Christmas Meeting
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 22 Dec 1943, p. 191-200
Media Type
Item Type
A drama presentation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Several people from the CBC made brief remarks first. They were: Reid Forsee; Spence Caldwell; James R. Findlay; Earle Grey. Then, "To Blush Unseen" by Earle Grey was performed.
Date of Original
22 Dec 1943
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.
Empire Club of Canada
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Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
Chairman: The President, Mr. Eason Humphreys.
Thursday, December 22, 1943

MR. HUMPHREYS: Ladies and Gentlemen: The Empire Club of Canada pauses in the midst of national, international and war subjects, on the eve of this fifth war Christmas, because mutual friends of yours and mine have dropped in with Christmas Greetings--and a gift as well. Fortunately, that gift is not marked "Do Not Open Until Christmas", so we shall unwrap it in a few minutes.

First, let me say that these mutual friends and our guests of honour today are the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. C.B.C. is a large family, but some of the family are here and they have brought with them a radio drama entitled, "To Blush Unseen", by Earle Grey. They are here to show you, who are present, the technique used by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when broadcasting a radio play. You who are listening are about to hear a fine radio drama. Those present will, in addition, get a peep behind a C.B.C. studio door, for the play is to be enacted for broadcast from the stage of this hall.

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you some personalities of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Sitting beside me is Mr. Reid Forsee. He is Talks and Public Service Programmes Producer, and he officially represents the C.B.C. today. On the other side of me is his very charming wife. Mr. Forsee is a native Torontonian. He went to school at Ridley College, University of Toronto Schools and the University of Toronto. You have often heard Mr. Forsee's full deep, resonant voice, and as we all do, I expect you have tried to imagine what he looks like. Well, he is about 6' 6", or perhaps 6' 8" tall, with a keen, friendly eyes, and not a lot of hair. But he is not an old man. Mr. Forsee joined C.B.C. in 1937 as a member of the Announcer Staff, and you may remember him as one of the commentators of the Royal Tour. He has long been identified with C.B.C. in connection with talks, institutional, religious and educational broadcasts and talks on public affairs. The Forsee's have a very chubby young son. He takes after father in some respects, but at least Forsee, Jr., has a good crop of hair.

Now, Mr. Forsee, before I say more, will you please convey to your Acting General Manager, Mr. Augustine Frigon, the grateful thanks of The Empire Club for the Corporation's fine contribution to this Christmas Party of ours.

Mr. Forsee will speak to us presently, but first let me introduce other members of the Corporation with us today.

Mr. James R. Findlay, recently appointed Manager of Station CBL, has been Senior Producer for C.B.C. Toronto Studios, in which capacity he was responsible for programme administration and production. But it is as producer of the play to be presented here this Christmas Luncheon that Mr. Findley is our guest today. Before joining C.B.C. in 1937, he was with the Marconi Company in Montreal, where he was engaged in the technical end of broadcasting. After three years in Vancouver, he returned to Toronto in 1940, and as producer and later senior producer, Mr. Findlay has been responsible for many of C.B.C.'s most notable broadcasts, including "The Birth of Canadian Freedom", drama series, the broadcasts of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and such special programmes as "Salute to Brazil", "Salute to Argentine", Canadian contributions to the C.B.C. "School of the Air", and the important harpsichord concert series presented last year with Madame Wanda Landowska. Mr. Findlay was born in Cheshire, England, and came to Canada in 1927.

I should like to take time to describe Mr. Findlay. He is a very good looking, dark-haired, comparatively young man.

Then there is Mr. S. W. Caldwell, or rather, Spence Caldwell, who recently came to Toronto from Vancouver to assume his new duties as Manager of Station CJBC, which is to be the key station of the new C.B.C. Dominion Network, beginning January 1st, 1944. Prior to coming to Toronto, Mr. Caldwell was Commercial Manager of Station CKWX in Vancouver. For several years he was Western Representative and later British Columbia Sales Manager for the Canadian Marconi Company, during which time he was engaged in selling and installing transmitters for many radio stations in Western Canada. He started radio work in Winnipeg.

