Christmas Luncheon
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 13 Dec 1972, p. 169-178

Macdonald, The Honourable W. Ross, Speaker
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Christmas luncheon. A program of Christmas music presented by the Chapel Choir of Bishop Strachan School.
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13 Dec 1972
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Full Text
DECEMBER 13, 1972
Christmas Luncheon
CHAIRMAN The President, Joseph H. Potts


Your Honour, My Lord Bishop, ladies and gentlemen, may I extend a hearty welcome to all members of The Empire Club and to their ladies and friends who have gathered here today to help us celebrate our Annual Christmas Party.

This is not a day for speeches.

The Christmas Season is a time for feasting-and we have done thatand a time for friendship and cordiality.

The other evening I returned to one of my favourite books, which was given to me as a Christmas present when I was but a lad-it is entitled A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

As my fingers wandered through the pages they uncovered some of those eloquent passages which captivated me when I first read it.

Permit me to recall a few of them for you today.

"A Merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

"Bah!" said Scrooge. "Humbug!"

"Christmas a humbug, Uncle!" said Scrooge's nephew, "You don't mean that, I am sure?"

"Nephew!" returned the uncle sternly, "keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine."

"Keep it!" repeated Scrooge's nephew. "But you don't keep it."

"Let me leave it alone, then," said Scrooge. "Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!"

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say," returned the nephew. "Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmastime, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

And then, when the Ghost of Christmas Present escorted Scrooge to Bob Cratchit's dwelling, we hear the following:

"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit when she had railed Bob on his credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's content.

"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow, he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see."

And listen to Scrooge's entreaty after the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come had escorted him to the graveyard to view his own tombstone:

"Good Spirit," he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it, "your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me by an altered life?"

The kind hand trembled.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!"

In his agony he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.

And finally;

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed, and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total-Abstinence Principle ever afterwards; and it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!"

There are many traditions associated with The Empire Club. One of the most pleasant of these is the presence of our Honorary Vice-President, the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Ontario at our Annual Christmas Party. This particular tradition originated on December 18, 1924, when His Honour Lieutenant Governor Cockshutt and Mrs. Cockshutt were present. I would not want you to assume that this tradition has been followed without interruption since that time. However, our distinguished guest today, the Honourable Ross Macdonald and his charming daughter, Molly Haldenby, have established their own mini tradition in that this is the fifth consecutive year that they have honoured us with their presence.

As was once so aptly expressed by our Past President Ian Macdonald:

"The Queen is the symbolic adornment of our constitutional system, crowning the pillars of our parliamentary democracy."

For that reason alone, as Her Majesty's representative, you have our respect and our loyalty.

But Sir, we welcome you more particularly today because of yourself, your warmth and the depth of your dedication and commitment to Canada and to its institutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my great privilege and pleasure to introduce our old friend and Honorary Vice-President, the Honourable Ross Macdonald, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.


Mr. President, My Lord Bishop, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you Mr. President for your very kind words. I was going to make that announcement myself, that this was the fifth time I've been here. I am going to add to it that it has been four very happy occasions and this is another one to make it five. And I am grateful to you, Mr. President, and to the Presidents who have preceded you during my term of office as Lieutenant-Governor for your kind invitation. I always find that I go away from here-well the spirit of Christmas may have been there-but coming here it seems to rekindle it and just light it up and you go out and you have the Christmas spirit and it keeps you going. Just to come here and gather something, gain something of the spirit and you always have that lovely music, I'm looking forward to it. You know it really is a great thing to see this representative gathering and I've no right to speak in this way, to you. Probably I do so on account of my age. The thing is to think of you all here-businessmen, men in public office holding responsible positions, here with your wives and many of you are here with your families. Joe Potts has five of his eight children here today, is it eight or seven, Joe? Oh! seven-well I haven't wished him Happy New Year yet, but this is a great gathering and I wish to compliment The Empire Club of Toronto in keeping up this tradition which has been broken, I think, very few times, Joe, I don't know how many. When the Lieutenant-Governor may have been ill or some good reason why he wouldn't be here. And I wanted to say that I was visited the other day by one of your Past Presidents, Dr. Harold Cranfield. He presented to me in my office in the Parliament Buildings, I was going to say the Government House which is my official office, a copy of the speeches which were made here during the last two years-1970 and 1971 not '72. On the flyleaf they put on, very suitably engraved, "In appreciation of your gracious patronage as Honorary Vice-President and in recollection of your presence on several most enjoyable occasions." Signed Harold Cranfield, President 1970-71. I appreciate having that very much indeed.

Now I heard your President's opening remarks, as you did, which received considerable applause when he said that this was not a day for making speeches and I am in complete accord but I do feel that this year, the balance of this year and next year, is going to be a great year for The Empire Club. On Christmas Day I have official word that the Queen will, and I know we will all be so happy to know, will broadcast, both by television and by radio, her annual Christmas message. I am sure we will all be happy to know that that is to take place and I can picture throughout this land families seeing our Queen with her family delivering a message to us all-in many homes they will stand to attention. I am so happy that she is going to do so this year. And another great event and this especially to the Queen City, the City of Toronto, we are assured now that Her Majesty will visit our city in 1973. Just what the arrangements are, where she will go, that has not been decided but there has been a committee set up to make the necessary arrangements. It isn't going to be an easy task for the Committee because so many people want to see the Queen, just an opportunity of seeing her. And so many organizations would like to have the opportunity of being in her presence at a gathering.

