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Arts and Culture in Canada

Course Code: PEFA 1101
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course is a study of the arts in Canada and their relationship with society. The history of the arts in Canada will be examined with an emphasis on the contemporary period. Important individuals, groups, and organizations in all artistic areas will be discussed with a concentration on current problems and issues such as independence, identity, funding, and cultural policy.

Course Content

  1. Introduction
    • Definitions
    • Outline of Course Topics
    • Reasons for Studying the Arts in Canada
  2. The Colonial Period
    • Native Indian and Inuit Arts
    • French Colonial Period
      • early music, theatre, and painting
      • influence of the church on the arts
    • English Colonial Period
      • influence of the military on the arts
      • the new middle-class audience
  3. From Confederation to World War I
    • Confederation Celebrations
    • Growth of Artistic Activity
      • the impact of the railway
      • establishment of local performing groups, institutions, businesses
    • Canadian Painting and Photography
    • Canadian Music
    • Canadian Literature
  4. Between the World Wars
    • Visual Arts
      • the Group of  Seven
      • Emily Carr
      • Canadian Group of Painters
    • Music: Performers and Composers
    • Theatre
    • New Technologies
    • The Founding of the CBC
  5. The Period After World War II
    • Funding
      • public: federal, provincial, municipal
      • private: foundations and corporations
      • formation, impact and growth of Canada Council
    • Visual Arts and Architecture
    • Music and Dance
    • Literature and Publishing
    • Theatre and Film
    • Radio, Television and the C.R.T.C.
    • Festivals and Competitions
    • Museums and Schools
  6. Problems and Issues in the Arts in Canada
    • National identity
    • Geography
    • Regional Issues
    • “Arm’s Length” Funding
    • Control and Censorship
    • Multiculturalism
    • Technological Change
    • Instruction in the Arts
  7. The Arts in British Columbia
    • Arts Funding
    • Cultural Institutions
    • Contemporary Issues
    • Regional Initiatives

Methods of Instruction

  1. Lecture supported by audio-visual materials.
  2. Student presentations and group discussions.
  3. Guest lectures.
  4. Attendance at cultural events.

Means of Assessment

In-class written work 10%
Oral presentation 10%
Assignment #1 20%
Assignment #2 20%
Mid-term exam 20%
Final exam 20%

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the successful student should be able to demonstrate the following.

  1. A knowledge of the history of the arts in Canada, including the growth of the arts in society from colonialism to the present day.
  2. A comprehensive understanding of the various arts organizations and institutions in Canada, including public and private funding sources.
  3. An awareness of contemporary issues and problems such as national identity, multiculturalism, “arm’s length” funding, education in the arts, and censorship.

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.