There are two other gentlemen present today whom I would like to introduce. They are Mr. C. R. Delafield, Supervisor of Institutional Broadcasting, and Mr. Neil Morrison, Supervisor of Institutional Talks Department.

Now, these gentlemen are closely interested in The Empire Club work for they are the gentlemen behind the scenes and help us each week.

We had hoped to receive Mr. E. L., Bushnell, General National Programme Supervisor for C.B.C., and Mr. R. Clarenbull, Ontario Regional Representative, but these are extra busy times for those gentlemen. I beg your pardon, Mr. Clarenbull is here.

Now, I should like to introduce another C.B.C. personality, whose voice we are all familiar with-Mr. Elwood Glover-one of Canada's best known Announcers. You heard him announce just a moment ago. His voice is familiar to listeners from coast to coast. Mr. Glover was born in Saskatchewan, and started in radio there in 1936, coming to the East in 1938 to join C.B.C. Mr. Glover is Chief Announcer of the C.B.C. Toronto Studios. He has a flair for ad-lib commentary, and is particularly outstanding on special events work, although Mr. Glover's present activities as Chief Announcer keep him pretty close to his desk, he is, I am told, happiest when confronting a microphone with a programme to announce. We have already heard him and you will hear him announce the play.

Now, it is one thing for you to hear, and some of us to see as well as to hear, a fine radio play, but on this occasion we are not only privileged to entertain the playwright, but also hear him play the leading role of his play. Mr. Earle Grey is sitting next to Mrs. Forsee, to my left here. Mr. Earle Grey, the author of "To Blush Unseen", contributes, in my opinion, much to Canadian culture. Canada, I think, is distinctly richer for his residence here. Earle Grey has been connected with the theatre for 25 years. He started with the Irish Plays in the Abbey Theatre. I find his distinguished career quite interesting and I am going to give it to you. He played Shakespeare with the well known Stratford Players-he has played with such actors as Sir Phillip Ben Crest and Sir Frank Benson.

Earle Grey was leading man at the Oxford Playhouse and played with John Gielgud, Raymond Massey, Flora Robson and Elissa Landi. He is well known in London's leading theatres and New York's Broadway. He spent a year touring South Africa, and has twice toured Canada. I asked Mr. Grey how long he had been writing plays. He told me he started about ten years ago. He has had considerable screen activity, too-playing with such well-known people as Vivien Leigh, Conrad Veidt and Marlene Deitrich.

Before I pass to his radio broadcasting activities, you will be interested to know that our Actor-Playwright guest was founder and later Manager of the famous Stage Cricket Club which, by the way, made appearances at Lord's.

Mr. Grey played the lead in the first television play to be broadcast, and he has done much writing for the British Broadcasting Corporation in London, our own Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Australian and South African Broadcasting authorities. Some of you know, perhaps, that Mr. Earle Grey is at the present collaborating with Canon Ward, of this, city, and a member of this Club, in a series of Sunday morning broadcasts, known as "The Way of the Spirit". I commend these to your listening.

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Earl Grey will speak presently, and I am going to ask you, if you will, to refrain from any applause when he ceases to speak.

Now, Mr. Forsee, will you say a word to us, and introduce your friends as well.

MR. REID FORSEE: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentleman: It is a little hard for me to realize I am part of an Empire Club broadcast. I have usually been part on the other side of the fence, discussing speakers, discussing speakers' scripts, and occasionally we get into some very interesting situations.

Now, Mr. Humphreys has briefly introduced all the C.B.C. representatives that will be heard today. Mr. Glover has already been heard, and Mr. Humphreys has covered Mr. Glover pretty thoroughly, and Mr. Glover said beforehand that he would rather not say anything--just let him function at the broadcast here and be done with it.

