Can Canada Remain British
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Feb 1937, p. 194-208

Neff, Garnet C., Speaker
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Opposition to immigration in principle, and opposition to immigration now. First, some words on the speaker's province of Saskatchewan. Effects of the depression, especially in the West. Arguments against immigration and the speaker's response to them. Benefits of assisted settlement in the past. An examination of the two main examples used to criticise against assisted settlement. Suggestions for future settlements. The question of over-production of crops. A discussion of markets for wheat. A look at the situation in the United States and in Great British with regard to wheat. Why Canada cannot afford to slacken up on production. Developing new markets. Settling the matter of our own unemployment before more immigration is allowed. Positive effects for employment under the new immigration scheme. The issue of declining birth-rates in Britain. Reasons for declining birth-rates in Britain and other countries. The speaker's response to the question "Is Canada going to remain British?" Some current and projected figures. The right to say that all future immigration should come out from the British Isles, and why that should be so. An appeal for immigration to Western Canada from the British Isles.
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4 Feb 1937
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Full Text
Thursday, 4th February, 1937

PRESIDENT: Gentlemen, I am taking the liberty today of asking Mr. F. B. Fetherstonhaugh, K.C., to introduce the guest-speaker. Mr. Fetherstonhaugh is one of the fathers of the Empire Club, one of the most faithful of its members or officers. It is impossible to get him off the Executive Committee and he functions also on the Reception Committee so you all know him. Among his many other activities, he is Chairman for Ontario of the British Dominions Immigration Society. Mr. Fetherstonhaugh.

MR. F. B. FETHERSTONHAUGH: As a brother practitioner of the speaker today, I feel quite an honour in introducing him. The subject which he has chosen is of certain interest to everyone in this audience. The British Dominions Immigration Society has for several years been endeavouring to produce the right sort of emigrant to come to Canada, or immigrants as we call them, and they subscribed money, both here and in England to help that goad abject and they are trying to bring only such men as will help to build up Canada. I fees that the speaker today will tell you some facts that will probably astonish you and give you an idea of what should be done to keep Canada British. I will say that there is excellent work to be done and we must take care that we do our part because Australia is making quite an effort to bring the British there and we must not lose the fact that, although labour has rather in a sense made some objection, now that things are getting to improve there should be an opening to, bring good men to Canada from England.

Now, to give you an idea. Last year, March 31st, there were 11,103 immigrants who came to Canada. Of these, only 2,049 were British and 9,154 were foreigners. Now, that is very hard to understand why that should be so, but as a matter of personal interest, I tried to get a Canadian or an Englishman for a gardener on my own place. This is personal but it is interesting. I couldn't obtain one that was satisfactory. I had to take a Swede, and they are very good people, and have proved very willing. There ought to be room for Englishmen if we are going to let foreigners come in. Why not first build up the British Empire with Britishers, in every sense of the word. I think, as is stated in one of the bulletins issued by the Society here, it is a very serious matter that there should be so many foreigners allowed to come in and the British be practically kept out.

Now, I am not going to say anything further as the speaker will give you very much more information than I can possibly give you, but I assure you the time is ripe for the British Dominions Immigration Society to bring in more Britishers, whether they be Scotch, English or Irish. I think this is our first object, too maintain this Canada of our as a British country. I have much pleasure in introducing Mr. Neff. (Applause.)

MR. GARNET C. NEFF, K.C.: Mr. President and Gentlemen: I wish first to take this opportunity on behalf of Brigadier--General Hornby arid of the Committee of which I happen to be Chairman, to express to you our deep satisfaction and thanks for this opportunity of addressing the Empire Club of Canada in the City of Toronto and to bring before them certain ideas and thoughts and a plan of future British settlement which we hope, if implemented, will be one of the first steps toward economic recovering in the Dominion,.

I purpose to divide my address into two parts: the first, dealing with answers, perhaps, or discussion, in any event, of the various points that have been advocated, and some from this forum, in opposition to immigration in principle and in opposition to immigration now; and in the second part of my address, I shall try and answer the question "Can we keep Canada British?"

