in each section: Pre-Industrial Canada, The Transition to Industrialization, The Industrial Age, and The Age of Consumerism. After a brief introduction to the field of social history and an exploration of the context prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Section 1, Pre-Industrial Canada, examines the demographic history of New France and the contact experience between Europeans and Natives, with particular reference to events in Huronia. It concludes with an investigation of the structure and character of society in New France.

Section 2, The Transition to Industrialism, lays out the changing dynamics of demographics after 1780 with the emergence of a significant English-speaking population as well as the ethnic and geographic divisions within the population, then moves on to explore the nature of work including both rural work and the emergence of an industrial labour force. It then examines how dissent was expressed and controlled during this period and spends some time investigating the attendant growth of the state. It concludes by examining the nature of the Red River Rebellion.

Section 3, The Industrial Age, begins by examining the demographics during this period (1880–1930)
focussing particularly on Canada’s changing ethnic make-up and the marginalization of certain segments
of the population. It then explores the nature of work and labour resistance, the changing place of women
in Canadian society, and the quest for moral order. It concludes with an exploration of the Great Depression which emphasizes responses to this crisis and the role of popular culture in these protests.

The fourth and final section, The Age of Consumerism, introduces the subject of consumerism through the prism of leisure and recreation, tracing the shift from class culture to mass culture. It develops this theme further by exploring the growth of consumption through the growth of the department store, the shopping centre, and the mall. Next it explores the impact of WW II on Canadian society and concludes by focussing on the loss of the post-war consensus and the resulting fragmentation of Canadian society.

Topic Outline

The course content is divided into the following sixteen units:

Section 1 Pre-Industrial Canada

  • Unit 1 The History Before the History of Canadian Society
  • Unit 2 New France
  • Unit 3 British North America
  • Unit 4 State Formation in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Canada

Section 2 The Transition to Industrialism

  • Unit 5 Work During the Transition to Industrialism
  • Unit 6 Rural Society
  • Unit 7 The Age of Industry
  • Unit 8 “Citizens” and “Others”

Section 3 The Industrial Age

  • Unit 9 Approaches to the History of Women
  • Unit 10 The Origins of Consumerism
  • Unit 11 War and Society
  • Unit 12 The State and Social Welfare

Section 4 The Age of Consumerism

  • Unit 13 The “Lucky Generation”
  • Unit 14 “A Great Appetite for Normalcy”: The Canadian Family at Mid-Century
  • Unit 15 “A Race Apart”: Native Peoples and Modernity
  • Unit 16 Challenging the Status Quo

Course Materials

The materials for this course consist of the HIST 329 Course Manual and Study Guide, Assignments, Textbooks, Custom Course Materials (readings), and two video cassettes (alternatively, 4 DVDs). The video material will be sent to you on loan.

Course Manual and Study Guide

The Course Manual and Study Guide organizes the course material into a series of “units.” The commentary for each unit provides an overview, highlights particular problems, points out relevant readings, and suggests study questions. Manual and Study Guide are part of the Learner Package and available at the UBC Bookstore.


The Assignments booklet contains all your assignments for the course. Please read carefully and ensure that you complete all required assignments.

Textbooks and Custom Course Materials

Although the majority of the readings for this course will be found in the Custom Course Materials, the following books are required reading as well; you can order your course manual, texts and custom course materials from the UBC Bookstore.


  • Allan Greer, The People of New France. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.
  • Gerhard J. Ens, Homeland to Hinterland: The Changing Worlds of the Red River Metis in the Nineteenth Century. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996.

Custom Course Materials

  • Custom Course Materials: Readings. Distance Education Section.

Available ONLINE at: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/cha-shc/008004-111.01-e.php?q1=H&interval=100

  • Ruth Roach Pierson, Canadian Womanhood in the Second World War. Canadian Historical Association Booklet, Volume #37
  • Jean-Paul Bernard, The Rebellions of 1837 and 1838 in Lower Canada. Canadian Historical Association Booklet, Volume #55

HIST329 Textbook Order Form

Video Material (on loan)

Visual images, both still and moving, provide another way of exploring the forces that shaped Canadian society. The video material provided include a number of these images that will be used in conjunction with both the commentaries and readings. These selections will also serve as a source for one of your medium-length assignments. Popular culture, such as folk songs and popular music, provide a unique entry point into Canada’s past and, as such, are useful sources for the study of social history. The videos are an integral component of the course and will be used both in conjunction with the commentaries and as a source for at least one of your written assignments.

How to Proceed Through the Course

You are allowed eleven (11) months to complete this course. Each of the sixteen (16) units, including reading and assignments, should take two to three weeks, although the pace will depend, to some extent, on the complexity of the material and other demands on your time. You should begin each unit with the course manual and then move on, as instructed, to the audio or video tapes, and finally to the readings.

It is advisable to set up a regular study schedule for yourself, just as if you were attending an on-campus
class. The course schedule enclosed in your package will assist you in organizing your time in order to
complete the units and the course work in the time allowed.


Course requirements include seven pieces of written work plus a final examination.


  1. Four mini essays of approximately 800–1,000 words in length (3–4 typed pages double-spaced).
  2. Two medium-sized essays of approximately 1,200–1,500 words (5–8 typed pages, double-spaced).
  3. One major essay of approximately 2–2,500 words (10–12 typed, double-spaced essays), which will be a traditional research essay defined by the student and approved by the instructor.

Final Examination

The final examination will be three hours long. For the exam, you will be asked to choose and write three essays which will focus largely on the study questions that accompany each lesson.

Grading system

Mini Essays (7.5% x 4 = 30%) 30
Mini essay 1 7.5
Mini essay 2 7.5
Mini essay 3 7.5
Mini essay 4 7.5
Medium Essays (10% x 2 = 20%) 20
Medium essay 1 10
Medium essay 2 10
Major Essay 20
Final Exam 30

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