Let’s face it, our favourite classes are the ones with movies. If you’re around my age, you remember being excited by the sound of squeaky wheels and rattling, since it usually meant you were watching a movie in class. The same is still true in university, whether you are a student, a TA, or a professor. However, it can be hard to find good films to show in classrooms that are engaging for students, but also historically accurate. A couple of months ago, there was a fascinating discussion on Eryk Martin’s Facebook timeline about recommended films for teaching pre-Confederation Canadian history. So, inspired by that discussion, and with his permission, I have put together a list of recommended films for teaching Canadian history.
This list is broken down into two parts: my personal recommendations, and recommendations from fellow history professors. I would especially like to thank Stephanie Pettigrew, Donica Belisle, Carmen Nielson, Matthew Hayday, Ian Mosby, Adele Perry, Jenny Ellison, Janis Thiessen, Kesia Kvill, Sarah Dowling, and Liz Huntingford for their fantastic suggestions. Also, I have roughly organized the films and videos chronologically. In my recommendations, I have further divided the films and videos from each other, and included some additional ones I would like to show in class, but haven’t yet.
A couple of important notes or warnings: please make sure that when you are showing a feature film in a classroom that you have the appropriate license to do so. In other words, make sure the copy of the film you are screening has been approved for classroom or public screenings. If you are using the film through your institution’s library, you should be fine, but it’s always good to check. Second, as a recent discussion on Twitter initiated by Tina Adcock has shown, content/trigger warnings are important. I have listed the ones that I think are relevant below, but always use caution when screening films to avoid doing harm to your students.
Also, my husband wanted to name this blog post “Class-y” films, but my better sense vetoed. 😉