However, before proceeding, coming as I do from the Province of Saskatchewan, it may be of interest to the people of Toronto to know that Saskatchewan is still carrying on and we are proud to say that we have not yet, and I hope the time will never come, when we are going to embark upon the sea of repudiation. There is no more fertile place in Canada, Gentlemen, than our own Province of Saskatchewan for that type of propaganda. Largely, perhaps, through the activity and the generalship, if I may put it that way, of our provincial authorities, they have persuaded our people that the only way in which Saskatchewan can keep her self-respect and get back into the realm of economic production is by attempting to pay our way and we hope that with the co-operation of the East, and extension of time here, adjustments there, and the hand of fellowship extended, that Saskatchewan will come through this depression and be a credit to the Dominion.

At the same time I want to emphasize to you just what this depression has meant. You, in the East, have suffered the depression. We, in the West, have had a depression on a depression, particularly in Saskatchewan. We felt the worldwide depression that Ontario and the rest of the world has suffered, but we have had the drought in addition. When I tell you there are approximately 150,000 of our people in Saskatchewan on direct relief you can realize what a tremendous strain it is, not only on government offices, but upon the people themselves. If you can visualize the situation-people who ten years ago were living in affluence, whose production enabled them to secure the amenities of life and in the changed picture you find that same ideal and standard of living taken away from them-you can agree with me it is fertile ground for different types of propaganda which is not favourable to the continuation of our present system and, to quote a personal example of that, then I shall go on with the other part of my address: Not so long ago, in fact it happened this winter, a man who ten years ago was living in affluence, was able to send his boy and his daughter to the University, came into my office. We were talking over the general situation and he said, "Neff, do you know what I am wearing for underwear?" I said, "I do not." He said, "My wife is .a good sewer. She made my underwear out of flour sacks. My little daughter is going to school and I needed the money to buy shoes for her."

So, Gentlemen, don't criticize us too hard. We are doing the best we can and we .are going to come through. Our slogan is: Buck up, do our damndest and fight.

Now, then, Gentlemen, in discussing the question of immigration we hear many arguments advanced. We have heard them all, I think, as to why there should not be immigration, and one of them was more or less advanced in this form not so long ago, inferred, at any event, to the effect that we should not have assisted immigration into Canada because previous schemes had not been a success.

Well, Gentlemen, I would like to suggest to you people in Toronto that the very flavour of your life, your political life, your economic life and your social life has been built up on assisted immigration because this County of York of yours, coupled with many of the counties of Ontario were settled originally by assisted immigration. The English families, the Scotch families, the Irish families that settled in Ontario a hundred years ago came here through assisted immigration, and the greatest assisted immigration scheme of all times, the settlement of the British Loyalists after the American Revolutionary War, during which time in a matter of three or four years the British Government, as you know, settled almost 14,000 Loyalists in Canada at an expense to the British Government of something like $96,000,000.

So, when we criticize assisted settlement, particularly in Eastern Canada, let us not forget our ancestors because most of them came here in that way.

Now let us take the two shining examples our opponents use in criticizing assisted settlement. They use the Soldiers Settlement Scheme and the Three Thousand Family Scheme. Now, you know as well as most of us do, that the Soldiers Settlement Scheme, desirable and all as it was, and necessary as it may have been, was not a scheme that was really to the advantage of the returned soldier because he was put on land, purchased as it was at an excessive figure, the money was loaned to him to buy his equipment and he found by the time he had spent his first year on the farm he was head over heels in debt. That is the situation in regard to the soldiers.

In regard to the Three Thousand Family Scheme. Some splendid types of families came out. Many of them are making good but, unfortunately, they were placed on land that the soldier settlers before them could not succeed on. They, too, were settled with a huge debt spa by the time they had received some experience in Canadian ways, in our ideas of agriculture and the manner in which we did business, what little capital they brought with them was gone and their hears were broken.

