Confederation

Canada became a nation, the Dominion of Canada, in 1867. Before that, British North America was made up of a few provinces, the vast area of Rupert’s Land (privately owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company), and the North-Western Territory. By 1864, many leaders felt that it would be good to join into one country. Known as the Fathers of Confederation, these leaders met and wrote a constitution for the new country, which had to be passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Once passed, it became known as the British North America Act, or the BNA Act. This Act brought together the three provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada (which became the provinces of Ontario and Quebec). The BNA Act described the structure and main laws of the new country, as well as the division of powers between the new provinces and the federal government.

We have had a type of democracy in Canada since the mid-1300s!  Did you know that the Iroquois Confederacy in Canada was the first democracy in North America?

CANADA IN 1867

Canada was much smaller in 1867. It included only four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Where do you live? Was it part of Canada in 1867?

DID YOU KNOW?

The rest of Canada’s provinces and territories joined Confederation (became a part of the country) at later dates:

1867 Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

1870 Manitoba, Northwest Territories

1871 British Columbia

1873 Prince Edward Island

1898 Yukon Territory

1905 Alberta, Saskatchewan

1949 Newfoundland and Labrador

1999 Nunavut

THIS PAINTING, CALLED “FATHERS OF CONFEDERATION”

is based on the original, “Meeting of the Delegates of British North America.” The men shown here helped make the final agreement that created Canada. After years of political debate, there were three historic meetings in Quebec City, Charlottetown and London, England to decide the future creation of Canada.

The artist, Robert Harris, worked mostly from photographs of the men.

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House of Commons Collection, Ottawa

1 the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister

2 the Honourable Sir George-Étienne Cartier

3 Thomas D’Arcy McGee

DID YOU KNOW?

The original painting by Robert Harris burned during the fire that destroyed most of the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in 1916. Today, the tribute copy of it, by Rex Woods, hangs in a committee room at Parliament. The major differences between the two are: a portrait of Robert Harris on the right and three more delegates to the London Conference of 1866 (who were officially recognized in 1927) were added.

THINK ABOUT IT

Why are there no women in this painting?

THE QUEEN IS SIGNING THE CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982

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1 the Honourable Gerald Regan (Minister of Labour)

2 the Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau (Prime Minister)

3 the Honourable Michael Pitfield (Clerk of the Privy Council)

4 the Honourable Michael Kirby (Secretary to the Cabinet for Federal-Provincial Relations and Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council)

5 Queen Elizabeth II

Based on Robert Cooper, Canada. Office of the Prime Minister Collection, Library and Archives Canada, e02282980

WORD BUILDER
NOUN VERB ADJECTIVE
colony colonize colonial
government govern governable
symbol symbolize symbolic
  • Try using some of these words in sentences. Notice the endings on the adjectives: -ial, -able, -ic.
  • See if you can fill in the table with some of these other nouns: contact, collection, identity, democracy.
WORD BUILDER  

Many words can be changed from a verb to a noun by adding -ment:

  • amend amendment
  • govern  
  • argue (careful of the e!)  
  • assess
  • assign

Brainstorm with your class. What other words follow this pattern? Try using both the verbs and the new nouns in sentences.