Canada In Crises—As Seen By An Australian
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 20 Feb 1941, p. 356-369
Norwood, The Reverend Frederick W., Speaker
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Item Type
The speaker's description and impressions of Canada. The speaker's native Australia. Comparisons between Canada, England, and Australia. What fascinates the speaker about Canada. The strategic significance of Canada. The speaker's belief that Canadians are not governing their own country. Four other peoples that are determining Canada's history more than Canadians. A discussion of how Germany, Great Britain, the United States, and Asia are affecting Canada's policy and way of life. Some suggestions for Canada and her future. The speaker's vision of Canada as "she stretches out one hand to the little old Islands that are the shrine of everything we cherish and revere, and the other hand to the great husky Republic that with us is striving through the same environment." The character and morality of Canada. A plea for tremendous faith in Canada, and for rock-bottom devotion to the sterling qualities of right living and clean thinking and hard striving.
Date of Original
20 Feb 1941
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Full Text
Chairman: The President, The Honourable G. Howard Ferguson.
Thursday, February 20, 1941

THE HONOURABLE G. HOWARD FERGUSON: Gentlemen: The guest-speaker today, Dr. Norwood, has been good enough to give way for three or four minutes while I perform a very interesting little act. We have all read with horror and with deep sympathy of the destruction, of the destitution that has been done to the homes and to thousands of people in Great Britain by the Hun and we have all been doing everything we can to help rehabilitate them.

The Toronto Evening Telegram has performed a unique service in that respect. They opened a fund and without any cost whatever they are receiving subscriptions and transmitting them directly to the Lord Mayor of London to aid the distressed people who have held the front line for us ever since the Huns broke loose some time ago. I think when the history of the war is written there should be full credit and special emphasis placed upon the fact that the little East Enders in London have set an example to the world, of heroism and determination, by the stand they have taken in resisting and holding out under these attacks, under the most distressing circumstances.

The Empire Club has asked the Telegram to come here today and Mr. Snider is here, representing that great family journal, that we might show in a practical way as an Empire Club, our interest and our desire to aid in that splendid work that is being carried on by them, and it is my very happy opportunity today to present, on behalf of the Empire Club, to the Toronto Evening Telegram for the Distressed Victims Fund in London a check for $500. (Applause.) I might tell you the check is marked.

MR. C. H. J. SNIDER: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Empire Club: I am doubly relieved at finding that the check is marked and contains the necessary stamps. As you know, all the administration charges of the Fund are met by the Telegram, and we have to look after the postage stamps as well. It certainly brings us further on our way toward our objective. I have often been asked what is the Telegram's objective? Is it half a million, a million dollars, or what? Well, there is no secret about the objective. The objective is sufficient to comfort, care for and relieve the suffering of all who are the victims of this prolonged attack upon the British Isles. When that objective is attained we will cease fire, and you may cease fire with our blessing, and I know it will be with theirs. Mr. Chairman, I thank you and I thank the Club.

THE HONOURABLE G. HOWARD FERGUSON: Now, it is a very great pleasure and honour to me to have the opportunity of presenting to you today one--I was going to say one of Canada's most distinguished sons, although Dr. Norwood, our guest, was born in Australia. He shows the wisdom of Australians--he came to Canada in the end, and I hope he will remain here as a friend and citizen of this country.

It is not my purpose and it would be gratuitous were I to attempt to pay compliments or say congratulatory things to Dr. Norwood. He is known all over this continent.. He is known in the British Isles where he occupied the City Temple pulpit in London for a very considerable time. He was an active participant in the last war and if he were a bit younger I am quite sure he would be in the front line at the present time. At any rate, Dr. Norwood is intensely interested, of course, in all British affairs and particularly, like the rest of us, zealous to do what he can to promote the success of British arms. Dr. Norwood has been good enough during the very busy mission he has here in Toronto, to come to us today to talk to us on a subject with which he is familiar, and I have no doubt he will be most informative and interesting. He talks to us on the subject: "Canada in Crisis, as Seen by An Australian". I don't know how long the Australian trademark lasts-most of these things fail-and I expect when he next lectures to us he will come as a Canadian. Dr. Norwood. (Applause.)

