Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

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Prior Knowledge Required

  • Students understand Canadian-American relations to 1963, specifically how American culture and lifestyle have influenced Canadians from 1900.

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. Read the following quotation to the class: “Living next door to the United States is like sleeping in the same bed as an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt!”(Trudeau). Ask students what this comparison means to them. Then ask them if they feel influenced by Americans and to what extent.

2. Discuss with students the causes of the Americanization of Canadian culture and its impact on Canada. Teach students, either through board notes from teacher reference materials or through textbook readings, the government’s response, i.e., the Canadian Radio-Television Commission, and investment in the arts in the 1970s.

3. Students list as many Canadian artists they know and then list American artists they know (authors, musicians, actors, visual artists). Predictably, they know many more Americans. Continue this informal survey by asking them to list their favourite: television show, magazines, the North American city they would most like to visit, etc. Follow up on the results with a class discussion on their significance.

4. Distribute the magazines and instruct students to cut out examples of American and Canadian culture, economics, and politics and create a collage on which half displays the Canadian examples and the other the American. Students label which item most affects their personal lives.

5. The follow-up activity to the collage is to discuss the following questions: how easy/difficult was it to find examples of Canadian and American culture in your life? Explain what your answer to the previous question tells you about the influences on your daily life. Should we as Canadians be concerned about the amount of American content in our lives?

6. Teach the students, using the textbook and/or secondary resources, about the American influence on the Canadian economy. Outline advantages and disadvantages of American investment in Canada; as much as possible, let the students brainstorm them. Explain the policies introduced by the Trudeau government to limit foreign investment in Canada, i.e., FIRA, 1971; Investment Canada, 1984 (replacing FIRA); Petro-Canada as a response to the energy crisis; the National Energy Program. Explain the American reaction to these policies. Did Canada upset the elephant?

7. To reinforce the themes of Activity 7, students create political cartoons. Show students political cartoons from current newspapers and explain the current event that is commented upon in the cartoon. Teach students how to interpret political cartoons by describing the setting; the action; symbols or words used; the subject of its humour; and its message. Brainstorm with the class Canadian symbols that they can incorporate into a cartoon to convey a message about topics covered in this activity. Students select one issue and create a political cartoon.

Assessment/Evaluation Techniques

  • Assess or evaluate the political cartoon using the rubric.

  • Checklist for collage


  • Students who have difficulties with abstract concepts may need extra help from the teacher or a peer tutor to interpret the cartoons. It may also be difficult for them to convey a political message through a cartoon and may be required to draw a picture that describes an issue learned in class rather than interpret, i.e., an elephant and a beaver sharing a bed.


Current daily newspaper

Magazines (news, fashion, popular culture)

Activity 8: Peer Review and Book Talk

Time: 75 minutes


The purpose of this activity is to provide class time to peer review the biographies for the culminating activity and prepare/present the book talk. This gives the teacher an opportunity to assess research logs and conference with the students. Additional time may be needed to allow for all of the presentations.

Strand(s) and Expectations

Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations: CGE4a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h, 5a,b,c.

Strand(s): Methods of Historical Inquiry

Overall Expectations: MIV.01, MIV.02, MIV.03, MIV.04.

Specific Expectations

MI1.01 - use terms related to historical organization and inquiry correctly;

MI1.02 - use who, what, where, when, why, and how questions effectively when researching historical topics and issues;

MI3.01 - identify different viewpoints and explicit biases when evaluating information for a research report or participating in a discussion;

MI3.03 - distinguish between fact and inference in primary and secondary sources;

MI4.03 - demonstrate, after participating in dramatizations of historical events, insights into historical figures’ situations and decisions.

Planning Notes

  • Ensure that students come to class with their research logs and biographies.

  • Pair students according to their skills to ensure that the peer review is as effective as possible.

Prior Knowledge Required

Students should be familiar with the editing process.

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. Arrange students into groups of four. Students read the biographies of their group members and look for the following things: 1. Does the biography clearly explain the selected area of the prime minister’s life? 2. Is the biography interesting? What did you find most interesting? 3. Does the biography have visual information? 4. Is the cover visually appealing (neat, clearly stated title reminds them of the published biographies they saw earlier)? 5. What did you think of the biography overall? Once students have reviewed the biography they make a general statement using the criteria above and give it to the author of the biography. The author or the reviewer neatly writes the review on the back cover of the book. At the end of this group process, the author of the biography has three peer reviews.

2. While the groups are reviewing, the teacher checks research logs for completion and assists reviewers.

3. Each student makes a 10- to 15-minute presentation of their book to the class. (The length of the presentation is determined by the teacher who can better assess skills of the students; i.e., shorter presentations may be more appropriate). In their presentation the student may wish to read an interesting part, show pictures from the biography, and discuss what they found most interesting about their subject. Alternatively, students may also present in groups and decide on the best biography based on the criteria outlined in part 1.

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