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Different Perspectives: The Durham Report and Act of Union

An essay using the Canada in the Making site

Student Work Sheet

After the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions of 1837, Lord Durham was sent from England to investigate the cause of the unrest. He produced his famous and highly controversial Report on the Affairs of British North America (also known as the Durham Report) after a short stay in the region. This led to the Act of Union, 1840. This essay will require you to read the text of the report and comment on its significance to one of the political groups of the time.

You will write an essay on the events and consequences of the Durham Report, paying special attention to the recommendations, the tone of the report itself and the impact on one of the political groups listed below:

  • French Canadian nationalists

  • Upper Canadian reformers

  • The Family Compact

  • The Château Clique

  • The Colonial Office in Britain

You may find it useful to conduct your research in groups.


Your essay should comment on:

  1. The Nature of British Colonial Rule, 1763-1840
    Give a brief summary of:
    a. The significance of the Québec Act, 1774
    b. The American Revolution
    c. The significance of the Constitutional Act, 1791
    d. The system of government in place in both colonies.

  2. Some of the major problems with the British system of rule around the time of the rebellions.
    Briefly comment on:
    a. Some of the causes for the rebellions in both Upper and Lower Canada.
    b. The British government's reaction to the rebellions.

The Durham Report

Your essay should comment on:

  1. What Durham thought the main source of the problems were in the Upper and Lower Canada.

  2. What his major recommendations were.

Consequences of the Durham Report:

Comment on the consequences of the Durham Report:

  1. What was the reaction of your chosen focus group to the Durham Report?
    a. Did they support the report's findings?
    b. In what way did it address the group's demands or expectations?
    c. In what ways did it fail to address their demands and expectations?

  2. Long Term consequences
    a. What were the long-term consequences of the events and the documents discussed above on your group?
    b. Did your group achieve its aims later? If so, which aims did it achieve and by what means?

Essay Requirements

The paper should be _____________ words long. It should contain:

  • A title page with a title, your name, the course name, your teacher's name and the date submitted.

  • A clear introduction with a thesis statement.

  • Proper citation (footnotes/endnotes or APA/MLA style, as determined by your teacher).

  • A bibliography.

Make an effort to use primary sources to support your arguments. These can be found on the Canada in the Making Web site.

Note on Sources

Primary sources
Primary sources represent the most authentic resources that historians can draw upon. The documents that you will be using below may be digitized, but are still considered primary sources. Try to use the sources available on the "Canada's Constitutional History" portion of the Canada in the Making Web site to strengthen your arguments.

For tips on how to use primary sources, go to the "Using Primary Sources in Your Work" page.
URL: http://www.canadian.org/citm/guide/essay_e.html

Secondary sources
Secondary sources are works that interpret or analyze an historical event or phenomenon. Generally the author is at least one step removed from the event. Although not as authentic as primary sources, secondary sources are still valuable.

Possible Sources of Information Online

Note: It is important to choose sources that are produced by reputable institutions or individuals. Such information is more likely to give you a balanced, neutral view and be prepared or reviewed by experts.


Canada in the Making: Canada's Constitutional History
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution1_e.html

The Canadian Encyclopedia
URL: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com

National Archives of Canada: Canada's Constitutional Evolution
URL: http://www.archives.ca/05/051103_f.html (French)
URL: http://www.archives.ca/05/051103_e.html (English)

National Library of Canada: Towards Confederation: Lower Canada
URL: http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/2/18/h18-2002-e.html

National Library of Canada: Towards Confederation: Upper Canada
URL: http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/2/18/h18-2001-e.html

Solon Law Archives: Canadian Constitutional Documents
URL: http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Canada/

The Rebellions of 1837 and 1838

Canada in the Making: Canada's Constitutional History: 1837 - 1839: Rebellion
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution11_e.html

Canada in the Making: The Rebellions of 1837 and 1838
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/specifique/rebellions/rebellions_e.html

The Durham Report and the Union Act, 1840

Canada in the Making: Canada's Constitutional History:
1839 - 1849: Union and Responsible Government
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution12_e.html

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