THE REVEREND FREDERICK W. NORWOOD, D.D.: Mr. President and Gentlemen: As far as I remember, I called my talk, "Canada in Crisis, as Seen by a Non-Canadian." I feel it is rather a bold thing for a man who is not a Canadian, and who indeed is only a recent arrival in the Dominion, to speak to Canadians about their own country, especially if he should venture to prophesy a little. I can only say that after nearly two score years in Australia and more than a score of years in London, England, I chose Canada as a place of residence, I hope for the period that may be left to me in life, because I have a strong sense of the destiny of this country. At the moment, when I felt after twenty-three years that I wanted a change I had before me two invitations in England, two in Canada, one in Australia and one I knew I could have if I wanted it, in the United States of America. And I chose Canada for reasons that I will try to explain to you.

I have, of course, always been impressed by the vastness of the country. Canada, as you know, is the third largest country in the world, thinking of countries in terms of their governments. Russia is larger, China is larger, the United States, if you include the dependencies and the lightly held Philippines is slightly larger than Canada. Canada is one-fourth the size of the British Empire. Canada is very little smaller than the continent of Europe.

Those things are tremendously impressive, but it is not simply its vastness of area, but the gigantic manner of its structure that always has fascinated me.

An English lady not long ago, who had travelled across the country by the Transcontinental Railway and with whom I was talking, in reply to my question, "What do you think of Canada'", said, "It frightens me. It is all in such great chunks." That is a correct description of Canada.

You have that marvellous Canadian Shield which covers quite two-thirds of the whole area, a mass of preCambrian rock, in the main, as old almost as anything in the world with which we are familiar, which has largely stamped the impression of Canada upon the minds of the people of the world and which for a long time overawed Canadians themselves. Someone has said it is like a giant hand, the thumb comprising Labrador and a portion of Quebec, and the other fingers curled around Hudson's Bay, as if some giant hand were seeking to throttle Canada.

It is very unfertile, except for scattered pockets here and there and deep ravines. It is rich in mineral treasures, has marvellous hydraulic resources, but it is incapable of very great fertility. Lord Tweedsmuir said recently in his own very apt way that what men had long thought to be a barren wilderness we know now to be the lid of a vast treasure-house. In that area there is gold, silver, nickel, copper, platinum and many other precious minerals. In an era when the world is turning away from agriculture, when nations are striving to become industrialized, when the world has been held in the grip of war, your almost incredible mineral resources make you a tremendous factor in world destiny.

Then beyond the Canadian Shield, you have the prairie lands frightening in their width and breadth and level grandeur, where it is no wonder the fathers thought they saw the granary of the world and felt that Canada's power to raise wheat and other cereals was virtually unlimited. Then beyond that you have the Rocky Mountains, not perhaps the greatest in the world, but among them. Surely there are few clusters of mountains more impressive than those of the Canadian Rockies. The Himalayas, doubtless, are vaster and bigger and greater, but the Rockies take one's breath away when he sees them for the first time, and if he is at all sensitive when he sees them for the hundredth time.

You have got half the fresh water that there is on the surface of the globe, if you consider the Great Lakes as being part of Canada. You have got three mighty rivers the St. Lawrence, one of the world's most significant, and two others-the Mackenzie and the Saskatchewan, which, however, turn their direction northwards and so for the time being their significance is not adequately recognized.

Away to the north you have the vast territories that are so frequently covered with snow, where wild animals have always abounded in great numbers, which have lured huntsmen, trappers, fur traders, from the very beginning of your history. There is really no occasion to go to the wilds nowadays if you want to get furs, because you can breed animals on farms better than they grow naturally in the wilderness. You can protect them from the accidents and the conflicts that come to them in a state of nature and get richer and better furs under cultivation.

You can grow in many parts of the North West, wheat, potatoes and other things. You have now means of transit, transport, which are at once among the most primitive and among the most modern. You can still find a place for the clog sled. You can also uncover the riches of those territories by the plane or by caterpillar traction.

To the north you have got the almost unknown solitudes of the polar regions. To the south you have got one of the greatest nations on the earth, but one most friendly to yourselves, and on the east and the west you are protected by two vast oceans-the Atlantic and the Pacific. "Gigantically formed, wildly clad," someone has said of Canada.

I am an Australian who has lived for years in England. The aspect which Nature wears is strangely varying in this world. I do not wonder that England produced poets like Wordsworth or others of his type, who looked on Nature as the benign friend of man, idealized her generally, spoke of her in feminine terms and loved to describe her quiet and beauty. It pains me to the very soul to think now that those sylvan glades of rich meadows and gentle streams are now among the accompaniments of a fortress. I often think of the words of the old seventeenth century poet, John Denham, describing the Thames. He said

O could I flow like thee, and made thy stream My great example, as it is my theme!

