Trench warfare

Trench warfare is a form of warfare whereby conflicting troops fight one another from trenches facing each other. This style of warfare is characterized by a plot of land in between two opposing trenches commonly referred to as no man’s land. The opposing forces would fight from theses trenches crossing no man’s land trying to break through the enemy’s front line. In ancient times forms of this style of warfare were used they were not seen on such a large scale.

Ancient and medieval trench warfare had not been developed to the extent it was following the development of firearm technology in the mid-nineteenth century. It was during the American Civil War that the changes can be seen. By the end of the American Civil War the style of fighting became more like the trench style of warfare seen in the First World War. It was during the First World War that trench warfare was used on such a large scale.

There were two major factors which lead in part to the trench warfare seen during the First World War. The first was the use of the breech-loading loading firearm which significantly increase the ability of a small force to hold off a larger force if they were entrenched or had a barrier in which to conceal themselves. The other major impact on warfare was the introduction of the machine gun, this rapid firing weapon allowed small troops to keep larger forces at bay as long as they were concealed. These two inventions, rapid-firing small arms and machine guns made the traditional style of infantry fighting impossible. Another invention barbed wire paid a role in the use of trench warfare. Barbed wire was placed in no-man’s land and along the top of my trenches and it significantly slowed down the advancement of the opposing forces. Breech-loading high velocity artillery was another development which impacted the use of trenches during war.

It was the use of these weapons which basically immobilize the infantry, forcing them to build defences (trenches). Once built the trenches provide the infantry with a form of defence away from the rapid-firing small arms and artillery. World War One was the first major trench warfare as both sides reached a stalemate.

Introduction of the various rapid-firing arms and artillery which made the infantry have to dig in, building an elaborate trench system which stretched for miles across the various military fronts. Both sides began to utilize means such as gas to attempt to infiltrate the opposing army’s trenches. Tanks were brought in to try to eradicate the other army’s trenches. Meanwhile both sides were attempting to produce better and better weapons to fight trench warfare. Greater forces of artillery were brought in by both the German and Allied forces to try to breach the opposing forces defensive line.

The trenches on the Western Front of the WWI essentially started out as small shallow dips in the land which later evolved into large holes in the ground with an elaborate system of tunnels and trenches joined together. This allowed the soldier to move without exposing themselves to the barrage of artillery rained down on them from the opposing forces.

The barrage of attacks by the artillery on the conflicting forces meant that no man’s land became a sea of churned up land and mud. This slowed any attempts by the conflicting forces to attack the others trenches and left the advancing forces exposed to the enemy’s barrage of machine gun fire, artillery and small arms fire.

Large frontal attacks by the opposing sides would result in enormous losses with trivial territorial gains. Poisonous gas and massive artillery barrages were used to try and soften up the enemy prior to placing a frontal attack were also introduced during this time. These huge frontal

attached produced large casualties and troop sizes began to dwindle. The Allies began to impose ever-harsher conscription laws and troops were brought in from the British colonies and eventually even the United States, in the hope that one more attack and artillery barrage would finally overrun the enemy’s trench lines.

Trench lines were breached by the opposing forces but they never seemed to last long as reinforcements would be brought up threw the elaborate trench and tunnelling system. This pattern would continue in the hopes that one of these breaches would finally have the desired results; trench life for the soldiers was very frightening with large period of rest followed by short intense periods of fighting. The trenches themselves evolved from being unconnected holes in the ground to an elaborate system laid out in a zigzag pattern to decrease the impact of the artillery barrages.

The World War One trenches became an elaborate system of zigzagging holes in the ground with a secondary line behind the front line. The zigzagging not only decreased the impact from the artillery barrages but also meant that in a section of the trench was breached they couldn’t just shot down a straight line. Trenches were dug into the ground 4 to 5 feet with a topper of sandbags added to give an additional 3 feet. Wooden boards would be placed to form a walkway over the sludge of mud and steps were placed to allow the soldiers to see over the parapet of sandbags to fire on the advancing enemy. Periscopes were used to watch the opposing side without exposing themselves to enemy fire. Dugouts were used to shelter the troops but the trenches were not only within the range of fire by the artillery but also by enemy snipers. These conditions along with the infestation of rats and other pests made the trenches, especially the front line one of the most nerve racking places to be assigned.

While in the trenches the soldiers were relatively safe but forays were made against the enemy lines, sometimes only involving a few men anther times would involve hundreds of soldiers attacking in multiple groups all at once. The endless waiting and tension in the front line trenches caused great stress amongst those in the front line trenches therefore troops were rotated in and out of the front line to give them a relief from the high tension front line.

When the troops were ordered to attack they poured out of the trenches going over the top and began to advance towards enemy lines in through the crater and muddy no man’s land. This slowed the troops down and some losses by some units were extremely high in just a few hours.

