A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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The Great Lone Land: The Life of R.B. Nevitt Edited Oct 2003
Directed by Tom Radford


SYNOPSIS

Richard Nevitt fled Savannah Georgia at the age of 14 after being drafted by the Confederacy. Settling first in Quebec, he studied medicine, then signed up as a doctor with the RCMP's famous Great March West of 1874. Helping to chase violent American "whisky-traders" out of the Canadian West, Dr. Nevitt's care of local natives won him their respect; and his many sketches created a valuable historical record of the peaceful settling of the West. Later in life he would become a leader in the cause of women's health and would help found Canada's first women's hospital.


KEY IDEAS

  • Settlement of Canada's West
  • The American Civil War
  • Canada as a political refuge


KEY TERMS

  • Draft Dodger
  • Deserter
  • Skedaddler
  • The Great March West
  • Whiskey Trader


OBJECTIVES

  • To understand Canada as a refuge for people escaping war
  • To better understand the state of women's health in Canada 150 years ago.
  • To learn how history can be captured in the eyes and hands of an artist.


QUESTIONS

  1. What forced RB Nevitt to come to Canada?
  2. What was the Great March West?
  3. How did his artwork become a diary of life around him?
  4. What did Nevitt mean when he said he didn't want to go to "No damn Yankee institution" for his education?
  5. Who were the Yankees?
  6. What were southerners called, and why were they fighting a Civil War in the U.S.?
  7. Why did he choose to join the North West Mounted Police?
  8. Who were the "whiskeytraders" and what was "the terrible trail of destruction" they left behind them?
  9. How did Nevitt eventually earn the trust and friendship of the Blackfoot?
  10. What contributions did Nevitt make back in Toronto to the advancement of women's health?


ACTIVITIES

1) Invite an American draft resister to make a presentation to your class discussing how and why they made the decision to live in Canada, and how it has affected their life. Ask them to bring any newspaper clippings, magazine articles or artifacts they may have saved from that time, and share them with your class. Be prepared with questions to encourage classroom discussion.

2) Set up a debate in your classroom. One side will take the point of view that "draft dodgers, war resisters and pacifists are 'cowards' and should be tried for treason in their home country. The other side will take the point of view that draft dodgers and war resisters are honorable, brave individuals-of-conscience, and should be respected for their decisions. In preparation for the debate, study the history of war resisters and pacifists who have come to Canada, including the Quakers.

3) Dr. Nevitt used art as a diary to record life around him. Get a sketchbook or blank paper, and for one week, use your own drawings to record the main events in your own life or in the life of your community (city, province, country or world) that you think might be useful for people 100 years from now. Write a short explanation with each sketch about why you think it might be of lasting interest.

4) Protest music was a type of folk/pop/rock music that was popular during the 1960s in the United States and Canada. Singers like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Phil Ochs and Buffy St. Marie wrote and sang songs that reflected young people's dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War, as well as other aspects of American politics and culture. In many ways, protest music, like Richard Nevitt's art work, is a diary of a nation's history. Have the class listen to 4 or 5 examples of protest music from the 1960s and 1970s. Write an essay explaining the news events behind the songs.

5) The class may follow up this excercise by writing a song or poem about present local or world events that they want to protest against.

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