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Reasons for Confederation

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PDSB, Mississauga, Ontario

Reasons for Confederation
Information to Students:
During the early 1860s, politicians and citizens of British North America recognized six
reasons for Confederation.
1. Political Deadlock
Canada West and Canada East had an equal number of representatives in the Legislative Assembly. Each group took opposite sides in discussions, leading to political deadlocks. Few changes could be made due to the bitter conflicts between the two groups.

2. American Expansion
The people of British North America were worried about an American invasion. They felt that if they united, they would have a better chance of defending themselves and keeping their land.

3. A railway from east to west was needed.
Each colony had its own railway system at this time, however, they were all in financial difficulty and unable to expand. To add to the problems, the St. Lawrence River froze in the winter, halting transportation and the Gaspé mountains made it almost impossible to get goods to the Atlantic colonies.

4. Great Britain wanted to break some ties.
Great Britain was beginning to wonder if New France was of any use to them. Only some politicians saw the raw materials and a market for manufactured goods to be of use to Great Britain. Others saw it as a place to move to if war erupted. Great Britain encouraged Confederation in order to make the Canada's more self-sufficient, but still loyal to Britain.

5. Cancellation of the Reciprocity Treaty
Between 1854 and 1865, there was a freetrade agreement between the British North American colonies and the United States. Very low tariffs (taxes) were added to agricultural products and raw materials when they were sold across the border. In 1865, the United States ended this free trade so the colonies
thought that by joining together they would increase their prosperity and increase free trade amongst themselves.

6. Expansion to the West
Canada West and Canada East began looking for more available arable land and land for settlement. Present-day Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta were still available. The two Canadas needed to expand but were required to act quickly as the threat of American expansion into these western lands was a pressing possibility.
Student Activity
Write a journal entry demonstrating your understanding of the reasons for tension between Canada East and Canada West. Take on the role of someone living in a particular region and through your journal entry explain why you are opposed to or in favour of Confederation.
The Fathers of Confederation at the London Conference
Painting of the Fathers of Confederation at the London Conference
This painting features delegates to the London Conference, which was the last of three conferences that led to Confederation. The London Conference took place in London, England, in December of 1866 at the Westminster Palace Hotel. Sixteen leaders from the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia came to London to turn the rough draft of the Québec Resolutions into the “British North America Act.”

John David Kelly

C-006799, ICON 62507

© 2007, Library and Archives Canada. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Canadian Confederation
Learning Object: Documentary Artwork
Report of Resolutions Adopted at a conference of Delegates, at Québec, October 10, 1864, as the Basis of a Proposed Confederation
This is a list of the 72 resolutions passed at the Québec Conference (by delegates from the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the Colonies of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island), held October 10-27, 1864. The report explained the laws and institutions that would govern confederation. The resolutions were the basis of the 1867 “British North America Act” that created Canada. The decision to build an intercolonial railway was also made at the Québec Conference. MG24-B96, R2707-0-5-E, MAINS23081, MIKAN 104498
© 2007, Library and Archives Canada. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Canadian Confederation
Learning Object: Documents
Shaping Canada: Our Voices and Stories
Canada was shaped by the interaction of peoples from many backgrounds: starting from the First Peoples, through many generations of new arrivals, to present day immigrants and refugees.
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Learning Object Collection: Shaping Canada: Our Voices and Stories
© 2007, Library and Archives Canada. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: Canadian Confederation
Learning Object: Canadian Confederation

Learning Objectives

Common to many eras in history is the need to relocate and establish new communities. Students
investigate the reasons for change and for developing ties with other social groups. By considering their own experiences, students link contemporary issues with historical fact to gain a deeper insight and respect for the diversity of Canada's heritage. Students elaborate on the reasons why many people believed that Confederation would be a benefit for the people of Canada West and Canada East.