- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Mar 1926, p. 102-115
- McKinnon, John S., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The success of the British Empire Exhibition. The participation and effect of that participation, of the Princes of Wales and the Royal Family. The origins of the Exhibition. Special buildings erected by the different countries for their exhibits. A detailed description of the Exhibition grounds and buildings, and the contents of some of the buildings. The Canadian Building and what went into it. Numbers of people who attended the Exhibition. Results of the Exhibition in terms of trade. Taking pride in our Canadian National Exhibition, and what it is doing for our country and the City of Toronto. A description and brief discussion of the British Empire; of what it consists and means. Some of the factors which keep the Empire together. A table which gives a summary of the external trade of 33 important countries fore the fiscal year 1924-25, with eight British countries representing 37.5 per cent of the total 33 important countries of the world. Figures which shoe the total external trade of these countries for 1925. These tables and figures are used to made several points with regard to trade between Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Factors in the promotion of Empire trade. The question of customs tariffs as they affect Empire trade. Canada's industrial development as illustrated in the British Empire Exhibition. The issue of unemployment insurance. Ways in which the "dole" affects Canada in terms of immigration. The extraordinary interest in Canada by the people of the British Isles. The strong sentiment in the British Isles in favour of purchasing Empire products, arising from the British Empire Exhibition.
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- 18 Mar 1926
- Language of Item
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A CANADIAN'S VIEW OF THE EMPIRE AS SEEN FROM LONDON
AN ADDRESS BY MR. JOHN S. MCKINNON, DIRECTOR OF CANADIAN SECTION, BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION AT WEMBLEY, LONDON, ENGLAND.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
Thursday, March 18, 1926.
PRESIDENT KIRKPATRICK introduced the Speaker.
Mr. President, members of the Empire Club, and guests-At the British Empire Exhibition there were no better friends than the Prince of Wales and the Royal Family. Every one of them did all that was possible, and through them much of the success came to the Exhibition. The grounds were located in the suburbs of London, about as far from the centre of the city as Mimico is from Toronto's City Hall. On motoring out there for the first time I was told of two roads-the New road and the Harrow road, When I had gone about three-quarters of the way I was puzzled because of the labyrinth of roads, and I asked a policeman, who had wit and wisdom and a sense of humour, " Is the New road the Harrow Road, or is the Harrow Road a new road?" He looked at me in amazement and said, " Not exactly; the best of my recollections tells me that it was built by Julius Caesar! "
What is this marvelous Empire of which we are all so proud, scattered as it is over the four quarters of the earth? The idea came to Lord Strathcona years ago that it would be a wonderful thing if the products of the Empire could be brought together, in order to find what the Empire contained, and whether it was self-sustaining. This idea went out to the various British Countries of the world-to Australia, Canada, South Africa, Tanganyika, Sarawak and the eighty other countries forming the British Empire, asking their participation; and all over the world those governments got busy and poured into Wembley the products of their countries, proving that the British Empire was greater and mightier than any person had any previous idea of; that it was self-contained and self-supporting, and that the Empire is the greatest power in the world for good.
Special buildings were erected by the different countries for their exhibits, and when one entered the grounds by the main entrance a beautiful park was laid out before him. On the right was a colonnade leading to the Palace of Industry. To the left another leading to the Palace of Engineering, and later to the Palace of Housing and Transport, each of these buildings having been erected by the British Government, and covering over 15 acres. They were on a lake in regular formation. Next to the buildings for Migration was the Palace of Art. On one hand was the beautiful building of New Zealand and Malaya, and a little further on the building of Sarawak. I wonder if you know where Sarawak is, and what it produces? It comprises the north half of the Island of Borneo, where there is probably as much oil produced as in any part of the British Empire. At the other end of the lake is the magnificent building of India, and I never saw a finer sight than when standing in front of that Indian pavilion on a beautiful evening. One could not help but wonder at the ancient civilization of those people, which probably antedates our own, with a style of architecture that is purely their own. There were embodied in this building five characteristics regarding architectural beauty, each representing some part of that wonderful country, India. The Diwan in charge made a very favorable impression on the people, speaking excellent English, and he did much to change our ideas regarding that wonderful part of the British Empire.
