My Teaching This Week

15 02 2010

My Teaching This Week

HIST 1407: Canadian History Since Confederation

Monday’s lecture dealt with Canada in the 1930s. I focused on the devastating impact of the Great Depression and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. I showed how the lacklustre response of the two main political parties in Canada to the Depression contributed to the rise of new political parties at both the federal and the provincial level. In the lecture, I strove to balance my discussion of the causes of the Depression (the bursting of a stock market bubble, the rise of protectionism, inappropriate monetary policy), high politics, and the impact of the Depression on ordinary people. (I found some great anecdotes in Barry Broadfoot’s oral history of Canada in the 1930s).  In the last part of the lecture, I spoke about Canadian foreign policy in the 1930s with a particular emphasis on the rise of aggressive dictatorships in Japan, Italy, and Germany. The period covered by the lecture ended with the German invasion of Poland in 1939. My  comments in lecture about protectionism in the US in the early 1930s sparked an interesting debate amongst the students about the controversial Buy American Policy and Canada’s elephant-and-mouse relationship to the USA.

Wednesday’s lecture was all about Canada’s role in the Second World War. I stressed that Canada entered the war much earlier than the United States and played an absolutely crucial, albeit indirect, role in the survival of Britain in 1940. At the start of the lecture, I stressed that Canada did _not_ go to war to help the Jews of Europe and that anti-Semitism was, in fact, widespread in Canada. I showed that the whole issue of the Holocaust was pretty peripheral to Canada’s war and that it was only many years after the end of the conflict that Canadians started to see the war as being a crusade to stop a genocide. (I like to point out to students that as late as 1993, the world stood by while a genocide took place in Rwanda).  In writing the lecture, I tried to strike the right balance between talking about the actual fighting overseas, the politics of the war as it unfolded around Mackenzie King’s Cabinet table, and the impact of the war on different groups in Canadian society (women, Japanese-Canadians, Quebec, trade unionists). I emphasized that the roots of the post-war welfare state came out of the Second World War and showed a wartime newsreel about the creation of the Baby Bonus.

RCAF Planes Fly Over England, 1941

Landing at Juno Beach, 1944

A Canadian sailor prepares to hoist the Union Jack on the expropriated Japanese-Canadian fishing boat KUROSHIMA NO.2, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, 29 December 1941

Sudbury, 1942. Mining for Victory

Fourth-Year Seminar

Our focus this week was on opposition to Confederation after 1867. We discussed the reasons why so many people in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland opposed Confederation.  We read the following secondary sources: Phillip Buckner, P.B. Waite and William Baker, “The Maritimes and Confederation: A Reassessment” Canadian Historical Review 71 (1990): 1-45; D.C. Harvey, “Incidents of Repeal Agitation in Nova Scotia” Canadian Historical Review (1934): 48-57; H.B. Mayo, “Newfoundland and Confederation in the 1860s” Canadian Historical Review (1948): 125-142.    We also read several articles on the Nova Scotia secession agitation published the New York Times in 1868 (for an example, click here)

Graduate Teaching
In my seminar for Master’s students, we discussed the following readings: JoAnne Yates, “The Telegraph’s Effect on Nineteenth Century Markets and Firms,” Business and Economic History 15 (1986): 149-163; Ian Radforth, “Confronting Distance: Managing Jacques and Hay’s New Lowell Operations, 1853-1873,” Canadian Papers in Business History 1 (1989): 75-100; Naomi R. Lamoreaux, Daniel M. G. Raff, and Peter Temin, “Beyond Markets and Hierarchies: Towards a New Synthesis of American Business History,” American Historical Review, 108 (2003): 404-33.


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16 02 2010
James Hiller

Mayo’s work on Newfoundland and Confederation in the 1860s, while still interesting, has been replaced by more recent publications. See the bibliography &c in Conrad and Hiller, Atlantic Canada. A History (2nd edn., OUP Canada, 2010). JH

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