Canada's Constitutional Documents
An essay using the Canada in the Making site
The history of the written Canadian Constitution is a process that
could be described as an evolution. Sometimes dramatic events have
spurred changes in legislation, which have in turn shaped future
events. Ultimately, this led to the Constitution that Canadians
enjoy today. This activity will give you the opportunity to analyze
one major constitutional document and the events surrounding it.
In doing so you will examine primary sources (historical documents)
and draw conclusions from evidence. You will write an essay and
may be asked to prepare a presentation of your findings.
You will need to choose one of the documents below and conduct
research using the following documents available through the Canada
in the Making site or other sites:
1. The Articles of Capitulation, Montreal, 1760
2. The Royal Proclamation, 1763:
3. The Québec Act, 1774:
4. The Constitutional Act, 1791:
5. The Union Act, 1840:
6. The British North America Act, 1867:
7. The Statute of Westminster, 1931:
8. The Constitution Act, 1982:
9. The Meech Lake Accord of 1987 and the Charlottetown
Accord of 1992:
For each of these documents, you will need to research and present
information on all of the following, as applicable:
The major issue or events addressed by the document.
What events led to this document? Briefly describe them. (For
example, did the drafters intend to establish the rule of law
over a captured territory or did they seek to unify the British
North American provinces into one nation?)
Where does it fit in the movement toward the democracy we
The general evolution of Canadian democracy has gone as follows:
Conquest, military rule
Government by governor and select few
Elected assemblies created
Development of the "Family Compact" and "Château
Responsible government won
Confederation; division of power into federal and provincial
Gradual movement to autonomy from Britain
Patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the creation
Canadian Charter of Rights
In addition, there have been two forces acting in the Canadian
For documents that were written in 1867 and after, comment
on whether the document and events leading to it favoured provincial
power, federal power, or neither.
How did this document affect the status of Lower Canada/Canada
East/Québec and the rights of French Canadians in Canada?
Was there anything that might offend certain parts of the
country in this document? Note what they are, and why they
would be offensive.
What do you think was the effect of the document for
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).
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 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
For tips on how to use primary sources, go to the "Using Primary
Sources in Your Work" page.
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
The Written and Unwritten Constitution
Canada in the Making: The Written and Unwritten Constitution
Canada in the Making: Representative Government
Canada in the Making: Responsible Government
Canada in the Making: Canada's Constitutional History
The Canadian Encyclopedia
National Archives of Canada: Canada's Constitutional Evolution
Solon Law Archives: Canadian Constitutional Documents