- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Mar 1984, p. 277-284
- Legge, Major General Bruce J., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Welcoming remarks by the President of the Empire Club of Canada, Douglas L. Derry with a response from the Foundation Chairman, Major General Bruce J. Legge. A short review of the Empire Club's history, beginning in 1903, shortly after the resolution of the Alaska boundary dispute. Toast to the Empire Club. Response by Major General Legge including a whimsical poetic analogy. Another brief review of the Empire Club's history in terms of the various speakers, subjects, and Presidents. The significance of the name of the Club.
- Date of Original
- 4 Mar 1984
- Language of Item
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- The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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- Full Text
- Welcoming remarks from the President, Douglas L. Derry, F.C.A., and response from the Foundation Chairman, Major General Bruce J. Legge, C.M.M., K.ST.J., E.D., C.D., Q.C.
Distinguished Past Presidents, ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to our 80th anniversary celebration tea. When making plans last summer for a special event in celebration of the club's 80th birthday, we wanted to hold one which members would enjoy and which would be a little different from those that we have held in the past. Such a course of action has its risks, since there is a very direct relationship between our members' views on the event and the attendance. The attendance today speaks for itself, and we are just delighted.
However, the fact that it has happened at all, and that it has been organized in such a tasteful manner, is thanks to the work of the organizing committee and particularly the tremendous efforts of its chairman, Dennis Madden. We also appreciate the ladies who are pouring the tea today. You may not realize that you are drinking for the first time the unique "Empire Blend." Carol Jamieson of the Smith & Jamieson Tea Company has blended it especially for us, and since we knew it would be a singular success, caddies of this blend are for sale today. So, Ladies, when the Empire Blend becomes world-famous, may it be remembered that you inaugurated its first pouring!
As I mentioned, all of this has taken a tremendous amount of effort, and I ask you to join me in expressing our thanks to Dennis, the members of the organizing committee, and the ladies who have been good enough to pour tea for us today. (Applause)
It is interesting to contemplate The Empire Club eighty years ago and today. I made some brief remarks on this last November, when Joey Smallwood addressed the club, but I do so again now because there is a point that I wish to make. The club was founded immediately following the resolution of the Alaska boundary dispute in the fall of 1903. Anti-British sentiment was rampant as a result of Britain's decision to side with American aspirations in settling the dispute. Those forming the club were determined to counter this sentiment and encourage the continuance of strong ties with Britain. No small part of their motivation was the concern that in a vacuum caused by declining British influence, annexation by the United States was a distinct risk. Now this, of course, was at a time prior to the invention of television or the commercial use of radio. So it made a lot of sense that such a club be formed in order that there be a forum for dissemination of new ideas and views.
Through the years since 1903, the British Empire has evolved into the Commonwealth, in which Canada is the oldest Dominion. Through choice, its members are joined together because of common background, interests, and goals. The concerns about annexation have been replaced by cycles of worry over cultural and economic independence, and we have moved into an age of instant communications, abundant exposure to people's viewpoints on television and radio, and live telecast of events in the House of Commons.
One might well wonder in these changed times why this club still exists. And yet, our membership now is as strong as it has ever been - over 2,700 paid-up members - and attendance at our meetings is consistently high. On top of that, there are a number of people from the press at every meeting and all addresses are broadcast live and later rebroadcast on cable TV and radio. And of course, all addresses since the club's formation have been published in our yearbooks, a complete set of which is set up in a corner of this room. Each year, our yearbook is distributed free of charge to libraries across Canada and is an extremely valuable reference source.
The simple fact is that The Empire Club has, over eighty years, in spite of environmental changes which might have led to its decline, been successful in attracting an important and interesting variety of speakers to address us on topics of very current interest. On top of that, we have had the good fortune of leadership from past presidents and directors that ensure our meetings are organized in as tasteful, warm, and orderly a manner as possible.
Through all of this, I am blowing the horn of The Empire Club! But I cannot think of a more appropriate day to do so than at this party in celebration of our 80th anniversary.
Ladies and gentlemen, I doubt that it is the conventional thing to propose a toast with tea, but regardless, I ask you to raise your cups now in a toast with our own special Empire Blend of tea to the continued success and long future of The Empire Club of Canada.
It is a great pleasure to be asked to respond to Douglas Derry's perfect presidential toast to The Empire Club of Canada, fancifully drunk in tea. This whimsy reminds me of Lewis Carroll's wonderful fantasy, "The Walrus and the Carpenter:"
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:
Of pink string and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings."
The "pink string" is for birthday parties and gifts to little girls and represents the happiness of this 80th birthday party. I congratulate the President for inaugurating this party, which I hope will become a hardy perennial just like the Empire Ball. The Ball was inaugurated by the Past President, Henry Stalder, a Canadian and Swiss citizen who, immediately after his presidency, became a peripatetic divigationist and is now resident in Australia.
