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The Making of Confederation
(includes activity)
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LESSON 22: The Making of Confederation
(includes activity)

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This lesson corresponds to material found in:
Episode 8 The Great Enterprise

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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.

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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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