My Teaching This Week

19 11 2009

In my Canadian history survey course, I spoke about the Canadian West before 1864 in Monday’s lecture. I talked about the First Nations, the fur trade, and the origins of the Métis population. I discussed how and why the border was drawn along the 49th parallel. I said a little bit about Oregon, “54-40 or fight”, and the creation of the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. I used the life of Sir James Douglas to draw many of these different threads together.  On Wednesday, I spoke about Manitoulin Treaty of 1862, a treaty between First Nations and the Crown. The students are doing an assignment on the Manitoulin Treaty that involves answering four questions about the treaty. I designed this assignment because there are appropriate sources and it’s a topic that seemed likely to interest my students. Manitoulin Island is not far from Sudbury, so many of my students are familiar with the geography. It’s also a good topic because it deals with some really important national themes. A great case study for my students.

In my honours seminar on Canada in the Confederation period, our focus was on crime, crowds, disorder, and social control. One of the methodological themes I wanted to deal with in the seminar was the relative strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative approaches to social history. The students conclude that both types of social history have merit and that the best research will combine quantitative data (e.g., store records or census material) with contemporary books, poetry, etc. Our readings were: Douglas McCalla, “Upper Canadians and Their Guns: an Exploration via Country Store Accounts, 1808-1861” Ontario History 97 (2005): 121-37; Willeen Keough, “‘Now you vagabond [w]hore I have you’: Plebeian Women, Assault Cases, and Gender and Class Relations on the Southern Avalon, 1750-1860,” in Two Islands: The Legal Histories of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, ed. Christopher English (Toronto: University of Toronto Press with the Osgoode Society, 2006): 237-71; Bryan Palmer, “Discordant Music: Charivaris and Whitecapping in Nineteenth-Century North AmericaLabour/Le Travailleur, 3 (1978), 5–62. The reading by McCalla seemed to be the favourite of the male students, perhaps because it dealt with guns and hunting! The article by Keough was popular with the female students. As one student put it, “there were some crazy chicks discussed in that article.”  The students also liked the article by Palmer. Several students noted how the article could be related to Ian McKay’s Liberal Order Framework, which we read about a few weeks back.

We also read and discussed Hereward Senior’s piece on Ogle Robert Gowan in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Gowan was Grand Master of the Orange Lodge in British North America. This generated a discussion of the Orange Lodge. To give student a sense of Orange parades were like, I showed some video clips in class. One concerns the annual marching season in Ulster, where Orangeism is very much alive and well.

The second clip was of a recent Orange parade in Hamilton, Ontario. I told the students that I was astounded that the Orange Lodge still existed in Ontario. One student said that it was active in her home town. So I learned something in the class!


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