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History (HIST) 338
History of the Canadian West (Revision 3)

Revision 3 closed, replaced by current version.

Delivery mode: Individualized study.

Credits: 6 - Humanities

Prerequisite: None. HIST 224 or HIST 225 is recommended.

Centre: Centre for State and Legal Studies

HIST 338 has a Challenge for Credit option


History of the Canadian West introduces major themes in the political, social, and economic history of Canada's four Western provinces, beginning with the period of First Nations occupation of the entire region and tracing developments to the present day.

The course begins with a discussion of the “pre-contact” First Nations societies, and then looks at the ways these societies interacted with the early European arrivals in the region who were mainly interested in profiting from the fur trade. We explore the very different impact on the First Nations of the fur traders and the settlers who succeeded them in the region.

We then examine the types of societies created throughout Western Canada by the dominantly European-origin settlers: their economic base, their social structures, their political structures, and their interactions with the federal government. As we trace developments in the region leading to the present day, we examine changes over time in various provinces' economic base, social structures, social values and political structures.


Unit 1: The Natives' West and the Natives' Fur Trade

Unit 2: From Fur Trade to Settlement: Changing European-Native Relations

Unit 3: Establishing the Political and Economic Framework, 1858-1914

Unit 4: Class and Ethnicity in Western Canada to 1940

Unit 5: Social History of the Settlement Period: The Rural West to 1940

Unit 6: Depression and War

Unit 7: The West Since 1945


To receive credit for HIST 338, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a minimum grade of 50 per cent on the final examination, and obtain a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 per cent).

Essay 1 Essay 2 Essay 3 Final Exam Total
20% 20% 20% 40% 100%

Students must complete 3 essay assignments and a final exam to complete the required course work. Each essay assignment is weighted at 20 percent of the final grade. The exam is weighted at 40 percent of the final grade.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Barman, Jean. The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Cavanaugh, Catherine, and Jeremy Mouat, eds. Making Western Canada: Essays on European Colonization and Settlement. Toronto: Garamond, 1996.

Finkel, Alvin. The Social Credit Phenomenon in Alberta. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989.

Friesen, Gerald. The Canadian Prairies: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987.

Taylor, Jeffery. Fashioning Farmers: Ideology, Agricultural Knowledge and the Manitoba Farm Movement, 1890-1925. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 1994.

Other Materials

The course materials include a student manual and three study guides.