History (HIST) 338

History of the Canadian West (Revision 4)

HIST 338 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 6

Area of Study: Humanities

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

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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HIST 338 has a Challenge for Credit option

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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, Economic, and Social Frameworks, 1858-1914
  • Unit 4: Class and Ethnicity in Western Canada to 1939
  • Unit 5: Depression and War
  • Unit 6: The West Since 1945


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

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

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

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, rev. ed.Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Barman, Third Edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Carter, Sarah. The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation-Building in Western Canada to 1815.Athabasca: AU Press, and Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2008, Chapters 1 to 6, pp. 2-229. (eBook)

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

Hewitt, Steve. Riding to the Rescue: The Transformation of the RCMP in Alberta and Saskatchewan, 1914-1939. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.

Marsden, William. Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta Is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care). Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

Other Materials

The course materials include a student manual and a study guide.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the HIST 338 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, June 2, 2009.

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