Canadian Constitutional Identities

38:2 Dalhousie Law Journal, 2015, Forthcoming

47 Pages Posted: 20 May 2015 Last revised: 22 May 2015

See all articles by Eric M. Adams

Eric M. Adams

University of Alberta - Faculty of Law

Date Written: May 19, 2015


Constitutions are stories nations tell about themselves. Despite the famous declaration in the Constitution Act, 1867 that the “Provinces of Canada…Desire…a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom,” most of Canada’s constitutional history can be understood as the search for a distinctly Canadian constitutional identity. Canadians have always looked to their constitutional instruments to both reflect and produce a particular vision of the nation and its citizens. This article focuses on the search for Canada’s constitutional identity during its first century as a nation, from Confederation until the 1960s. Drawing on a varied array of sources and voices, this article argues that the powerful yearning for identity operated as a driving force in Canadian constitutional law, politics, and culture in an era before the catalytic arrival of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Keywords: Canadian constitutional law, constitutional theory, Canadian legal history

Suggested Citation

Adams, Eric M., Canadian Constitutional Identities (May 19, 2015). 38:2 Dalhousie Law Journal, 2015, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Eric M. Adams (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Faculty of Law ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H5

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