The introduction of rapid-fire weapons and mass-produced barbed wire in part responsible for the end of trench warfare and it could be argued the introduction of the tank. Tanks were available early in the conflict but it was not until later in the war that they became more commonly used as the number of tanks available increased and generals began to see the advantages of deploying them to fight against the enemy trenches. Although the tank certainly assisted in the death of trench warfare it was not the only tactic that was utilized. Surprise attacks on the enemy’s weakest points while by-passing his strongest points and the ability to achieve tactical surprise was also a contributing factor in trench warfare’s demise. In fact it was a combination of various tactics that made trench warfare obsolete. The combination of closer cooperation between the infantry, light artillery, air support and if possible tanks all lead to making trench warfare obsolete.


“trench warfare.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2012. (November 22, 2012).

John Whiteclay Chambers II. “Trench Warfare.” The Oxford Companion to American Military History. 2000. (November 22, 2012).

“Trench warfare”.

Library and Archives Canada, Military and Peacekeeping :Oral Histories of the First World War

Faryon, Cynthia J. Mysteries,Legends And Myths Of The First World War: Canadian soldiers in the trenches and in the air. James Loimer & Company Ltd. Publishers Torotnto

Dyer, Gwynne. WAR: The New Edition. Vintage Canada Edition, 2005

Shephard, Norma Hillyer. Dear Harry: The Firsthand Account of a Worl War I Infantryman. Brigham Press. Canada. 2003.

Religion versus Science and Technology (Van Helsing) *Spoliers for the book Dracula*

In Bram Stokers “Dracula”, his character, Dr. Van Helsing believes that modern technology, science is faulty as it does not take into account the need to acknowledge history, in specific religious beliefs and the affect they have on modern society. When speaking to Stewart in Chapter XVIII he remarks on how God fashioned Madam Mina for a purpose with her man’s brain. The doctor refers to god, religion and then goes on later to make mention of the power presented by science and self –devotion. Dr. Van Helsing himself seems to utilize science, technology and religion depending upon what type of statement he wishes to make. He seems to feel that both have a place within the modern world. Religion based solely on faith, traditions and superstitions versus a modern world where by if science and technology cannot explain it then it does not exist.

When the friends meet in Dr. Steward’s study, Dr. (professor) Van Helsing states that since everyone knows the facts up to now, he will tell them about the history of Dracula. He then proposes after they have not only the facts but also the history of Dracula, they will be able to come up with a plan of action. He begins his history by saying that vampires exist and we all have proof in our previous dealings with Dracula and if that were not enough we also have “teachings and records of the past”. (Stoker) Van Helsing’s belief in science made him skeptical of the existence of vampires and it was only through undeniable proof and the validation from historical accounts as well as his open mindedness that leads him to the conclusion that vampires do indeed exist. Although his scientific mind allows him to analyze the data to the conclusion of the existence of vampires, he does bring into the discussion how if they fail not only might they end up like Dracula “-without hear or conscience, preying on the bodies and souls of those we love best. To us for ever are the gates of heaven shut; for who shall open them to us again? We go on for all time abhorred by all; a blot on the face of God’s sunshine; an arrow in the side of Him who died for man.” (Stoker) In this Van Helsing shows both his belief in religion and his belief in the observations of science and the influence of modern technology.

Van Helsing gives the group going to vanquish Dracula even though the vampire is a powerful being by reminding the group of the powers they have such as science and the ability to think and act rationally in both the daylight and night hours, he also reminds them they have their faith, superstitions and traditions upon which they can rely. For they should not forget what they had observed, his ability to become different animals such as a wolf or a bat; how he can become mist or even “elemental dust” (Stoker) and let us not forget that he can see in the dark. Superstition tells them that a vampire cannot enter where he has not been invited (although once invited in he can come and go as he pleases), nor can he go about during the daylight hours and can only change at various times, he also is not supposed to be able to cross running water unless it is at the ebb or low tide. All of these things have either been observed by the group or have been found in the teachings and history. Stoker uses Van Helsing to add a voice of reason and wisdom into the group, he also uses the professor (Dr.) to direct our attention to god, the role he plays. The Dr. (professor) reminds the group that they will be denied entrance to heaven if they become a vampire and loss their soul. Van Helsing’s faith in religion, scientific and modern technologies are the weapons he believes they can use to defeat Dracula and end his reign of terror.

When Mina and Van Helsing travel to Transylvania and Dracula’s castle, they do so with the hope they can kill him and thereby free Mina from his hold. Van Helsing observes how she begins to eat less, become paler, sleep more during the day. In a bid to save her the professor (Dr.) creates a circle of faith (Holy circle) to keep the three female vampires from enticing Mina away from the protective Holy circle. The next morning Val Helsing goes to the castle and finds their resting place and kills them. At Mina’s urging they begin to travel away from the castle to try to meet up with the other members of their party. Mina senses her husband is near and is eager to meet up with them. Van Helsing’s use of the Holy circle shows how he truly believes in the trappings of religion and how important they are to maintain, for sometimes it is only faith that keeps you going. Using Van Helsing’s glasses they are able to see the race between Dracula’s minions and rest of the men of their group.

