School programs

Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site

Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site is the perfect place in Montreal to learn about the birth of modern Canada. Custom-made activities for school groups demystify the workings of the Confederation orchestrated by the 19th century bourgeoisie. In a stimulating learning environment, the programs materializes the Social universe content from the Québec education program (Programme de formation de l’école Québécoise).

FREE online workshops for teachers and facilitators (Social Universe)

Parks Canada is pleased to partner with École en Réseau to present free online workshops all year long. This year, the workshops are:

  • October 27: Fort Chambly Investigation in the days of New France
  • December 20: Victorian Christmas
  • February 9: Building a Nation - Canada Past and Present
  • April 20: On board, voyageurs! The Fur Trade and the Voyageur's Way of Life
  • May 10: The Battle that saved Montreal (War of 1812)

For the complete program and to register, visit École en réseau web site.

The day before each presentation, those who have signed up will receive an email with a link to join the workshop.

All presentations will be recorded and can be viewed after the original presentation date using a link provided to those that registered for the presentation. Registration for 2023 workshops will be open in December 2022.

* Please note that English workshops are listed after the French version.

Programs and Target Groups

Elementary - 3rd cycle

1. Dream into action! *New
Students work together to decode the criteria required to become a politician in the 19th century.
Students work together to decode the criteria required to become a politician in the 19th century.

Sir George-Étienne Cartier is an actor of change and a reformist politician who is key to Canada’s history. His legacies, which include Confederation, are perfect opportunities to link historical events from the 19th century to today’s Canada. In the Cartier’s home, students explore a country under construction and a bourgeois house. They experience the Canadian political system and the notion of civic involvement through interactive games, discussions and reflections..

  • Public:Grades 5 and 6 (10 to 12 years old).
  • Maximum capacity: two classes.
  • Visit length: 120 minutes.
  • Dates: April to June / Sept. to Dec. Reservation required.
  • Fares.
    Payment by credit card, debit, billing, cheque, cash.

Types of experiences for the visitors

  • The program consists of two 50-minute participatory activities.
  • A Bourgeois Home (Grades 5 and 6). Students visit a magnificent Victorian home and act according to the rules of bourgeoisie etiquette. Values that prevail in the home and in society are discussed (exclusion, privacy, appearances, civility).
  • State of Play (Grade 5).Students play interactive games that bring them behind the scenes of Confederation (ex.: demography, selection of leaders, strategies, federalism).
  • Imagine a Country (Grade 6).An activity on levels of government helps student understand how the country is organized. With their classmates, students reflect upon ways to improve their school or neighborhood using their personal strengths and interests.
  • In-class preparatory and follow-up activities available online.
  • The program consists of two 50-minute participatory activities.
  • Complementary activity: “Montreal by Cartier” (60 minutes). Self-guided walking tour featuring places frequented by the Cartier family.

Additional information

  • Teachers must choose between State of Play et Imagine a Country.
  • If you wish to do the self-guided tour, the maps will be emailed to you along with the confirmation form.
  • Dream into Action! introduces or reviews academic content of the Programme de formation de l’école québécoiserelated to Canadian society in 1820-1905.
  • This program is part of the Jeune public directory of Une école montréalaise pour tous (French only).
2. A Victorian Christmas
A Parks Canada guide surrounded by students
A Parks Canada Guide talking to a group of students at the Victorian Christmas activity

Learn about the history of Christmas traditions and symbols with an extraordinary visit to the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site!

The rooms are beautifully decorated, the candles are lit and the table is set. Enter the magical world of Christmas in the home of a prosperous 19th century family and withness the final festive preparations!

  • Public: Grades 5 and 6 (10 to 12 years old).
  • Maximum capacity: two classes.
  • Visit length: 90 minutes.
  • Dates: Mid-November to end of December. Reservation required.
  • Fares.
    Payment by credit card, debit, billing, cheque, cash.

Types of experiences for the visitors

  • Discover the elegant Victorian residence of a great Canadian politician, Sir George-Étienne Cartier.
  • Learn more about Christmas’ origins and traditions that have been popular since the 19th century.
  • Let us tell you all about the customs of Réveillon, gift-giving and decorating.
  • Share your own family customs with us.
  • Explore the meaning and understand the reasons behind this holiday, which transcends cultures and is celebrated in many countries.

Additional information

  • The program takes place in the only 19th-century bourgeois interior public can visit in Montreal.
  • This program is part of Jeune Public Directory of Une école montréalaise pour tous (French only).

Secondary - 2nd cycle

3. Building a Country (coming soon)

A program for secondary school students is being developed!
Contact us to obtain more information.

French-language Learning Groups

See Group activities.

General Information

Reservations and information

Financial support

Experiences offered by Parks Canada are part of the culture and education resource directory. Financial support from the Government of Québec could be provided. For further information, please refer to the ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur Website or contact your school administration.

The programs for elementary school students, Dream into Action! and A Victorian Christmas, are part of the Jeune public directory of Une école montréalaise pour tous. Further information is available on the website of Une école montréalaise pour tous.