As I have said, I have been connected with The Empire Club broadcasts. This is one of the most interesting phases of my work, not specifically The Empire Club broadcast, but similar broadcasts, dealing with the important people that make their way to Toronto, as many of them do, and when I work with a person in connection with radio, I not only get to know that person but I get to know people and I get an entre into places that I, personally, don't deserve. Some of the experiences I have had as Public Services Programmes producer have had a lot of interesting angles, if I had the time to tell them.

The thing I want to express, while having this opportunity is that we don't look on Public Service broadcasting, that is presenting speakers on the air, from the stand point of giving time to an organization so they can have a speaker on the air. We don't look on it in that way. Rather we look on it as making possible for others not present, through radio, to share with those present from the knowledge and experiences and the discussions of what these individuals have to say. Now, we know, as well as the regular attendants of The Empire Club, as well as the regular luncheon guests, there is also the unseen luncheon guests. We hear from a great many of them through the mail. Mr. Humphreys does, too. Frankly, it is for the unseen guests we function. They are the reason for our existence. We are very conscious of that and we feel that we owe them a very serious duty.

Now, to get down to brass tacks. This broadcast is being heard over CJBC, which was formerly CBY, as you know quite well, and it is over this station the majority of The Empire Club luncheons have been broadcast.

Now, as Mr. Humphreys has said, to manage CJBC and to deal with staff, the C.B.C. has brought Spence Caldwell from Vancouver to Toronto. He hasn't been here long but long enough for all of us to be in contact with him and to say with the greatest sincerity, we are awfully glad Spence is here. We call him "Spence--"he is that kind of a chap. We hope he will be here for a long period. Now, like many other radio executives, Spence would rather dive in Lake Ontario in the middle of winter than face a microphone. But after all, it has to be done, and this is one of the occasions, and it is his turn now and I am through.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, personally, Mr. Spence Caldwell, the new Manager of CJBC.

MR. SPENCE CALDWELL: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: As already said, I just arrived from Vancouver and I am very new here. I have very little to say. I am very happy to have finally made Toronto. Like many other young men in Western Canada we have looked forward to the time when we can come down and work and live in the big city. If I can figure the weather of the last few days as a sample of Toronto winter weather, I am all for it.

CJBC is 1010 on your dial and we hope to make it your most popular radio station. If you have any suggestions or criticisms, my office is always open. I know I am going to like Toronto and I wish the Empire Club every success.

MR. REID FORSEE: Thank you very much. Now, having assumed the role of Chairman, having taken it away from Mr. Humphreys, the next person I would like you to meet is Mr. James Findlay. He is the producer of the drama to be presented in one moment. Ladies and Gentlemen, here he is--Jim Findlay.

MR. JAMES R. FINDLAY: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: What you are going to witness is a performance of a radio play, in which we hope to adhere as closely as possible to our normal studio routine. In other words, we are going to make as few concessions to you, our visible audience, as possible. Rather we would ask that you consider yourselves looking into one of our radio studios and watching the play which is going on there.

You will notice, I think, that there are certain fundamental differences between radio and stage presentation. Our actors use no make-up. They do not dress the part. We have no scenery. They read their lines from script, instead of memorizing them and there are many other differences. What we do in radio drama is to create a picture in the mind of the listener and it is against this mental background that the actors speak their lines.

In other words, radio makes possibly more use of the world of illusion than any other medium of entertainment. For example, our sound effects operator, walking up and down, goes two or three steps while the actor stands still in front of the microphone and delivers his lines. The effect on the air is that of the actor going up a flight of stairs and speaking as he moves. That is the illusion and this leads, naturally, to a very important point about radio programmes which I would like to stress and that is that radio broadcasting is a co-operative venture. It calls for team-work. The individual is important, but only important in so far as he plays his part with perfect team-work, so that split second co-ordination makes the show a success and all the various elements-the script writer, the actor, the staff operator, the studio engineer and the men all along the line, right from the microphone to the transmitter, all play their part with the single purpose in mind-"the show is the thing".

Of course there is plenty of room in radio broadcasting for artistic individuality but there is very little room for artistic temperament. Team-work counts. Temperament--well, we like to leave temperament as far as possible to be indulged in occasionally by the listeners or perhaps by some people who for various reasons fail to get on the air.

