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Canada: The History of an Idea

Rows of t-shirts with Canadian symbols on sale at a gift shop

Queen’s University is situated in “Canada”, but to quote a famous film character: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” This second-year lecture course explores the many meanings that the words “Canada”, “Canadian” and “Canadien” have held from the 1500s to today. Asking “What is Canada?”, this course is a historical overview of events, conjectures and changes that occurred on the territory now known as Canada. We will give particular attention to the political, demographic, ethnological and colonial changes that altered the definitions of these names over time and what/who the names refer to. Students will learn that indeed, the word “Canada” doesn’t always mean what they think it means!

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.