Across the lake from the Palace of Engineering were the Canadian and Australian buildings. There were three of the former-the Government Building in the centre, with the Canadian National Railway on the one side and the Canadian Pacific Railway on the other, and just across the main roadway leading to the stadium was the fine building of Australia. Scattered in different parts of the grounds were Africa, the Gold Coast, Nigeria and Colombo; then on the other side East Africa, Tanganyika and the other parts of that marvelous part of the Empire; then Rhodesia, South Africa, as well as British West Indies-Jamaica, Bermuda, etc., those beautiful tropical countries.
All the countries vied with each other in a friendly way, showing what they were doing and the progress they had made. When everything was ready the King, Queen and Royal Family, in the presence of 120,000 people in the stadium, declared the Exhibition opened. I believe this was the greatest event the world has ever seen-the banding of the British Empire together. It is sometimes asked if Wembley paid. That does not seem to me a proper question, but I would say that Wembley showed a profit on operating expenses of £1,800 000. Of course that was not sufficient to cover the capital expenditure on the buildings, but we in Toronto know that we do not expect building costs at Exhibitions to be paid in one or two years. The British people recognized that this was the greatest attempt that any nation had ever made to show to itself and other peoples the potentialities and the wealth of that nation, and while it cost them a little money, as I heard Hon. J. H. Thomas say, " It is the cheapest and best money that the Empire ever spent. "
In regard to the contents of those buildings, if you went to the Australian Building you would see wool and the fruit of the ground. In the Malayan you would find that their principal exports were rubber and tin; and I believe that our American friends have learned that the British Empire does produce some rubber. If you went to the New Zealand you would see cotton and wool and different other products. Then in the Indian and those of the different parts of Africa you would find tropical fruits and many other productions. A building that was particularly interesting was that of the Gold Coast, and you will be interested to know that its Governor was an Ontario boy, born near the little village of Winona -Sir Gordon Guggisberg-whom I had the pleasure of meeting on many occasions.
In the Canadian Building we endeavored to show the wealth of this country in natural resources and manufactured products; and I am glad to say that at the opening, when the flags went up on the stadium intimating that the Exhibition was open, our Canadian building was absolutely ready at that moment. The manufacturers and also the raw materials and natural products of Canada was very well arranged, and the consensus of opinion was that the Canadian Building was the outstanding feature of the Exhibition. It was my pleasure to be with the King and Queen on one occasion when they were viewing some of the exhibits, and they were particularly interested in the fruit, which was different from the ordinary conception of a fruit exhibit. The humanness of the Sovereigns was shown when the picture of the Prince of Wales' house in Western Canada was pointed out, when the Queen, touching her husband on the shoulder, and calling him by name, said, "That is David's house in Alberta. " There was a human touch about that which seemed to appeal to those of us who were present.
There were 28,000,000 people who saw the Exhibition, and between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 children came from schools in groups of from 50 to 500. When we knew they were coming we always had someone to show them around and give the best possible impression we could of Canada. While there was no export business in those children, we could see in them the future possibilities of those who might make good citizens of this country.
The results of the whole Exhibition have been gratifying, and I will be surprised if the export trade of this country does not show very material increases during this and the coming years, largely due to the work done at the Exhibition. I would add that we should be particularly proud in this city of the Canadian National Exhibition. That Exhibition is doing as much or even more advertising for the City of Toronto and for Canada in every part of the world, as anything else that I know of.
Perhaps you will remember that the late Mr. Lloyd Harris, who was Canadian Commissioner in London during the War, stated on his return that his greatest experience there was his discovery of the British Empire. Mr. Harris had unusual opportunities during his stay in London to come in contact with people from all parts of that Empire, and my experience with the British Empire Exhibition gave me similar opportunities. Members of the Empire Club have made special studies of the Empire and various phases of its activity and are, therefore, more familiar with them than other Canadians who have, perhaps, not given so much attention to these subjects.
In this connection will you allow me to say that there is a work for this Club, and that the name "Empire Club" stands for more than the members realize. While you may discuss matters of a political nature, there are matters of trade and trade development that it is possible for you to take up, and you can do important work and accomplish tremendous good for Canada and the Empire.
The British Empire includes eighty countries, which occupy eleven and a half million square miles, or about one-quarter of the earth's surface; and it contains a population of 425 million people. The British Empire is different from all preceding Empires in that it is self-supporting. It grows and makes practically everything that its peoples need. It is unique in its constitutional structure, containing, in addition to the British Isles, India, self-governing dominions, crown colonies, protectorates, dependencies and mandated territories. All these have their own forms of government, and the whole constitutes an Empire,-one and indivisible.
Let us consider for a moment some of the factors which keep this Empire together. The first is sentiment-loyalty to the King, to the Empire and its traditions. The War demonstrated how powerful that sentiment is.
