For Alexander Galt it was the middle of the road, until he saw some hope for his dream of a united Canada. What was he like, this stubborn idealist? How did he measure up to other political strongmen of his time? In this film you sense the personal clashes and the interplay of political ambitions that left their mark on history.
This short drama is a portrait of Nova Scotian journalist and politician Joseph Howe (1804-1873) and his battle for freedom of press. When, in 1835, Howe was accused of seditious libel, no lawyer dared defend him. Choosing to defend himself, he addressed the jury for over 6 hours, urging jurors to leave an unshackled press as a legacy to their children. Though the judge instructed the jury to find Howe guilty, jurors took only 10 minutes to acquit him - a landmark event in the evolution of press freedom in Canada.
This short film tells the story of Lord Elgin, a man’s whose faith in a nation’s right to self-determination was stronger than the threat of the mob or his own fear of failure. Successor to Lord Durham, he established the principles on which Canadian government stands today.
This short fiction film tells the story of John A. MacDonald’s rise to power. Canada’s first Prime Minister and one of the Fathers of the Confederation, MacDonald didn’t enjoy an easy political career. When he first shared his vision of a Dominion reaching from sea to sea – an audacious proposal regarded as uncertain even by his supporters – his opponents derided him. “The fox is out of tricks," they taunted. "Bankrupt of ideas, he offers us clouds." This film offers us a memorable flashback
This documentary short is a portrait of Scottish-born journalist, politician, and rebellion leader William Lyon McKenzie. The first mayor of Toronto, he was an important leader during the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion. This film portrays his election, his later defeat, his exile, and his fight for responsible government.
This short historical reenactment is a portrait of Canadian Father of Confederation Charles Tupper. The film harks back to a time when the idea of a federal union was still hotly debated, when it was unclear whether Nova Scotia would come in or remain out. It studies a bigger-than-life politician who won over both his bitterest opponent, Joseph Howe, and the people of this Maritime province, to finally lead Nova Scotia into the Canadian Confederation in 1867.
This film is a reconstruction of Robert Baldwin’s involvement in the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. Though bound to the cause of constitutional reform by principle, Baldwin’s heart was with the rebels and in the midst of armed revolt, he withdrew to fight a lonely battle with himself.
This short biopic profiles Montreal lawyer-turned-politician George-Étienne Cartier as he campaigns to unite English and French Canada under Confederation. The political world of a century ago comes to life as we hear debates in the Parliament of Upper and Lower Canada amidst political strife and personal feuds. Ultimately, Cartier skilfully allays the fears of party and sectional leaders, convincing them that federal union would protect, rather than weaken, Quebec’s cherished rights of language and religion. The eloquent and enigmatic Cartier was instrumental in shaping the Canada that was soon to emerge.
This short drama is a portrait of colonial administrator, Governor General and statesman Lord Durham (1792-1840). When Durham recommended self-government in Canada, he closed the door on his own political success. But in the end, the policies he declared for Canada became the pattern for self-rule in the rest of the Commonwealth.
This film tells the story of the Red River settlement, now the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The pioneer venture of Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, to establish a colony brought opposition from the North West Company, the Hudson's Bay Company’s powerful rival. A fine cast of actors portrays the ensuing dispute.
This short film offers a glimpse into the life of Louis Hippolyte Lafontaine, the Chief Justice who died prematurely but left French Canada a legacy of political freedom. Shot entirely in Montreal, the film begins on the day of his death, and flashes back to tense moments throughout his life. French with English subtitles.
Ages 13 to 16
Study Guide - Guide 1
Civics/Citizenship - Federal/Provincial Government
History - Canadian Confederation
History and Citizenship Education - Canadian Federation (1850-1929)
Social Studies - Canadian Politics and Government
This film provides an excellent introduction to Canadian politics. Through this short historical re-enactment, students will gain insight into the background of Confederation and its main protagonists. After the film, students can be asked to do research on those key figures. It can also be interesting to highlight the differences between debates in the House of Commons back then and today.