Canadian Confederation

1885 photo of Robert Harris' 1884 painting, Conference at Quebec in 1864, to settle the basics of a union of the British North American Provinces, also known as The Fathers of Confederation. The original painting was destroyed in the 1916 Parliament Buildings Centre Block fire. The scene is an amalgamation of the Charlottetown and Quebec City conference sites and attendees.

Canadian Confederation (French: Confédération canadienne) was the process by which the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.[1][2] Upon confederation, the old province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec; along with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the new federation thus comprised four provinces.[3] Over the years since Confederation, Canada has seen numerous territorial changes and expansions, resulting in the current union of ten provinces and three territories.[4]

Terminology

Canada is a federation[5] and not a confederate association of sovereign states, which "confederation" means in contemporary political theory. It is nevertheless often considered to be among the world's more decentralized federations.[6] The use of the term Confederation arose in the Province of Canada to refer to proposals beginning in the 1850s to federate all of the British North American colonies, as opposed to only Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec). To contemporaries of Confederation the con- prefix indicated a strengthening of the centrist principle compared to the American federation.[7]

In this Canadian context, confederation generally describes the political process that united the colonies in the 1860s, related events and the subsequent incorporation of other colonies and territories.[8] The term is now often used to describe Canada in an abstract way, such as in "the Fathers of Confederation". Provinces and territories that became part of Canada after 1867 are also said to have joined, or entered into, confederation (but not the Confederation).[9] The term is also used to divide Canadian history into pre-Confederation (i.e. pre-1867) and post-Confederation (i.e. post-1867) periods.[10]