BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal

Grade 8


Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal

Big Idea

Contacts and conflicts between peoples stimulated significant cultural, social, political change

Essential Question

How did the Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal address collective identity and collective rights?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • exploration, expansion, and colonization
    • contact and conflict

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Assess the significance of people, places, events, or developments at particular times and places (significance)

Core Competencies

I can discuss the impact of alliances between Europeans and First Nations.

I can analyze an historic treaty and compare it to the Charter.

I can give examples of individual rights and collective rights.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
  • Explain that Champlain was a French explorer who played a major role in establishing the colony of New France in the early 1600s. Champlain and the French colonists depended on the First Nations for local knowledge and survival skills. The Europeans and First Nations also became trading partners.
  • Show 13:00-20:35 of the CBC video Canada: The Story of Us, Episode 1 “Worlds Collide”


Think Pair Share

  • How did the arrival of European newcomers impact the First Nations?
  • How did new weapons and alliances shift the balance of power between First Nations?

Part 1: Background

  • Explain that French colonists wanted to establish the colony of New France, but they faced the problem of ongoing conflict between 39 First Nations groups due to competition in the fur trade. In 1701, about 1300 people met in Montreal and took part in the negotiations. As a result, a peace treaty was signed between France and 39 First Nations to help provide peaceful relations and trade.
  • Provide each student with a copy of the handout “Viewing Guide: 1701, The Great Peace of Montreal”. Have students complete the viewing guide while they watch and discuss each section of the video.
  • Show the video clip 1701, The Great Peace of Montreal--Introduction (1:09)
  • Ask: How does armed conflict (war) impact trade and travel today? Have students consider current conflicts in the world and the impact on the people in those regions.
  • Show the video clip 1701, The Great Peace of Montreal—Part 1 (1:50)
  • Point out that the Chief of the Huron-Wendat encouraged the 30 Lakes First Nations to trust their enemy the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee). Ask: Can you think of modern examples of enemies working together to achieve something important?
  • Show the video clip 1701, The Great Peace of Montreal—Part 2 (1:30)
  • Point out that the Seneca Chief wanted peace even though his family had been killed by the allies of the French. Ask: Who is someone you know puts aside their personal feelings and considers what’s best for everyone? Is this the sign of a true leader?
  • Show the video clip 1701, The Great Peace of Montreal—Part 3 (1:21)
  • Explain that The Tree of Peace is a metaphor for how peace can grow if it is nurtured.  Like a tall tree, peace can provide protection and comfort. Ask: What other symbols of peace can you think of?


Part 2: Evidence

  • Provide students with access to the historical document The Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal. You may want to project it for the class.
  • Explain that the treaty process recognized the French and each Indigenous group as independent nations. Each representative signed the treaty with a symbol to represent their culture. This represented the collective identity of each Nation that signed the treaty.
  • Point out that the treaty accomplished a number of goals:
    • reflected peace
    • reflected each group as a collective identity
    • reflected respect for each group
    • right to access of land
    • recognize French as mediator of disputes
  • Have students work with a partner to complete the handout “Primary Source Analysis: The Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal”.



Part 3: Significance

  • Explain that the legacy of the Great Peace is the idea that an alliance is possible between the First Nations and colonial populations, and this idea of a “partnership” still exists today.
  • Point out that the Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal is the oldest example of collective rights in Canada. This treaty is significant because it establishes the principles of fairness and equity that can be seen in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  
  • Provide students with access to the Canadian Encyclopedia articles Great Peace of Montreal 1701 and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Have students work with a partner to complete the handout “Comparing the Treaty and the Canadian Charter”.


Journal: How did the Treaty of the Great Peace of Montreal promote collective identity and collective rights?


“The Great Peace of Montréal.” [n.d.] Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. Old Montréal, Québec. Canada.



“The Great Peace of Montreal.” 2001. CBC Learning. Canada: A People’s History. 



Jaenen, C. and McIntosh, A. 2019. “Great Peace of Montreal, 1701.” The Canadian Encyclopediahttps://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/peace-of-montreal-1701 

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Last Reviewed

February 01, 2023

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