There are turning points in the history of every country, times when a society changes directions and starts to take on a different character. In the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, possibly the most important turning point of all was in 1949. In that year, instead of continuing as a separate political unit, the "oldest colony" became a province of Canada.
This event took place after three years of intense and emotional debate. Newfoundlanders were faced with three choices: Should they continue as they were, under direct rule from Britain? Should they return to the status they had lost in 1934, that of an independent colony with responsible government? Or should they join Canada, an option they had rejected in the past? People lined up behind each of these possibilities, in the end deciding in favour of confederation with Canada.
This unit of study, The Confederation Debate: 50 Years and Counting, has been developed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site team in partnership with the Department of Education. It is designed to help you understand the important debate that preoccupied the people of Newfoundland and Labrador between 1946 and 1949, and the process that led to confederation.
What happened in those years is of direct relevance to us today. We live in a Canadian province because our grandparents voted as they did in 1948. The terms of union negotiated the same year influence how we now live and are governed. By any standards, confederation was an event of great significance, which historians are still studying and debating. This unit invites you join them.
In addition to the support from our partners, it should be noted that The Confederation Debate: 50 Years and Counting is the culmination of the work of many individuals. The Faculty of Arts at the Memorial University of Newfoundland provided the historical content which is the foundation of this unit of study. The technical team provided the design and delivery vehicle for the project. Finally, the instructional component, the lessons and teacher's materials, were developed by R. James Crewe, a former teacher and curriculum consultant, and co-author of six textbooks and related resource materials in the area of social studies.