The second is precedent. The British Empire has been a long time in the making. It has no written constitution. The arrangement which holds it together is flexible and is constantly changing as conditions change. It is amazing, when we think that the people of two small islands originated this Empire and have made it what it is. The colonial expansion, which marked the beginning of the Empire, started with the formation of the Virginia Company in what is now the United States, in 1609.
The third is self-interest. During the centuries that the British Empire has been growing, the various peoples constituting it, with one notable exception, have clung to the idea that their best interests lie within the Empire rather than outside of it. They believe that the united strength of the Empire can defend its citizens against aggression. Furthermore, they believe that their economic interests are also within the Empire.
The following table, published in the Commerce Reports of the United States, gives a summary of the external trade of 33 important countries for the fiscal year 1924-5 as $48,530,636,000. Included in these 33 countries are eight of the leading British countries, namely, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, British India, Ceylon and British Malaya, the total external trade of which amounted to $18,491,254,000. In other words, the eight British countries mentioned above represent 37.5 per cent of the total 33 important countries of the world:
Country Imports Exports
Total 33 countries. $24,998,457,000 $23,532,179.00
United States . . . . . 3,824,198,000 4,864,580,000
Canada . . . . . . . . . . 807,565,000 1,088,912,000
Haiti . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18,474,000 18,492,000
Brazil . . . . , . . . . . . . 369,548,000 434,226,000
Bulgaria 47,774;000 39,503,000
Czechoslovakia 495,600,000 539,250,000
Denmark . . . . . . . . . 410,034,000 386,595,000
Esthonia . 22,222,000 25,303,000
Finland . . . . . . . . . . 118,440,000 134,606,000
France 2,045,744,000 2,188,194,000
Germany . . . . . . . . . 2,639,127,000 1,865,136,000
Hungary . . . . . . . . . 149,319,000 123,100,000
Italy 1 024,624,000 681,633,000
Latvia 52,817,000 35,987,000
Lithuania 22,507,000 25,387,000
Netherlands 952,632,000 691,851,000
Poland 349,945,000 238,831,000
Russia . . . . . . . . . . . 146,440,000 147,984,000
Sweden 384,817,000 355,590,000
Switzerland 480,316,000 401,258,000
United Kingdom 6,338,290,000 4,397,948,000
British India . . . . . . 831,528,000 1,416,016,000
British Malaya . . . . 404,677,000 462,196,000
Ceylon . . . . . . . . . . . 115,385,000 149,953,000
Chosen 121,617,000 134,387,000
Japan 998,653,000 796,641,000
Philippine Islands 117,232,000 140,072,000
Siam 62,620,000 72,853,000
Australia 683,439,000 741,639,000
New Zealand . . 237,467,000 264,969,000
Algeria 162,637,000 93,769,000
Egypt 259,833,000 327,087,000
Union of South
Africa 303,039,000 248,231,000
To illustrate another point; the following figures show the total external trade of the countries mentioned for the calendar year, 1925:
1. Total trade of the United Kingdom
Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $6,442,319,273
Exports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4,516,912,126
A CANADIAN'S VIEW OF EMPIRE 109
2. Total trade of the United States:
Exports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,909,396,000
Total . . . . . . . . . .89,137,391,000
3. Total trade of Canada:
Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 890,267,348
Exports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,283,098,795
Total . . . . . . . . . .82,173,366,143
4. Canada's trade with United Kingdom:
Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162,108,180
Exports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 493,408,584
Total. . . : . . . . . . 8655,517,764
5. Canada's trade with the United States:
Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 579,746,080
Exports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ., . . 482,129, 059
Total . . . . . . . . . . 81,061,875,139
I wish to draw your attention particularly to the following points in connection with the second table:
1. That the total external trade of the United Kingdom is considerably greater than that of the United States.
2. That the total external trade of Canada makes a very creditable comparison.
3. That the total trade of Canada with the United Kingdom shows a very large balance in favour of Canada.
4. That Canada's total trade with the United States shows a balance favourable to the United States.
5. That Canada takes part of the balance resulting from her trading with the United Kingdom and spends it in the United States, I am sorry to say. Why cannot we get together and trade within the Empire, and keep the money within the family?
It has been said in some quarters that British trade is on the decline. Gentlemen, that is absolutely wrong. The trade of England is larger than in pre-war days. But they are going through a period of re-adjustment At one time England had a very large part of the markets of the world, almost a monopoly, but in recent years Germany, France, the United States and Belgium have been coming along as industrial countries and cutting into the trade of England; but before long we will find Britain occupying the place that she did in pre-war days.
