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Ruling Wisely? British Rule after the Conquest

An essay using the Canada in the Making site

Student Guide

When the British took control of New France in 1763, they found themselves ruling a vast area populated by a people who spoke a different language, had different customs, different systems of government and law, different religious beliefs and different social relationships. Naturally, this presented problems. The essay assigned below will give you the opportunity to compare two early Canadian constitutional documents that attempted to deal with these issues.

The Topic

Your essay will compare the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Québec Act of 1774 in the context of the events surrounding the times.

Examples of possible thesis statements are:

  • The Québec Act was an attempt to address the problems created by the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

  • The Québec Act was more the product of a desire to avoid rebellion in the province than to improve the situation for French Canadians.

  • The Royal Proclamation and the Québec Act represent two conflicting philosophies within the British ruling elite: one that favoured accommodation of French Canadian language and culture, and one that favoured assimilation.

  • Most French Canadians were not satisfied with either act as they both limited their ability to govern themselves.

  • Most French Canadians were apathetic about both documents as they did little to change the way they were governed.

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

The Research

In order to complete this essay, it will be useful to read these pages in the thematic section "Canada's Constitutional History":

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

The Essay

In comparing the documents, consider the following:

1. The historical events around the two documents

a. The Conquest
b. The agitation of the British merchants in Québec
c. The American Revolution

2. The conditions in New France before and after 1760

a. Government
b. Social classes
c. Religion

3. The changes brought about by the Royal Proclamation

4. The changes brought about by the Québec Act

Essay Requirements

The paper 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.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.

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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