Canadian Confederation of 1867

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Confederation of 1867 was a very controversial subject in Canada. It was a hotly debated topic for much of the 1860s and continued to be a source of contention until the 1880s. In this assignment, your task is to understand the issues and debates surrounding Confederation and to evaluate the arguments people used both for and against Confederation.

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Your task is to use the readings listed below and develop a five-page, argumentative essay (1000 words) on the Confederation debates. To be considered complete, your assignment must have the following:

  1. Clear thesis statement with strong supporting evidence
  2. Correct essay form and structure; clear concise writing
  3. Correct footnotes and bibliography (Chicago Manual of Style)
  4. Evidence that 6 of the 9 sources have been consulted and information successfully incorporated into the essay
  5. Your essay should, at a minimum, discuss:
    a. Arguments in favour of Confederation
    b. Arguments against Confederation
    c. Your evaluation / opinion – did Confederation in 1867 make sense?

Assignment is due in class the week of February 3
(Paper Copy and Electronic Copy)
82 Points total (See marking sheet). Will be scaled to 15% of final grade.


  1. Name, Student Number and Course Name in the top right-hand corner of the first page
  2. No need for title pages or cover sheets (just one staple)
  3. Double Space all writing
  4. 12-point size text; font is Times New Roman
  5. 2.54cm (1-inch) margins all round

Nine sources are recommended for this assignment. You must use six of them. All sources are available online or through the KPU library:

  1. P.B. Waite, “Confederation,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, September 22, 2013.
    a. See:
    b. This encyclopedia article provides a nice overview of Confederation in Canada: the people, events, and the history.
    c. This source is a great place to start your research.
  2. Daniel Heidt, “Ontario: The Centre of Confederation,” in Reconsidering Confederation: Canada’s Founding Debates, 1864-1999 (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2018), Chapter 3, pages 53-73.
    a. This source provides on overview of the arguments, for and against, from the perspective of Ontario and Quebec.
    b. Available in the KPU library (you have to download a chapter)
    c. You may also wish to read chapters 4 and 5.
  3. Jean Charles Bonenfant, The French Canadians and the Birth of Confederation, The Canadian Historical Association Booklet No. 21, Ottawa, 1996.
    a. See:
    b. This booklet provides a good overview of the Confederation debates from the French-Canadian (Quebec) point of view
  4. Phillip A. Buckner, “The 1860s: An End and a Beginning,” in The Atlantic Region to Confederation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995) Chapter 16, pages 360-86.
    a. This book chapter provides a nice overview of confederation from an Atlantic Canadian point of view. It presents great arguments on both sides of the issue.
  5. J.K. Hiller, “The Debate: Confederation Rejected, 1864-1869,”
    a. See:
    b. This is the view of Confederation from the colony of Newfoundland.
    c. Keep in mind that Newfoundland did not join Canada until 1949.
    d. For more on Newfoundland and Confederation see:
  6. J. Murray Beck, Joseph Howe Anti-Confederate, The Canadian Historical Association Booklet No. 17, Ottawa, 1968.
    a. See:
    b. This booklet provides some compelling reasons for Nova Scotia to not join confederation. Joseph Howe was a political leader and later premier of Nova Scotia.
  7. P.B. Waite and Ged Martin, eds., Confederation Debates in the Province of Canada, 1865 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006)
    a. This is a primary source, a record of the actual confederation debates in 1865. It is hard to read and understand but provides excellent insight into the arguments. I will be impressed if you use this source.
    b. I recommend going to the “Legislative Assembly” section and looking at the speeches by the following people: George Etienne Cartier, George Brown, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Antoine Aimé Dorion and John A. Macdonald.
    c. Available in the KPU library
  8. J.M.S. Careless, Brown of the Globe: Statesman of Confederation, 1860-1880, volume 2 (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1989), Chapter 4 “Initiator of Union”
    a. George Brown was one of the key figures in the push for Confederation. This chapter explains some of his reasons and motivations for Confederation, from an Ontario point of view.
    b. Available in the KPU Library
  9. Donald Peters, “1867 and After”
    a. This is short film from 1950 created by the National Film Board of Canada
    b. Available through the KPU Library

Sample Solution

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