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Three Dramatic Events

Assess the impact of three economic crashes and booms—World War I,
the Great Depression and economic boom following World War II—on Canadians.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

Students learn about the dramatic effects of World War I, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the economic boom immediately following World War II by assessing the impact of these events on the economic well-being of the nation. Students examine the impact on industries, agriculture, natural resources, transportation, movement of people and urbanization.

Introduction to economic life in Canada
Collect a number of photographs of life from pre-1900 to the end of World War II, showing various aspects of Canada's economy; e.g., industries, agriculture, urban and rural communities, transportation, jobs. Photographs can be found on Images Canada website (see References) by typing in keywords such as "industry" and "agriculture." Display the photographs. You may wish to review the terms "economy," "industry" and "urbanization" by using a current event such as oil sands development.

Place photographs on a time line
Draw a timeline on the board and ask students to sequence images at appropriate years to show how Canada's economy has changed over time. Ask them to justify their decisions.

Introduce the key economic booms and crashes
Inform students that there were three dramatic events that impacted Canada's economic well-being during the first half of the 20 th century: World War I, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the economic boom immediately following World War II. Briefly explain each event.

Research one of three major economic events
Assign students to research one of the three events to discover the impacts—positive and negative—on these aspects of economic life:

  • industries
  • agriculture
  • employment opportunities
  • urbanization; e.g., growth of cities
  • movement of people—immigration/migration
  • resources; e.g., wheat, lumber, oil
  • social well-being of Canadians; e.g., health care, education, welfare
  • transportation.

Suggest that students use a three-column organizer by listing the aspects of economic life down the left-hand column, and the positive and negative effects in the other two columns.

Encourage students to use online and print resources for their research. Online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia and the Youth Encyclopedia of Canada (see References), provide overviews of these events and Canada's economic history.

You may want to adapt the chart Comparing Information found in Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess student note taking.

Rate the impact of these events
Invite each group to assess the impact of their event on the well-being of the nation.

Create a wall-sized rating scale or a visual bar graph, similar to the one below.

Assessing the Impact 
















of People


Well-being of Canadians


Distribute to each group a different coloured felt pen to use to indicate the degree of impact of their event on each of the aspects of economic life using the scale from -5 (very negative effect) to +5 (very positive effect). Invite each group to justify its ratings. Ask the class to rank the three events in terms of the significance of their impact on Canadians.

Extension: Create a report card of economic effects
Ask students to prepare, individually, a report card assessing the impact each event had on the economic well-being of Canadians. Ask students to assign a letter grade, e.g., A, B, C, F, and provide a rationale or evidence for their assessment.

You may want to adapt the chart found in Writing a Report Card (Support Material) to structure this activity.

Encourage students to consider different perspectives, e.g., western Canadians, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, women, and research the impact of these events on the way of life for these specific groups.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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