Canada and America 1713-1867: From Sea to Sea (55+)

In the mid-18th century, the French and British colonies in the Maritimes and along the St. Lawrence, which would confederate in 1867, had some strategic but little economic value. How did this unprepossessing, thinly populated region become a transcontinental nation—Canada? And in parallel, how did our neighbour, whose original 13 colonies were all on the Atlantic, extend its reach to the Pacific?

We will highlight the rights of Indigenous peoples and the conflicts, conquests and treaties that transformed North America between 1713 and 1867. We’ll also examine the forces that created two giant federations: in Canada, Britain’s imperial and commercial interests; in America, slavery, manifest destiny and settlers’ relentless pressure for land.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2017; previously titled Canada: From Sea to Sea (1713–1867).

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Quebec and Acadia: British Conquest (1713-63)

Britain had a successful colonial enterprise and two million settlers on the Atlantic seaboard; France a more modest presence farther north. But Europe’s wars spilled over into North America, and by 1763 France had ceded its Canadian possessions to Britain.

Week 2: After the Conquest of French Canada: What Now?

Conflict arose between the British and their new French Catholic subjects over the French legal system and Catholicism (severely restricted in Britain). After the cruel expulsion of the Acadians, Britain adopted a more thoughtful approach—the Quebec Act.   But that annoyed the Americans.

Week 3: The American Revolution and Treaty of Paris (1783)

Ironically, the cost of the war that defended Britain’s American colonies from attacks by the French led those very colonies to revolt. In 1783, Britain recognized America’s independence, but the border, defined in the Treaty of Paris, proved problematic.   

Week 4: The Coming of the Loyalists

Tens of thousands of Loyalists and 3000 slaves freed by the British during the War of American Independence streamed north to Nova Scotia and Quebec. This led to the creation of two new provinces, New Brunswick and Ontario, and a new colony in Africa, Sierra Leone.

Week 5: Completing Canada’s Border (1795-1867)

The Treaty of Paris established the border up to Lake of the Woods. Inaccurate maps, wrong assumptions and pressure to extend the border to the Pacific led to disputes and delays. The Oregon Treaty (1846) concluded that process. Then the US bought Alaska.

Week 6: America’s Southern Border (1803-48)

The purchase of Louisiana from Napoleon, a treaty with Spain, rebellion in Texas and war with Mexico all shaped America’s southern border. The South’s need to balance slave and non-slave states and “manifest destiny” were key factors pushing the US to the Pacific.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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