Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

Time: 16 hours Unit Developer: Vicky Zeltins, Toronto Catholic District School Board

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Time: 16 hours

Unit Developer: Vicky Zeltins, Toronto Catholic District School Board

Unit Description

By creating a lasting memory of their interpretation of the Canadian identity, students synthesize their previous learning as they investigate the social and cultural fabric of our nation. Within the unit, students meet further examples of how the nation’s identity was formed, its economic foundations, and most importantly, its social relevance on the world stage. Students examine the ways in which Canada’s relationship with Great Britain and the United States has changed over time and the impact of that change on the nation. The role of the Catholic faith within the development of this national identity is clearly examined and students are able to place themselves, as Catholics, into the Canadian mosaic. The culminating activity serves as the final assignment in the unit as well as the course and involves the preparation of a newsletter reflecting the various identity issues studied in the course.

Strand(s) and Expectations

Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations: CGE1d, 1e, 1i, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e, 3f, 4d, 5a, 5c, 5g, 6c, 7e, 7g.

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

Overall Expectations: CGV.O1, CGV.04, CCV.01, CCV.02, CHV.02, SPV.01, SPV.02, MIV.01, MIV.02, MIV.03, MIV.04.

Specific Expectations: CG1.01, CG1.02, CG1.03, CG1.04, CG2.01, CG2.07, CG3.03, CG3.04, CG4.07, CC2.01, CC2.02, CC2.04, CC2.05, CC3.01, CC3.02, CH2.02, CH2.03, SP1.02, SP1.03, MI1.02, MI2.02, MI2.04, MI3.01, MI3.04, MI4.03.

Activity Titles (Time + Sequence)

Activity 1

The Great Canadian Culture List

150 minutes

Activity 2

Canada's New Symbol

75 minutes

Activity 3

Technology Timeline

150 minutes

Activity 4

Canada's Social Mission

300 minutes

Activity 5

The Great Canadian Newsletter

225 minutes

Prior Knowledge Required

  • Students are familiar with the use of an index in books and other inquiry, research, and communication skills

  • Teachers should constantly point out various individuals who have contributed to the creation of our country’s identity so that students have a list of names of famous Canadians before they reach this point in the course. Students should also reach this point with a sense of how Canada and Canadians have helped in the establishment and development of peace in the world. Students should have examples ready to show how we are defined, not only by what we think of ourselves, but by our actions and how others perceive us.

Unit Planning Notes

  • Ensure that a variety of books and other resources are available in the classroom or students may go to the Library/Resource Centre; however, given the time restrictions, it may be easier to bring the resources to the class. It also means you can prepare for the activities whenever you have time to do so. (See Resources for the unit.)

  • Prepare a blank timeline for use in Activity 3.

  • Prepare your own list of famous Canadians as a starting point. Also consider writing a separate list of Canadian inventions and inventors.

  • Review the special needs of any of your students and review the Accommodations for the activities. Prepare as necessary.

  • Collect various videos (see Resources for the Unit).

  • Find the CRTC’s criteria for Canadian content in music for Activity 1.

  • Plan a field trip, if possible, to a bookstore with a wall of Canadians - you may wish to include this as part of a field trip within another unit. If you do this earlier in the year, it also starts students thinking about identity before they start studying it.

  • Collect several issues of Maclean’s for use in Activity 1 and Activity 4.

  • Keep in mind that this unit leads to the culminating activity of the course (the newsletter) (the culminating activity of the unit).

Teaching/Learning Strategies

Whole Group

Small Group

  • list development, visual presentations


  • a coat of arms, chart/graph, timeline

Assessment and Evaluation

Formative Assessment

  • informal student-teacher conferences, observations, checklists, probe questioning

Summative Evaluation

  • rubric, pencil and paper tests, rating scales



Approved classroom textbooks

Avis, Walter, ed. A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles. Toronto: Gage Educational Publishing Limited, 1973.

Borovilos, John. Images: Canada Through Literature. Scarborough: Prentice-Hall Ginn, 1996.
ISBN 0-13-255852-1

Casselman, Bill. Casselman’s Canadian Words. Toronto: Little, Brown and Company (Canada) Limited, 1997. ISBN 0-316-13350-7

Citizenship and Immigration. A Look at Canada. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1997. ISBN 0-662-25750-2

Citizenship and Immigration. Growing Together. Hull: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1995. ISBN 0-662-2398-1

Colombo, John Robert. 1001 Questions About Canada. Toronto: Doubleday, 1988. ISBN 0-385-25040-1

Cowan, Doris and Ken Weber. Canadians All 4: Portraits of Our People. Toronto: Methuen Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-458-96909-X

Department of the Secretary of State of Canada. Symbols of Nationhood. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1991. ISBN 0-660-13833-6

Doyle, Kevin, ed. Maclean’s “The Storied Land”. Toronto: July 6, 1992.

Hacker, Carlotta. The Book of Canadians. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1983. ISBN 0-88830-243-6

Honderich, John, ed. The Toronto Star Centennial Magazine: The Hundred. Toronto: Toronto Star Newspaper Ltd., 1992.

Johnson, Alvin. Great Canadians in Modern History. Canada: Universal Innovations Ltd., 1994.
ISBN 0-9698968-1-6

Kearney, Mark and Randy Ray. The Great Canadian Trivia Book. Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1997.

ISBN 0-88882-188-3

Kearney, Mark and Randy Ray. The Great Canadian Trivia Book 2. Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1998. ISBN 0-88882-197-2

Kingwell, Mark and Christopher Moore. Canada: Our Century. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1999. ISBN 0-385-25893-3

MacDonald, Bill. Canada “From Sea to Sea” Series. Thornhill: Apple Press Publishing, 1988.

ISBN 0-91972-29-2

Myers, Jay. The Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates, Revised and Updated. Richmond Hill: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1991. ISBN 1-55041-073-3

Nader, Ralph, Nadia Milleron, and Duff Conacher. Canada Firsts. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1993. ISBN 0-7710-6713-5

National Archives of Canada. The Prime Ministers of Canada. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, 1994. ISBN 0-662-60272-2

Rayburn, Alan. Naming Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8020-6990-8

Santor, Donald M. Canadiana Scrapbook Series. Scarborough: Prentice-Hall Canada Inc., 1978-1992. ISBN 0-13-118696-5


This is Our Home. Government of Canada, 1992.

Great Canadian Moments. Heritage Canada, 1998.


The 1999 Canadian Encyclopedia World Edition . McClelland & Stewart, 1999.


Oh What a Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music (4 CDs)

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