Dracula is intercepted before the sun can set, so he is at his most vulnerable, the team at Van Helsing’s urging has used a number of methods to predict and plot not only Dracula’s return to his castle but also how they can arrive at the castle before him. The men arm themselves with modern weapons (technology) and follow the trail while relying on their faith to assist them in staying safe. The death of Dracula is described as “ a miracle, but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.” (Stoker) This scene where Dracula is killed has visual reminders of modern technology for the gypsies transporting the vampire home are held at bay with rifles while Hawkins and Morris fight their way to the cart and the box which contains Dracula, who is then killed with two knives.

Throughout Stoker’s story we see various occasions that when the use of modern technology and science fails, religion is used. Van Helsing himself time and time again falls back on religion and the historical accounting when he cannot explain what has occurred by using science. The idea of a vampire is certainly not one which is the first appears to be a rational conclusion to what happened to Lucy but it is the conclusion which is reach following the recounting of various instances of Dracula turning into an animal; disappearing into thin air (as either elemental dust or mist); his lack of a shadow and his inability to have a reflection in a mirror. When science fails to label Dracula, Van Helsing turns to the historical documents of the church and it there he finds the answer in what Dracula is. Van Helsing himself uses science until he cannot find a logical reason for what he has observed and then he turns to his religious teachings and historical documents to find his answers. He himself uses a Holy circle to protect Mina from the female vampires who come and try to lure her to Dracula’s castle.

Van Helsing’s character although seemingly simplistic in nature provides the perfect adversary to his monster character, Dracula. Stoker moves Dracula from rural Transylvania to London, England during the Victorian Era because most individuals during this time relied upon the observation of science and the dictates of modern technology to address their problems and it is only when Van Helsing arrives with his willingness and open mindedness that the problem begins to be solved. Lucy’s strange aliment cannot be explained by modern technology and science therefore he turns to historical accountants of similar cases and it is with this knowledge that he begins to comprehend the nature of Lucy’s illness and the vileness of Dracula. Once the evil of Dracula is acknowledged, Van Helsing and his friends begin to formulate a plan to destroy him. For the plan to succeed they use a combination of (scientific skills) clinical observation, modern technologies such as rifles and of course religion (their personal faith in god).

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Herfordshire: Woodsworth Editions Limited, 1st published 1897; republished edition 1993. book. p. 211, 212, 214,333

Confucius and Kautilya

Confucius and Kautilya both provide examples of how they believe a country should be ruled and how the King and his officials should act. They tell of the realities of governing a country and the idealism on which they were based, a comparative between ideologies of ancient Chinese and Indian rulers. Both have a set of ideas for the rulers to follow and how to rule ones subjects and how to keep said subjects in order. The ideas presented by Kautilya and Confucius seemed to be those which helped to shape the way in which their countries were ruled.

Kautilya’s Arthashatra and the handout both described the various layers of a how a country should be governed from the villages to the ruler himself. They describe a country where the rulers should have layers of spies in order to help “maintain the integrity of the country’s officers”(1) basically; it states that officers should have spies who report on their behaviour and the manner in which they conduct their business. The readings also described the manner in which the ruler himself should attend to his personal security, how foreigners and those not related to him should not be able to be part of the personal security detail. The passage describes how the ruler’s safety is to be obtains and maintained. Some of Kaautilya’s ideas appear to be comparable with those of Confucius. The Analects have passages which seem to impart ideals similar to those of Kaytilya’s Arthashatra, thou they do differ in manner in which they believe a ruler should manage his subjects. Confucius, in my opinion seems to impart his wisdom in a more direct manner and promotes the idea of education of the officials. Kautilya’s ideals seem more complex and complicated to understand, and one teaching seems to have several meanings.

The uniformity of the Harappan seems to be evident when you look at the way in which the villages, towns, and cities all seem to have been built using the same template. They all seem to have used the same grid with the main roads running from north to south or east to west. These roads were laid out in strict patterns and were of uniform width. This uniformity seemed to be seen as well in their diets, trade, identity and government. “As with other early urban cultures, there appears to have been a close relationship among the religious, political, and social spheres of Harappan society.”(2) This ancient Indian civilization like it Chinese counterpart seems steeped in symbolic ideologies. The Harappan society like its cities appears to have strict boundaries and rules it follows. Kautilya’s Arthashastra debates such things as monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail while also outlining the duties of a ruler.

Confucius’ Analects are not really just a rule book for the rulers but also a guild for the officials and others to study in hopes to improve the way in which the government of the Chinese didn’t have corruption and a sort of self-governing of oneself. For punishment was to be dealt harshly when needed and rewarding as well. Not one person other than the empire should have complete power, the officials are there to help govern each other and advise the empire. Anyone could become an official as they would test the intellect of a person and pay no attention to the class. Though of course, one could think that not everyone was educated in the ideological way of Confucius’ Analects. Confucius’ teaching were not just political, they could also be viewed at ethical teachings as well. His moral teachings underlined self-cultivation, simulation of moral examples, and the realization of skilled judgment rather than awareness of rules. Confucian ethics could be a well-thought-out type of virtue in ethics. As his instructions seldom rely on reasoned arguments and ethical ideals and methods that are secondarily, through suggestion, hint, and even repetition. My readings showed me some similarities and differences between Kautilya’s Arthasha and Confucius’ Analects. Chapter three of the text stated that Kautilya promoted the rulers to follow his teachings to better the empire; while Chapter 6 of the text has Confucius promoting the empire to have educated officials to help him keep the population in control and to punish those who break the rules (as set out by the readings). Whereas India was set in the cast system and no one was able to advance in this system if one was born in the lower casts. In China it was the opposite, for all you needed was education and an understanding of Confucius’ Analects and an adaptation of them to take a test which would allow you to climb the political ladder. In a way I prefer the Analects to Kautilya’s writings for at least an individual had a chance of bettering themselves by advancing within the levels of the system. Unlike the writings of Kautilya, Confucius’ writings give an individual hope that they could advance within the system, while still maintaining the rulers and regulations as outlined by the writings. Both can be seen as not only an ideology but as based in to religion practice as well.

