January 2, 2011
Lecture #1: Canadian History
Confederation: July 1, 1867
Discovery and Founding:
o Conceits considered
o Cultural relativism; primitivism
o Canadian history starts with contact
Overview of pre-contact 'Canada':
o Different cultural groups
o Not a static world
o Cartier's voyages - Canada discovered?
Fishery and fur trade
Champlain founds Quebec
Discovery and Founding
1867: Confederation, July 1st, Canada Day
Canada was founded in a different sense, 1867 is a political event, and however Canada
was discovered by Europe in the age of Exploration much earlier.
Discovery: discovered, no one knew about it before, however, people were already
1492: Columbus discovered North America, but there were people there already a claim
of ownership with discovery. Contact between two cultures, Europeans with Aboriginals
in North America.
The Europeans discovered North America; the Aboriginals did not sail over and discover Europe. It was through European initiative that this contact occurred.
Founding: Something did get started; Founded means that there wasn't something there
1608: Champlain founded Quebec, hundreds of Iroquois who lived on that site.
Who did the founding?
Aboriginals accommodated the Europeans who arrived. The founding of Canada was
joint between the Europeans who arrived and the aboriginals. Meanwhile the
Europeans were colonizing the whole world.
Cultural relativism: all cultures are legitimate, though some are more technologically
advanced, making them better, but in the end they are all legitimate.
Hierarchy: more civilized should change primitive is not acceptable
Europeans arrived, aboriginals were primitive, could not write. Europeans felt more
superior. Since all human cultures are legitimate; you can't go in and change an existing
culture. If the Europeans had no right to change the native people, the arrival of the
Europeans was a tragic event.
European culture is inferior to primitives, post-relative society. However, the Primitive
society was more in tune with nature.
Relativism to primitivism, society is better than less primitive society
Native people: tolerant of homosexuality, treated men and women equally, did not
beat their children
Implication: Our culture and society is less tolerant, not equal and harshly disciplines
Before good thing: they could read, given eyeglasses, electricity and advanced culture.
Aboriginal culture benefitted from the arrival of the Europeans
Canadian history began with contact. Two simple reasons
1. Canada, in the world we live in, it was a product of actions of European people.
Agriculture, political parties, railways. The Europeans who arrived created these.
(Aboriginal culture was illiterate hence there is no written records and history is
based on written records) Material Culture that is dug up or oral culture, anthropology
2. History is the history of literate society
No indigenous humans in North America. No evolution in North America. The belief was
that humans migrated into North America through Asia. There were founding myths
about the Genesis of people in North America that the Aboriginals followed
The Area of Canada
- Area covered in Ice during Ice Age.
- As Ice sheet receded, people moved about 10 000 years ago in present day
- By 5 000 years ago, ice receded and thousands of people were living in present
- 500 Years ago they were contacted by Europe
- 4500 years appxt of Aboriginal people in Canada
- 500 000 people living in Canada at the time of contact
- 2 most popular areas: Pacific North West and South Western Ontario
- Culture varied a lot from place to place, map of food that sustained the population
Variation in food, variation in people
I.e. hunting bison vs. fishing, different techniques
Sense of Aboriginals with an Ethnic variety, dozens of languages
It was not a static world
Culture evolved as people moved around
Different hunting techniques, use of bow and arrow
Ex: adoption of agriculture in Southern Ontario, adapted 500 years before contact
Agriculture was practiced in Mexico for longer, technique spread
Aboriginal people were not as primitive as assumed. They were agriculture, though the
stereotype was one of hunters and gatherers.
They did not settle (aboriginals) but moved around after the land was exhausted after
They were nearly settled Other aspects that are the same: knowledge of natural material
Knowledge of natural material: like weaving a basket, leather working, preserving and
Not written down, but learned and refined over time.
Native culture was illiterate; they did not use the wheel, northern America, rock, wheel
Europeans arrived in 16th century, everything began to change. It was part of a period
of time: the Age of Explor