Library and Archives Canada
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Institutional links

ARCHIVED - LAC Forum on Canadian Democracy

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

LAC Collection on Politics and Government


Image of the Proclamation of the CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982, a document recognizing certain fundamental rights and freedoms as part of Canada's patriated Constitution, April 17, 1982


Image of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982, a document recognizing certain fundamental rights and freedoms as part of Canada's patriated Constitution, April 17, 1982

Library and Archives Canada preserves and provides access to the papers of a number of Confederation-era politicians who argued for or against federation, as well as a broad range of collections documenting interactions between the federal and provincial government bodies that compose Canada's federation. The following list of collections is not exhaustive, but rather is offered as a point of departure for further research.

Published and Digitized Resources about Federation

Archival Collection about Federation

Intergovernmental Relations

The following list identifies records created by government bodies concerned with mediating between federal and provincial jurisdictions. The Colonial Office fonds documents interactions between British North American colonies before and after Confederation. Similar inter-colonial correspondence can also be found in the Office of the Governor-General fonds; however, the records created and accumulated by Britain's Colonial Office are more complete.

The Federal-Provincial Relations Office sous-fonds holds documents that reflect the regular interactions between the provincial and federal governments since 1921. The Meech Lake Accord is a part of this collection.

The Royal Commission reports and Task Force on Canadian Unity fonds highlight some of the more pressing issues that have affected the Canadian federation since 1867.

Fathers of Confederation

The following list identifies the records created and accumulated by some of the "Fathers of Confederation" who particpated in the Confederation conferences between 1864 and 1867. This material may include official documents created or accumulated over the individual's career as well as private documents of a personal or political nature. The collections below are a sample of the holdings at LAC. Researchers should note that some collections may contain only a few documents relating to the process of Confederation. Where the LAC does not hold records for a particular individual, the researcher should consult the appropriate provincial archives.

Canadian Federalism

The following list outlines the records created and accumulated by individuals or organizations that have studied, argued or worked for a particular balance of political power in Canada.

Published and Digitized Resources about Federation

Published Materials

As a national catalogue, AMICUS not only shows the published materials held at Library and Archives Canada but also those located in over 1300 libraries across Canada.  AMICUS contains over 30 million records for books, magazines, newspapers, government documents, theses, sound recordings, maps, electronic texts, as well as items in braille and large print.

Using the Advanced Search option in AMICUS and selecting "Publication Type", you can limit your search to "Government publications – Federal/national" or "Government publications – State, prov., terr. etc." You can also narrow your search by language and date, as well as format. Specifying "Web documents" in the latter will limit the search to full-text electronic publications.

Here are some sample Subject Keyword searches:

  • Federal-provincial relations – Canada
  • Federal-provincial conferences – Canada
  • Intergovernmental fiscal relations – Canada
  • Intergovernmental tax relations – Canada
  • Fathers of Confederation
  • Gordon, Robertson
  • Forsey,  Eugene A.

ARCHIVED - Private Archives and Colonial Records
The Private Archives and Colonial Records database contains detailed descriptions, at the file or item levels, of textual records from fonds originating in the private sector (e.g. the Sir Wilfrid Laurier fonds) as well as pre Confederation government archival fonds. These documents are conserved at Library and Archives Canada as originals, transcriptions, photocopies or microfilm copies. Sometimes one also finds digitized reproductions of original documents. Please note that this database is no longer being updated. Try our Archives Search for up to date information.

Index to Federal Royal Commissions
This index provides bibliographic access to materials associated with more than 200 federal Royal Commissions that have taken place since Confederation. There are approximately 7000 items in the index that includes commission reports, briefs, submissions, evidence, working papers and other documents.

Web Exhibitions

ARCHIVED - Canadian Confederation
The Canadian Confederation website tells the story of how Canada came to be, from the original four provinces in 1867 to the present. Historical essays showcase documents, articles and photographs of the people, places and events that have shaped our country.

Canada's Constitutional Evolution
The constitutional documents are the focal point of this exhibition, from the Édit de création du Conseil souverain de Québec (Edict creating the Sovereign Council of Quebec) of 1663 to the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982, with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Quebec Act of 1774, the Constitutional Act of 1791, the Union Act of 1840 and the British North America Act of 1867.

ARCHIVED - Treaty 8: 1899-1999
First negotiated in late June 1899, Treaty 8 embraced an area in northwestern Canada. It was not only the largest land settlement undertaken by the Canadian government with First Nations, but also the first to recognize that the "aboriginal title" of Indians and Métis are co-existent.

Treaties, Surrenders and Agreements
This series of documents is part of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds, and consists of various treaties, surrenders and agreements. At this time, all 524 documents contained in this series have been digitized in black and white from microfilm copies, and are searchable in this database.

Educational Resources

ARCHIVED - The Canadian State: Documents and Dialogue
Drawing on the rich documentary heritage collection at Library and Archives Canada, The Canadian State is an educational resource that offers both classroom activities and primary historical materials to support a broader understanding of government and politics in Canada.

ARCHIVED - Confederation for Kids
This site was written for young people ages 9 to 13 who are learning about how Canada came to be a country.

Further Research

Federal-Provincial Conferences (Thematic Guide)
This guide consists of a history, research strategies, specific and general references to government sources, and a selected bibliography, all relating to federal-provincial conferences.

Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters & Sciences 1949-1951
The Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, often referred to as the 'Massey Commission', was established by Privy Council Order on April 8, 1949 and was chaired by the Honourable Vincent Massey, who later became the first native-born Governor General of Canada. This site incorporates the full text of the Commission's 1951 Report in English and French.