1 How to Rule an Empire: Kaytilya and Ashoka, 103
2  Peter Von Sivers, et al, Patterns of World History, Volume 1: To 1600 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 78


Von Sivers, Peter et al, Patterns of World History, Volume 1: To 1600, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012

Gregory, Candace et al, Sources in Patterns of World History Volume 1: To 1600, New York: Oxford University Press, 2012

How to Rule an Empire: Kaytilya and Ashoka, Handout from HIST 1101 course from prof (no other info was given)

History of Childhood and Family

In the beginning we began by exploring the question of when was a child an infant and when did they become an adult. In pre-industrial Europe, the definition of a child and an infant seemed to be interchangeable. There did not seem to be a specific age in which one went from being a child to being an adult. This becomes an issue when researching, the history of children due in part to the limited amount of information available as well as the accuracy of the information provided, many were recollections of people’s childhood and not first-hand accounts. Legal documents such as ship manifests and court records did not always note the age of the child and they referred to them interchangeably as both infants and children. Following the industrial revolution, information on childhood and children’s first-hand accounts of growing up were readily available. Not only did the children themselves document their childhood but the adults around them also mentioned them more frequently in their records.

In pre-industrial Europe, the care of poor orphan children was the responsibility of the parish in which they resided. In the1550’s London and other larger towns began setting up hospitals to care for orphans. These hospitals replaced the charity care system of the religious houses. A system evolved whereby the small children and babies were boarded out, children were placed into the hospital at the age of six, and older children were given some schooling and instruction while at the hospital. Adolescents (thirteen to fifteen year olds) were usually placed in apprenticeships or positions of service. This new system brought the poor children under the jurisdiction of the civic authorities rather than the parishes (religious) authorities.

We then went on to learn about the education process in place during this time. One document written by Locke, states how he felt children should be educated. Although Locke, himself had no children, he appeared to have not only observed many of his friends’ children but also to have had a part in directing how they were educated.

Middle class children were known as the angels of the house, while women had control of the household and the ideology of manhood began to change. In the pre-industrial world, the rich married mainly to consolidate holdings or strengthen political partnerships. The lower class did not marry as young and usually only after the women had become pregnant.

The aristocratic adults talked about sentimental childhoods but reality was that children were usually brought to the parents and they were to be seen but not heard. Mostly they spent their time in the nursery prior to being introduced to society or being sent away for education.   New ideas around education began to be seen around the time of industrialization, when adults begin talking about the importance of play and childhood lessons. It was during this time that the idea of vulnerable children requiring adult supervision was introduced by reading stories in newspapers. Stories such as the popular Grimm brother stories, first published in 1827 and Peter Parley’s book of fables were written specifically for children and they had a moral theme. These books contained pictures and covers which had been painted by widows, sometimes with the help of their children. This craft work which also included painting cards meant that they were able to stay at home with their families while providing them with an income which helped to keep the family together.

The ideology of family was slowly changing; evidence of this can be seen in the group portrait done in 1846 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. The painting shows Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children all together as one big family. Many other families had paintings done similar to that of the Queen and her family, showing how Victoria was setting a standard for the middle class morality and family. She was also the one who start the big white wedding tradition. Large families were the norm during this time and it has been estimated that about one-third of most women’s lives was dedicated to having children. This was due in part to the fact that many children did not survive due to the high fatality rate. Children were vulnerable to a large number of diseases and viruses and many did not live to see their fifth birthdays. Children were very susceptible to diseases such as whooping cough and diphtheria both of which were high contagious.

The dynamics of family life and the roles of women continued to change. This can be seen with the popularity of the book “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott. The book talks about four sisters; Margaret “Meg” March Brooke who becomes a governess and later on marries and stays home with her children, Josephine “Jo” March Bhaer who was a known tomboy when she was a young girl, and wanted to be a writer. She pursued this dream in New York City where she meets her husband who is a professor. The third sister is Elizabeth “Beth” March who is known as the home body, she later dies in the story. Last but not least is the youngest sister Amy Curtis March Laurence who wants to become an artist, she later on marries and has a child that she names Elizabeth “Beth” after her dead sister, her daughter seems to have many similarities with Aunt Beth as she is very ill. This was considered a coming of age reading for many girls.

