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The Quebec Act
(includes activity)

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LESSON 11: The Quebec Act
(includes activity)

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This lesson corresponds to material found in:
Episode 4 Battle for a Continent

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Backgrounder and Activity

This activity focuses on the three chapters of Episode 4 entitled "Battle for a Continent," "The World Turned Upside Down" and "The Quebec Act."

These video excerpts chronicle the aftermath of the Seven Years War and its impact on the 70,000 French colonists now subject to British rule. In the dozen years that followed, the British granted a series of crucial accommodations which guaranteed that the Canadiens would retain their identity while they attempted to come to terms with the conquest. Ironically, as Britain's American colonies moved toward open rebellion, the "new subjects" began to appear as Britain's best hope for maintaining a presence in the New World.


The Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Year War (1756-1763) was signed by France and Britain in 1763. New France was ceded to Britain. The Royal Proclamation governed the life of people inhabiting the former colony, now the Province of Quebec, a territory reduced to a strip of land along the St. Lawrence. The Canadiens were barred from holding an administrative position unless they took an Oath of Allegiance and renounced the Catholic faith.

In 1774, with revolution looming among the American colonies, Sir Guy Carleton, the Governor of the new Province of Quebec, urged the British parliament to pass political reforms to deal more fairly with the French Catholics of his colony. The Quebec Act expanded the Province of Quebec eastward to Labrador and southwest to Mississippi. A governor and an appointed council would administer the colony. There was no provision for an elected assembly. The Quebec Act also guaranteed French civil law, the seigneurial system, and the freedom to express the Roman Catholic faith. The Oath of Allegiance was replaced by a weaker declaration.

American reaction was hostile. American colonists were furious to learn that the province of Quebec would continue without an elected assembly for its English speaking population. They were equally upset at the tolerance bestowed upon the Catholic faith, which was seen as a force hostile to American liberty. Lastly, and most significantly, Americans were enraged that the Quebec Act placed the coveted Indian Territory west of the Appalachians under the jurisdiction of the Quebec government. Most Americans felt this land to be their birthright, and now it would be off limits. The Americans called the Quebec Act the Intolerable Act. The dissatisfaction it raised would lead to the American Revolution two years later.

Activity: The King Has Spoken

Have students role-play a petition to the British King following the conquest of Quebec as he attempts to decide what to do with the French colony in North America. You can assume the role of king, while students role-play these characters:

  • Governor Guy Carleton
  • François Baby, Quebec merchant
  • Bishop of Quebec
  • a French seigneur
  • two habitants (husband and wife)
  • a native person (i.e. Pontiac)
  • a French trapper
  • a British merchant from Quebec, such as Thomas Walker
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • an English Protestant moving to Quebec

Have each character make a presentation outlining what he or she believes should happen to Quebec. The king, with the aid of his advisors, will draw up an Act outlining the new borders of the province, the structure of the new government, the rights of the new subjects, and new rules governing fur trade and commerce.

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    Lesson Plans
    Episode 1
    When the World Began...
    Lesson 1 Canada's First Peoples
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 2 Stories of Creation
    Lesson 3 Cartier and Donnacona

    Episode 2
    Adventures and Mystics
    Lesson 4 The Beginning of the Fur Trade
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 5 The Jesuits and the Huron
    Lesson 6 Immigration to New France

    Episode 3
    Claiming the Wilderness
    Lesson 7 Expansion to the Gulf of Mexico
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 8 The Expulsion of the Acadians

    Episode 4
    Battle for a Continent
    Lesson 9 Before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 10 The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 11 The Quebec Act
    (includes activity)

    Episode 5
    A Question of Loyalties
    Lesson 12 Conflict in Quebec, 1775
    Lesson 13 United Empire Loyalists
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 14 Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh

    Episode 6
    The Pathfinders
    Lesson 15 The Fur Trade in Canada
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 16 The Selkirk Settlers
    Lesson 17 The Gold Rush

    Episode 7
    Rebellion and Reform
    Lesson 18 The Rebellions of 1837
    Lesson 19 Union of the Canadas
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 20 A Land of Hope

    Episode 8
    The Great Enterprise
    Lesson 21 Newcomers to Canada
    Lesson 22 The Making of Confederation
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 23 Confederation in the Maritimes

    Episode 9
    From Sea to Sea
    Lesson 24 The Red River Resistance
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 25 The Pacific Scandal

    Episode 10
    Taking the West
    Lesson 26 The North-West Rebellion
    Lesson 27 The Trial of Louis Riel
    Lesson 28 Macdonald's National Dream

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