CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers - A Constitutional Timeline: The First Hundred Years

History, English Language Arts
1 to 2 lessons
To identify relevant historical events and place them in sequence.
Students will prepare a timeline of the major events, figures, issues, and developments in Canadian constitutional debates from Confederation to the mid-1960s.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to brainstorm important events, figures, and issues in Canadian history. Record their ideas. Ask them why they think these historical developments and individuals are important, and what impact they have had on Canada. Encourage discussion of Canadian autonomy, or independence from Britain.

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic Canada's Constitutional Debate: What Makes a Nation? on the CBC Digital Archives website. Divide the class into seven groups, and assign each group one of the clips titled

"Bringing home the British...", "The Road to centralization...", "A nation divided against itself?", "Playing political football", "If we knew then...", "Quebec Oui, Ottawa Non", "Fighting for the Fulton-Favreau...", "The Fulton-Favreau formula...".  From its clip, each group should note:


major historical events and dates, in chronological order

important individuals involved in the debate

main issues in the debate

how the debate affected Canada

how the issues in the debate were resolved (or not)

Each group will then plot its information on a timeline that includes illustrations and a written description.

Revisit and Reflect

Have each group present its timeline to the class. Display all the timelines together and ask: What can we see about the growth of self-government and autonomy for Canada over time? What constitutional issues remain today? Why do you think they are unresolved? What constitutional issues might change if we were to revisit them today? Why?

Identify several historical and political figures and have students discuss their opinion of each, and the contributions of each to greater independence in Canada.


In 2003, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador proposed a review of the terms of its entry into Confederation. Students can research this event and write an opinion paper explaining whether or not they support the idea of Newfoundland and Labrador reviewing its terms of Confederation.

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