Well, I'm not taking the responsibility, it's being turned over to a committee, a representative committee, who will make those decisions and that's not an easy task. But I know the City of Toronto will give her the greatest reception that she has ever received anywhere in the world. I think Toronto is loyal enough to do that. I am sorry that her visit will not be longer than it is-she was to stay here for one day only-but I feel assured now that she will stay in Toronto for two days. Then she will have another visit to Ontario later on in the year when the representatives of the Commonwealth-Commonwealth which succeeded the Empire-the name which I always honour and I am so glad, it's only my personal opinion, probably a lot of you won't agree with it, I am glad that there is one Club, a strong Club, which is still called "The Empire Club". Her Majesty will be here at a meeting of representatives of the Commonwealth which is to be held at Ottawa.

So there are two great occasions ahead of us and the other one of hearing Her Majesty speak. I think that will make us all very happy and I am glad that I am here to celebrate this Christmas Day with The Empire Club.

Thank you very much.


Thank you again your Honour for gracing us with your presence and for those very warm and friendly greetings. It is now my pleasure to present a small token of our esteem to the Lieutenant-Governor's daughter, Molly Haldenby, in honour of the occasion and to thank her for being with us.

I would also like to introduce from the audience our old friend Stanley St. John, who is at the piano each week and is with us here again today and we do appreciate his music on all occasions.

And I'm sure we all enjoyed Pipe Major Ross Stewart -Pipe Major of the 48th Highlanders of Canada.

And a special treat that I wasn't aware of until I arrived today, one of our oldest members, Mr. R. H. Small, who was formerly the Member of Parliament for Danforth, is here with us today and is presently celebrating his 81st birthday. Mr. Small-nice to have you with us, Sir.

It is now my pleasure to observe what has become over the years another tradition of the Club-that is to express publicly to our immediate Past President the sincere appreciation of every member of the Club for the incredible contribution which he made during his tenure as President. I was privileged to serve as Hal Jackman's first VicePresident and know whereof I speak. Indeed, the more I observed him in action the greater my trepidation in contemplating the prospect of endeavouring to step into his shoes.

His performance in every area of the Club affairs was simply outstanding-not only in those areas such as the selection and introduction of speakers, where his superlative accomplishments were obvious for all to see, but particularly in the more mundane areas such as membership recruitment, finances and office administration.

Hal, we are all deeply in your debt and I have the happy honour, on behalf of the Board of Directors and of our entire membership, to present you with this illuminated scroll, signed by our Honorary President and former President, the Governor General of Canada. It reads

"The Empire Club acknowledges with grateful thanks the services of Henry N. R. Jackman as President during the year 1971-72."


Thank you Joe, for your very kind words. At Christmas time one thinks of memories of years passed and I think I can say that one of the fondest memories I have, when I think of the past year, was the opportunity you gave me to be your President, not just because I had you as my Vice-President, Joe, but all the friendships I made with the other directors, the past presidents and the members, and this will always be something I remember and I thank you very much.


Thank you very much, Hal. I would also just like to extend appreciation to three or four people-I apologize for singling them out but I think it is appropriate-Mr. George Stafford who was chairman of the committee organizing our luncheon today, I would like to express our appreciation to George. There are three ladies, our charming efficient Executive Secretary, Eleanor Cook; and two unsung ladies, my secretary, Mrs. Jean Hunt and Bob Armstrong's secretary, Miss Mary Hermaluck.

This year we are delighted to have with us the Chapel Choir of the Bishop Strachan School under the direction of Mr. John Hodgins who will be accompanied on the piano by Mrs. Muriel Collen.

Mr. Hodgins took the Chapel Choir of Bishop Strachan School twice to England and Scotland where they sang at the Coronation, were guest artists on the opening night of the Eisteddfod in Wales and also sang in various English cathedrals.

He was also for nineteen years organist and choirmaster of Grace Church on the Hill and in that capacity he took the choir of Grace Church to England for three weeks to sing in Westminster Abbey. It is my great pleasure therefore to present to you the Chapel Choir of Bishop Strachan School under the direction of Mr. John Hodgins.

It is difficult to contemplate a Christmas Party without music-and particularly without Christmas Carols. Dr. Healey Willan, when speaking to the Club on the subject of 'Christmas Music' on December 19, 1940 described a carol in the following terms:

"The carol is a song with a religious impulse. It may be the embodiment of piety, and devotion, it may breathe a mysticism only too rarely found today. It may tell the story in ballad form and it may also be hilarious, for we must not forget that the song and dance are closely allied. Wholesome merriment is the logical result of a deeply embedded faith, and seriousness is only sad when it becomes superficial."


Mr. President, your Honour, my Lord Bishop, it's a great privilege to be here. We are going to sing some of the carols that you don't hear at the department stores-we've been listening to them since November and I thought perhaps that you ought to know that there are other carols as well. I would like to say if you find any fault you can blame part of it on Dr. Peaker at the head table because he taught me a lot of what I know-if anything.

-O Little Town of Bethlehem
-We Three Shepherds
-Whence is this Fragrance
-Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella Gabriel's Message -I sing of a Maiden Silent Night
-Joy to the World
-The First Noel
-This Little Babe


Thank you Mr. Hodgins and thank you Mrs. Collen and let's hear it for the girls-I believe they are all girls of the choir, thank you girls-that was in the finest tradition of The Empire Club.

May I also express on your behalf our appreciation, not only for today but I suppose particularly for today, but throughout the entire year, to the devoted and efficient and energetic staff of the Royal York Hotel who meet our requirements so marvelously-Adrien, would you accept that on our behalf?- How they can rise to the occasion is quite outstanding.

Thank you all for being with us. It's been a glorious occasion. May I wish the choir and you and everyone a very Merry Christmas and ask as we count our blessings and contemplate our tasks and responsibilities for the coming year that you all rise and join in singing our National Anthem, O'Canada, following which I would ask all to remain standing while the Vice-Regal Party withdraws.

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Christmas Luncheon

Christmas luncheon. A program of Christmas music presented by the Chapel Choir of Bishop Strachan School.