Victorian British children did not receive the same education, playtime, or even the need to have a job. British society was still very depended on the class system. The life of the family differed according to their placement within society’s classes. This can be seen by comparing the three (sometimes four) classes; these classes being the high class, middle class, working class (the fourth being poor class). We can break it down even more with children having both parents, one parent, being an orphan or being a bastard child (though this child can be put in the same group as having one parent or orphan group).   The first subject that I will be discussing will be the education or lack of education in some of the cases.

Education was quite simply if you were part of the lower/working class you learned the basics; writing, reading, and some basic numbers. The middle classes education was very similar but went into more depth. This meant they were able to continue their education if they desired by attending colleges. The upper class not only learned writing, reading and math but they also would learn the classics as well as Latin and Greek. This distinction in classes continued into the Industrial Era.

In the Era prior to the Industrial Revolution, there was a boom in the younger population as people were marring younger (age 23 for most women). It was during the Industrial Revolution that the need for cheap labour and labour easily trained. It was during, Industrial Era that the Children of Victorian Era began filling in the labour force. These children have become known to the historians as the “white slaves of Britain”[i]. Some of these children signed up not knowing what they were signing up for, others were sold by their family, or they took over their parents jobs. These children started working at the age of six. They were in all types of works from factories, farming, to street work (newspapers, matches, sweepers). It was only in 1802 that children were not allowed to work before six am or after nine pm and then in 1831 no one was allowed to work after dark if they were under the age twenty. In 1842 some of the Victorian people became horrified over the reporting of children age five to six being used as trappers and that older children were exposed to topless women working in the narrower mine shafts which the ponies were unable to work in. This practice was stopped and only children twelve and older were able to work. It was due to legislation brought in 1847 that the Quarry Bank stopped using children in the factory, and 1850 in half days were introduced.

It was due to the child labour laws that the parameters around children became more defined. The age of children was not only noted and used to classify what work they were able to do but when they were able to engage in this work. Children and childhood began to have definite limitations as outlined by parliament.

[i] Children who built Victorian Britain, BBC network


Tarbin. Stephanie, Caring for Poor and Fatherless Children in London, c. 1350-1550.” The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. (Vol 3. # 3). The Johns Hopkins University Press. Fall 2010

Benzaquen. Adriana Silvia, Locke’s Children.” The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. (Vol 4. # 3). The Johns Hopkins University Press. Fall 2011

Nadel. Ira Bruce, ““The Mansion of Bliss,” or the Place of Play in Victorian Life and Literature”. Children’s Literature. (Vol. 10) The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1982

Hurl. F. Lorna, “Restriction Child Factory Labour In Late Nineteenth Century Ontairo”. Journal of Canadian Labour Studies. (Vol 21) Spring 1988

Children who built Victorian Britain, BBC network

Class for Notes Weeks 2, 4, and 5

Interpreting what I learned in my Aborignal History Class

Interpreting the Indian Act: Indian Agents, Aboriginal Land and Resistance

What the Aboriginal peoples saw as honest negotiation for their land, the Europeans and then the Canadians saw as a peaceful way of gaining land without the costly expenses of war. They signed a number of treaties with no intention of keeping them.

This caused starvation in some areas as the government tried to control the Aboriginals through their food rations. “Peoples of Treaty 4, who signed partly because of their disappearing food source, the bison, had not received the promised farm equipment six years after signing; they were starving, sick and ill-dressed for a tough winter (Lux 2001, 36; Wilson 2007, 380–381).”(Bednasek and Godlewska, 448) Other aboriginal tribal chiefs reported rotten food being delivered and claimed it was killing their people, even if the food was not spoiled many reported that they were not getting enough food to feed their people. The Canadian government tried to force the Aboriginal tribes to sign away their land using food. They wanted the land to be developed by European settlers.

“Indian Commissioner Edgar Dewdney targeted the Cree leadership: ‘I know they are not getting enough flour but I like to punish them a little. I will have to increase their rations, but not much’ (Lux 2001, 40)”. (Bednasek and Godlewska, 448) He and his assistant, Hayter Reed utilized a work for your rations method to encourage the aboriginals to learn farming.

Many of the treaties signed by the government were not seen as binding by the government but the Aboriginals did not have this view. They expected the government to abide by the word of the treaty.

The Aboriginals saw the governor-generals as representatives of the “Great Mother (Queen Victoria)” (Carter, 35) and believed their continued assurances that the treaties would be upheld. The Aboriginals viewed the visits by the governor-general and royals as a reaffirming their treaties and a confirmation of their long partnership. These treaties were the basis for many debates by the Canadian government.

The government created the North West Mounted Police due to their fears that the Americans would extend their territory into western Canada. The police could only operate in areas not yet formed into provinces because law enforcement was under the jurisdiction of the provinces unless an agreement was made between them and the Canadian government. The North West Mounted Police was originally to have British officers with Metis filling in the other positions but this idea was vetoed after the revolt of 1869-70. The forming of the federal police force was instrumental in curbing the liquor trade and establishing good relations with the Aboriginals. The federal police force and the improved relations with the western aboriginals led to further treaties between the aboriginals and the government.

