This activity prepares students, on the one hand, to ask questions about Quebec’s place within present-day Canada and the origins of Canadian Confederation, and, on the other hand, to interpret the founding of Canadian Confederation, specifically with regard to the territorial, political and social challenges it faced.

This activity takes advantages of the resources grouped under the theme The birth and torment of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or the beginnings of the federation, namely: a video clip an introductory text on the theme five cartoons, with accompanying documentation, published between 1860 and 1870

The proposed activity may be done in class after presenting the initiation to the interpretation of editorial cartoons (see the activity for the theme Once a Politician, Always a Butt).

Teachers may prepare materials for their students on the basis of the following instructions.

Duration: three periods of 75 minutes.

I. PRESENT-DAY RELATIONS BETWEEN QUEBEC AND CANADA, IN CARTOONS

Using contemporary Read More

This activity prepares students, on the one hand, to ask questions about Quebec’s place within present-day Canada and the origins of Canadian Confederation, and, on the other hand, to interpret the founding of Canadian Confederation, specifically with regard to the territorial, political and social challenges it faced.

This activity takes advantages of the resources grouped under the theme The birth and torment of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or the beginnings of the federation, namely:

  • a video clip
  • an introductory text on the theme
  • five cartoons, with accompanying documentation, published between 1860 and 1870

The proposed activity may be done in class after presenting the initiation to the interpretation of editorial cartoons (see the activity for the theme Once a Politician, Always a Butt).

Teachers may prepare materials for their students on the basis of the following instructions.

Duration: three periods of 75 minutes.

I. PRESENT-DAY RELATIONS BETWEEN QUEBEC AND CANADA, IN CARTOONS

Using contemporary cartoons, enable students to identify representatives of various political parties at the federal and provincial level, and to outline the constitutional position of each of the parties represented in the cartoons.

  • This activity can be carried out using a variety of cartoons published between 1980 and 2000 that are accessible through the Web site of the McCord Museum. Many are accompanied by a description and presented in the folder “Introduction” (about 10 of them).1

Explain to the students that Quebec’s “constitutional position” means its place within Canadian Confederation (federalism, independence, etc.).

  • You might want to present definitions of the targeted concepts to the students.2

Ask the students to make a list of the powers exercised by the provinces and the federal government.

Ask the students to formulate questions on Quebec’s place within Canadian Confederation.

II. THE UNION OF THE FOUR BRITISH COLONIES IN NORTH AMERICA IN 1867

To provide support for the students as they ask questions and collect information, explain that Canadian Confederation came about with the union of the four British colonies in North America in 1867.

Ask the students to identify these British colonies and make a list of the reasons why they might have wanted to join together.

Ask the students to read the following text in order to confirm their identification of the four colonies and to find out why they wished to unite in a new political entity known as the Dominion of Canada.

Confederation3
By Sean Mills, under the direction of Brian Young, McGill University

British North America Act
With an act of British Parliament, the Dominion of Canada was born on 1 July 1867. It contained approximately 4 million people, living in four provinces - Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Unlike the United States to the south, the new country maintained British social and political institutions and, fearing excessive democracy, was founded on the principles of "Peace, Order and good Government." Fuelled by the hopes and dreams of its citizens, the Dominion struggled to demonstrate that a North American alternative to the United States was possible. In its early years, however, voting rights remained largely limited to male property holders, excluding all women and much of the working class. Aboriginal populations, moreover, excluded from the negotiations leading to the BNA Act, became wards of the federal government.

The BNA Act in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick

In Quebec, George-Étienne Cartier sold Confederation as a means for Quebec to achieve independent political control over culture and education. The rhetoric of provincial rights, however, was belied by the subordinate role that the BNA Act actually allotted to the provinces. Cartier and his Bleus were, contrary to how they presented Confederation, strong supporters of political centralism. While Quebecers backed Confederation reluctantly, New Brunswick unenthusiastically looked forward to the economic possibilities that the union would bring. Popular enthusiasm for the project was most deeply felt in Ontario, where both of the major political parties had supported the idea. Dreaming of railways and western expansion, Torontonians gathered at Queen's Park on 1 July to witness, as George Brown described it, "the most magnificent display of fireworks ever exhibited in Canada." From the beginning, Ontario played a dominant role in Confederation. The Kingstonian John A. Macdonald became the first prime minister, and he appointed Ontarians to five of the thirteen cabinet posts. Ottawa, moreover, was firmly established as the permanent capital.

Nova Scotia and Confederation

Nova Scotians, however, rejected both the acquiescence of Quebec and New Brunswick and the jubilation of Ontario and strongly rejected Confederation. Charles Tupper, Nova Scotia's premier, believed that Confederation would be best for Nova Scotia in the long run but, as the results of the 1867 elections in Nova Scotia clearly demonstrated, the majority of his population did not agree. After Britain refused to allow Nova Scotia out of the union, the repeal movement's Joseph Howe, in exchange for increased provincial subsidies, accepted a seat in Macdonald's cabinet.

Ask the students to share their answers.


III. IDENTIFYING THE CHALLENGES FACING THE YOUNG CANADA BY ANALYSING OLD CARTOONS

Pose the following questions:

  • What challenges must countries confront when they are created?
  • What difficulties did Canada have to overcome when it was created (during the decade 1860-1870)?