So we are suggesting in future settlements to Canada and particularly under the Hornby Plan, that they must be family settlements, amply financed and with proper supervision to overcome those various points which I have only sketchily given to you. Our idea in this plan is that families will be brought out from Great Britain in an assisted way. They will be put on unit farms, as we call them, made up of a hundred farms in each unit and we hope there will be 250 units throughout Canada, which means an initial expenditure on each unit of something over $1,000,000. These proposed settlers will not purchase this land. They will not own it, nor can, they own it. These unit farms will be farms where they receive instruction, where they have proper supervision, where they have guidance and if, in the period of three to five years they can show themselves adaptable to agriculture, then with what money they have saved from their share of the crops as tenants, assisted by a further advance from Britain, they can go out and buy land of their own. What we have done by that scheme is simply we have brought him here. His interest in Canada is costing nothing. All he is expected to do is work and learn. If he can't work and learn he must return to the Old Country at the expense of those who sent him and in addition to that these men and families are going to be settled in units. For instance, let us say Birmingham becomes responsible for a farm unit here. It will be Birmingham people who will come. It will do away with that feeling of loneliness, that feeling of aloofness that every immigrant feels. In other words, he will have some of his own friends, at any rate some of his own countrymen from the same part of the British Isles to which he belongs himself.

Well, I must hurry on. The next point we hear discussed, and I am putting it in my own words, is this question of overproduction. Why bring out more people to produce grain when we cannot sell the grain we have already got, I think that is putting it fairly. Well, now, on our settlement plan, the Hornby Pdan, we 'do not intend to grow more wheat. This is a purely agricultural, a mixed farming propostion. We have the Empire Agreements in England, with our quotas for beef and mutton and cattle, bacon, hogs, all that kind of thing. Therefore, instead of growing more wheat we will be growing more feed to take advantage of the provisions of the Empire Agreements. In addition to that these areas that are going to be opened up in this way are areas already under cultivation, within six to eight miles of present transportation lines and in areas that have proven themselves as being above drought. One of the happy things I have to tell you, in the five or six areas we have already picked in my own province of Saskatchewan, they are not only within that area but they coincide entirely with a soil survey that has recently been put out by the Province of Saskatchewan. Every one of the places we have picked on shows by this soil survey that that land is suitable for mixed farming, so we will have no overproduction.

Now, I want to take a minute to discuss the subject of markets. It is a funny thing, no matter what subject you go into when you analyze it, it all comes back to the question of immigration. If you discuss immigration all the other parts of your economic setup are necessary to be understood. Now, we claim we haven't been able to sell our wheat. That was the case a year ago. Now, our carry-over is around 100,000,000 bushels of wheat arid that is not an excessive carry-over because the average carry-over is around 85,000,000 bushels. So far as actual selling of wheat for the moment is concerned, that cannot interfere with bringing in more people, and, as I painted out a moment ago, even though we do bring in more people, we will be producing less wheat so we cannot interfere with the wheat market in any event.

But, let us look at the situation in the United States and in Great Britain. Sir John Boyd Orr, one of the great economists of Great Britain made the statement not so long ago and it was accepted by the Council of the League of Nations, and therefore must be right, that fifty percent of the people of Great Britain are underfed. A startling statement to make but one undoubtedly correct. If the social life of Great Britain is put on a basis where the people of Great Britain can be fed, there is then twice the market that exists today for our wheat.

President Roosevelt in an address he gave last November made this startling statement, that the United States of America was living on a third class diet, that if it lived on a second class diet all the land that had ever been in production in the United States would be required to produce food to supply them and if the United States lived on a first class diet, millions more acres would have to be brought under production than ever before in United States history.

So, you can see, Gentlemen, the question of food is a social one and therefore we, in Canada, cannot afford to slacken up on our production. No country ewer became great by reducing production or slackening it. We must produce, we are an agricultural country and our hope for the future is to produce the things other people need to eat. That is our duty and I believe that is our heritage and I believe we are going to develop along new lines so as new people come they are going to develop their own markets. They will become a market for our manufactured goods and if we in Canada can get a population of 30,000,000 of people we need worry no more over export of wheat into the United States of America.

