Spring 2023 - HIST 444W D100

Conceptualizing Atlantic Canada (4)

Class Number: 4900

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5048, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including nine units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 101 or 102W.



Explores the social, political, economic, cultural, and intellectual environments in which the region of Atlantic Canada has been created and re-imagined over time. Writing.


Within the “family” of Canadian Confederation, Atlantic Canada has long been seen as the “poor cousin.” Traditional historiography has treated the area as a distinct, homogenous region, characterized by economic underdevelopment, high unemployment, over-reliance on transfer payments, and relentless out-migration. Many Canadian media have portrayed the area as a welfare ghetto, peopled predominantly by feckless characters—friendly and beguiling, but constantly requiring handouts from the federal government.

More recent scholarship has begun to challenge this meta-narrative of regional disparity and dependence—moving into new categories of analysis and suggesting new ways to conceptualize the history of Atlantic Canada. Indeed, the idea of a coherent “Atlantic Canada” has itself been challenged as a colonialist concept.  The histories of the various peoples and entities that comprise that “region” have been marked as much by diversity as similarity, with multiple experiences, based on gender, class, race, sexuality, ethnicity, and religion. Yet in the past 150 years, there has often been a shared sense of identity and grievance, emerging from unequal power relationships with central Canada.  So, what is Atlantic Canada: a coherent socio-economic-politico region? an imagined cultural or political landscape? or a bureaucratic invention within which myriad identities have been shaped and re-imagined? Following a thematic approach, this course will interrogate the meaning of “Atlantic Canada” from the mid-19th century to the early 21st century.


As a student of this course, you will:

  1. Develop a deep understanding of the conceptualization of Atlantic Canada within the framework of Canada since the mid-nineteenth century.
  2. Engage with various theoretical perspectives on regional disparity, political and cultural identities, cultural memory, gender, race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and marginalization.
  3. Interrogate the utility of “region” as a concept in assessing shifting power relations in Canada over time and place.
  4. Find, interpret, and analyze a variety of sources to examine the complexity of disparities in Atlantic Canada.
  5. Develop extensive reading, writing, research, critical thinking, and oral communication skills through independent and collaborative projects.


  • Seminar/workshop participation 15%
  • Written reading responses 10%
  • Book review 20%
  • Research paper—in-class presentation of first draft 15%
  • Research paper—final draft 30%
  • Peer Review (oral) 10%



Margaret Conrad and James Hiller, Atlantic Canada: A Region in the Making, 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2015).

William Wicken, The Colonization of Mi’kmaw Memory and History, 1794-1928: The King v. Gabriel Sylliboy (University of Toronto Press, 2012); available online through the SFU Library webpage.

Dean Bavington, Managed Annihilation: An Unnatural History of the Newfoundland Cod Collapse (UBC Press, 2010).


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html