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Provinces and Territories

Key Terms

British North America Act (Constitution Act, 1867)

Following the Charlottetown Conference, the representatives of the three maritime colonies and of the Province of Canada agreed on a federation project for British North America. In October 1864, the delegates met in Québec to draw up a unification plan. Étienne-Paschal Taché, Canada's prime minister, chaired the conference. Although the 72 Resolutions of the Québec Conference were adopted by only the Province of Canada, they constituted the legislative basis for the British North America Act which in turn became the basis of the Dominion of Canada three years later.

On March 29, 1867, the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, which established the provisions of the Confederation of the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia into a federal state with a parliamentary system patterned on the British model.

The Act established the division of powers between the central Parliament and the provincial legislatures. The federal government was responsible for, among other things, banking business, criminal law, the post office, the armed forces; the provinces could legislate, among other things, property law, contracts and local work.

As part of the modernization of the Constitution in 1982, Canada adopted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the British North America Act was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867.


Canada's Constitutional Evolution, [online]. -- Library and Archives Canada. -- [Cited December 17, 2004]. -- Access :