The Indian Act of 1867 promoted assimilation of the aboriginals. This Act took away even more of the Aboriginal people’s rights and allowed the government to restrict their lives even more than the previous act. In 1869 the process of electing chiefs and band council members was put in place by the government. They were trying to make the Aboriginals conform to their system of governance.

The government never gave up its policy to assimilate the aboriginal peoples. Their need to assimilate the Aboriginal people has meant the loss of many aboriginal traditions and customs. The government also failed to fulfill its promises as described in the treaties, many tribes were left not only without the means to feed themselves but also without the assistance from the government agents. The aboriginal peoples of Canada lost much of their rights through treaties that were not upheld by the government. The debate over the treaties or lack of treaties with the aboriginal tribes continues to be an issue for both the provincial and the federal governments today.

Interpreting the Indian Act: Education and Health

The Canadian government and the provinces saw education as a way in which to further erode the Aboriginal customs and traditions. By removing the children from their villages, families and familiar surroundings and forcing them to conform to European style boarding schools and style of dress they were able to limit the amount of contact they had to their customs and traditions. Those in charge saw the education of the Aboriginal children as a way of assimilating the Aboriginals into European acceptable peoples, the missionaries saw the schools as a way of striping the Aboriginals of their sense of community, of ridding them of their heathen ways, and of training them to the European way of thinking.

The schools robbed the Aboriginal children of their sense of self, community, and connection with their families, and an understanding of their traditions and customs. It left many generations of Aboriginal peoples adrift. “The village that it takes to raise a child, especially those that are Aboriginal ones, have not been supported, or developed, so that they can be, in and of themselves, places of child welfare: with adequate employment, nourishing systems of education appropriate to a peoples’ beliefs and values and supportive of their identity, and with systems of self-government that allow people, together, to make their way forward, together, in a difficult world.”( Milloy, 3) The removal of children from their communities to educate them although well-meant was disastrous to Aboriginal communities. The legacy it has left is sad. More Aboriginal children were removed in the 1970’s from their parents care due to neglect than any other ethnic group. Many Aboriginal who had attended residential school were lost, and did not have any support systems. This was not true for all Aboriginal tribes. Some never lost their sense of community, family and self –worth. They even found ways to incorporate the parts of colonization that they found beneficial while still maintaining their sense of community identity.

The attempts by the government to assimilate the Nisga’a into their European style culture failed. The Nisga’a fought them or ignored those ideas they did not feel were beneficial to their culture. They continued to have a separate identity and their many battles with the government has rather than discouraged them from adopting any European ideas “encouraged them to seek out other aspects of non-Nisga’a culture that might be used to benefit Nisga’a. Medicine is one of these features”. (Kelm, 336)

Most disputes between the Aboriginal tribes regarding their culture and the government usually ended in disagreements. These disagreements could in some cases require court interventions. The governments of Canada and the provinces seemed to be influenced by the non-Aboriginal population when implementing programs that directly affect them. This has lead to misunderstandings as the Aboriginal councils try to protect their people and their people’s life styles.

Resources Economies and Aboriginal Lives in a Changing World

In week twelve of my class reading and discussions we learned were about the economic resources of British Columbia and the way Aboriginal lives changed due to the allocation of these resources. For many years the aboriginal peoples of British Columbia have utilized the natural resources of our coast waters, river, streams and lakes. Many tribes’ cultures and traditional foods relied upon the fisheries of the BC waters. Prior to the invasion of the European fur traders, settlers and fisheries they managed and sustained their ecological resources. Since the early 1900’s this has changed, fisheries were now being harvested not only by the Aboriginal peoples but also by the European commercial fisheries and sport fishermen. Even though the treaties were supposed to protect the native fisheries, they were under the management of the government that were lobbied by commercial and sport fishermen for an ever increasingly larger portion of the fishery. Just as the Aboriginal treaties has been a major bone of contention so to have the fishery and hunting rights along not only the west coast of Canada but also the Arctic and Atlantic Coasts.

Fishing and hunting and the cultural significance it plays in Aboriginal peoples lives has become of great concern as the environmental issues of the world become more and more evident. The consuming of Canada’s natural resources seems to be a historical trend, the settlers would arrive, trick the aboriginals into giving them some land and when they had utilized all the resources in that area would petition the government to remove the aboriginals to another area. This was true also of the fishing industry; they Aboriginal peoples were removed from their traditional fishing grounds so the settlers and commercial fisheries could harvest the fish from the area. They would wait at the mouth of the streams and rivers catching the fish before they would have a chance to spawn.

