Canada's Constitutional Evolution
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 you the opportunity to learn what this principle
meant and why it was so important at that time.
Using the sources below, you will write a report about what "responsible
government" means in Canadian terms. It could follow this outline:
Define and explain the meaning of "representative government."
What part of Canada was first to have representative government?
Define and explain the meaning of "responsible government."
How is it different from representative government?
Who were the main people involved in bringing about responsible
When did Canada finally get responsible government? What events
proved that responsible government was here to stay?
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:
The Written and Unwritten Constitution
You will also need to read biographies of important people involved
in the movement for responsible government. See the Biographies
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.)
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