Canadian Lives: An Introduction to Social and Cultural History

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
Hist 2215
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
Canadian Lives: An Introduction to Social and Cultural History explores the past from the perspective of the everyday lives, experiences and concerns of women, men and children at home, at work, and at play. Topics will be organized around the broad themes of identities, places and social relations, including: gender and sexuality; families and communities; urbanization, labour, and industrialization; social reform and moral regulation; immigration and racialized identities; religion and spirituality; education; consumption and commodification; leisure and popular culture; health and medicine; the environment; social memory, commemoration, and national identities.

Students will also be introduced to the historiography and research methodologies of social and cultural history, and the role of archives, oral history, digital history, and historic preservation in documenting everyday lives. The specific thematic focus of the course will vary by term and instructor.
Course Content

A sample course outline may include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s specific thematic focus.

1. Introduction: Narrating Everyday Lives

2 Gender, Sexuality, Courtship, Marriage and Families

3. Worlds of Work

4. Bodies, Health and Disease

5. Crime, Punishment and Public Morality

6. Citizens and Nations: Aboriginality, Racialized Identities and Immigration

7. Communities, Social Worlds, Church and School

8. The City and its Discontents, Social Reform and the State

9. Recreation, Sport and Spectacles

10. Consumers and Modernity

11. Science and Technology

12.Tourism, Conservation and the Environment

13. Mass Media, Popular Culture, and National Identity

14. Commemoration and Memorials: The Reconstruction of Canada’s Past


Learning Activities

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.

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accord with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

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. Specific components of evaluation may include some of the following: mid-term and final exams consisting of short answer questions and essay questions; in-class written work, quizzes, research papers and presentation of the research; seminar presentations; short debate/position papers; participation in class discussions.

An example of one evaluation scheme: Any combination of the following totalling 100%

  • Primary document analyses 10-20%
  • Report on site visit to cultural institution 10%-15%
  • Short paper(s) on an assigned topic or theme 5%-15%
  • Comparative book review 5%-10%
  • Historiographic essay(s) 10-20%
  • Research proposal and annotated bibliography for research paper or project 20%-15%
  • Research paper or project15%-25%
  • Presentation of the research project 10%-15%
  • Seminar presentation(s) and/or reading response journals on assigned readings or topics 10%-20%
  • Examinations 20%-25%
  • Attendance, participation, online discussions, quizzes, in-class work 10%-15%
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 primary document analyses, historiographic essays, comparative book reviews, short papers on assigned topics or themes, research proposals, annotated bibliographies, research papers, reading response journals, exams, and summative assignments.

3. Analyze the ideas of other students and the instructor in both tutorials and seminars both independently and in cooperation with other students (discussing history).



Textbook Materials

Texts will be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically. An instructor’s Course Reader may be required. Links to ebooks and other digital resources available through the library will be provided in the course syllabus.

Christie, Nancy, and Michael Gauvreau. Mapping the Margins: The Family and Social Discipline in Canada, 1700-1975. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.

Comacchio, Cynthia R., and Elizabeth Jane Errington, eds. People, Places, and Times: Readings in Canadian Social History. Vol. 2, Post-Confederation. Toronto: Nelson, 2006. 

Errington, Elizabeth Jane, and Cynthia R. Comacchio, eds. People, Places, and Times: Readings in Canadian Social History. Vol. 1, Pre-Confederation. Toronto: Nelson, 2007. 

FitzGerald, Maureen, and Scott Raynter, eds. Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies. Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2012. 

Francis, Daniel. National Dreams: Myth, Memory and Canadian History. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1997. 

Janovicek, Nancy, and Joy Parr, eds. Histories of Canadian Children and Youth. Don Mills: Oxford University Press Canada, 2003. 

Keough, Willeen, and Lara Campbell. Gender History: Canadian Perspectives. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2014. 

MacDowell, Laurel Sefton, and Ian Radforth, eds. Canadian Working-Class History: Selected Readings. 3rd ed. Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2006. 

McPherson, Kathryn, Cecilia Morgan, and Nancy M. Forestell, eds. Gendered Pasts: Historical Essays in Femininity and Masculinity in Canada. New ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. 

Opp, James, and John C. Walsh, eds. Home, Work and Play: Situating Canadian Social History. 2nd ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2010. 

Vance, Jonathan F. A History of Canadian Culture. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2009. 

The following guides to writing in history may also be assigned: 

Alexander, Jeffrey W., and Joy Dixon. Nelson Guide to Writing in History. 2nd ed. Toronto: Nelson, 2010. 

Rampolla, Mary Lynn. A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martins, 2012. 

Storey, William Kelleher, and Towser Jones. Writing History: A Guide for Canadian Students. 3rd ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2011.




One 1000-level course in History, or the permission of the instructor






Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HIST 2215
Alexander College (ALEX) ALEX HIST 2XX (3)
Athabasca University (AU) AU HIST 3XX (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU HIST 2XX (3)
Coast Mountain College (CMTN) CMTN HIST 2XX (3)
College of the Rockies (COTR) COTR HIST 2XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU HIST 1XXX (3)
North Island College (NIC) NIC HIS 2XX (3)
Northern Lights College (NLC) NLC HIST 2XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU HIST 204 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU HIST 2XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU HIST 435 (3)
University Canada West (UCW) UCW HIST 2XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO HIST 2nd (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV HIST 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HIST 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV HIST 2XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC HSTR 2XX (1.5)
Vancouver Community College (VCC) VCC ELEC 2XX (3)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU HIST 2nd (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023