Workplace Learning: "Discovering the Yorklands" (HIST*3480) | College of Arts

Workplace Learning: "Discovering the Yorklands" (HIST*3480)

Code and section: HIST*3480*05

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Peter Goddard


AD-A Remote:

This course will be taught online in an Asynchronous format without days and times.

Details provided by instructor: You will be conducting independent work and attending class meetings. The course and your workplace are all online. Four scheduled class meetings (their day and time to be determined during the first week of class) will take place remotely in a synchronous environment, which you can access through Webex or other agreed-upon Web meeting tool.

Course Synopsis:    

The Yorklands Green Hub (YGH) is a volunteer-driven non-profit corporation  working towards preserving and celebrating the unique cultural and natural heritage of the former Guelph Correctional Centre (GCC). The GCC is owned by the Province of Ontario and control has been transferred to Infrastructure Ontario ahead of an expected sale. This presents a one-time opportunity for our community to secure this ecologically important landscape and permanently preserve its historic structures, while creating a compelling public space. The YGH board envisions an educational living ‘green hub’, with endless possibilities and areas for collaboration. Some of these include  heritage conservation, urban agriculture, walking tours, indoor and outdoor displays, rotating exhibits, workshops, lectures, events, and educational materials that bring community members closer to nature.

The GCC, also known as the Ontario Reformatory, has a long and proud history as a world leader in the move away from incarceration as a form of punishment toward the use of productive work and training as a means to rehabilitate inmates and give them employable skills for life in the community. The Center also has a long tradition of self- sufficiency, producing nearly everything needed to operate and feed a closed facility on site. Throughout the years of operation, the property was home to farming and industrial operations, where thousands of inmates received training and worked on a 100-acre farm and in the trades. From a cannery to a fish farm, from upholstery to milling shops, from planing mills to quarries, from farm and greenhouse work to landscaping, the institute was mandated to operate with the intent to be self-sufficient and improve with the times.

When the province chose to streamline the correctional system, the Guelph facility was among fourteen sites closed in 2001. It has remained vacant since that time. Yorklands Green Hub is working to bring together businesses, organizations, and people of all ages and interests – to learn, work, share and innovate, with the common purpose of being engaged stewards of our land, food, water, and cultural heritage.

There is an excellent opportunity to better understand the “Cultural heritage” embedded not only in the land and buildings, but also in the intangible heritage value in memories of shared values and traditions of the site . History 3480 students can help YGH by developing a full chronological history o f the site which includes layers of history which have been overlooked or fall outside of the common narrative. This may even be accompanied by artifacts, photographs, and artwork which has never been shared with the public.  And students may find opportunity to develop historical media and forms – guided walks; memorial plaques, podcast, etc – which reflect the students’ interests.

Learning Outcomes:

By the successful completion of this course, an assiduous student will have learned to:

  1. apply good research practices;
  2. build on and expand historical research  for an interested public and for the Yorklands Green Hub community program in Fall 2020;
  3. communicate compelling history for use in media platform(s);
  4. identify key factors and forces in the prehistory, the history and the evolution of the Ontario Reformatory/Yorklands;
  5. critically reflect upon their own work;
  6. identify gaps in narratives and provide insight into how to integrate or acknowledge through historical interpretation.

Methods of Evaluation and Weights:

  1. Development of research and/or communication proposal 10%
  2. Execution of research and/or communication project 50%    
  3. Weekly Critical Reflections that are submitted in two instalments 15%
  4. Final Report/finished research and/or communication - 1,500 words 25%            

Required Texts:

No Textbook Required. Articles will be submitted at various points over the semester and meetings will be held with Dr. Goddard.
Project Timeline:

  • Week 1: Pre-arranged meeting with Professor Peter Goddard and Amy Barnes, Manager of Operations, Outreach and Engagement, Yorklands Green Hub, to discuss the project.  Guidelines will be established for selecting topics and approaches to historical research and communication of the former Ontario Reformatory/Guelph Correctional Centre, and its associated heritage.  Three further meeting times scheduled.
  • Week 1-3:  Historiographical Research and project conceptualization.
  • Week 3: Proposal due
  • Week 4-12: Research and development of communication approach
  • Week 6: First collection of weekly Reflections is due covering weeks 1-5
  • Week 12: Second collection of weekly Reflections is due covering weeks 6-10
  • Week 13:  Final report/critical reflection/presentation of finished project.

Instructor: Dr. Peter Goddard
Workplace Supervisor: Ms Amy Barnes, Manager of Operations, Outreach and Engagement, Yorklands Green Hub

Interested students should contact: Dr Goddard,

*Please note: This is a preliminary web course description only.  The History Department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.