Then, the next thing we are met with is that we ought to settle the matter of our own unemployment, look after our own people on the land before we think of bringing in more people from abroad. On the face of that, that is a reasonable suggestion, but as far as agriculture is concerned, I would like to point out to you that only twelve percent of the unemployed of Saskatchewan is agricultural, and there is a certain percentt of the unemployable. When we consider that only twelve percent of the unemployed are agricultural we do not need to worry particularly about increasing our land holdings or our production from the land. Further than that, you may have noticed in the press, within the last week I think I noticed it, that on a ship leaving from Montreal last September there were over six hundred skilled mechanics who sailed for England and we are going to wake and Montreal and all the cities of the east, one of these days, possibly this spring are going to wake up and find that we have not the adequate skilled labour in Canada to look after the type of work that that type of man does. Please remember that. Take the West--we have no blacksmiths, our carpenters are of the jack-knife variety, we haven't any of that basic industry, that basic idea of labour that we had fifty years ago and we must have skilled mechanics if we are going to carry on.

Now, then, how does our scheme affect unemployment? I believe it is an economic principle that is accepted that one gainfully employed creates labour for some one else and it has been ascertained and proclaimed by the Canadian Manufactures Association, and I presume it is correct, that for every family of five that is gainfully employed upon the land, it means something 'like $1500 per annum to the national life of Canada and the same family productively employed means from $200 to $400 per year to our transportation: lines. Now, let us take our scheme for a moment, analyze it and see what effect it is going to have on labour. Take as an example one unit which happens to .be close to my own town, a place called, Wolsley, Saskatchewan. At the moment there are 16,000 acres of land, representing a 160-acre farm for each of one hundred families. At the moment there are only twelve sets of buildings. For training purposes on these unit farms the intention is that each family will be put upon a quarter-section. It means, therefore, as far as that unit is concerned, there will have to be eighty-eight new sets of buildings erected--house, barn, pig pen, all that essential housing reasonably necessary on any farm will have to be erected. What does that mean? It simply means that labour is going to directly benefit in two ways, in three ways perhaps many more. It will directly benefit in the lumber camps; it will directly benefit in the transportation lines; it will benefit upon the erecting of those buildings. Take into account the hardware that must be used in the way of nails and the building supplies that are necessary. It meant employment in that way. We have estimated that in erecting the eighty-eight sets of buildings it will give employment for 200 men for at least three months. Surely that is an answer to those who say this plan will not help labour.

Now, after you have the houses they must be equipped. You take a hundred homes that must be equipped with the necessary kitchen utensils, stove, pots and pans, dining-room equipment, bed-room equipment, once this thing is started the factories in eastern Canada will be working overtime. Every home must have two beds, at least. It must have two stoves. It must have the bare essentials that are necessary for any kind of standard of life. You .are gong to find the wheels of industry in Eastern Canada are going to hum. Eastern Canada is going to receive the direct benefit of the development in that arid each one of these units, taking into account the purchase of the land, the erection of the home, the equipment of them, will cost in the neighbourhood of $1,000,000.

Now, I am going too slowly, I see. We have another argument that is advanced, that because of the decline in the British birthrate there is no hope of securing Britishers for Canada. A rather interesting point came out in our daily press yesterday, I think, where it was stated that Hitler through his bonussing of marriages at a cost of $168,000,000 to the State, had raised 3,500,000 extra babies in the last three years. We are not suggesting that the British people subsidize their own marriages but I beg to say this, that one of the reasons why the birthrate of Canada and the birthrate of any other country has declined is not because of contraceptives. As one gentleman has put it, it is not because there is no desire to have children, nor is it because the man and the wife work, but you get down to the real bottom essential fact of it all and you will, find there is no sense of economic security. The period of greatness fecundity in marriage is between 18 and 23. They are not marrying at that age and the only obvious reason is that there is no sense of security. On the dole and all as they may be in Britain, safe and ail, as they may be from immediate distress, no sane man and woman are going to bring children into the world until they see they are going to be able to provide for them. But get us back to the standard of living, get the world back to the standard of living where the father and mother can see there is an opportunity ahead of them, where they have an opportunity from their daily earnings to raise a family and educate them up in the world, and I don't think we need to worry about the birth-rate of Great Britain declining much and if the birth-rate of Great Britain is declining, now is the time to get them if we ever are. If the birth-rate, as this writer is saying, 'is going to be reduced by 40,000,000 by the opening of the next century, the only time to get these people is now. Let us get them here, start them up, give them a sense of security and if we have to we can breed the British people right here in Canada.