It is well to remember that the British Empire and the great trade which is carried on by its various members depends on the cooperation of other services. First and foremost, of course, is the shipping of the Empire and this, of course, includes the Navy which protects the trade routes. What would happen, for example, to our $493,000 000 worth of annual exports to the United Kingdom if an emergency arose which attempted to close the sea routes? What would happen to the wheat from Canada or the wool from Australia or the rubber from Malaya under such conditions? We need the British fleet to protect our Empire trade routes; and the navy will do it.
It was my privilege a few months ago to be invited to see the British Fleet at Spithead, in the Channel. Some of us expected to witness a marvelous sight. When we arrived at Portsmouth we were taken on a comparatively small ship, of which there were four, the first being occupied by the King and the Royal Family; the second contained some members of Parliament and the Government; the third was reserved for the overseas Dominions, and the fourth contained the Newspaper men. The British Navy was lined up in the shape of a horseshoe, and I have never seen, and never again expect to see, a more impressive or greater sight than I saw when steaming between the lines of the British Navy at Spithead. It brought to me, in a way that I never felt it before, the might and majesty of this great organization to which we are proud to belong, and which we call the British Empire. Other factors in the promotion of Empire trade are the Empire Cable Service, the Trade Commissioner Service and the Postal Service.
I do not wish to touch on any controversial subjects, but it is not controversial to say that the question of customs tariffs cannot be divorced from Empire trade. Canada was the first British country to adopt the British preference, and this principle is now embodied in the fiscal systems of practically all other British countries, including that of the United Kingdom. These preferences, of course, are based on the policy of the local development of industry. For example, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, wish to develop their own manufacturing systems, and as time goes on other less-developed parts of the Empire will doubtless follow--their example. It is generally conceded that it is not advisable to centralize manufacturing or any other form of production, but instead it is advisable that the various countries should develop their own resources as far as reasonably possible. This applies probably with more force to Canada than any other British country outside of the United Kingdom. The British Empire Exhibition illustrated clearly that Canada has developed industrially to a greater extent than any other British country outside of the United Kingdom.
It is accepted generally now that this principle is sound. Australia, for example, found that during the War she was almost isolated and found it difficult, therefore, to secure the manufactured goods she needed. Australia has determined to prevent a recurrence of this experience, and is now building up her manufactures.
This policy of local development is closely allied with the problem of migration. As in the past, the British Isles have a surplus of population. Formerly this surplus of migrants, which left the British Isles, had to seek agricultural or unskilled employment in other parts of the Empire. today the British Isles have few agriculturists to spare. They need them at home. The problem of migration, therefore, resolves itself largely into finding work for urban dwellers, skilled and unskilled, in other parts of the Empire. It seems reasonable, therefore, to say that if this surplus urban population of the British Isles is to be absorbed in other parts of the Empire, industries must be developed in other parts of the Empire to give them opportunities.
There is no subject more discussed today in London than unemployment insurance. In 1910 and 1911 an Act in regard to this matter was brought into existence. At that time it was unanimously agreed that it was the proper thing to do. The Act embodying unemployment insurance, made it compulsory for every employer, and also every employee earning under a stated amount, to pay into a fund for the above purpose. The amount was collected by the employer from the employee each week, and was paid into this fund in a weekly lump sum. This is continued at the present time.
During the period of the War, when great expansion in trade took place, there was a surplus in this fund amounting to the enormous sum of $150,000,000. After the War and during the period of depression, this extraordinary amount of money has become completely absorbed, and several times $150,000,000 extra has been required to pay the calls that have been made.
The term "unemployment insurance" is not often used at the present time, but it has come to be known as the "dole", and it is one of the most serious problems that the British Isles have to face. Employers and employees are still paying into this fund, but it is quite inadequate to meet the tremendous demands that are made upon it, and the deficiency has to be made up out of the taxes on the already over-burdened taxpayers.
These extra taxes are serious enough, yet even they might be borne, but the greatest difficulty is that it is undermining, the morale of the people. A man, either married or single, who is on the "dole" draws 18/- per week, and a woman 15/- per week. In the case of a married man, an allowance is also made of 5/- for wife and 2/- for each child per week. A widow is also entitled to an allowance of 2/- for each child per week. It is said that the Act is abused in very many instances, and that many are on the "dole" who are not entitled to it. While the amount paid to the individual each week is not large, the aggregate is enormous, and as I have said, it is demoralizing to the people who receive it, inasmuch as once they have received the " dole " they do not desire to obtain work; and it is in this way that the morale is affected.
