||The Making of Confederation
This lesson corresponds to material found in:
Episode 8 The Great Enterprise
Backgrounder and Activity
This activity focuses on the three chapters of Episode 8 entitled Strangers in Charlottetown, Three Weeks in Quebec and Let Their Memory Be Dark.
The birth of Canada was the culmination of a series of conferences and negotiations between the colonial leaders of British North America. Beginning with the movement towards Maritime union (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), elected officials in the province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec) were invited to join the discussion at a conference in Charlottetown in September, 1864. During this meeting, one Canadian politician, John A. Macdonald, spoke enthusiastically of a Confederation agenda. He was supported by George-Étienne Cartier.
The conference quickly shelved the notion of Maritime union, and delegates accepted the proposal of a greater union. A series of outside forces helped the pro-union forces: the American Civil War, Britain's desire to reduce defence spending for its North American colonies, and the political deadlock in the Province of Canada. Delegates agreed to hammer out a more comprehensive settlement with further negotiations to be discussed at the Quebec Conference in October 1864.
The Quebec Conference put together the 62 resolutions that were to become the foundation of the British North America Act. The 62 resolutions concerned the division of power, the House of Commons, the Senate, and the exclusive powers of the federal and provincial governments. The construction of a railroad to join the new provinces and stimulate the economy was also discussed.
Activity: Charlottetown/Quebec Conference Simulation
Have students form a conference of British North American colonies. They will discuss how Confederation would be a viable solution for the following problems facing the colonies:
- Railway debts
- American military threat (Civil War, Fenian raids)
- Political deadlock
- Trade troubles (Corn Laws, reciprocity with the U.S.)
- British Colonial office opinions on the expense of the defence of BNA colonies
Divide students into groups to represent the provinces of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland. Have each group research its region's particular concerns and defind them during the conference.