Now, I am going to go to the other side of the picture: Is Canada going to remain British? On this question I don't want to be misunderstood. In Western Canada we have a reasonably large what may be called a non-English population. A great many of these people are excellent citizens and splendid settlers and in any discussion I have had in the past or purpose having in the future or even now, there is no intention at all of belittling those people as a race, but we do crave the right and the privilege of saying in as much as Canada belongs to the British Empire that all future immigration should come out from the British Isles. (Applause.) So it boils down to this fact, whether or not we are going to be able to have Canada predominantly of British blood or whether because of our cosmopolitanism we are going to wholly be able to, have a Canada with British traditions.

Now, in that respect I would like to quote you the Saskatchewan figures. I frankly admit these figures were prepared by myself from cencus returns from Ottawa and I have been criticized for them. However, I can see nothing wrong with my additions, but I am open for correction and if the Department of Statistics at Ottawa will take it upon themselves to see that these figures are checked, I still will be happy to apologize, but I do feel they are correct, nevertheless--and I will hurry. Now, in our Province of Saskatchewan, Gentlemen, the foreign-born, that is the non-English people, counting the parents and children, both aggregate 614,163. The British-born of the same varieties constitute 271,337. In other words, there is an excess if Saskatchewan of foreign-born parents of over 342,000 in a population of a million.

In Manitoba, the foreign-born and children represent 370,219, and the British-born represent 284,280. In Alberta there are 506,000 foreign-born and 474,087 Britishborn.

Now, those are rather startling figures, are they not? Put in terms of percentages, the actual foreign- born as such in Saskatchewan represents 38 per cent of the population. The British-born represents 16 percent of the population. In Manitoba the foreign-born represents 23 percent and the British-born 17 percent of the population, and in Alberta, the foreign-born represents 35 percent and the British-born, 18 percent of the population.

Now, that is the picture. Those who criticize our activities and the quotations of those figures admit themselves that it is 53 percent; but on those figures it works out to about 68 percent.

What is the future situation? Only 2 percent of the central European people are intermarrying with British or original Canadian Stock. There are 22 percent of the northern European people, the Germans, Norwegians, Swedes and Scandinavians who have intermarried with British stock.

There is the picture. In Canada in the west, what is happening today is that the races there are not intermarrying with British and original Canadian stock but are marrying among themselves and we are originating a race that in all other respects except name is not of British origin. The other day I noticed that something like $14,000 had been spent to buy a type of cow for one of your institutional farms, but anybody can come into the Dominion of Canada and settle on the land here as long as they have $1,000, unless he be a Jap, or a Chinaman or a Hindu. We are taking great pride, we are spending huge sums of money to see that the stock on .our institutional farms is perfect, that we are going to breed a fine type of cattle, but no suggestion is made as to what type of people we shall have in our country. Don't you think the time has arrived to think of Canada and that we as Canadians want to see that the foundation type, of the West, particularly, is of the same type of stock that you people started the East on? Why shouldn't we have our foundation stock out there of British, Irish and Scotch, that type that has made Eastern Canada what it is today? All we ask, Gentlemen, all we ask is that we be given the same opportunity in Western Canada to develop a race of people that is strong, sturdy and self-reliant, the same chance you had here in the East.