The Aboriginals in the area would protest the management of the fisheries in their area but in many cases their concerns would fall on deaf ears. The government never spoke with the aboriginals in the area when the implemented fishing bans or conservation efforts. This trend of disregarding the Aboriginals traditional knowledge of their tribal lands has begun to change over the last few years with naturalists and others beginning to acknowledge and accept the historical knowledge the various tribes have of their traditional lands. The Aboriginal peoples of British Columbia were managing the fishery resources and the other natural resources of their lands long before settlers came. I

 Land Claims, Charter Rights, Aboriginal Title to Land: From the Indian Act to Delgamuukw to the Nisga’a Treaty

The Nisga’a Treaty signed August 4, 1998 is one of the most significant documents signed between the government and the Aboriginal peoples. It “stands out as a model of compromise and moderation” (Foster,3) when one looks around the world at how other nations are coming to grips with their colonial pasts. This Treaty recognizes the Nisga’a right to self-govern themselves within the laws of Canada and the provinces; it also recognizes their right to their lands and the resources located on those lands. It gives the Nisga’a people the rights to their lands, which had been illegal taken from them by the local government of 1887. In 1913 the Nisga’a Land Committee and their legal council “petitioned the British Crown for recognition of their title” (Foster,3). They relied on the broad statement made by King George the third, to prove their point that the government had not signed a treaty with them and therefore had no claim to their lands. “The committee and its successor, the Nisga’a Tribal Council, took similar action after the First World War and again in the 1960 and 1970s, when they took the famous Calder case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.” (Foster, 3) The Canadian government was advised that the provincial governments could not use the Aboriginal lands as a source of revenue until they had received full title to the lands from the Aboriginal peoples. The upholding of the Aboriginal title and their self-governance rights by the courts was the easy part; the hard part was in implementing the ruling.

The majority of the public seems to have forgotten the legal tradition of treaties and of the Aboriginals turning their land over to the crown (government) in trade for certain concessions of the government such as self-governance. The memories of the government seem to be spotty at best, they like to forget they never signed treaties or if they did that they did not keep them. The British Columbia government has a history of not making treaties with the aboriginal people and “when British Columbia’s new Crown Land Act was referred to Telesphore Fournier, the dominion minister of justice, he was quick to note that it made no mention of the Royal Proclamation and made no provision for Aboriginal title. Fournier therefore recommended that the Act be disallowed, and the Dominion Cabinet accepted that advice.” (Foster,5 ) The idea was that the disallowance would enable the BC province to become more realistic about the reserve question and stop or at least minimize their complaints about the railway. The federal government found away to get around the provincial government’s lack of consent by engaging in various lawsuits in their position as trustee for the Aboriginal title-holders. This made the provincial government defend the land grant in question. However, after the 1911 election when Laurier’s government was defeated this strategy ended. In a bid to gain British Columbia’s inclusion in the Dominion of Canada the federal government sided with British Columbia and the famous “McKenna-McBride Report” was written. The report encouraged the tribes to form the Allied Indian Tribes of British Columbia. This group dominated the Land Question here in BC until 1927. Negotiating a solution to the land issue because BC would not participate and it was assumed that Ottawa would not proceed without them did not seem possible. The land claim issue was only resolved for the Nisga’a and a small number of other bands. Mean while the political scene has changed and negotiations with the various aboriginal tribes has slowed down. The Nisga’a treaty has opened the door for other aboriginal tribes and hopefully everyone has learned from their mistakes.


C Drew Bednasek and Anne M. C. Godlewska, “The influence of betterment discourses on Canadian Aboriginal peoples in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries”, The Canadian Geographer / Le G´eographe canadien 53 no 4 (2009) 444–461

Sarah Carter, “‘Your Great Mother Across the Salt Sea’; Prairie First Nations, the British Monarchy and the Vice Regal Connection to 1900.” History Department University of Calgary

Professor John S. Milloy, How do bad things happen when good people have good intentions?, Trent University, Peterborough (ON)

Mary-Ellen Kelm, “Wilp Wa’ums: colonial encounter, decolonization and medical care among the Nisga’a”, Social Science & Medicine 59 (2004) 335–349

Douglas C. Harris, Aboriginal Rights to Fish in British Columbia, Scow Institute, October 2005

Caroline F. Butler, Charles R. Menzies, Out of the Woods: Tsimshian Women and Forestry Work, Anthropology of Work Review, Anthropology of Work Review

Joseph Gosnell, Speech to the British Columbia Legislature, December 2,1998

“Delgamuukw and Treaties”: An Overview

Olive Patricia Dickason, and William Newbigging. A Concise History of Canada’s First Nations. 2nd ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Olympic Winter 2014 (ya old news)

Contemporary events such as the Human Rights Issue surrounding the Homosexual Lifestyle which has come to a forefront during the sporting events prior to the 2014 Russian Winter Olympic. We can look at these contemporary events/ issues using a historical focus, whether it is politically, economically, or social and culturally based. During this event it is not always clear how the individuals/ groups involved were impacted by the political, economic, or social and cultural focus

Politically it can be seen that the focus of the Russian political scene changed when Vladimir Putin became the leader of United Russia, which would lead to him becoming the President of Russia. The policies and political alliances and agendas of the Russian Olympic committee and the International Olympic Committee would have to be taken into account. A historian with a political focus would look at political journals focused on the analysis of political ideas, movements with the various parties and organizations, the changing of the leaders and how it affected the political scene of the time. How the various political arenas outside the country affected political stance of the country, its leaders and the repercussions the event had on the political relationships with these countries and the alliances of those within the IOC(International Olympic Committee). In what way did the politics of the time affect the manner in which the event was handled, to answer these types of questions we would need to look at the changes in various countries policies regarding their relations with Russian during this period as well as look at how the IOC dealt with the issue both publicly and within the committee membership. First-hand accounts from those directly involved in the policy making as well as any documentation surrounding the policies, laws which affected the event, and any private diaries or journals from the leaders and their political advisors of the time. The information gathered by historians can be filtered depending upon the focus of the historian. Just as they can focus on the political aspect of the event so to can they focus on other aspects such as economics. Statistical analysis of data generated by the economy of not only the country where the event took place but also the countries around it and those with economic based alliances, all of these factors provide an economical based focus on the event and provide insight into how the economy was either affected positively or negatively by it.

