Spring 2016 - HIST 428 D100

Problems in the Social and Economic History of Canada (4)

Hist of the Arctic

Class Number: 5854

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    BLU 11911, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

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



Selected problems in the history of Canadian agriculture and industrial development, migration and settlement, labor, native policy and class structure. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 428 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.


People, Polar Bears, Pipelines: A History of the Arctic

It’s a common pun today: the Arctic is fast becoming a hot topic of consideration. Global warming has drawn our attention to the top of the world, where we watch polar bears clinging to dissolving bits of ice and contemplate the political and environmental effects of “the big thaw.” Canadians live in one of the five circumpolar countries with sizable Arctic territories. The North is often in the news, whether because of decreasing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, the much-trumpeted discovery of Sir John Franklin’s ship HMS Erebus, or the astronomical prices that Nunavummiut (residents of Nunavut) pay in grocery stores for southern food shipped north. Yet most of us have never been north of sixty, and know little about the past or present circumstances of this increasingly prominent region.

This course will introduce students to the human and environmental history of the Canadian Arctic and Subarctic, focusing principally on the three territories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We’ll explore key social themes and transformations, including Christianization, colonialism, sovereignty and defence, and political self-determination, from both Indigenous and Euro-Canadian perspectives. We’ll also learn how people have thought about, lived in, and shaped the seemingly harsh, yet surprisingly fragile terrestrial and marine environments of this region. Using wildlife management, mining, oil and gas extraction, and climate change as case studies, we’ll compare and contrast different cultural traditions of resource use, environmental knowledge and understanding, and adaptation to environmental change over time. Students will hone their analytical and interpretive skills through encounters with textual and audiovisual sources that present conflicting, even radically divergent accounts of Arctic history. They will leave the course able to debunk common myths about the region’s past and present, and to think critically and responsibly about its future.

*Course readings, assignments, and their weighting may be altered between now and the beginning of the spring term. Please consult Dr. Adcock for the most up-to-date information.


  • Participation 20%
  • Field trip report (St Roch NHS) 5%
  • 2 short papers 30%
  • Final research paper 45%



William R. Morrison, True North: The Yukon and Northwest Territories. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Additional readings will be made available on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/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