Students’ production outcomes:

  • Formulate written hypotheses (preliminary answers) to the questions on the challenges associated with the creation of a new country, as well as those faced by the young Canada at the beginning.

Present the movie clip “The birth and torment of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or the beginnings of the federation,” pointing out the following listening strategies:

  1. What major hurdles did Canada have to overcome? Possible answers
    a.  uniting in one nation people from many different worlds and traditions
    b. linking a huge and virtually unsettled land mass, and
    c. affirming Canada’s sovereignty in the face of an already powerful neighbour to the south
  2. What were some other challenges linked to Canadian Confederation? Possible answers:
    a. expanding its borders from coast to coast
    b. integrating the vast territories of northern Quebec and Ontario as well as those stretching west to the Rockies
    c. convincing British Columbia’s elite to join Confederation
    d. to link and develop the immense land over which Canada dreamt of claiming dominion
    e. provide industry with access to raw materials
    f. establish national markets where Canadian products could circulate and find buyers.
  3. What did Quebec worry would be the result? (That its influence would be reduced as the vast, majority-Anglophone country grew.)

Pool the hypotheses formulated by the students as well as the answers they came up with from watching the movie clip. Discuss these findings.

IV. INTERPRETING A CARTOON LINKED TO CANADIAN CONFEDERATION

Students’ production outcomes:

  • Document an old cartoon selected in order to summarize the student’ acquired knowledge on the challenges faced by the young country.

To enable them to do this, ask the students to look at the five cartoons on the theme The birth and torment of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or the beginnings of the federation, and to read the accompanying descriptions.

  • Ask them to identify in the five cartoons the symbolic characters representing political entities. A list of characters might be useful.
  • Ask the students to connect the five cartoons to a major theme or topic related to the creation of Canada.

Then, with the help of the chart shown below (taken from the activity Initiation to Interpreting Editorial Cartoons), ask the students to write a brief description of one of the following cartoons, accessible on the Web site of the McCord Museum:

Note the data for the cartoon:

  • Cartoon title:
  • Author:
  • Media-newspaper (if known):
  • Date of first publication and page # (if known):
  • Accession number (identifying number in the McCord Museum collection):

Describe the cartoon:

The “WHAT” or the SHAPE-FUNCTION key

  • What words are used in the cartoon?
  • Find definitions for any unusual words or expressions.
  • If there is a dialogue, what does each cartoon say?
  • What is happening?

Document the cartoon:

The “WHO” or the PEOPLE key

  • Who is depicted in the cartoon? What do we know about these people?
  • What are the characters’ physical gestures and facial expressions?
  • Are characters stereotyped?
  • Are these characters symbolic?

The “WHERE” or the PLACE key

  • In what situation are the characters placed?
  • Is the illustrator using analogy?
  • Are visual elements, signs or symbols being used?

The “WHEN” or the TIME key

  • What historical event or fact does the cartoon depict?
  • Are these people or these issues still important today

Interpret the cartoon:

The “WHY” or the MEANING key

  • In a few words, what message is this cartoon trying to send?
  • Can the point of view or values (political, religious, regional, ethnic, economic, etc.) of the cartoonist be identified?
  • What does the cartoon teach us about the historical context of the period?

1. www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/en/folders/introduction

2.  Check out the website of the Service national du RÉCIT, pour le domaine de l’univers social (www.recitus.qc.ca ) [in French only], choose the heading “Logiciel de ligne de temps”, then the “dossier 9,” entitled “Luttes et revendications dans la colonie britannique”, and consult the “guide de l’enseignant” or the “cahier de l’élève. ”

3. Check out the website Sciences Po, [in French only] of the Institut d’études politiques de Paris : www.sciences-po.fr/cartographie/fonds/milieu.html , then choose “ Amérique du Nord (niveau infra-étatique).”

4. www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/eduweb/texts/summary/1867-1896 , then choose “Political.”

5. www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/collection/artifacts/M982.530.5083  

6. www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/collection/artifacts/M993X.5.782  


© 2007, McCord Museum of Canadian History. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

This activity on the learning object The birth and torment of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck, or the beginnings of the federation ties into the Québec Education Program History and Citizenship Education in Secondary 3 (1st year of Cycle Two). It aims to enable students to ask questions about the founding of Canadian Confederation and to interpret the territorial, political and social challenges faced by the new country. The activity is based largely on old cartoons, created between 1860 and 1870.

The educational aim is “to enable students to exercise critical, ethical and aesthetic judgment with respect to the media,” and in particular to enhance their “awareness of the place and influence of the different media in his/her daily life and in society,” as well as their “understanding of media representations of reality.”

The targeted pedagogical outcomes are:

  • Competency 1: Examines social phenomena from a historical perspective.
  • Competency 2 : Interprets social phenomena using the historical method.
  • Methodology: Interpretation of an iconographic document.
  • Social Phenomena: Formation of the Canadian federation.
  • Concept: Confederation.
  • Historical Knowledge: Political organization, relations with Great-Britain.
  • Cross-curricula competency 1: Uses information.
  • Cross-curricula competency 6: Uses information and communication technologies.

From:

Québec, ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport [MÉLS]. History and Citizenship Education, Quebec Education Program, Secondary Cycle Two, Validation Document, 2005.


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