Curriculum Guideline

Canada Before Confederation

Effective Date:
Course Code
HIST 1113
Canada Before Confederation
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

Class sections will be divided between lectures and seminar discussions. The seminar discussion sessions will serve as a forum for the analysis and discussion of scholarly literature and as a testing ground for student hypotheses. The instructor will encourage students to elaborate, refine and revise ideas. Discussion sessions will also include tutorials in conducting historical research, the exploration of primary source documents, and practice in oral presentations. Participation in both lectures and seminar discussions is required for the successful completion of the course.

Course Description
This course examines political, social, cultural, and economic themes in the history of Canada from pre-contact Aboriginal societies to Confederation in 1867. Topics include the changing lives of Aboriginal peoples; European exploration; the fur trade; political and economic evolution in New France and British North America; colonialism and patterns of settlement and immigration; social reform and the impact of education and religion; gender roles and family structures; and the emergence of regional and national cultures.
Course Content

A sample course outline would include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.


  1. The World Before Contact
  2. Aboriginal Peoples, Contact and Exploration
  3. Aboriginal Peoples, Missionation and Settler Society in New France
  4. Province de France and Acadia
  5. The Anglo-French Struggle for the Continent
  6. The Aftermath: Revolutions and Resistance
  7. Loyalists and Colonists
  8. Immigration and Settlement in British North America
  9. The Rebellions of 1837, Responsible Government, and Union of the Canadas
  10. Social and Cultural Life in British North America
  11. The Land Based Fur Trade, Métis Peoples and the Northwest
  12. The Maritime Based Fur Trade and the Settling of British Columbia
  13. Politics and Economics in mid-nineteenth century British North America
  14. Federation to Confederation
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:


  1. Examine historical sources critically and analytically (reading history). These sources include not only survey texts and scholarly articles, but also short monographs and extended primary sources.
  2. Create and communicate personal interpretations of historical problems (writing history). Forms for communication of personal interpretations include medium-length essays (from 1500-3000 words), comparative book reviews, short interpretive essays, primary source studies, and final examinations.
  3. Independently analyze the ideas of other students and the instructor in class in both tutorials and seminars (discussing history).
Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accord with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Specific components of evaluation will include some of the following: mid-term and final exams consisting of short answer questions and essay questions; in-class written work, quizzes, research paper; seminar presentations; short debate/position papers; participation in class discussions.


Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester and will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.


An example of one evaluation scheme:

Any combination of the following totalling 100%


Primary document analyses


Reading journals


Research Essay


Class/Seminar Participation


Midterm examination


Final examination




Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


Texts will be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically:


An instructor’s course reader  may be required.


Blake, Raymond, Jeffrey Keshen, Norman Knowles, and Barbara Messamore. Narrating a Nation: Canadian History Pre-Confederation. [Whidby, ON]: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2011.


Bumsted, J. M., The Peoples of Canada: A Pre-Confederation History. 3rd ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2010.


Conrad, M., and A. Finkel, History of the Canadian Peoples. Vol. I, Beginnings to 1867. 5th ed. Toronto:

         Pearson Longman, 2009


Francis, R.D., R. Jones, and D.B. Smith. Origins: Canadian History to Confederation, 6th ed. Toronto: Nelson Education, 2009.


Thorner, Thomas, ed. “A Few Acres of Snow”: Documents in Pre-Confederation Canadian History. 3rd ed.                 Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.