Spring 2020 - HIST 327 D100

Canadian Labor and Working Class History (4)

Class Number: 8201

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    John-Henry Harter
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history. Recommended: HIST 101, 102W and 204.



An examination of the history of labor, primarily in English Canada, during the 19th and 20th centuries. The evolution of trade unions and labor-political movements will be examined together with the impact of industrialization, the rise of mass production, changing patterns of immigration and other contexts of working-class culture and material life. Special attention will be paid to British Columbia as a case study. Historically the course examines 'working class history' as a particular way of studying the past. What is the concept of 'the working class'?


The course will examine the history of work and workers in Canada. Through a combination of lectures, films, examination of primary documents, small assignments, and class discussions we will consider the history of class struggle in Canada. We will examine how class, race, and gender divisions were exploited by employers and government to maintain hegemony. We will also consider the role of workers in the struggle for social and economic justice.


This course will allow students to learn about the history of the working class in Canada and how this history informs both the contemporary labour movement and class issues more broadly. This course will also expand students’ knowledge of current concepts in the field of labour studies, history, and class politics. The course will draw on students' experiences as they develop research, writing, and presentation skills through the class assignments. In addition, lectures, class discussions, and activities will provide the tools we need to use history to help understand the relationship between labour and capital.


  • Participation (based on weekly participation) 15%
  • Annotated Bibliography (based on final project topic) 10%
  • Outline (outline of final project) 10%
  • Presentation (presentation of project concept) 20%
  • Final Project 45%



Craig Heron, The Canadian Labour Movement: A Short History, 3rd edition (Lorimer Publishing, 2012)  

Additional assigned readings will be available online through Canvas  

Registrar Notes:

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