Though deep, yet clear, though gentle, yet not dull, Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.

Now, I, like my friend on the right, was born in Australia, and Australia, they say, is the last place God made, and it looks as if He were growing weary when he got to that point. It is a large country, too. It is peculiarly primitive, vast regions there that have not yet been conquered by the whites, and are scarcely inhabited by the blacks. There is not a great deal that is awesome in Australia, frightening. There is a great deal that seems almost sinister.

My people were pioneers. They were among the very first generation in the central part of Australia and I was fed with travellers' tales when I was a child, instead of nursery rhymes, and I had the impression that I grew up with a kind of feeling that Nature was man's enemy. She fought him, she burned him, she drowned him, she starved him, she caused him to be lost. That kind of instinctive feeling remained with me until I had grown up to maturity and I was tremendously startled when I saw the sweet beauty of England. But Canada-she is not sylvan, quietly beautiful, neither does she seem hostile nor vindictive, she seems absolutely indifferent to man. She dwarfs him, she doesn't care that he is there, she doesn't even notice him. There must be some sort of kink in my own nature that makes me always love big things. If I had to choose between big, bad things and little, 'good things, I am afraid I would make the wrong choice. The bigness of Canada, its gigantic structure, its wild attire--that has fascinated me for the past twenty odd years. Although I have only come to live here less than two years ago, I have been here at least a score of times before that. By the way, I arrived just at the same time as the King and Oueen. There was no collusion about that.

But, Mr. President, it is not even that that fascinates me, holds me, makes me want to live here. It is the strategic significance of Canada that to me is very real, though I confess I often have the feeling that Canadians themselves are not always aware of it.

Gentlemen, you are not governing your own country. You think you are. There are at least four other peoples that are determining your history more than you are your selves-conditioning your life, shaping your destiny--and there is not overmuch that you can do about it.

The Germanic powers are hammering out your future. Canada herself had no direct conflict with the Germanic powers. Canada herself was not consulted in the matters that led to the war. Canada herself, so far as she had expressed her policy, was disposed to remain a western country, belonging to the American continent. When the war broke out His Majesty, the King, declared war on the 3rd of September, but it was six days after that before Canada decided to go into war, and now everything you have got in your country is in a state of suspense or uncertainty. You cannot intelligently plan far ahead until you know whether the Germans are to be defeated or will be victorious. Were they to be victorious they would consider Canada as part of their spoils. When they are defeated-and you notice I don't say if-when they are defeated the condition and characteristics of Canada will be radically changed.

Great Britain is fashioning your history. You do not resent it. You are glad of it, but for all that it is quite significant, and we ought not to be oblivious to it. Canada is whole-heartedly in the conflict with Britain. She is in fact decisive in the conflict. This war could not be fought without Canada. The little British Islands are very, very small and they are terribly exposed. They are inexpressibly precious. The ancient treasures and traditions that they stand guard over are such as the world cannot afford to lose. But there isn't anything in Britain that might not be bombed at this hour. anything would know that if you had, as I have, seven or eight of your kith and kin clotted about, in the Islands. If the lanes across the sea to Canada were not open, Britain would starve. Britain's wealth, upon which she built up her strength was largely coal and iron, but coal is very deep now. She has not enough for her needs. Canada has not so very much coal, though she has a great deal of it, but she has wonderfully powerful hydraulic assistance and she has tin and nickel and other precious metals that are of unutterable value in this conflict. Canada is becoming the arsenal of Britain, more and more, the reservoir for her air power, her granary, her forests whence the timber comes, largely a connecting link between Britain and the United States, exceedingly important in matters of finance and doubtless more and more significant as the war goes on.

