Loyal Societies Dinner
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Oct 1967, p. 107-113

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Loyal Societies Dinner in Honor of Princess Alexandra. Remarks by Douglas M. Gowdy. The Loyal Societies Toast to Canada by Col. B.J. Legge.
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18 Oct 1967
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Full Text
OCTOBER 18, 1967
Loyal Societies Dinner IN HONOR OF Princess Alexandra
CHAIRMAN John Irwin, President St. George's Society


Your Honour, Your Royal Highness, Reverend Sir, Your Excellencies, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Metropolitan Chairman, Your Worship, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of all present at this historic dinner, may I respectfully extend to your Royal Highness and to your distinguished husband, the Honourable Angus Ogilvy, a warm, sincere, royal welcome. We are greatly honoured.

It is perhaps a rare occasion, when an Englishman is about, for an Irishman to abandon his shillelagh, for a Scot to leave his trusty claymore at home, or for a Welsh man to forsake his longbow. It may be equally difficult for an Englishman to unzip his stiff upper lip, to forget his reserve, when any of those three are in his proximity. But unity of purpose comes easily when that purpose is good. We, who are assembled here tonight to welcome our beloved Princess, are really not Scots, Irish, Welsh, English nor wear any other overseas Commonwealth or Empire label. We are Canadians--Canadians who cherish our heritage.

Seated here tonight, your Royal Highness, are members of what we are proud to call the loyal societies. With over 11,000 members, we represent a broad section of the bustling life of Metropolitan Toronto, capital city of the province of Ontario. We are bound together in a tradition of unswerving loyalty to the Crown and deep affection for Her Gracious Majesty the Queen and all members of the Royal family.

We rejoice that your visit, not only as a British Princess but particularly as a Princess of Canada, to add lustre to British Week, has brought together so many members of these loyal societies. Some of these organizations have served our Sovereign, our city and our nation, in peace and in war, for well over a century. All of them will continue to uphold the dignity of the Crown and strengthen the ties with the Old Country, while building a greater and prosperous Canada as the nation enters its second century of Confederation. We thank you, your Royal Highness, for giving the Loyal Societies this heartwarming opportunity to pay this tribute in our Canadian manner.



Mr. Chairman, Your Honour, Your Royal Highness, Reverend Sir, Mr. Prime Minister, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

The slogan--"Britain Sends Canada All The Best" becomes enriched and vital on an important occasion such as this.

It is a heart-warming tribute to Canada and Canadians in our Centennial Year.

But to members of the Loyal Societies represented here tonight, the message reminds us of the warmth and friendliness we attach to the visits of the Royal Family to this country.

It is a very great honour to have Your Royal Highness and your husband, The Hon. Angus Ogilvy with us on this occasion. Since 1954, when you made your first official tour of Canada, you have had several opportunities to gain first-hand impressions of the beauty and diversity of our wonderful country. In every case, your visits have been received with warmth and enthusiasm.

All of us in this Canadian Room are aware of the great interest shown by you and your husband in many philanthropic activities. We know that you have a deep and abiding empathy for the aims and objectives of the Loyal Societies present here tonight in your honour. "Britain Sends Canada All The Best"--reminds us also of the importance of our trade with Britain. We wish every success to this intensified effort to boost sales during British Week in Toronto. The chief highlight of this exciting programme is your four-day visit to Toronto. We are delighted to share this hour with you.

The Loyal Societies and other organizations' sharing similar aims in this city welcome Your Royal Highness most heartily. We hope that you and your husband will remember this visit as happy, rewarding and memorable. We extend to you our loyal good wishes and affection.


by Col. B. J. Legge, Q.C., E.D.


When the incomparable Benjamin Disraeli was dying he retained his wit and intellect to the very end. On his deathbed it was suggested to him that he might like to be visited by the Sovereign, Queen Victoria, who had always been his friend. Disraeli protested: "No, it is better not to distress Her Majesty", and then smiling said, "Besides, she would only ask me to take a message to Albert." So are the misconceptions about the loyal societies. They are sometimes dismissed as irrelevant as trying to deliver a message to a departed and beloved Prince Con sort. But the loyal societies dining with Your Royal Highness this evening are not vague tribal anomalies from the historic past. They are lively Canadian groups devoted to Canada in the modern world of spacecraft landing on Venus.

There is a marvellous story of a famous American politician who was driving around Massachusetts. At a fork in the road he became uncertain of his directions and called over to a farmer in the field: "Does it make any difference which road I take to Boston?" The Old Yankee replied: "Nope, not to me it don't."

It does make a difference to the loyal societies what road Canada takes. Our societies are not the homes of lost causes and forsaken beliefs and unspoken names and impossible loyalties. We have our inheritance, we honour the past and we believe in our country. In Canada we are French and English and Irish and Welsh and Scottish and every race under the sun.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier saw Canada as "The brighest gem in the Crown of the British Empire". He was a "Canadien" trained in the law at English-speaking McGill and a dis ciple of Britain's Liberal Prime Minister Gladstone. Only he could sum it up in one famous question about Louis Papineau, the Quebec revolutionary of 1837: "Is there a man among us who forgets that when Papineau was struggling for the rights of his race, his principal advocates were John Nelson, the Scotsman and O'Callaghan, the Irishman?"

