Canada: A People's History

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Canada: A People's History
Canada peoples history set 1.jpg
DVD release of series 1
Starring Various
Narrated by Maggie Huculak
Theme music composer Claude Desjardins and Eric Robertson
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English, French (original); later dubbed to multiple foreign languages
No. of episodes 17
Executive producer(s) Mark Starowicz
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 120 min/60 min
Original network CBC
Picture format NTSC (480i)
Audio format Stereo
External links

Canada: A People's History is a 17-episode, 32-hour documentary television series on the history of Canada. It first aired on CBC Television from October 2000 to November 2001.[1] The production was an unusually large project for the national network, especially during budget cutbacks. The unexpected success of the series actually led to increased government funding for the CBC. It was also an unusual collaboration with the French arm of the network, which traditionally had autonomous production. The full run of the episodes was produced in English and French. The series title in French was Le Canada: Une histoire populaire. In 2004, OMNI.1 and OMNI.2 began airing multicultural versions, in Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Russian.

The producers intended to make this a dramatic history of the Canadian people; as much as possible, the story was told through the words of the people involved, from great leaders and explorers to everyday people of the land at the time. The documentary makes effective use of visuals, transitions, and dramatic music from or evocative of the eras being covered. In the first season, actors representing historical figures spoke their words, while later seasons used voiceovers over photographic images and film or, when available, original recordings of the subject.[2]



Series 1[edit]

# Title Time span Topics Personalities
1 When the World Began... 15,000 BC–1800 AD
2 Adventurers and Mystics 1540–1670
3 Claiming the Wilderness 1670–1755
  • Expansion of New France and its fur trade
  • Conflict with British colonies
  • Acadian deportation
4 Battle for a Continent 1754–1775
5 A Question of Loyalties 1775–1815

Series 2[edit]

# Title Time span Topics Personalities
6 The Pathfinders 1670–1850
7 Rebellion and Reform 1815–1850
  • Advocates of democracy clash with colonial governors
  • Bloody rebellions are squashed
  • The goal of self-government is realized
8 The Great Enterprise 1850–1867
9 From Sea to Sea 1867–1873

Series 3[edit]

# Title Time span Topics Personalities
10 Taking the West 1873–1896
11 The Great Transformation 1896–1915
  • The immigration boom and prairie settlement bring sweeping change
  • Political movements and intolerances arise
  • The First World War looms
12 Ordeal by Fire 1915–1929
  • World War I bears a heavy toll in Europe and at home
  • Conscription is a divisive issue
  • Labour unrest follows war's end
13 Hard Times 1929–1940

Series 4[edit]

# Title Time span Topics Personalities
14 The Crucible 1940–1946
  • The Second World War is Canada's coming of age
  • Bravery and anguish at home and abroad
15 Comfort and Fear 1946–1964
16 Years of Hope and Anger 1964–1976
17 In an Uncertain World 1976–1990


The production team, christened the Canadian History Project and later renamed the CBC Documentary Unit, was headed by producer Mark Starowicz until CBC discontinued in-house documentary production in 2015.[4] Following Canada: A People's History, the team developed and produced such CBC documentary series as The Canadian Experience, The Greatest Canadian, Hockey: A People's History and 2012's acclaimed series about Canada's aboriginal communities, 8th Fire.


In 2001, Season One of Canada: A People's History was awarded three Gemini Awards by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television:[5]

  • Best Documentary Series
  • Best Sound in an Information or Documentary Series or Program
  • Best Original Score

The series was also recognized by the Columbus International Film and Video Festival in 2001 with a CHRIS Award in Humanities category for Best Series as well as recognition for Best Episode and Best print press/marketing materials.[6]

The extensive bilingual website created to support and enhance the series was recognized with two awards at the 2001 Baddeck International New Media Festival: one for Best Education / Information / Training Web Site and Best Technical Achievement.[7]

Canada’s History Society [8] awarded the series and its executive producer Mark Starowicz its Governor General's History Award for Popular Media: Pierre Berton Award in 2001.[9]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]