Shadows of Manitoba’s Past

Student will research significant figures in Manitoba's (or another Province / Territory) history and the impact these figures had/have on their lives today.

Created by Jennifer Janzen Governor General's History Awards Winner 2015 recipient of the Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Teaching

Posted July 29, 2015

Lesson Overview

Student will research significant figures in Manitoba's (or another Province / Territory) history and the impact these figures had/have on their lives today. The class will pick a historical figure between 1700 - 1950, research their lives and write about and from the perspective of their chosen figure. Students will then create a poster about their historical figure and present their findings to other classmates, or the larger community.

Time Required

6 – 10 classes

Historical Thinking Concept(s)

This lesson plan uses the following historical thinking concepts: establish historical significance, use primary source evidence, identify continuity and change, analyze cause and consequence, and take historical perspectives.

Learning Outcomes

Student will:

  • Participate in activities that will allow them to understand the six historical thinking concepts.
  • Research and learn about their Historical Figure using an number of primary and secondary sources.
  • Gather, summarize and interpret their research.
  • Create a poster that represents their historical figure including visuals and documents that representation their historical figure.
  • Present their historical figure posters to the class or larger community.
  • Reflect on their learning in a journal exercise.

The Lesson Activities


Lesson 1: Historical Figures

  • As a class, create a list of significant / important historical figures from their province or territory. Discuss their achievements and impacts.
  • Provide student with (Appendix A) or adapt the hand-out to your specific region of Canada. Once complete, have the students choose a one individual to study.


Lesson 2: Evidence, Cause & Consequence

  • Once students have their historical figure, complete Appendix B.
  • Ask student to include specific information from their biography sheet, include time, place, etc. and details that they have learned from their research. Students should include 2 – 3 quotes from your research sources to support your biography. 
  • Have students think about some or all the following topics and questions:
    • Questions About Cause:  
      • Who? Where? When? Why did they or their ancestors come to Canada? Or what  Aboriginal group did they originate from?  
      • What kind of choices did they make in their lives? What influenced those choices?  
      • What would have been one possession that they owned/had that would have been important to them and why was it important? 
  • Questions About Consequence:
    • Who did they influence?  Or who were they important to?
    • How did their choices impact those around them at the time? Today?
  • From the research the students have completed, have them write a short biography of their historical figure, including details, causes and consequences of their actions.
  • Questions About Historical Context: 
    • What was happening in Canada at the time?  Discuss at least 2 events.
    • What was happening in the world at the time? Discuss at least 1 event. 
    • Explain how these events may have impacted their lives. 
  • Have students create a time-line of major events in their figure’s life.
  • Questions of Curiosity: 
    • If you could ask 2 questions of your Historical Figure, what would they be?
    • How might they answer you? 


Lesson 3: Letters of Inference & Perspective:

  • Explain the following terms:
    • Making inferences: is developing evidence-based estimation of the thoughts and feelings of historical actors.
    • Taking a historical perspective: is using evidence and historical context to infer the thought and feeling of a historical actor.
  • Have students pick a partner in the class.
  • Ask students to write a letter to your historical partner that expresses their historical perspective and attempts to make inferences. 
  • Students should complete Appendix C.
  • Review how to write a letter with your students: date and addresses, salutation, clear paragraphs and a closing with a signature.
  • Content should cover:
    • 3 topics students have chosen to discuss.
    • As a guideline have students contemplate the following questions:
      • What secret would you tell?
      • What advice would you give?
      • What anger, admonishment, or scolding would you express?
      • What would you talk about regarding your own accomplishments? How would you "manage your image”?
      • What dreams, feelings, thoughts, ideas, historical events, details and descriptions would you include?
    • Have students include a min. of 3 quotes (typed in Italics) from primary document or secondary sources.
    • Include a works cited of the sources used (min. of 3).

Lesson 4: Historical Poster

  • Have students create a poster about their historical figure. Aspects of the poster could include:
    • Visuals: choose 3 - 5 visuals that will help to explain your historical figure. Write a brief note under each visual to explain it.
      • Portraits – drawings or photographs
      • Maps – places, explorations
      • Locations/building – significant places that impacted their lives
      • Symbols – items in their possession, coat of arms, flags, etc.
      • Documents – newspaper clipping, letter, diary, gov’t document
    • Time line: choose 6 – 10 significant dates that help chart your historical figure’s life
      • 1 – 2 points about each date
    • Quote: Find one quote stated by or about your historical figure that you feel best represents their perspective/significance
    • Summary: write a 250 word summary about the significance of your historical figure. Answer: “How is your figure an important part of Manitoba’s History?”
    • Source List: include a list of 3 – 5 sources of your information.

Lesson 5: Presentation

  • Have students present their historical figure to the class as a whole.
  • Students could also present their historical figures to the larger community.


Appendix A - Historical Figures of Manitoba

Appendix B -  Historical Figures Bio Sheet

Appendix C - “Getting To Know You”

Related to Lesson Plans