This will certainly please St. Andrew and St. Patrick and perhaps not displease St. Jean Baptiste.

Canada is political and religious freedom.

In the ancient psalm of David, an even greater truth , of awareness is proclaimed: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,

Let my right hand forget her cunning.

Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, If I remember thee not;

If I set not Jerusalem Above my chiefest joy."

In history, Jerusalem is the Holy City of God. In the future, Jerusalem is the poetic city of hope. In Canada we have so rich a heritage to regard and so high a hope to work for that our country should be our greatest treasure.

In 1860, seven years before Canada was born, Princess Alexandra's Regiment, The Queen's Own Rifles, was created. By the time The Empire Club was formed as Canada's elite forum in 1803, members of The Queen's Own Rifles had taken part in the Fenian Raids, the Boer War, and the Northwest Rebellion under Colonel Otter, the first President of the Royal Canadian Military Institute. Their tradition of gallantry is typical of the Canadian Forces with their battle honours, with their thousands of dead in two world wars, and their countless awards for bravery. All of these attest to Canada's place in the halls of freedom.

But Canada and her loyal societies are more than freedom and fighting. Our Lady of the Snows, this beloved nation we call home, has always been of the pattern of the Commonwealth. Seven hundred and fifty years ago Magna Carta gave civil liberties to all His Majesty's subjects. Canadians did not have to fight to obtain them. They came to us as our birthright.

The Commonwealth is the surivival of free men. It is the Colombo Plan, trial by jury, freedom of the press and the Bill of Rights.

Canada is of the Commonwealth, replete with historical splendours and the wisdom of the ages, changing with the experiences of the Mother of Parliaments and of our Canadian Governments. The Royal Commonwealth Society, The Overseas League and all nine loyal societies speak and practise the virtues of the Commonwealth in Canada.

Canada is the Monarchy. Indeed, a very wise Canadian, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, considers that: "The Monarchy is so essential to us that without it as a bastion of Canadian nationality, of Canadian purpose and of Canadian independence, we could not remain a Sovereign State." Our proudest boast should be that Canada is the only Monarchy in the Americas. Furthermore, although Canada has two languages, the English-Speaking Union will certainly not dispute that the lingua franca of the Commonwealth has always been the English tongue--or as Daniel Dafoe described it: "Your Roman-Saxon-Danish-Norman-English tongue." To all of which must be added the vast American influences with their many accents and dialects. Indeed, the great President Kennedy is said to have taken the "R" out of "Ha(r)va(r)d" and added it to "Cuber".

Those who adhere to St. David will relish the wit of the silver-tongued Welsh-Canadian, Leonard Brockington, who said that the English on St. George's Day begin by claiming modesty and then, with typical English logic, go on to claim all the other virtues as well.

As a Canadian who delights in his country I claim for Canada many virtues, a noble history, splendid peoples, and a high place among all nations.

If you bring before your mind's eye your greatest personal joy in Canada, you will see the quiet farms, the exciting, compulsive cities, your family church, your par ents' sacrifices, the expectations you have for your children, the one-roomed school, your university, the Stanley Cup or the Grey Cup, "Anne of Green Gables", Professor McLuchan, Sir John A. Macdonald, The Sick Children's Hospital, the kilts, the pipes and the drums of all the Scottish Regiments, the Rocky Mountains, the fairy islands of EXPO '67, the bright leaves of autumn, the winter's sun on snow, the blue lakes of Muskoka, the subways, the GO trains, the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, the whine of jet aircraft, the tough, calm policeman who took charge at your accident, the family doctor who visited you in the night, the faithful priest who helped you in trouble, the lawyer who fought your battles, the Member of Parliament who took up your grievance without knowing what side you were on, and the fine carpenter who built your steps so beautifully.

This rich, strident young land is all these things and a million more. Remember our country in the way the diverse past is reflected in the simple motto of General Vanier's Royal 22nd Regiment--"Je me souviens"--I remember.

Canada is not just the Canada of today. Canada is the traditions from which we came. Canada is history and Canada is a brilliant future.

Canada is "the gracious, gleaming figure" of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, the First Lady of the Commonwealth, and above all, the beloved Queen of Canada.

Your Royal Highness, Your Honour, Ladies and Gentlemen, on this superb occasion I ask you to celebrate the one hundredth birthday of our own country and I ask you to drink with me The Loyal Societies Toast to "Canada".

Thanks of this meeting were expressed by Graham Gore, President, The Empire Club.

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Loyal Societies Dinner

Loyal Societies Dinner in Honor of Princess Alexandra. Remarks by Douglas M. Gowdy. The Loyal Societies Toast to Canada by Col. B.J. Legge.