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Canada's Constitutional Evolution

An essay using the Canada in the Making site

Student Guide

"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 you the opportunity to learn what this principle meant and why it was so important at that time.

The Report

Using the sources below, you will write a report about what "responsible government" means in Canadian terms. It could follow this outline:

  1. Introduction.

  2. Define and explain the meaning of "representative government." What part of Canada was first to have representative government?

  3. Define and explain the meaning of "responsible government." How is it different from representative government?

  4. Who were the main people involved in bringing about responsible government?

  5. When did Canada finally get responsible government? What events proved that responsible government was here to stay?

  6. Conclusion: Try to make a statement about why you think responsible government is important to Canadians today.

To cover all these areas, you will need to read these pages in Canada in the Making:

Representative Government
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/specifique/

Responsible Government
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/specifique

The Written and Unwritten Constitution
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/

You will also need to read biographies of important people involved in the movement for responsible government. See the Biographies page:

URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/reference

Essay Requirements

The report 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.

  • Proper citation. (These are endnotes or footnotes telling where your quotes and information come from. Your teacher will explain what format to use.)

  • A bibliography.

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/

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)

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

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