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History Research Paper Assignment on Canada history

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History Research Paper Assignment on Canada history

HIS 241 Research essay

All essays should have a clear and strong thesis statement, supported through the essay by evidence from a range of primary and secondary sources (at least three of each). This is a research essay and must show evidence of research in these two types of source. It must also make a clear argument, not simply describe. A thesis statement makes an argument that addresses the question of “why?” For instance, “Canada managed to stay united” is a thesis, but a weak one. A strong thesis identifies why this is true. In effect, your thesis is your answer to the essay question.

Your essays should be about 10 pages, doubles-spaced. Please submit by moodle as pdf if possible. Please number your pages. Footnoting should be done using Chicago style. There are no penalties for going over 10 pages. You are expected to draw on both primary and secondary sources. There is no fixed number since this varies by topic.

If in doubt, please ask!


  1. Choose your own topic, in consultation with instructor. Must have a clear research question and relate to Canadian foreign relations between 1867 and the present.
  2. Is Canada’s participation in international organizations like the League of Nations and United Nations mostly a search for status?
  3. Assess Canadian foreign policy with relation to Indigenous peoples, drawing on examples from international debates taking place outside Canada’s current borders.
  4. Is Canadian foreign relations primarily about relations with the United States?
  5. Is Canada essentially a “trading nation” with diplomacy a secondary consideration to trade?
  6. Assess Canada’s environmental and natural resource diplomacy.
  7. Write an overview of Canada’s relations with one country, other than the United States. What did Canada hope for from the relationship? How effective was it?
  8. Has Canada acted as a voice for human rights globally? Why or why not?
  9. What was the appeal of Imperialist thought in Canadian foreign relations between 1867 and 1914? Did that base sow the seeds for the decline of imperialism?
  10. Wilfrid Laurier predicted the 20th century would belong to Canada. What went wrong?
  11. Were missionaries more important than diplomats in early Canadian foreign relations?
  12. Compare and contrast Canadian migration policy before 1939 with American, Australian and/or New Zealand policy? What explains the similarities and differences?
  13. Was Canada born on the battlefield in the First World War?
  14. Mackenzie King’s “skill at dividing us least reigned supreme,” writes one historian. Assess King’s foreign policy legacy and relate to the national unity question.
  15. Was the Chanak crisis the real declaration of Canadian independence?
  16. Why did Canada deploy troops to the Soviet Union at the end of the First World War?
  17. Were the 1930s “a low, dishonest decade”?
  18. Assess the historical development of the Canadian military in the 20th
  19. Have economic sanctions been an effective component of Canadian foreign policy?
  20. Was Canada’s Cold War foreign policy simply an outgrowth of the Second World War, or was it a fundamental change?
  21. Assess the idea of the “functional principle” and/or the idea of the “middle power” from the late 1940s onwards.
  22. Discuss the role of gender in Canada’s foreign relations. Is Canada “a feminine nation”?
  23. Why did Canada change its migration policy in the aftermath of the Second World War?
  24. Did Canada invent the Commonwealth?
  25. Why did Canada start to give foreign aid to Asian countries in the 1950s?
  26. Assess the growth and development of Canadian aid policy and/or aid to Africa or another region.
  27. Is development aid simply a new missionary effort?
  28. Is Canada a peacemaking nation? Discuss with reference to at least two UN peacekeeping missions.
  29. Discuss the role and influence in Canada’s foreign relations of one non-governmental organization (eg CUSO, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom).
  30. Assess the Canadian role in the Suez crisis.
  31. Was Lester Pearson Canada’s greatest diplomat?
  32. Did Canada practice “the diplomacy of constraint” in Korea and/or Vietnam?
  33. Was Pierre Trudeau’s foreign policy essentially a giant “pirouette” that changed nothing?
  34. Could the Trudeau “third option” on trade have succeeded?
  35. Why did Canada finally opt for free trade with the United States in the 1980s?
  36. Why did Canada’s refugee policy change in the late 20th century?
  37. Did Jean Chrétien make the right call in keeping Canada out of Iraq?
  38. Assess the role of Canadians in one or more international organization (World Health Organization, Greenpeace, etc).
  39. Why did Canada become involved in combat in Afghanistan, and was Canada’s presence a successful mission?
  40. How does the history of Canada-China relations affect current Canadian policy towards China?


Grading expectations

A range


Strong argument sustained with evidence; excellent research using a wide range of sources; judicious use of evidence drawn from research to back up main argument; argument is consistent throughout paper; clear writing style; well-organized; demonstrates excellent mastery of the topic; shows insight into historical currents

B range


Strong argument sustained with evidence; good research using a wide range of both primary and secondary sources; uses evidence from these sources to support argument; argument remains internally consistent; well-written; mostly well-organized; demonstrates a good command of the topic; some useful insights demonstrated

C range


Makes an argument and provides some support for it; meets minimum standards for research; some of the evidence presented supports the argument; argument is not entirely clear and consistent at all times but on the whole it holds together; writing acceptable; not well-organized; one or two insights that are not fully developed

D range


Weak thesis not sufficiently supported; limited research evident; evidence presented does not support thesis; no clear argument made in paper; weak understanding of chosen topic; writing unclear and hard to follow; disorganized presentation; no original insights

F range


No clear thesis or argument; little or no research evident; little or no evidence presented in support of a thesis; no consistent argument; no learning about topic demonstrated; poorly-written; disorganized presentation; no original insights



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