That is why we are down here. That is why we are appealing to you. We feed that the only chance for the future of the West, if it is going to remain British, even in tradition, is that we have an influx, a steady influx into the Dominion of Canada, year after year, that will assist in bringing in a new thought, a new idea and a new life into our social life of the West. It is true and I am happy to say it, that we have had many brilliant students go through our universities from our non-English people. It is a credit to them and it is a credit to our own educational institutions, a credit to them because in many cases their fathers and mothers had no education at all and they went about it to see that their children were equipped to carry on life and be able to do business in this new country by having an education, but at the same time we can't help but realize that there is a duty cast upon all Canadians alike for those of non-English parentage and descent, and we, as Canadians and some of us as Britishers, must work out some system whereby we can interpret one to the other the best that is in all races 'in every class of our citizenry, in every ideal and in every scope of our endeavour, so as we develop, as we get more people in here that forms this foundation stock of ours, that the best traditions of our non-English people will coalesce ,With the traditions of the British Empire and in that way we will have established a people, in spite of the difficulties we have gone through in the moment, that will be far and above any type that has ever before been on the North American Continent. (Applause.)

There is just one other point I would like to mention, Gentlemen. That is that immigration into Canada for the six months, January 1st, 1936 to June 30th, 1936. Of 50,252 who emigrated into Canada, only 9,012 were British: What is wrong? What is wrong? Is there any reasonable answer? Why shouldn't the Britisher desire to come to Canada in preference to Australia or in preference to South Africa or New Zealand, Why is it? Is it our fault? The time is coming when we must say to Great Britain and that is what we are attempting to do in our activities now, to have the Government of Canada say to Britain, "We are ready to accept your people." The Province of Saskatchewan has already said so. The Province of British Columbia has already said so. The Province of British Columbia has even gone further. They have stated that if there are any crown lands in British Columbia suitable for this type of settlement, British Columbia will grant them and will also discuss the question of taxation. That is what British, Columbia has done. Mr. Aberhart has verbally promised to support the scheme and we have had wonderful progress with the Premier of Manitoba and we hope before this week is out that he, too, will follow.

So, when we are down here, what is it? It is the West calling to the East, calling to you to help us, to give us that help and assistance and driving force and power and influence that will weigh with your governments in the East so they will realize that we have the thoughtful and influential people of Canada behind us and that they win (acquiesce in our idea of commencing British immigration under a scheme of family settlement which is properly financed and where there will be ample room for supervision. Applause.)

In the past four months many of us have spent more time than we can afford in advocating this scheme of settlement but there comes a time in the history of us all when we must give a bit of service to our country. Do you not think, Gentlemen, you who are down here in the heart of Canada, in the financial heart and in the social heart, do you not think that you, as representative men of this community, of this great city and of this province, should band yourselves together, give a few hours or a few days of your time, so that we will be enabled to initiate a policy of immigration into Canada through which we know that the people who come have the same ideals, speak the same language and are loyal to the same King. Thank you. (Hearty applause.)

PRESIDENT: Mr. Neff, on behalf of the Empire Club and all others within the hearing of your voice, I wish to thank you for this address today. The Empire Club is an open forum and it is quite true, as you have said, we have had recently in this hostrum a more dismal picture of the immigration situation. Your address today has given us reason for optimism as to the future of this country and the likelihood of it remaining British if you succeed in your mission to the East. We understand that you are Chairman of the Saskatchewan Migration and Settlement Committee and are here for the purpose of interesting people in the East and perhaps more particularly the Federal Government to take some action with regard to your scheme. The Empire Club is non-political, non-partisan, but I think I am safe in saying we all wish you success in your mission. Thank you very much.

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Can Canada Remain British

Opposition to immigration in principle, and opposition to immigration now. First, some words on the speaker's province of Saskatchewan. Effects of the depression, especially in the West. Arguments against immigration and the speaker's response to them. Benefits of assisted settlement in the past. An examination of the two main examples used to criticise against assisted settlement. Suggestions for future settlements. The question of over-production of crops. A discussion of markets for wheat. A look at the situation in the United States and in Great British with regard to wheat. Why Canada cannot afford to slacken up on production. Developing new markets. Settling the matter of our own unemployment before more immigration is allowed. Positive effects for employment under the new immigration scheme. The issue of declining birth-rates in Britain. Reasons for declining birth-rates in Britain and other countries. The speaker's response to the question "Is Canada going to remain British?" Some current and projected figures. The right to say that all future immigration should come out from the British Isles, and why that should be so. An appeal for immigration to Western Canada from the British Isles.