Prepare your students in class

Video State of Play

A short animation video introduces George-Étienne Cartier and reviews the main historic milestones leading to Confederation.
Public : For all.
Duration : 15 minutes.

Download the animation tool

Watch or download the video

State of Play


Parks Canada logo

[Narrator] Welcome to George-Étienne Cartier's home. You are currently standing in the house he acquired in 1848. That same year, he was elected for the first time to the United Province of Canada Legislative Assembly. Who was Cartier? What was the United Province of Canada? To answer these questions, let's go back to the dawn of Canadian history. Arriving by Beringia, the original inhabitants of the continent had been there since time immemorial. In 1534, the Frenchman Jacques Cartier landed in Gaspé. He planted a cross and claimed the territory of New France in the name of his king.

[Jacques Cartier is standing in front of three Indigenous people.Four questions are written: During which century did he live? Where was he from? What was his trade? Was he related to George-Étienne Cartier?]

In 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City Little by little, colonists settled in New France along the St. Lawrence valley. The monarchist system was established in the colony. The King of France, the supreme authority, appointed a governor to direct the Colony and represent him in front of his subjects.

[Settlers are raising New France flags over their houses. Three questions are written: What is the definition of a colony? Which country governs New France? Can settlers vote?]

In 1759, while New France had 70 000 inhabitants, the British army conquered Quebec City. In 1760, they took hold of Montreal. France ceded the territory and the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763.

[Settlers are replacing New France flags by British flags. Two questions are written: Which country rules the colony? Can settlers now vote?]

Despite themselves, the French subjects became British subjects while the Indigenous peoples were ignored in the agreement. The Canadian colony was then named the Province of Quebec Over time, a few British colonists settled in the colony. Soon after, the United States became a republic which was henceforth independent of the British empire. Loyalists, who were attached to the Crown, fled and settled in the Province of Quebec. In 1791, in order to satisfy the growing British population who desired a political voice, the British government split the Province of Quebec into two parts: Upper and Lower Canada.

[A map of Upper and Lower Canada is shown. Three questions are written: Today, which provinces correspond to Upper and to Lower Canada? What are the main spoken langages in these provinces? What is the name of the place where laws are discussed, negociated and passed?]

The first parliamentary institutions in the country, which excluded women and Indigenous peoples, were emerging at this time. In both provinces, certain subjects voted to elect members of the House of Assembly. The elected members were responsible for looking after the interests of their constituents in front of the governor who was chosen by Great Britain. Therefore, real power remained in the hands of the governor and his entourage, who decided upon the laws and managed the budget.

[The governor is sitting at a table with his entourage. Two question are written: Is the Governor elected by the population? Do you think this system is fair?]

Dissatisfaction ensued. The people were critical of the governor's favouritism towards the Anglophone minority. The members of the Lower Canada House of Assembly tried to convince the British government to transfer some of the governor's power to the houses of assembly elected by the people. They proposed 92 resolutions to make Canadian political institutions more democratic. The British Government rejected most of the petitions. Revolt was simmering. Armed insurgencies against the Crown escalated into bloody battles. Known as the Rebellion in Lower Canada, this revolt would be severely suppressed by the British army. This is when Lord Durham comes into play. This new governor was charged with producing a report on the causes that led to the rebellion. Among other things, Durham recommended the unification of Upper and Lower Canada to reduce the political and demographic weight of the french canadian population. In 1840 the Union Act formalized the forced union of the two colonies. The new United Province of Canada now had only one legislative assembly. In 1848, the British government granted more power to the Assembly by creating responsible government. From that moment on, the population who had the right to vote, elected the members of the Assembly who in turn chose their leader. This was a great step in the history of Canadian democracy. It was at this time that George-Étienne Cartier began his active political career. He was elected Member of Parliament in the County of Verchères.

[George-Étienne Cartier is standing in front of the Parliament. Two questions are written: What is the definition of a deputy? What takes place at a Parliament?

At that time, the United Province of Canada Legislative was dominated by political parties with divergent ideas and allegiances: French Canadians, Anglophones, monarchists, republicans, Catholics, Protestants. These differences led to a succession of short-lived minority governments. But in 1867, several men with divergent political ideas agreed on the foundations leading to Canadian confederation. Among them was George-Étienne Cartier. We invite you to enter his home to discover how economic issues, backstairs influences and the political manoeuvres of his era helped shape the Canada of today.

[A portrait of George-Étienne Cartier is shown. Biographical informations are written on the screen.]

[Then a picture of the Fathers of the Confederation is shown with the date 1867. Two questions are written : What happened in 1867? Can you find George-Étienne Cartier and John A. Macdonald in this picture?]

Parks Canada logo.

Copyright Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2019.

Canada wordmark.

Educational tool

Banner Dream into action!

A fun and interactive document introduces the key concepts of the visit. Students read actively and rise to different challenges.
Public: Elementary - 3rd cycle.
Duration: 30 minutes.

Download the dynamic version (Computers only)

  1. Download the file. (PDF, 8,6 Mo).
  2. Open the file with Google Chrome (free).You can also open it using Adobe Acrobat Reader DC (free).

To read the document on a phone or a tablet, please use the static version.
Download the static version (All supports)

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