Book cover image for: Reconsidering Confederation: Canada’s Founding Debates, 1864-1999

Reconsidering Confederation: Canada's Founding Debates, 1864-1999

Edited by Daniel Heidt

$34.99 CAD / $34.99 USD

320 pages, 48 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

978-1-77385-015-3 (Paperback)

978-1-77385-017-7 (Institutional PDF)

978-1-77385-018-4 (ePub)

978-1-77385-019-1 (mobi)

November 2018

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About the Book

Canada’s leading historians explore the ongoing process of Confederation and how the Provinces, Territories, and Treaty Areas became the political frameworks—and the country—we know today.

July 1st 1867 is celebrated as Canada’s Confederation – the date that Canada became a country. But 1867 was only the beginning. As the country grew from a small dominion to a vast federation encompassing ten provinces, three territories, and hundreds of First Nations, its leaders repeatedly debated Canada’s purpose, and the benefits and drawbacks of the choice to be Canadian.

Reconsidering Confederation brings together Canada’s leading historians to explore how the provinces, territories, and Treaty areas became the political frameworks we know today. In partnership with The Confederation Debates, an ongoing crowdsourced, non-partisan, and non-profit initiative to digitize all of Canada’s founding colonial and federal records, this book breaks new ground by integrating the treaties between Indigenous peoples and the Crown into our understanding of Confederation.

Rigorously researched and eminently readable, this book traces the unique paths that each province and territory took on their journey to Confederation. It shows the roots of regional and cultural grievances, as vital and controversial in early debates as they are today. Reconsidering Confederation tells the sometimes rocky, complex, and ongoing story of how Canada has become Canada.

Reconsidering Confederation is part of The Confederation Debates. Discover what arguments were made about confederation by leaders in your area, find free mini-units and lesson plans for teaching confederation to Grades 7/8 and high school classes, see daily confederation quotes, and more

About the Editor

Daniel Heidt is an independent scholar whose numerous publications focus on Ontario and Canadian political history, as well as the Arctic during the Cold War. He is the founder and manager of The Confederation Debates.

With Contributions By: Raymond B. Blake, Phillip Buckner, Colin Coates, Ken S. Coates, Barry Ferguson, Maxime Gohier, Daniel Heidt,P. Whitney Lackenbauer, André Légaré, Marcel Martel, J.R. Miller, Martin Pâquet, Patricia Roy,  Robert Wardhaugh, and Bill Waiser

Praise for Reconsidering Confederation

A significant contribution to a well-studied field. I wholeheartedly recommend it to readers both expert and general.

—Jatinder Mann, British Journal of Canadian Studies

An impressive reconceptualization of Canadian constitutional history, the work of both established and new scholars, here packaged in a particularly accessible way for anyone who teaches such things.

—E.A. Heaman, Historie sociale/Social History

Much more than a basic outline of regional differences during the process of Confederation, this collection reconceptualizes Confederation as an ongoing political treaty between three founding peoples—English, French, and Indigenous—which continues to unfold today . . . Reconsidering Confederation fills a genuine need for self-reflection concerning long standing preconceptions the permeate both the scholarly and the popular mythology of the Canadian Union.

—Alex Gagne, BC Studies

By emphasizing the debates over Confederation themselves—what was at stake? Why were different positions held? Who was opposed to Confederation and why? Were there common sides to the debate over Confederation across Canada and over time?—this collection encourages readers to engage with the arguments themselves.

—P.E. Bryden, Professor, Department of History, University of Victoria 

This book signals a turning point in generalist histories about Canada’s ongoing confederation. 

—John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, University of Victoria. 

This collection brings to the fore the dialogues and debates that shaped the modern state and the compromise between local autonomy and central governance that continues to animate it. 

—Robert Hamilton, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Calgary

Table of Contents


Introduction: Reconsidering Confederation
Daniel Heidt

Compact, Contract, Covenant: The Evolution of First Nations Treaty-Making
J.R. Miller

Ontario: The Centre of Confederation?
Daniel Hedit

Quebec and Confederation: Gains and Compromise
Marcel Martel, Colin M. Coates, Martin Paquet, and Maxime Gohier

The Maritimes and the Debate over Confederation
Phillip Buckner

Resisting Canada’s Will: Manitoba’s Entry into Confederation
Robert Wardhaugh and Barry Ferguson

"The interests of Confederation demanded it": British Columbia and Confederation
Patricia E. Roy

"It is better to have half than none at all": The Yukon and Confederation
P. Whitney Lackenbauer and Ken S. Coates

Creating New Provinces: Saskatchewan and Alberta
Raymond B. Blake

" A More Accurate Face on Canada to the World": The Creation of Nunavut
P. Whitney Lackenbauer and Andrew Legare

Confederation Quotes: Sources and Further Reading