Why and how was the Dominion of Canada
established as a confederation of British Colonies
Legacy of the Durham
In 1841 Canada had achieved equal representation
of Canada East and Canada West in parliament, by
the Act of Union.
But equal representation led to political deadlock, in
which government decisions could not be made
because neither group would agree with the other on
Although the Governor General still relayed many
political decisions from Britain, by 1847 Britain was
ready to give up much of the responsibility of
Test of Responsible
Lord Elgin (the GG and Lord Durham‟s son-in-law) was
given “the task of putting responsible government into
operation” in Canada.
In 1849, Canada faced its first real challenge in having its
wish granted for responsible government - something that
the rebels had fought for in the short lived Rebellions of
The Rebellion Losses Bill was passed by Canada‟s elected
officials in 1849, granting financial compensation to
anyone (including the rebels) who had lost property during
the Rebellions. This was well received in Canada
West, but in Canada East, many English speakers saw this
as the French being rewarded for the treason during the
Reaction to Responsible
Lord Elgin personally disagreed with the Bill, but
as it had been passed by Canada‟s elected
officials, he had no choice but to sign the bill into
law. Britain no longer had the right to veto a
bill, having given Canada responsibility for much
of their government.
In 1849, Parliament in Canada was in
Montreal, having moved from Kingston Ontario in
Upon the passing of the Rebellion Losses
Bill., an angry mob gathered at the Parliament
buildings, setting the building on fire.
The Burning of Parliament - Describe the scene in
this picture in 3 -4 sentences. Include as much
detail as possible.
Why was Montreal‟s English business class so opposed to the Rebellion
What is the golden mace?
Describe some of the things lost in the fire of Montreal‟s Parliament Buildings.
Why had parliament moved to Montreal?
Who was Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine? What common cause did he share with
Why did Lord Elgin sign the Bill, knowing that so many people were against it?
What didn‟t Lord Elgin call in the army to put down the rioters when his home
Solving Political Deadlock
The problems with “political deadlock” continued
with responsible government, and led the strong
support for „rep by pop‟ (that rallying cry of
George Brown, editor of the Globe).
Two other influential leaders of the time Etienne
Cartier and John A MacDonald did not support
rep by pop, rather they wanted to support
national unity, in which the French and English
worked together to become a stronger nation
Geographic & Economic Challenges
Some Canadians started to think in terms of a
continental rather than a colonial trade system,
especially after Britain had repealed the Corn
Laws, plunging Canada into an economic
They began to believe that they should
manufacture their own products and find markets
for these products within the colonies of British
Aside from the vast network of rivers and lake,
there was little infrastructure in place to transport
goods between British colonies in North America.
Man made waterways such as the Welland
Canal, the Rideau Canal, and the Lachine Canal
had greatly improved trade over short distances,
but something else was needed to connect much
longer distances between the colonies - a
Challenges from the US
The American civil war posed a threat to Canadian unity, in
that many Canadians feared that they would be under
attack as a response to Britain‟s unspoken support of the
South (Confederate States)
Manifest Destiny was a belief that the United States was
destined, by God, to control all of North America.
During the 1840s, the Americans were expanding across
the continent, leading to the annexation of Texas in
1845, even though Mexico still claimed Texas as its own.
After the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), the United
States acquired New Mexico and California for $15 million.
The United States also looked to the northwest lands of the
continent as a rich source of natural resources.
American Progress by John Gast 1872
A vision of Manifest Destiny