AP/HIST4054 6.0 A: Ontario's African Canadian Past

Offered by: HIST


Fall 2024






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

Explores the many ways people of African descent contributed to building the Province of Ontario. By piecing together clues from such sources as archival documents, archaeological site reports and material culture, coupled with critical analysis of secondary sources, students learn to identify, analyze, interpret and share through on-line publication previously undiscovered evidence for Ontario's rich African-Canadian heritage. Course credit exclusions: None. Note: Field trips to locations accessible by local public transit are required.

Course Start Up

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    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details


    Expanded Course Description

In this course students develop an understanding of the important role played by African Canadians and by migrants of the African diaspora in the growth of what became the province of Ontario and the nation of Canada in 18th century through to the early 20th century Ontario. They will gain an understanding of the establishment of Black communities and the modes of resistance demonstrated by peoples of African descent to slavery and racial oppression. An introduction to African Canadian historiography, discourse analysis, and the study of bias in scholarly approaches to this history of race and ethnicity will encourage the development of critical thinking skills and advanced analytical approaches to the data presented. Students will be introduced to archival research through a series of hands-on classroom sessions with primary documents and artifacts from historical and community-based repositories and will conduct complete their own research project.

    Required Course Text / Readings


Michele A. Johnson and Funké Aladejebi (editors), Unsettling the Great White North: Black Canadian History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2022.

Students will also read a range of book chapters and articles and watch assigned short videos.

    Weighting of Course

*TENTATIVE Grade Breakdown*

Class Participation & Attendance                                       15%

Reading Responses                                                                20%

Primary Source Analysis                                                      15%

Fall Research Assignment                                                   15%

Public History Assignment                                                  15%

Final Research Paper                                                            20%

    Organization of the Course

The course involves three-hour seminar meetings once per week. These sessions will combine lectures and discussions of required readings, supplementary texts, and viewing films which serve to introduce, enrich, clarify, and illustrate relevant issues and themes. There will also be activities to apply skills and concepts taught. Students are expected to read the assigned materials before each class, to attend class regularly and to contribute to the discussions as fully as possible. Students are expected to complete the assignments in the course to fulfill assessment requirements.

    Course Learning Objectives

This course allows students to examine the experiences of African Canadians in Ontario from the eighteenth century to the early twentieth century; it will allow students to:

  • Analyze the different migration waves of African people and their descendants into Canada, and more specifically to Ontario;
  • Locate the histories of African Canadians within the broader global context of racialized slavery, imperialism, colonization, nation building, and the African Diaspora;
  • Develop a better understanding of the methods of historical writing and the ways historians approach the study of African Canadian history;
  • Extrapolate some of the everyday details of Black life to paint a nuanced picture of life for Black people in Ontario and Canada in this period;
  • Interrogate the barriers faced by the various Black communities in Canada and the individual and collective strategies used to challenge them;
  • Understand the ways African Canadians forged communities;
  • Analyze the roles of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and culture in African Canadian experiences;
  • Read and critically assess primary and secondary documents related to African Canadians in Ontario;
  • Examine and discuss the issues of the representation of Black experiences in local public history and the relationships between history and memory;
  • Locate, access, and analyze/interpret a variety of primary and secondary source materials;
  • Acquire basic historical research skills, including (as appropriate) the effective use of libraries, archives, and databases;
  • Undertake independent research;
  • Participate in critical conversations.
    Relevant Links / Resources