Economic focused historians utilize some of the sources used by the political focused historians but they are looking at how the economy influenced or was influenced by the event.  Historians writing a more economic focus essay would use similar source but would be looking for different information. Various documents and artifacts, documentaries and articles about the economy and the economical flavour of the time period under study can also give information relating to how the economy was during this period and how those in the economic community related to one another, which economies flourished and which economies flopped during this time period. How were these actions related to the event and in what manner where they influenced or did they influence the event in question? All of these questions and others like them are answered using various journals, documentaries, personal diaries/ journals of the economic leaders of the time. Economic trading documents and polices of various countries and major industries are also used, as well as statistically data about which economic structure was least affected. This analysis would also have to take into account how the economic standing of the IOC faired. Did the event have an impact on future IOC sponsored events and if so what were they? Was the economics of the Olympics in Russia affected and if so how much of an impact was the event on the economic benefits or losses of the time period in question.

Economic and political focused historical research differs greatly from the cultural and social focused historical research as they tend to focus more on the individuals and cultural groups which were impacted by the event and how it affected their interactions within their society. The Russian Olympic Committee and the volunteers assisting in putting on the event could be seen as a group, as could the various athletes who attended, the countries who sent athletes and their Olympic committees, and of course the IOC could be seen as yet another group. Individually all of those within these groups would have accountings of the event and how they saw the event. There would also be documentaries and articles written by those who observed or were part of the event. The way in a cultural and socially focus historian who research and gather his data differs in that they focus on the society and cultural aspects of the event and how the event was viewed by those involved in the event as well as those watching the event from not only within Russia but around the world. They would look at documents and journals/ diaries and documentary films about the various aspects of the event, to see how the individuals and groups within the group were affected. The Olympics and the events surrounding them have a large following of supporters across many different cultures and societies. The historical focus on how the event was influence by society and culture leading up to it and how it changed after the event would be the question social and cultural focused historians were trying to answer, the way information gathered may be similar to those of the political and economic focused historians, the papers, documents, statistical records and personal journal/diaries of those involved, as well the journalistic accounting of the event by mainstream newspapers, documentary films but each historian analyses and formulates the data into their particular focus of the event. Contemporary events are influenced by their historical background and by focusing on various aspects of those histories we gain insight into the events themselves.

Criminal Paradigms: Drugs

The four “known sources of crimes” are poverty and inequality, guns, drugs and prison. Poverty and inequality, it is argued is the first stepping stone in most criminal acts. With the combination of the humiliation of poverty and the inequality between the poor’s circumstance and the wealth. This large discrepancy tends to produce a group of individuals who feels left out of society and therefore do “not develop allegiance to its major institutions”. It create a sub-society which feels left out of the loop, alienated and these individuals are therefore more likely to commit crimes against mainstream society.

The buying and selling of guns cheaply is another stepping stone in crime. Guns make it easier to commit crimes and give the individual hold it a false sense of security and a feeling of empowerment over others. Many times the use of guns goes hand in hand with the use of drugs. Individuals who make, distribute, and traffic in drugs or are under the influence of drugs use guns as way in which protect themselves and their product. Those who purchase and use drugs can upon occasion under the influence of them commit crimes to either secure funding to get more or due to the mind altering affects they have on them. Most drugs are addicting and therefore require the individual to purchase larger amounts in order to achieve the same results. This means that the individual’s habit can quickly outsource their available cash and the individual turns to crime to supplement their habit.

The last known source is prison. Prisons are like little sub-society’s with their own rules, politics and bartering/trading systems. Once an individual is in prison, they make alliances with others forming gangs (for protection against other prisoners). The gangs continue to commit crimes within the prison walls and there is a whole trading/bartering system in place which deals with not only protection but drugs and other contraband. Committing crimes whether in or out of prison is the way some individuals distinguish themselves from others within their sub-society. They feel they stand out and are known for the crimes they commit.

One or more of these four sources of crime are the major contributing factors in all crimes committed against mainstream society. Drugs seem to be one which is tied to all the others. Many individuals in the sub-society of poverty turn to drugs to escape what they see as a bleak future in their daily lives, they commit crimes to supplement their income so they can purchase drugs or become involved in the distribution and selling of drugs which in turn can lead to the ownership of a gun (for protection). Many of these individuals get caught committing crimes and are sent to prisons where they continue with their lives of crime only now it is behind bars.