Unit Plan: BC’s Path – The Gold Rush & Railway

Social Studies / Grade 4

Big Ideas

British Columbia followed a unique path in becoming a part of Canada.

The pursuit of valuable natural resources played a key role in changing the land, people and communities of Canada.


  • Cause and consequence
  • Perspective
  • Change

Essential Questions

Students will keep considering…

  • Why do some communities survive while others bust?
  • What does the study of natural resources help us to understand about British Columbia’s history
  • Why do communities develop where they do?

Evaluative Criteria

Teachers should consider how summative assessments should be based on clear criteria and include a variety of ways for students to show demonstrate their learning.

  • Quizzes
  • Respond to Essential Question: What does the study of natural resources help us to understand about British Columbia’s history?

Monitoring Progress

Teachers can monitor progress through ongoing formative assessment including but not limited to:

  • Teacher Observation
  • Exit Slips
  • Interviews
  • Check Ins
  • Group Discussions
  • Class Work



  • Connections Canada – Outlooks 5 (Oxford Publishing)
  • Reading Power – Non Fiction by Adrienne Gear



  • Barkerville: British Columbia’s Heritage of Gold by Chris Harris
  • British Columbia: Provinces and Territories by Trudie BonBernard
  • Gold Rush Fever: A Story of the Klondike, 1898 by Barbara Greenwood
  • Far West: The Story of British Columbia by Daniel Francis


How will teachers and their students reflect on and evaluate the completed project?

Teacher Reflection

  • What aspects of the unit went well
  • What did students struggle with
  • What did you struggle with?
  • What would you add/revise the next time you taught this unit?
  • Were there any unintended outcomes?
  • Were students engaged?

Unit Overview



Social Studies




BC’s Path – The Gold Rush & Railway



Unit Overview

This unit explores British Columbia’s path to becoming part of Canada, focusing primarily on the role of the Gold Rush and the impact of the Canadian Pacific Railway in BC’s development.  Students will explore factors that influence the potential boom and bust of communities and why communities develop where they do.  There is some overlap between this social studies unit and language arts as well (specifically writing and non-fiction reading strategies).





    Unit Duration

    3-4 weeks


    Related Big Ideas


    The following resources are made available through the British Columbia Ministry of Education. For more information, please visit BC’s New Curriculum.


    Big Ideas

    The Big Ideas consist of generalizations and principles and the key concepts important in an area of learning. The Big Ideas represent what students will understand at the completion of the curriculum for their grade. They are intended to endure beyond a single grade and contribute to future understanding.

    Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

    Core Competencies

    orangecommunicationCommunications Competency

    The set of abilities that students use to impart and exchange information, experiences and ideas, to explore the world around them, and to understand and effectively engage in the use of digital media

    bluethinkingThinking Competency

    The knowledge, skills and processes we associate with intellectual development

    greensocialSocial Competency

    The set of abilities that relate to students’ identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society

    Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

    Curricular Competencies & Content

    Curricular Competencies are the skills, strategies, and processes that students develop over time. They reflect the “Do” in the Know-Do-Understand model of curriculum. The Curricular Competencies are built on the thinking, communicating, and personal and social competencies relevant to disciplines that make up an area of learning.

    Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

    Additional Resources

    First People's Principles of Learning

    To read more about First People’s Principles of Learning, please click here.

    For classroom resources, please visit the First Nations Education Steering Committee.