Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

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Prior Knowledge Required

The students have some knowledge about American and British influences in Canadian life.

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. Using textbooks and other sources, students compose a list of American influences on Canadian life in the 1920s. The student list may include such items as motion pictures, slang speech, dress styles, music, and consumer products. The students compose another list of American influences upon Canadian life in the present. The teacher leads the class in a discussion about the possible positive and negative aspects of American influence in Canada.

2. Students become aware that while Canada was being influenced by the American culture in the 1920s the Canadian government was taking steps to become more independent of Great Britain. Students read about, and compose notes on, the following steps to independence: Canada’s signing of the 1919 Versailles Peace Treaty, Canada joining the League of Nations, Canada signing a 1923 Halibut Treaty with the United States, and Britain recognizing Canada’s right to its own foreign policy by the 1926 Balfour Declaration. The class discusses the influence Britain still exerts over Canada today. The office of the Governor-General of Canada may be discussed. The class examines the question: should Canada today break all remaining ties with Great Britain?

3. Using information from the role-playing exercise in Activity 4, the class discusses the changing role of women in the 1920s. Students compose notes on the contributions toward equality for women made by people such as Nellie McClung, Emily Stowe, Emily Murphy, and Agnes Macphail.

4. The teacher introduces the concept of a pressure group. The example of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) may be used. The class discusses the purpose of pressure groups in society. The teacher introduces students to an early twentieth century pressure group, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Students perform research on both pressure groups. A spokesperson for MADD may be invited to speak in the classroom. Students develop a comparison organizer in order to compare the WCTU and MADD.

5. The teacher reviews the correct formulas for citing researched material. Students, using the skills and knowledge gained in this unit, devote some of their class time to completing the culminating activity which is described in Activity 2 and Appendices 1.2.2 and 1.2.3.

6. Students write a paper and pencil test on the subject matter of Canada in the 1920s.

Assessment/Evaluation Techniques

  • Formative teacher assessment of student lists of American influences on Canadian life. Anecdotal notes may be composed by the teacher.

  • Formative teacher assessment of student notes on the steps to Canadian independence in the 1920s. Notes are checked for completeness and accuracy. Informal teacher assessment of student knowledge of Canada’s growing independence from Britain by probe questions. Anecdotal notes may be used to record observations.

  • Formative teacher assessment of student notes on the contributions of the women’s movement in the early twentieth century. Roving teacher conference checks for accuracy and completeness.

  • Formative teacher assessment of comparison organizers dealing with comparison of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Teacher may use a checklist to assess the organizer based on the following criteria: make-up of pressure group, techniques used by pressure group, goals of pressure group, results achieved by pressure group.

  • Summative teacher assessment of the culminating activity by the use of the Culminating Activity Rubric and Checklist. See Appendices 1.2.2 and 1.2.3.

  • Summative teacher assessment of student understanding of concepts and knowledge by means of a pencil and paper test on the subject matter of the 1920s.


  • Prepare an outline to assist students with note-taking.

  • Provide teacher and/or peer assistance in completing the comparison organizer and the culminating activity.


Approved textbooks

The Confident Years: Canada in the 1920s Canadiana Scrapbook.


MADD Canada

Unit 2: 1929-1945 – Values Tested: Crash, Depression, and War

Time: 20 hours

Unit Developer: Elizabeth Polihronidis, Toronto Catholic District School Board

Unit Description

This unit focusses on Canada’s responses to the forces of change, both domestic and international. Students understand the causes of the Crash of 1929, the Depression of the 1930s, and World War II. They assess the social, political, economic, and cultural impact of these profound events on Canada, and investigate the contributions of Canadian men and women to the Allied victory. They reinforce previously introduced historical skills and build on their knowledge of Canada’s growth as a nation. This unit also sets the stage for students’ understanding of Canada’s role as a middle power in the world. Students’ knowledge of their Catholic faith is enhanced through an examination of social justice issues in the 1930s and human rights issues at home and overseas during World War II. In the culminating activity, a series of newsreels, students research developments from 1929 through 1945 and create and film a series of vignettes based on the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the period. Students then prepare individual reports based on their collective knowledge.

Strand(s) and Expectations

Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations: CGE1e, 1h, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 3d, 3e, 4a, 4f, 5a, 5b, 5e, 5f, 7b.

Strand(s): Communities: Local, National, and Global; Change and Continuity; Citizenship and Heritage; Social, Economic, and Political Structures; Methods of Historical Inquiry

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