Join the Ongoing Debate!

Canada continues to evolve with each passing day, but many of the issues we face resemble or were impacted by past struggles. Before each province and territory became a part of Canada, their local legislatures (and the House of Commons after 1867) debated the extent, purposes, and principles of political union between 1865 and 1949. From 1871 to 1921, Indigenous Peoples and Crown officials also negotiated Numbered Treaties that committed both parties to lasting relationships. The Confederation Debates brings all of these debates together for the first time, and makes them accessible to present and future generations of all ages through a website permanently hosted by the University of Victoria where users can search the texts, ebooks, and "quotes of the day" in both official languages, as well as download grade 7/8 and high school lesson plans that cater to each provinces’ history and curriculum.

You can contribute to the ongoing debates by transcribing documents for present and future Canadians, and by sharing what you learn on social media.

Step 1: Watch our How-To Video

Learn How to Help in Minutes

Anyone can help preserve Canada's founding records. We've run all of the documents through software to turn them into searchable text. Canadians from across the country are working together to correct errors in these scans. Joining the team is easy. To begin, watch our short how-to video.

Step 2: Pick a Debate that Interests You

Debate Volumes

Between 1865 and 1949, Canada's Confederation debates took place in local legislatures, in the House of Commons, and during Treaty negotiations with Indigenous Peoples. Browse the volumes below and find a record that interests you.

British Columbia - Legislative Council

When considering the negotiated terms of union in 1870, British Columbia's Legislative Assembly weighed the merits of joining Confederation and securing a rail link to the rest of Canada against pursuing closer ties with the US. For many, the best choice was far from obvious.

British Columbia - House of Commons Debates

British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871. The deal, including a transcontinental railway, was not popular with all Canadians. Read the debates to find out whether politicians from your area supported the terms of union.

Treaty 8

Click here to read the text of Treaty 8, negotiated in 1899.

North-West Legislative Assembly

The North-West secured responsible local government in 1897. During the years that followed, its Legislative Assembly, located in Regina, repeatedly demanded provincial status for the region. These debates are some of the most vehement in our collection.

Alberta and Saskatchewan - House of Commons Debates 1/3

The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were both created in 1905. The debate in the House of Commons concerning their creation was one of the longest and most heated in the history of the Confederation Debates. First Half.

Alberta and Saskatchewan - House of Commons Debates 2/3

The second half of the House of Commons' debates concerning Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Alberta and Saskatchewan - House of Commons Debates 3/3

This volume contains the House of Commons Debates from 1869 to 1903, which provided the context for the heated 1905 debates.

Treaty 7

Click here to read the text of Treaty 7, negotiated in 1877.

Erasmus - Buffalo Days and Nights

Peter Erasmus was a Métis translator who spoke over six different languages. Hired by Cree Chiefs Mistawasis and Ahtahkakoop as an interpreter for the Treaty 6 negotiations at Fort Carlton. Erasmus was one of the most capable translators present, and his account remains a critical record of the proceedings.

Morris - The Treaties of Canada

Learn about the negotiation of the Numbered Treaties on the Canadian Prairies in the years that immediately followed Confederation by transcribing pages from Alexander Morris' first-hand account.

Treaty 10

Click here to read the text of Treaty 10, negotiated in 1906.

Treaty 6

Click here to read the text of Treaty 6, negotiated between 1876 and 1878.

Treaties 1 and 2

Click here to read the text of Treaties 1 and 2, negotiated in 1871.

Treaty 4

Click here to read the text of Treaty 4, negotiated in 1874.

Treaty 5

Click here to read the text of Treaty 5, negotiated in 1875.

Manitoba - The Convention of Forty

The Council of 40 convened during the Red River Resistance to consider the future of Manitoba. These debates were originally compiled by Norma Hall and are provided to this project by the Province of Manitoba.

Manitoba - Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia

Between March and June 1870, Manitoba was governed by the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia. It debated many things, including whether Manitoba should enter Confederation as a province. The text full text was compiled by Norma Jean Hall and can be read at https://www.gov.mb.ca/ana/major-initiatives/pubs/laa%20debates.pdf.

Manitoba - House of Commons Debates

Canada's House of Commons debated the Red River Resistance and the creation of Manitoba between 1869 and 1870.

Treaty 3

Click here to read the text of Treaty 3, negotiated in 1873.

Treaty 9

Click here to read the text of Treaty 9, negotiated from 1905 to 1906 and 1929 to 1930.

Les débats français Québec-Ontario

En 1865, le Québec et l’Ontario (le Canada-Est et le Canada-Ouest) sont regroupés au sein d’une seule colonie dotée d’une Assemblée législative. Les débats parlementaires présentent des arguments favorables et critiques du projet de Confédération. Ceci est l'édition française des débats. L'édition anglaise est aussi disponible.

Ontario-Quebec English Debates

Ontario and Quebec (or as they were then known, Canada-West and Canada-East) shared common legislatures in 1865. Their debate of the terms of union provides some of the most compelling defences and critiques of the terms of union. This is the English edition of the debate. The French debate is posted separately.

New Brunswick Debates

The only province to reject Confederation in an election, New Brunswick's debates between 1865 and 1867 are among the most exciting!

Nova Scotia Debates

After the fall of Leonard Tilley's pro-Confederation government in New Brunswick in March 1865, Charles Tupper and his government treaded carefully. Transcribe these documents to learn how Tupper and his supporters kept the anti-Confederates from gaining the upper hand.

Prince Edward Island - Legislative Assembly Debates

Most of Prince Edward Island's politicians were unsatisfied by the 1865 terms of union, so they initially rejected Confederation and held out for better terms. Read these debates to learn about the Island's demands, as well as whether its politicians succeed in getting what they wanted.

Prince Edward Island - House of Commons

Several years passed before Prince Edward Island joined Confederation. Read these debates to learn what the rest of the country thought about the small island's demands.

Newfoundland - Legislative Assembly Debates

Newfoundland was one of the provinces that rejected Confederation during the 1860s. Over the years, its legislature debated the controversial question several times.

Newfoundland National Convention Pt 1

Newfoundland suffered immense hardship during the 1930s, and was subsequently governed by a commission of government supported by the British parliament. After the Second World War, it was time for Newfoundland to determine its political future. The National Convention, which sat from 1946 to 1948, investigated virtually every aspect of Newfoundland's situation, and debate whether to join Confederation. These records were edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington.

Newfoundland National Convention Pt 2

The second half of the National Convention's debates concerning Newfoundland's future. These records were edited by J.K. Hiller and M.F. Harrington.

Newfoundland - House of Commons Debates

Newfoundland participated in the 1865 negotiations, but did not join Confederation until 1949. The House of Commons' debates on Newfoundland's entry provide interesting insights into how the rest of Canada's views on the Atlantic Dominion shifted over time.

Yukon Territory

The federal government created the Yukon Territory in 1898. Before this period, the region had been part of the Northwest Territory and, therefore, did not debate its separation. These documents track the creation of the Yukon and its eventual achievement of responsible government.

Treaty 11

Click here to read the text of Treaty 11, negotiated between 1921 and 1922.

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In response to curiosity about Confederation during this sesquicentennial year, historians Patrice Dutil, Daniel Heidt, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Marcel Martel, Robert Wardhaugh, and political scientist Jacqueline Krikorian convened at the University of Waterloo for a public panel to review Canada’s expansion, strengths, and faults during the past 150 years.

Get your free copy of the e-booklet here