We are concerned today with putting on our radio play. That is all we are here for. We hope you will enjoy it.

Now, as befits a producer, I would like to excuse myself and retire "to blush unseen". First of all, I would like to introduce to you the author of the play you are going to hear, who has a few things to tell you about it, and who will set the scene-Mr. Earle Grey.

MR. EARLE GREY: Ladies and Gentlemen: In a few days it will be Christmas. Let us for a moment forget ourselves and remember Him who was born on that day so many days ago. Let us remember His message. A message so clear and simple that if mankind would only follow it, there would be an end to these many sorrows and sufferings we make for ourselves by our own folly. Then indeed might come the time when "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

Three days from now will be that day of hope which had its first dawn nearly two thousand years ago. How far have we accepted its message? How much have we learned from it? Few of us are wantonly cruel; few of us would voluntarily be guilty of injustice. But alas, most of us are indifferent. Most of us are so interested in ourselves that we cannot be bothered with the troubles of others. We fancy that this does not matter, we even pride ourselves on minding our own business. But sometimes such thoughtless indifference kills souls more surely than the most calculated cruelty. For cruelty can be fought against--it creates its own opposition as a matter of fact-but indifference is a blight which corrodes the soul.

Sometimes a man is destroyed because he knows more than others. For example, because he knows that the work is more important than the reward. That true satisfaction can only be had when this law is known and followed. In our society we are so often taught the converse--either in so many words or, more fatally, by the force of example. Young people learn very swiftly that they must be a "success" and find by that is meant the accumulation of money. From thence it is but a step for them to imagine that the making of the money is more important than the doing of the work. And so they learn to put the cart before the horse and all the great joy which should come from the accomplishment of the task is surrendered and dry and foolish money-grubbing set in its place.

In the little play which you are about to hear is a man who by all such worldly standards is a failure. But the wise will know that he is not, for he has done that rare thing-held fast to an ideal. He knows that the work is more important than the reward. But yet, in spite of this, his life is sad. The blight of indifference has fallen upon him. His work is not appreciated, and that to the artist, is a chilling frost which he cannot survive.

But now to the play. It is called "To Blush Unseen". Remember the poet's lines?

"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

Let us ask you to forget where you are for half an hour. Close your eyes and shut out all the world save imagination.... Let us take you to another place.... It is Christmas Eve. Not the Christmas of Charles Dickens, with its bells, its coaches, its snow, its warm and homely inns glowing with welcome and good cheer. No. The Christmas Eve of a gray industrial city, with a cold wind blowing and steely rain dashing against its unlovely houses. Let us pass inside a large building-the Theatre Royal. And where might that be? Anywhere there is a theatre-and that means everywhere. But there's something different about this theatre. It is not as you generally see a theatre-warm and full of happy expectant people, music playing and the magic curtain facing you. The magic curtain which will soon rise and disclose the greater magic of the players' art. No, this theatre is dark and chilly and lonely. Its seats are covered with great dust sheets which hang from the boxes and balconies like frozen ghosts. The curtain is up and all the scenery stacked away against bare walls. A few stark, naked lights burn. Upon the stage is a small table and a few chairs. It is late at night and Christmas Eve, but two men are still at work. They are discussing their next play. And as we listen we hear ....

(The play "To Blush Unseen" was then presented, followed by great applause.)

THE PRESIDENT then asked Mr. Findlay to introduce the members of the cast. They were: Mr. Earle Grey, who played the role of Clevering; Vincent Tovell. Hedley Rainnie, Frank Peddie and Jane Mallet; Mr. Wesley, the operator; and Mr. Harold Simmins, sound effects operator.

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Christmas Meeting

A drama presentation by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Several people from the CBC made brief remarks first. They were: Reid Forsee; Spence Caldwell; James R. Findlay; Earle Grey. Then, "To Blush Unseen" by Earle Grey was performed.