Analysing Articles

Examining Opposing Viewpoints

Interpreting Folk Songs in History

Interpreting Cartoons

Responding Personally to Historical Information

Preparing to Conduct an Interview

Listening with Discrimination

Generalizing from Historical Data

Analysing Cause and Effect

Examining Opposing Viewpoints

To gain insight into an historical event, it is useful to examine the views of people who lived at the time. These views will represent a wide range of opinions, from the extreme to the middle ground. By examining a range of arguments, you may gain a clearer understanding of how important the event was and how strongly people felt about it.

To gain an understanding and appreciation for the importance of the confederation process, you will read nine short letters to the editor published in 1948 in several St. John's newspapers:

"Have Faith", The Daily News, May 29, 1948.
"A Patriotic Appeal," The Daily News, July 22, 1948.
"Wants Appeal Made", The Daily News, July 27, 1948.
"Calling All Patriots", The Daily News, August 2, 1948.
"What Are We Thinking Of?", The Daily News, August 5, 1948.
"According to Conviction", Evening Telegram, May 31, 1948.
"Honest Beliefs", Evening Telegram, July 20, 1948.
"War Vet", The Independent, July 15, 1948.
"Canadian Taxes", The Daily News, May 25, 1948.

Then you will apply tests which are used to assess the objectivity of the letters.

Distinguishing fact from opinion
Factual statements are those that appear to be true, or can be demonstrated to be true. Opinion statements are merely what one thinks about something.
Identifying stereotypes
Such statements are oversimplified, exaggerated sometimes insulting. They are often directed at particular races and religions.
Recognizing ethnocentrism
Ethnocentric statements assume that a given race, culture, or group is superior to others.


  1. Divide the letters into two groups:
    • those in favour of confederation
    • those not in favour of confedertaion
  2. a) What arguments most commonly appear in the pro-confederation letters?
    b) What arguments most commonly appear in the anti-confederate letters?
  3. Give an example of each of the following:
    • a factual statement
    • an opinion statement
    • a statement containing a stereotype
    • a statement containing an ethnocentric view
  4. Of the nine letters, which one do you think is the least convincing? Defend your selection.

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