The Rise 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 how Canada
moved toward responsible government during the turbulent period
from 1774 to 1849.
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
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.
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
For your essay, be sure to include the following:
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.
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.
Identify key figures in the fight for or against responsible
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
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).
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.
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
The Canadian Encyclopedia
National Archives of Canada: Canada's Constitutional Evolution
Solon Law Archives: Canadian Constitutional Documents