Debating Confederation


Painting of Conference at Quebec by Robert Harris, 1885. Source: Library and Archives Canada, C-001855

In 1865, the legislature for the united Canadian colony debated the merits of Confederation. Following conferences in Charlottetown and Quebec City in 1864, the political leadership of some of the colonies of British North America drafted a list of resolutions outlining a new constitution that would unite the colonies into a federal union and a new nation-state. The debates in the Canadian legislature in 1865 highlighted the tensions within the colony and the political disagreements over the idea of Confederation.

In this module, you will examine selections from those debates to better understand the politics of the period and the contentious nature of Confederation. You will also read secondary analysis of the Confederation debates by environmental historian, Sean Kheraj.

Historical Documents

  1. Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North American Provinces, 3rd Session, 8th Provincial Parliament of Canada. Quebec: Hunter, Rose, 1865.


  1. Kheraj, Sean. “The Nature of Confederation” Canada Watch (Spring 2016): 24-26.
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