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What Would They Have Said? A Role Playing and Interview Activity

An activity for use with the Canada in the Making site

Student Work Sheet

This activity will give you the opportunity to study Canadian constitutional documents and historical figures. You will play an historical figure in an interview and will answer questions about the events and documents in which they played a role.

Step 1:

In your group, examine one of the following documents and prepare a role play/interview for your class. These documents are available through the Canada in the Making site:

1. The Articles of Capitulation, Montreal, 1760
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution5_e.html
2. The Royal Proclamation, 1763:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution6_e.html
3. The Québec Act, 1774:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution7_e.html
4. The Constitutional Act, 1791:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution8_e.html
5. The Union Act, 1840:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution11_e.html
6. The British North America Act, 1867:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution13_e.html
7. The Statute of Westminister, 1931:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution15_e.html
8. The Constitution Act, 1982:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution16_e.html
9. The Meech Lake Accord of 1987 and the Charlottetown Accord of 1992:
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution/constitution16_e.html

Identify/research the following:

  • The key events that led to the document.

  • The key people in favour and opposed to the document.

  • The long-term consequences of the document.

Step 2:

One person in your group is to act as the interviewer and must develop meaningful questions about the issues surrounding the historical document.

The other student(s) are to act as a real or fictional historical figure. Research the life of the individual in order to represent that person's viewpoint and personality well. You may choose a format with one interviewer and two or more historical figures. For example:

  • William Lyon Mackenzie and Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head (Act of Union, 1840)

  • Governor James Murray, a British merchant and a French Canadian habitant (Québec Act, 1774)

  • Sir John A. Macdonald and Joseph Howe (British North America Act, 1867)

Step 3:

Practice your questions and answers before recording or presenting your interview. Use props and try to play the characters true to historical fact.

Some Helpful Questions for Researching Your Historical Figure:

Describe the person.

  • To which social class did they belong??

  • What was their economic status?

  • What was their historical position in Canada?

  • How were they related to other groups?

  • What was their relationship with other groups/individuals?

  • Did they have any strong personality traits?

What were their interests?

  • Did they support the status quo? Why?

  • What were their grievances (with the government or other groups)?

  • What did they see as a reasonable solution to the problems of the time?

What was the impact of the document?

  • What aspects of the document had the most impact on this group?

  • Did this group contribute to the creation/promotion of this document? If so, how?

  • Did this group approve of the document? Why or why not?

Role Playing Evaluation Criteria

You may be invited to assess another group's performance using some or all of the following criteria:


Group 1 Rating

Group 2 Rating

Were the questions organized logically?



Do the respondents support their arguments with evidence?



Are their facts accurate and did they stay on topic?



Did they stay on topic?



Did they stay in character?



Was the characterization credible and accurate?



Do they speak clearly and appropriately (varying tone, pitch, etc., without distracting from the arguments)?



Did they maintain good eye contact, posture, etc.?



You may discuss and decide how to rate the debate (points, percent, win/lose, etc.) amongst yourselves, with your teacher, or with the class. You may also add criteria.

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.


Canada in the Making: Canada's Constitutional History
URL: http://www.canadiana.org/citm/themes/constitution1_e.html

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)

National Library of Canada: Towards Confederation: Lower Canada
URL: http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/2/18/h18-2002-e.html

National Library of Canada: Towards Confederation: Upper Canada
URL: http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/2/18/h18-2001-e.html

Solon Law Archives: Canadian Constitutional Documents
URL: http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Canada/

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