Gentlemen, you are not doing that yourselves so much by deliberate Canadian policy as it is being thrust upon you from without. That is the point I am making and still there is another great country that is tremendously affecting you. I mean the United States of America. Let us say with thankfulness that we do not resent that. There is a marvellous affinity between these two great countries in North America, not an identity, by any means, but an affinity. We are probably apt to forget this. We have had our clashes in times gone by. Time was when the people of the United States ignored Canada. Time was when they wished to annex it. Time was when they almost fought to conquer it. It is not a matter of indifference, but fortunately, it is a matter upon which we can bank with great confidence, that these two peoples speak the same language and cherish in the main the same ideals, and have largely the same interests. It would be very embarrassing at this hour if the United States were on the Germanic side or if the United States actively resented and resisted the present war. Canada would then be an embarrassment to herself, to Britain and to the United States. As it is she is largely conditioning the development of the United States. She makes the so-called Monroe Doctrine seem impossible now. The Monroe Doctrine was never more than a figure of speech, save that it was backed up by the strength of Britain, but it is only rational that the great western world, North and South America, had no designs upon Europe, wished to be neutral, independent, peaceful, but Canada breaks through that every time. Canada is now in the European war. The United States is not yet, though I think she is coming in backwards, the same way that most nations are getting into this war, Gentlemen, backwards. I think there were only two or three that went into it with deliberate wish.

This tremendous world that is becoming more and more closely knit, has to face the inevitable truth, if you are to have war, then you are going to have world war, and here, at this time, the destiny of the United States is deeply conditioning the destiny of Canada; and yet I am not through. There is an awakening or an awakened Asia, Gentlemen.

I may be a little bit cranky, but I have a kind of belief that that is really the most significant thing that is happening to-clay. I don't mean significant in the sense that it threatens us with battle or destruction, but I mean significant in the sense that when the present struggle between Japan and China has worked itself out, however it shall go, you will have an awakened China, as well as an alert Japan, modernized, mechanized, militarized, bringing to bear a new philosophy and culture, and the same old economic necessities, but with a terrific difference in the way of their administration. For the next hundred years, let us be sure of it, the great question in the world will be the adjustment of the interests of the Occident and the Orient, and in that area, Canada becomes, in spite of her small population and not because of her gigantic area, but because of her strategic central position, tremendously significant.

So, Gentlemen, there you are, as I see it, as an Australian. Perhaps you won't see it so readily, or if you did, you wouldn't state it so frankly, but once it is stated you can't deny it, can you? After all, it isn't peculiar. It becomes more and more the case with all nations, for whether the world is getting better and better, or worse and worse, it certainly is getting more and more closely knit, and nations are more deeply intertwined and inextricably associated.

So what for Canada? Well, I would say if you will allow me, speaking as a non-Canadian, and yet as a lover of Canada, I would say, first of all, you mustn't trust in anybody else. You must be strong within yourselves. You must build your own country on your own character. It is no longer safe in this world to be a cat's paw for the policies of other nations. That first, but when we have said that, let us say this: Of all countries in the world, Canada should be supremely interested in world order. If Canada should think she can be isolated, she will be following a mirage. Her people had better foster the kind of mental culture that will make them world citizens, world lawyers, world statesmen, because they will have to help build up some kind of system that can hold in check these awful modern methods of war and, Gentlemen, surely this is a great opportunity for Canada. Surely there could be no greater thing come out of this war than a closer association between the English-speaking peoples of the world. (Applause.)

I confess that I hardly see any rock upon which we could certainly build, if not that, and if that is so, then here is Canada, the link between the people of the British Islands and the people of the United States, kindred with both, having mutual interests, but Canada not wishing to surrender her association with the British Empire. She would be foolish if she did.

I read sometimes, here and there in this country, glib prophecies about the centre of Empire shifting to the west, and all that. Well, you know, those little islands are pretty hard to shift. (Applause.) The truth is Britons, themselves, throughout the Empire, don't want them shifted. Australia doesn't want it. We love Canada but we are not prepared that she should substitute for Westminster. Besides, if Canada were not part of the British Empire she would be a poor relation of the United States, whereas now you are a self-respecting member of a great Empire, and your prestige and dignity are enhanced by your British association.

On the other hand, everything in this country cries out that this continent is structurally one. All your divisions run north and south, except your political divisions. Your political divisions cries-cross the natural divisions. I mean the Maritimes and your Eastern States of America are tremendously similar. Your Ontario and upper New York State--you wouldn't know which you were in if you weren't told. Your prairie lands and the Dakotas--how do you know when you leave one and enter the other? Your Rockies run right down over the border, with no difference, save that they gradually get lower and slighter; and your Pacific Coast-I defy you to remember when you are in Canada or the United States, at least until the other day when they commenced to enforce new regulations that demand you should be finger-printed and all the rest, if you cross.

This country, by destiny, by structure, by physical formation, as well as by the climatic and cultural influences that mould people all the time, ought not to be hostile or severed from the people south of us in the States. (Applause.)

