Secondary Programs

Below you will find a description of our program offerings for secondary schools. There are 3 programs: Hamilton: The Workers’ City, ART/WORK: Art and Social Change and ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL: Unions 101.


Local History, Labour History, Industry, Contemporary Issues, Visual Art

From the Ambitious City to the Electric City to the Creative City, Hamilton’s changing labour and industrial landscape have defined generations of workers.

Ever wondered why Hamilton is called “The Ambitious City?” Work has always played an important role to Hamiltonians, and this program will explore Hamilton as an industrial and post-industrial “worker’s city.” After an introduction to WAHC’s historic home, the Custom House, students will learn the trajectory of working class culture in Hamilton, from the rise of the earliest industries in Hamilton’s north end, immigration, the first unions, the Strike of ’46 and its hometown hero, Sam Lawrence to post-war prosperity. Students will explore the history of factory work, changes in the local job market at the end of the 20th century and the types of work at the forefront of the local landscape of work in Hamilton today, from small business, arts and culture, education and medicine to steel.

Art Activity: “Community Mapping”
Grade Level: Grades 8 & 10
Curriculum Connections:

  • History– Creating Canada, 1850-1890; Canada, 1890-1914: A Changing Society (Grade 8)
  • Geography– Global Settlement: Patterns and Sustainability; Global Inequalities: Economic Development and Quality of Live (Grade 8)
  • Canada and World Studies – Canadian History since World War I (Grade 10)

2) ART/WORK: Art and Social Change

Visual Art, Art History, Social Justice, Activism

Art can be a vehicle for expressing what is important to us and making our world a better place.

What is labour art? It encourages understanding and appreciation of the overlooked contributions working people make to our society. Examples of labour art forms include songs, buttons and badges, posters, photographs, leaflets and pamphlets, murals and paintings, and often involves artists working in collaboration with workers. Students will explore how such art can be political and play an important part in protest and social change. This program will involve in depth, interactive tour of our contemporary exhibition and unpack its relationship to the lives of workers and social justice issues. Art/Work is a chance for students to exercise their observational and interpretive skills, while learning how art can be used to engage the community and be a force of positive change.

Art Activity: “Protest Poster Art”
Grade Level: Secondary
Curriculum Connections:

  • Visual Arts (Grades 9-12)


Labour History, Social Studies, Career Education, Social Justice, Activism

Collective action and working collaboratively helps us in our workplaces, schools and community!

The role of unions on a local, provincial and national level is something very rarely talked about in school. However, over time unions have been important advocates for the rights of workers, protecting their health and safety in the workplace and fighting for their economic security. This program will explore the earliest union activity in both Hamilton and Ontario. It will discuss challenges for unions, as well as battles fought and won, such as the local strikes at Stelco and Westinghouse in the 1940s and the impact they had on Canadian society.  Through discussion, students will tackle some key questions: Why was there a need for unions in the 19th century? What jobs are non-unionized today and how can unions play a role in community life? How can unions be of help to workers today?

Art Activity: “Student Union Buttons”
Grade Level: Secondary
Curriculum Connections:

  • Canada and World Studies – Civics (Grade 10); Canadian History and Politics since 1945 (Grade 11); Canadian and World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Grade 12)