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The Rise of Responsible Government

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 students the opportunity to learn how Canada moved toward responsible government during the turbulent period from 1774 to 1849.


The Topic

The topic of this essay is the emergence of responsible government. Examples of possible thesis statements are:

  • The most important event(s) and documents leading to responsible government was/were _____________.

  • The movement toward responsible government was irreversible by the middle of the 1830s.

  • The rebellions of 1837 and 1838 helped/hurt the movement toward responsible government.

You may also develop your own thesis statement. Be sure to have the approval of your instructor before continuing.

The essay could also be a timeline of events and important documents leading toward the granting of responsible government.


The Research

In order to complete this essay, it will be useful to read these Web pages on the Canada in the Making Web site dealing with representative government, responsible government, and 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 page:


The Essay

For your essay, be sure to include the following:

  1. A definition of responsible government. Explain the difference between representative and responsible government. Explain how government in the mid-1830s was different from that of today.

  2. A short summary of any important acts or other documents to which you refer. If relevant, comment on how each document represents a step toward or away from the concept of responsible government.

  3. Identify key figures in the fight for or against responsible government.

  4. In your conclusion, state how you think that the gaining of responsible government affects our government today.

To gain an understanding of the events around these documents, read some of the essays on the Essays page of the Canada in the Making site. The ECO database also contains many other useful documents.


Essay Requirements

The report 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).

  • A bibliography.

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
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.canadiana.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.

Other 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.

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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