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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

HIST 2251: History of British Columbia

This course surveys the past two centuries of the history of Canada's west coast province. The thirteen units of the course provide an overview of the major historical events in BC, analyze their significance, and examine the roles played by economics, geography, politics, and social factors. This course is of interest to history majors and other arts students, teachers of social studies, and local history enthusiasts.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Consider British Columbia's geography and some of the effects its location and complex terrain have had on its history.
  • Analyze the history of Indigenous peoples in the region, beginning with their first contact with Europeans.
  • Detail the principal reasons why men and women came to British Columbia in the last two hundred years.
  • Analyze the consequences of the province's reliance on natural resource extraction and development.
  • Account for the province's distinctive political party tradition and the tendency toward political polarization.
  • Determine the influence of proximity to the United States.
  • Account for British Columbia's enduring British ethos.
  • Comment on British Columbia's distinctiveness as a Canadian province.
  • Explain British Columbians' ambivalence toward Canada as a whole.
  • Evaluate the province's sharp urban-rural dichotomy.
  • Assess women's contribution to provincial life.
  • Explain the role of class antagonism and confrontation.
  • Trace British Columbia's long-standing history of racial and ethnic conflict.
  • Position recent and ongoing immigration in the context of historic human migrations to British Columbia.
  • Describe the roots of regional differences within and across the province.
  • Account for the rise of local and global environmental movements.
  • Consider the multitude of urban and suburban models in the context of Vancouver's domination.

Course topics

HIST 2251 is divided into thirteen units. The units correspond to the chapters in the textbook The West beyond the West: A History of British Columbia. Each unit also includes further readings.

Unit 1 First Encounters, 1741-1825

Unit 2 The Trade in Furs, 1789-1849

Unit 3 Colonial Years, 1849-1866

Unit 4 The Young Province, 1866-1900

Unit 5 Population Explosion, 1886-1914

Unit 6 Disregard of Native Peoples, 1858-1945

Unit 7 Growing Self-Confidence, 1900-1918

Unit 8 Reform and Its Limits, 1871-1929

Unit 9 The Best and Worst of Times, 1918-1945

Unit 10 The Good Life, 1945-1972

Unit 11 Equality Revolution, 1945-1980

Unit 12 The Challenges of Leadership, 1972-2006

Unit 13 A New Dynamic

Required text and materials

Students will receive all course materials including the textbooks in their course package.

  1. Barman, Jean. The West beyond the West: A History of British Columbia. 3rd Edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 9780802094957
  1. Moran, Bridget. Stoney Creek Woman: The Story of Mary John. 10th Anniversary Edition. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1997.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: ISBN 1551520478

Additional requirements



Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final mandatory examination and 50% in the course overall. It is strongly recommended that you complete all assignments in order to achieve the learning objectives of the course. The total mark will be deter¬mined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 20%
Final exam * 40%
Total 100%

* mandatory

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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