Canada's Constitutional Evolution
An essay using the Canada in the Making site
The history of the written Canadian Constitution is a process that
could be described as being evolutionary. 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 major essay will give you the opportunity to analyze
major constitutional document and the events surrounding them. In
doing so you will examine primary sources (historical documents)
and draw conclusions from evidence.
You will examine several or all of the constitutional documents
from the list below and examine the effect each had on a specific
theme- or issue in Canadian constitutional history.
Step 1: Chose a theme.
You are invited to choose a theme from the list below, or use one
approved by your teacher:
Individual rights and freedoms
The status of Québec and French Canadians
French Canadian nationalism
Provincial-federal division of powers
Independence from Britain
Step 2: Select documents.
Select four to six documents of the major constitutional documents
available through the Canada in the Making site that had
the most impact on the issues/groups touched by your theme.
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 Westminister, 1931:
8. The Constitution Act, 1982:
9. The Meech Lake Accord of 1987 and the Charlottetown
Accord of 1992:
Step 3: Conduct research.
For each of the documents, you will need to research and include
information on all of the following, as applicable:
Briefly describe events surrounding the document, and the
primary issue it was meant to address.
For example, was the document intended to establish the rule
of law over a captured territory or was it meant to unify the
British North American provinces into one nation?
How does the document affect the issues/groups touched by
Would groups affected have thought it was in their interests
or against them? Would any groups be offended? Was the effect
lasting? Does it still have an impact today?
Based on the historical trends you find in your research,
what do you think might be the next step in Canadian constitutional
The paper should be _____________ words long. It should contain:
A title page with the 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
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