Canada, A Working History

Overview

A deep exploration of the experience of work in Canada

Canada, A Working History describes the ways in which work has been performed in Canada from the pre-Colonial period to the present day. Since the time of European colonization, the need to obtain and ensure a steady supply of workers to drive Canada’s economic growth has been a key objective for policy makers. This book argues that there are key themes found in the history of work in Canada that persist to the present day.

Work is shaped by a wide array of influences including gender, race, ethnicity, geography, economics, and politics. It in turn shapes us when we perform it. Work can be paid or unpaid, meaningful or alienating, and always essential. The work experience led people to form unions, aspire to management roles, pursue education, form professional associations, and seek self-employment. It has been the subject of much theoretical research and academic inquiry.

Work is often in our cultural consciousness while being pondered in song, lamented in literature, celebrated in film, and preserved for posterity in other forms of art. It has been driven by technological change, governed by laws, been the cause of disputes, and the means by which people earn a living in Canada’s capitalist economy.

Engaging in work is common in all modern societies, and that there are distinct aspects to the history of work in Canada that will continue into the country’s future. Ennobling, rewarding, exhausting, and sometimes frustrating, work has helped define who Canadians are as people.

About the Author

Jason Russell

Posted by Dundurn Guest on September 24, 2019
Jason Russell photo

Jason Russell

Jason Russell has a Ph.D. in history from York University and is an associate professor at SUNY Empire State College in Buffalo, New York. He lives in London, Ontario.