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The Principal of Responsible Government
An essay using the Canada in the Making site
"Responsible government" is the cornerstone of parliamentary
democracy in Canada. It became a rallying cry in Canada in the first
half of the 19th century as more and more citizens became disturbed
by the power structures in Canada. Ultimately, the push for responsible
government was one of the motives behind the 1837 and 1838 rebellions.
This essay will give students the opportunity to learn what this
principle meant and why it was so important at that time.
Social Studies (History) and Language Arts; Ages 13 and up
This is a report with a set outline that requires students have
access to several online Web pages for information. It can be an
independent or paired activity for the purposed of gathering information
and will require three to four sessions online to complete.
Note that the sources used in ECO can be printed from the browser
and then photocopied.
Outcomes (WCP, APEF); Expectations
(ON); Objectives (QC)
Table of Curricular Relevance by Course
British Columbia and Yukon Territory
Computers with access to the Internet
(Extension) Coloured card/paper for timeline, and paper backing
Student Work Sheet
Early Canadiana Online: Canada in the Making
Essay writing resources can be found in the Writing An Essay
unit on ECO:
Other links can be found in the Student Work Sheet.
Students will need
An understanding of Web navigation symbols, tools and terminology,
particularly the tools used in ECO.
Familiarity with basic report writing skills (intro, body,
To understand the basic shape of Canadian history.
Ask students what they think is the most important factor in a
healthy democracy. Some ideas might include freedom of speech, the
right to vote, etc. Ask them whether they think such freedoms were
won easily, and how they were achieved.
Hand out Student Work Sheets and introduce students to the ECO Canada
In the Making Web site. Read the assignment and discuss.
Have students search for the required information from each document.
It may be efficient for individuals to conduct research together.
Extra credit could be given for comments about the documents not
specifically identified on the Student Work Sheet.
Discussion: Do we have responsible government today? Are there
problems in our current system that limit how responsible government
See the Suggested Rubric.
Individuals or groups could prepare a summary of key documents in
the move toward responsible government, possibly using a timeline
and different presentation media.