The manner in which the "dole" affects Canada is readily discernible. We are most anxious in Canada to secure a greater population, but a man who has once received the "dole" argues, "why should I leave England, where the 'dole' is obtainable, and migrate to Canada, where it is not to be secured?" Before he had been "on the dole" he would probably have gone to Canada and hustled a bit, and in all probability become a good citizen of the Dominion. This is one of the ways in which this system is interfering with the morale of many in the British Isles, and also with the migration policy of Canada.
During the two years that I spent in the British Isles, at the Exhibition, I naturally had many opportunities to discuss Canada with men prominent in all departments of public, financial and commercial life. It was very gratifying to me, as a Canadian, to see the extraordinary interest in Canada that was manifested by the people of the British Isles. Contrary to popular opinion, the British people know a great deal about Canada, and know more now than they did previously, as the British Empire Exhibition has added very materially to their knowledge. This Exhibition was a great national effort, and was, I think, crowned with complete success. It brought Canada home to the people of the British Isles. It showed them that Canada was a great agricultural country. It also showed them that Canada has made wonderful progress in manufacturing. It displayed the wealth of the fisheries, the orchards, the mines and the forests of this country, and all these Canadian products were viewed by millions of people not only from the British Isles and other parts of the British Empire, but from foreign countries as well. I believe that great material results will be experienced in the trade and commerce of this country for many years, as the result of this Exhibition. I found that interest in Canada, as a future home for British people and as a field for investment for British capital, is great and is constantly growing. Now that political conditions are stabilized in the United Kingdom and trade is revived, we can expect to see large sums of British money coming to Canada to help develop the resources of our country. These investors naturally expect that their capital will secure a fair return, and that it will be reasonably safe.
Arising from the British Empire Exhibition, there is a strong sentiment in the British Isles in favour of purchasing Empire products. As you probably know, a Bill has been recently introduced into the British Parliament requiring that articles for sale shall be marked " Empire manufactures, " or " Empire products, " if they are produced in a British country, and "Foreign Manufactures " or " Foreign Products " if they are produced in a foreign country. There is no doubt that "Empire Products" and "Empire Manufactures" are displacing a considerable volume of foreign manufactures and foreign products in the British markets; and if Canadians will take full advantage of this sentiment, they can increase their trade with the United Kingdom. But to obtain the greatest possible advantage, particular attention should be given to grading, selection of qualities, marking and branding, and also that the British importer shall be sure of continuous supplies.
There is a matter to which I would like to refer the matter of titles. I believe I have been quoted in the newspapers, and in the case of those journals which correctly quoted my remarks I have nothing at all to withdraw. I would like to tell you exactly my ideas on this subject. A matter of importance in England is that of titles. This is viewed in an entirely different light in Canada from what it is in England. We are all aware of the attitude in Canada towards titles, but in the Mother Country the system is so closely interwoven with the history and traditions of the people that it is most difficult for them to understand the views taken by Canadians; and if some modification could be made whereby some prominent Canadians permanently residing in England might be allowed to accept titles it would be beneficial to both countries, and would give a greater prestige to this Dominion. While titles may have been wrongly awarded in some instances, on the whole they are bestowed by the Sovereign to a subject because of some outstanding or signal service the recipient has performed in the Empire. I have never advocated titles in Canada, but I am endeavoring to interpret to the people of Canada the attitude taken by the English people.
We are all proud of England, and when one is on the Atlantic Ocean he hears people from Canada and Australia speak about "Going home," for the fires that were kindled in England, Scotland and Ireland have been transplanted to other parts of the world, and it is lovely to hear people say, " We are going home to the Old Land. " We in this great country, Canada, with its marvelous future, its great responsibilities, its territory stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, in the basin of which are teeming millions of people, practically constitute the key-stone of the British Empire, with its population of about 400,000,000 people of the colored race, with only 65,000,000 of whites, and I hope we will measure up to those responsibilities which fall upon us.
We are face to face with some tremendous problems, but as Canadians, why can we not have unity from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and get together, like the people of New Zealand, and present one solid Canadian front to the world? Our trade would expand, our prestige would increase, and I have no doubt that we would take our place-as we have already done-and assume our full share of responsibility in the problems of the great British Empire.