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Different Perspectives: The Durham Report and Act of Union
An activity for use with the Canada in the Making site
After the Upper and Lower Canada rebellions of 1837, Lord Durham
was sent from England to investigate the cause of the unrest. He
produced his famous and highly controversial Report on the Affairs
of British North America (also known as the Durham Report) after
a short stay in the region. This led to the Act of Union, 1840.
This activity will give students the opportunity to work together
and examine the different perspectives of the social and political
groups that were involved in and affected by the events that led
to these important documents. They will present their findings to
Social Studies/History; Ages 15 and up
This is a group project in which students learn about the events
that led to the Durham Report, the differing perspectives of various
social and political groups at the time and the consequences of
the report. They will understand the source of these grievances,
the goals of various groups, and the reaction to and impact of the
Durham report and the Act of Union, 1840.
The main portion of the activity should take four one-hour sessions
online. Note that the sources used in ECO can be printed from
the browser and then photocopied.
Outcomes (WCP, APEF); Expectations
(ON); Objectives (QC)
Table of Curricular Relevance by Course
British Columbia and Yukon Territory
Computers with Internet access
Materials for a presentation:
Early Canadiana Online: Canada in The Making
Other links can be found in the Student Work Sheets.
Students will need
An understanding of Web navigation symbols, tools and terminology,
particularly the tools used in ECO.
Familiarity with research and presentation skills.
An understanding of the events leading to the rebellions of
1837 and 1838.
Canada has a reputation as a peaceful country. Is this justified
by history? Ask the students if they know of violent uprisings in
Canadian history. Have they heard of the rebellions of 1837 and
1838? Ask them:
Hand out Student Work Sheets and introduce students to the ECO Canada
In the Making Web site. Read the assignment and discuss.
Assign groups. Each group is to research a perspective on the events
surrounding the Durham Report and the Act of Union. They
may look at background material on the Canada in the Making
Web site or other sites.
Group 1: French Canadian nationalists
Group 2: Upper Canadian reformers
Group 3: The Family Compact
Group 4: The Château Clique
Group 5: The Colonial Office in Britain
Group 6: Lord Durham
Students research their chosen perspectives. They should discuss
answers and try to make balanced comments about the events and documents.
When all sections have been researched, the group should prepare
a presentation. They should try to use primary source materials
to improve the presentation. They may prepare posters, PowerPoint
presentations, overhead presentations, or any other means to present
Discuss: Which of the above groups and individuals achieved their
goals, and to what extent? Who was the long and short term "winner"?
See the Suggested Assessment Criteria.
Hold a debate or prepare a pro-and-con chart on the Durham Report
and the Act of Union. See the extension
worksheet for details.