Spring 2016 - HIST 323 D100

The Canadian Prairies (4)

Class Number: 4131

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    AQ 4150, Burnaby

    We 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    AQ 4150, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 17, 2016
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 3153, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history credit.



An intensive survey of the Canadian prairies, as a political region and as an evolving ecological region within broader American space. Examines both traditional and more modern contests over resource use and policy vis-a-vis indigenous peoples, as well as patterns of prairie literature and visual art. Students with credit for HIST 390 as The Canadian Prairies (Studies in History) may not take this course for further credit.


In the last ten years, the Prairie Provinces—Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba—have become arguably the most dynamic region in Canada. With youthful, progressive mayors and booming economies based on the extraction of natural resources, Calgary and Edmonton are now the country’s fastest-growing cities. The Calgarian Stephen Harper is set to become one of the most successful Conservative prime ministers in Canadian history. The long-lived regional rallying cry—“The West wants in!”—is fading as prairie dwellers face up to the new twenty-first-century reality: the West is in.

This course places the recent rise of the West in context by examining the political, social, economic, and cultural history of the Canadian Prairies. We will consider this region from different vantage points: as a once and future Aboriginal homeland, a transboundary bioregion, a fur-trade contact zone, a bountiful promised land, an incubator of new political movements, and a mythical literary and artistic frontier. We will trace each of these “imagined geographies” through the history and historiography of the region right up to the present day. Students will encounter and analyze an array of primary sources from digital archives such as Peel’s Prairie Provinces. Assignments will enable students to become experts in the aspect of Prairie history that interests them most, and to confront and contemplate some recently published, deeply unsettling research into federal policy toward aboriginal peoples on the Prairies. Your instructor, born and raised in Alberta, will bring personal as well as professional enthusiasm for this subject into the classroom—which she hopes will be contagious.


  • Participation in lectures/tutorials 15%
  • Review of Clearing the Plains 20%
  • Research essay 35%
  • Final exam 30%



John Herd Thompson. Forging the Prairie West. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998.

James Daschuk. Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life. Regina: University of Regina Press, 2013.

Additional readings will be made available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

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