Climate and Change

Making Sense of the Dustbowl Years on the Canadian Prairies


Decades after it finally lifted, it is still difficult to fully understand the ‘dustbowl,’ the prairie agricultural crisis of the 1930s. From its long-term environmental context to its depth of human suffering, this episode is both emotionally compelling and intellectually complex.

This website was created to guide educators and students through the multiple challenges to an adequate understanding of the events of these years. Uniting scientific explanations, striking images, essential maps, compelling audio, narrative interpretation, and newly-available video, Climate and Change seeks to assist those interested in Canadian history (teachers, students, the public, and ‘dust bowl’ survivors and their descendants) in developing a more robust explanation for one of the most significant episodes in the environmental history of Canada in the twentieth century.

By facilitating efforts to achieve a more thorough understanding of a major environmental crisis, this website argues by example for a more sophisticated engagement with environmental themes in the teaching of Canadian history. This website also offers a window on the problem of drought. Rather than a short-term, local problem, this website explains drought as a persistent feature of the North American interior – a feature that is likely to become even more significant in the future.