Actually, I have recited the usual misquotation of "The Walrus and the Carpenter" because the correct form is:
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax - Of cabbages - and kings -"
"Shoes" imply much of what The Empire Club has listened to since 1903 - the story of a country emerging from agriculture, to manufacturing, to foreign trade. Indeed, shoes have always been particularly attractive to me as I worked my way through university by selling children's shoes at Eaton's on Saturdays and holidays. And children's shoes are the hardest to sell, not because of the children but because of their mothers.
"Ships" are a wonderful part of Canadian history. The immigrants, until after the Korean War, invariably came to Canada from all over the world by ship. Canada is famous for ships - the China clippers, the Empress ships, the Canadian National ships, the Cunard liners, and Bluenose. Fishing implies the maritimers who have always been interested in the sea, and now, by extension, it implies the offshore oil rigs. Above all, "ships" symbolizes the famous Royal Canadian Navy, which did so much in the Second World War for Canada's freedom. One of our directors, the Honourable Barnett Danson, as Minister of Defence, did his best to maintain our ships in adverse times.
"Sealing wax" is the seal which validates legal documents accepted into the statutes of our Parliaments, recalling King John's Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215, when freedom and the protection of the law was accorded to all free men. Those freedoms have effortlessly flowed to Canadians through the Empire and Commonwealth heritage. Since 1903, The Empire Club has heard great speakers extol the human rights, liberty, and worth of all men before the law.
As a soldier, I spent some considerable time in England during the war. But I never thought I would have something to say about "cabbages," which were the bane of all Canadians as the staple of the British war-time diet. But in Canada, cabbages are synonymous with agriculture past and present. Canadians continually discuss the production, transportation, and trading of foodstuffs, whether it be great billion-dollar contracts with the People's Republic of China, the USSR, or a hundred and one other countries. These are favourite subjects of The Empire Club of Canada.
Our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth it, the Queen of Canada, and before her, King Edward vii, King George v, King Edward VIII, and King George vi have been monarchs during the lifetime of the club. Our motto, "God Save the Queen," always appears on the facing page opposite the President's picture in the yearbook. At the time of the constitutional debate, our President, Peter Hermant, with a strong committee, submitted a clear position paper to the government for The Empire Club, and we are happy that the monarchy is entrenched in the Canadian constitution. The club has always heard speeches on the governing of the country. Every prime minister of Canada since Sir Wilfrid Laurier has spoken to the club, and we have Michael Meighen, the grandson of Prime Minister Arthur Meighen as a director. The Right Honourable John Diefenbaker spoke seven times and established the primeministerial record for the club. Our most memorable meeting occurred when then President, Hal Jackman, convened the class of 1957 that was the "Chief," and all the members of the cabinet.
The Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson spoke five times, and Mr. Trudeau even spoke once but that was only because of the irresistible persuasion of the Honourable Mr. Justice Potts as President. Many of the greatest British prime ministers, before, during, or after their prime-ministership, have spoken to the club - for instance, Sir Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Neville Chamberlain, James Callaghan, Anthony Eden, Douglas Hume, Ted Heath, and the incomparable Margaret Thatcher. Indeed, Randolph Churchill and Lady Megan Lloyd George have also addressed us. We have also heard great Empire leaders like the martyred Lord Mountbatten, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the eloquent Prime Minister of India, and Richard Nixon, after he was Vice-President and before he was President of the United States, who gave a splendid talk on American foreign policy. Edmund Burke, in 1775, in his essay, "Conciliation with America," said, "A great Empire and little minds go ill together." We have always tried to follow Burke's advice, and great minds and voices have always graced our forum.
But the club is not just the subjects or the speakers; it is above all the President. We have had clergy; doctors of theology; moderators of churches; presidents, professors, and chancellors of universities. We have had majors, lieutenantcolonels, colonels, brigadiers, and other generals; business tycoons and professional men like surgeons and physicians; three premiers of Ontario; Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats; and even a Governor General of Canada as President of The Empire Club of Canada. There have been barristers and solicitors, Queen's Counsel, chief justices, and judges who have presided over us. The President has immense authority and bears enormous responsibilities. When we consider the brilliance, integrity, and burdens of being President, we ask, why have all the presidents so generously served The Empire Club of Canada?
And why do we uphold the historical name, The Empire Club of Canada? Of course, the name of the club has come down from the days of Empire to the days of Commonwealth and Canadian independence. There is no more chance of changing the name, The Empire Club of Canada, than there would be of New York State abdicating the phrase, "The Empire State," or of the "Empire State Building" renouncing its name. Indeed, that famous "Imperial Family of Canadian Companies" headed by our Senior Past President, Sydney Hermant, would never change names. Perhaps I could end on a persuasive note and urge our youngest-ever Past President, John Griffin, to become more flexible and to change his company's letters patent, "Griffin House" to "The Imperial Griffin Publishing House."
We love our name for its worth. We believe that our great forum of annually published record is renowned in the continuing evolution of the Commonwealth and of our beloved Canada. Thank you, Mr. President, for your toast to The Empire Club of Canada.