Skip To Content

Athabasca University

Gordon Drever




  • B.A. (Honours) (University of Alberta)
  • M.A. (Brandeis University)


I tutor three Athabasca University courses, Sociology 305, 316, and 381. Over the years, I have taught these and various other AU courses in the classroom all over northern Alberta. I also teach sociology at Northern Lakes College.

I studied anthropology at the University of Alberta, receiving my honours BA in 1969, then on to graduate studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. My M.A. thesis is an ethnographic account of traditional salt making in Zapotitlan Salinas, Mexico. Specializing in ethnohistory, I worked with the various European sources on the Iroquois Confederacy of the seventeenth century. More recently, I returned to ethnohistory as part of the expert witness team doing background research for the plaintiffs in the Treaty Eight taxation case (Benoit vs the Queen). I was dealing with the question of what did the Cree people in the Slave Lake area know about taxation and the operations of the state generally when they signed the treaty in 1899? The results of that study were fascinating and unexpected, but ultimately, we lost the case.

My research efforts have included material culture studies for museums. The highlights there are an annotated bibliography of the history of commercial fishing in Alberta, and a survey of handmade wooden artefacts associated with Ukrainian rural settlement. For the past twenty years, my research focus has been on fringe religious and political movements. Studies here include a violent Adventist sect, the Dreamers, active in southern Alberta at the beginning of the twentieth century, as well as the current spread of evangelical Christianity among Aboriginal people. I did background research for the crown in connection with the prosecution of the notorious anti-Semite, James Keegstra, using my own extensive collection of controversial literature. I have built up a collection of primary source literature, including printed ephemera, which covers both historical and current sectarian groups in Alberta. This is housed in the University of Alberta Library at BARD; I spend one day per week cataloguing and adding new material.

I was born in Dundee, Scotland, and came to Canada with my family in 1957, living first at Schuler, near Medicine Hat, where my father taught school. As a high school and then a University student, I spent my summers working in construction and on the railway. I left the academic life in the 1970s and worked full time as a labourer, then a carpenter in heavy construction in Edmonton. I returned to full time teaching in the early 90s.

My wife Helga Vierich, a fellow anthropologist, and I live near Spruce Grove, in the former Golden Spike Store. We share our home with two fox terriers, an Irish wolfhound, a cat and an indeterminate number of rabbits. I cut and chop about eight cords of firewood per winter, and build now mostly for myself. I collect postage stamps, specializing in representations of bicycles.

Updated March 31 2015 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.