So, as I see Canada, she stretches out one hand to the little old Islands that are the shrine of everything we cherish and revere, and the other hand to the great husky Republic that with us is striving through the same environment. Canada has a great privilege.

And, Gentlemen, you won't be surprised if my last note is my most passionate. You know what I am.I hold that the basic things in the world are moral. You can't build a great country except on great character and there we have perhaps got to watch it. You know I begin to think that Canada is a tropical country. You used to be fascinated by the snows and the ice, but since I came here I occasionally feel as if I should move to the tropics to cool off. I was watching them curling last night in one of your magnificent clubs, and I fancy the players were in the cold-though they were well wrapped up--but all the people looking on were in a hothouse for comfortable spectators. I can't get cool in Canada now. I find I shouldn't speak of Toronto-it is some years since I was here-but Vancouver troubles me a bit. It is so beautiful that if they don't look out they will get soft. They just want a good time in life and they will have it, but we have got to get back that pioneering spirit. We need it more than the old pioneers did. They thought those rugged old pioneers were going out to the edge of the world to carve a new world, and lo, they are sending back their grandsons into the heart of Europe to beat out and fight out the destiny of their country on ancient land.

If there is one place in the world where men should not sleep, it is Canada. If there is one place in the world where we should cultivate the rugged virtues, the things that really have made us great and can alone keep us great, it is Canada.

You know, Hitler said a little before he launched the war, to Rauschning, "The Democracies have gone soft. The Democracies have nothing that they are ready to die for. Men will not fight in the Democracies except for money or for pleasure."

Well, he was wrong, thank God. But, superficially, he was right. He might not have launched the war if he had known how wrong he was, but I don't wonder at people of his mentality looking at Canada or even Australia, and suspecting that we had not the grit we really have.

I plead for tremendous faith in Canada, and for rock-bottom devotion to the sterling qualities of right living and clean thinking and hard striving. Hitler said in one of his harangues to his countrymen "We shall take the road back." Canada should say. "We shall take the road forward." (Applause.)

THE HONOURABLE G. HOWARD FERGUSON: Gentlemen, your very warm reception of Dr. Norwood's stirring address will be interpreted by him better than any words of mine, but I would like to say on behalf of all the members of the Club, how grateful we are to you, Sir, for coming here today and giving us such a stirring address, the sort of address that we need once in a while. (Applause.) You very properly have said, perhaps, that we are going soft in this country, perhaps that we are not sufficiently aroused to the danger that threatens at the moment, but I think perhaps you are scarcely right when you say that Canada was reluctant to go into the war. I think every citizen of Canada realizes the importance of maintaining the British Empire, the source of all the inspiration for good that is to be found anywhere in the world, and we, as Canadians, I think, are determined that we are going to do our very utmost to uphold that Empire and to retain our connection as a part of that great Empire.

Your address today, Doctor, brings all that home to us, gives us an opportunity of thinking again about the serious part that Canada can play, about the important part that we will play, that we are to some extent at the moment playing. I think our war effort is increasing daily and you could have no better evidence of it, than this magnificent fund to which we have made a small contribution today. I have often thought that the great thing about that voluntary fund of the Telegram is not what you and I and business houses and clubs are giving, but what every day, the little school houses, away back in the country, the church clubs, are contributing. I was born and bred in the country and I know the impression that these things make, and we are bringing all these youngsters up to feel that they are taking part in upholding the ideals for which we stand, in upholding the great centre of the universe, from which we get a rich heritage, all the traditions and all the best inspiration that life can bring.

Again, Dr. Norwood, I should like to thank you most heartily for what I think we will all agree was a most timely, most interesting and most inspiring address. (Applause.)

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Canada In Crises—As Seen By An Australian

The speaker's description and impressions of Canada. The speaker's native Australia. Comparisons between Canada, England, and Australia. What fascinates the speaker about Canada. The strategic significance of Canada. The speaker's belief that Canadians are not governing their own country. Four other peoples that are determining Canada's history more than Canadians. A discussion of how Germany, Great Britain, the United States, and Asia are affecting Canada's policy and way of life. Some suggestions for Canada and her future. The speaker's vision of Canada as "she stretches out one hand to the little old Islands that are the shrine of everything we cherish and revere, and the other hand to the great husky Republic that with us is striving through the same environment." The character and morality of Canada. A plea for tremendous faith in Canada, and for rock-bottom devotion to the sterling qualities of right living and clean thinking and hard striving.