BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

British Columbia Joins Canada

Grade 4


British Columbia Joins Canada

Big Idea

British Columbia followed a unique path in becoming a part of Canada.

Essential Question

Was joining Canada the best decision for BC?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • economic and political factors that influenced the colonization of British Columbia and its entry into Confederation

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following

  • Differentiate between intended and unintended consequences of events, decisions, or developments, and speculate about alternative outcomes

Core Competencies

I can tell the story of how BC became part of Canada.

I can analyze the causes and consequences of BC joining Canada.

I can consider why we celebrate Canada Day.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
  • Ask, “How do we celebrate Canada Day?” (responses may include: sing ‘O Canada’, wear red and white, parade, fireworks, picnic, sports…)
  • Then ask, “Why do we celebrate Canada Day on July 1st?” (students may not be aware that we are celebrating Canada becoming a country—it’s Canada’s birthday)
  • Have students predict whether all the parts of Canada joined together at the same time.

Part 1: How did Canada become a country?

  • Provide students with access to Canadian Confederation Facts for Kids and the handout “How did Canada become a Country?”


Part 2:  Why did BC join Canada?

    • Why did Great Britain lose interest in BC after the fur trade and gold rushes ended?
    • Why was the United States interested in BC?
    • Why was Canada interested in BC?
    • Have students use words and images to show their understanding on the handout “Graphic Organizer: Why did BC join Canada?
    • Note that the First People of BC were not asked whether or not they wanted to join Canada. Joseph Trutch, BC’s first Lieutenant Governor, refused to negotiate treaties with First Nations. As a result, BC is the only province in Canada to exist on unceded land.
  • Have students work with a partner or in small groups to create an advertising campaign to convince BC to join Canada in 1871.
  • Remind them to focus on what Canada offered BC.
  • Advertisements may include posters, brochures, radio ads, or moving pictures (videos).
  • Hold a debate about whether BC should have joined the United States or Canada or remained a British colony.

Belshaw, J.D. 2016. “2.3 British Columbia and the Terms of Union,” in Chapter 2: Confederation in Conflict. Canadian History: Post-Confederation. Victoria, B.C.: BCcampus. https://opentextbc.ca/postconfederation/chapter/2-3-british-columbia-and-the-terms-of-union/


British Columbia. [n.d.] “1871 - B.C. Joins Confederation.” Legislative Assembly.




Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2001. “Entering Confederation.” British Columbia. Canada: A People’s History. 



“Canadian Confederation Facts for Kids.” 2020. Kiddle Encyclopedia.



"Confederation (Plain-Language Summary)". In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Article published January 16, 2020; Last Edited January 16, 2020. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/confederation-plain-language-summary


Dunn, William and West, Linda. Canada: A Country by Consent. Ottawa: Artistic Productions Limited. 2011. http://www.canadahistoryproject.ca/index.html                            


Mussett, B. [n.d.] “B.C. Joins Canada”. British Columbia: An Untold Story. British Columbia: Knowledge Network. https://bcanuntoldhistory.knowledge.ca/1870/bc-joins-canada


Tattrie, Jon , "British Columbia and Confederation". In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Article published December 19, 2014; Last Edited January 16, 2020. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/british-columbia-and-confederation


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Last Reviewed

February 01, 2023

Produced by JES

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