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Laurier House National Historic Site of Canada


I: About the lesson

This lesson deals with immigration, from the policies of Sifton and Laurier in the late 1890s to the Citizenship Act of 1947 under Mackenzie King.

Where it fits into the curriculum

This unit falls into that part of the New Ontario Curriculum Elementary School Curriculum that comprises the Social Studies Program. Entitled Grade 8-History-The Development of Western Canada. By the end of this section of the program, students

“Describe the significance of Canadian Pacific Railway in Canada's expansion and identify the key individuals (e.g. Donald Smith, William Van Horne) and groups (Chinese Workers) whose efforts led to the railway's completion.”

“Identify and explain the effects of post-Confederation immigration on the development of Western Canada”

“Locate relevant information (e.g. concerning reasons different groups immigrated to Canada), using a variety of sources”

This lesson also fits into the section of the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum offered in Grades 10 and 12. Under the heading Canada and the World, this section of the program encompasses both history and geography. The history portion is divided into courses that cover major epochs in Canadian and World history.

The grade 10 Curriculum offers a course called Canadian History in the Twentieth Century in both the Academic (University-bound) and Applied (Job-marketed oriented) streams. This course focuses on the events and personalities that have shaped our nation in the past hundred years. It is broken down into five areas. The first of these sections, entitled Communities: Local, National and Global, contains units on national identity, French-English relations and Canada's role in international conflicts. The immigration theme forms the mainstay of the "Communities: Local, National and Global" section. In this unit, students study

"Development of new policies after WWII (e.g. closed-door policy in the 1930s contributed to the closed-door policy for Jewish refugees fleeing Europe between 1933 and 1939; the current refugee immigration laws)

In the second of the five sections, entitled "Change and continuity", students explore immigration to Canada in the Twentieth Century, and various issues associated with immigration (i.e. short-term socio-economic impact on communities). The specific goals are expressed as follows:

"To demonstrate an understanding of the changing demographic patterns within Canada since 1900"

"Identify the major groups that have immigrated to Canada from 1900 to the present and describe the circumstances (e.g. push and pull factors) that led to their immigration"

"Explain how immigrants, individually and as communities, have participated in and contributed to the development of Canada".

The course offered in Grade 12, entitled "Canada: "History, Identity and Culture, Grade 12, University Preparation (CHI4U)", allows students for a more detailed study of the issue of immigration. On a secondary level, this course seeks to investigate the effect of immigration on Canadian Identity and Culture, and how attitudes towards this issue have evolved over time. This course is divided into the same five sections as the Grade 10 course. The first section "Communities: Local, National and Global", includes a unit on "Immigration and Identity" which aims to teach the students to

"Analyze the factors that led to the revision of Canada's immigration policies"

"Describe significant waves of immigration (e.g. United Empire Loyalists in the late 1700s, Black immigration in the early 1800s, British immigration in the 1840s, Sifton's "men in sheepskin coats", post WWII immigration, Asian and African Immigration in the 1990s) and settlement patterns, and how they helped
shape Canadian Identity and Culture"

"Describe the types of immigrants the Canadian government sought to attract at the end of the nineteenth century and the strategies immigration officials used to
attract them"

The third section "Citizenship and Heritage", students learn how the concept of citizenship has evolved over the course of Canada's history. The first section, entitled "Canadian Citizenship", involves the following goals:

"Demonstrate an understanding of the development of citizenship in Canada
(e.g. from British subject to Canadian citizen)"

"Explain how and why citizenship rights have been denied at particular times to certain ethno-cultural minorities (e.g. Chinese, Ukrainian or Japanese Canadians)"

"Describe the actions that groups who have been denied full citizenship have taken to achieve that status (e.g. women, Chinese Immigrants, Aboriginal Peoples)".

This lesson attempts to elucidate all of these ideas, as many of these policies are the direct result of the Laurier and King administrations.

Objectives for students

  1. To describe the waves of immigration that occurred during the Laurier period (1896-1911), and what the Laurier government did to attract some immigrants, and discourage others.
  2. To explain the evolution in attitudes towards specific groups of immigrants: Chinese immigrants, from the Sifton-Laurier Head Tax to the Citizenship Act of 1947, under Mackenzie King.
  3. To analyze and evaluate historical perspectives on the question of immigration
  4. To read documents as varied as immigration laws and passports.
  5. To study the role of both Laurier and King in the development of the Canadian concept of Citizenship.
  6. To make the link between the Laurier House Prime Ministers and the existence of other immigration sites such as Pier 21 and Partridge Island NB.

Materials for students

The materials in this package may be used directly on the computer or printed off, photocopied, and distributed to students.