Different Perspectives: The Durham Report and Act of Union
An activity for use with the Canada in the Making site
Student Work Sheet
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 you 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. You will present your findings to the class.
In groups you will examine one of the following perspectives and
prepare a group presentation:
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
For all groups:
Briefly examine the system of government in Upper or Lower Canada
(depending on which group you are researching) from 1791 to 1837.
Note some of the problems with the British system of rule and identify
the major areas of dispute.
For your group's perspective:
Describe the group/person.
Who were the leaders?
To which social class did they belong?
What was their economic status?
What was their historical position in Canada?
How were they related to the other groups?
What was their relationship with the other groups?
What were their interests?
Did they support the status quo? Why?
What were their grievances with the government or the other
What did they see as a reasonable solution to the problems
of the time?
How did they react to the rebellions of 1837 and 1838?
For Groups 1 to 5: What was the impact of Lord Durham's report?
What findings had the most impact on this group?
Did this group contribute to the findings of the report? If
Did this group approve of the report's findings? Why or why
Did the recommendations of the report meet their demands or
For Group 6 (Durham Group): What factors influenced Durham's
The Act of Union, 1840.
What were the long-term consequences of the events and the
documents discussed above on your group?
Did your group achieve its aims later? If so, which aims did
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 your
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
National Library of Canada: Towards Confederation: Lower Canada
National Library of Canada: Towards Confederation: Upper Canada
Solon Law Archives: Canadian Constitutional Documents
The Rebellions of 1837 and 1838
Canada in the Making: Canada's Constitutional History: 1837
- 1839: Rebellion
Canada in the Making: The Rebellions of 1837 and 1838
The Durham Report and the Union Act, 1840
Canada in the Making: Canada's Constitutional History:
1839 - 1849: Union and Responsible Government