CANADA AND THE EMPIRE.
An Address delivered by the Rev. Canon L. Norman Tucker, LL.D, of London, Ont., before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, on Jan. 12th, 1911.
Mr. President and Gentlemen
In dealing with the subject before me, namely, "Canada and the Empire," I will endeavour to do so more by way of suggestion, covering a good deal of ground and leaving the subject for your consideration, rather than by dealing with it in any foundation-building sort of way. I suppose the great mass of the Canadian people are satisfied that Canada should remain an integral portion of the British Empire. Not alone from sentiment or material interests, but because it enables us, with the inheritance, to share in the great traditions of the Motherland; to say that Shakespeare is our poet, and that the great men of England are our brethren, and that the great deeds of England, the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, were our battles; the great men, the great deeds, the great traditions, the great ideas of England are ours by remaining a part of the British Empire, and that is something not to be despised; and, moreover, to enable us so to look out upon the world as though we were a part of this little planet and not merely a part of North America. If there is a pitiable sight today it is described by the phrase they use in England, "The Little Englander," and what we call in Canada "The Little Canadian"; the parochial man, who thinks of nothing but his own little personal interests, or the interests of his little business. We are today a young nation, we are part of a family of nations, and it is the part of wisdom for us to look out upon the world and see our relations, our affiliations, and as part of the British Empire we can do that under the most favourable circumstances possible. We can from that point of view, feel proudly that we are not only citizens of the greatest Empire of the world, but also citizens of this planet-members of the human race.
I suppose I may assume that Canada today is a young nation--not an independent nation, but one of a family of nations within the bounds of the British Empire. Now, in considering our national life, one of the important elements in the land in which we live is the material resources we are called upon to exploit and develop. You have heard this theme dwelt upon until it is threadbare, and I am not going to go through the tale of the wonderful resources of the wonderful country-second to none, I suppose, in the national life of the world-but I would ask you to consider some of these elements of our national situation from a national point of view.
Take the commerce of New Ontario. I suppose that most of us are citizens of old Ontario. We have been born here and bred here, and look upon this old province with pride as being the premier province of the Dominion, and we had made up our minds that its resources were practically all developed and that we had reached very nearly the goal of provincial development; when one fine day, about six or eight years ago, the curtain was withdrawn in the north and New Ontario burst upon our view. Now, this is something remarkable, that New Ontario came into view, as it were, by accident, and most people never noticed it, yet it is now one of the great elements in our national life. There is Cobalt-I suppose you have all heard of Cobalt! A story is told of a widely-travelled American who was asked where Toronto was. He thought for a moment, scratched his head and said, "Oh, yes, that is the place where you change cars for Cobalt"; and beyond Cobalt is Gowganda, and beyond Gowganda is Porcupine-all in New Ontario. Then beyond Porcupine is the great forest region with 300,000,000 acres of pulpwood. And then, when the trees have been hewn down and the stumps rooted out, you have there a great clay-belt as large as old Ontario, as long as from Sarnia or Windsor to Montreal, 500 to 600 miles, and as wide as from Toronto to Peterboro, or Orillia, or Kingston to Ottawa; enabling us to practically double the population and power of this great province and enabling the little Ontarion of the future to speak not only of the premier province of the Dominion, but of an Imperial province in an Imperial State-the greater Ontario.
That is what New Ontario means to old Ontario, but it has a larger meaning than that for our nation. I suppose some of you noticed the large deputation that visited the little city of Ottawa a few days ago, a very large deputation coming from the West, and I suppose most of us who have travelled in the West have noticed a very marked line of cleavage between Eastern and Western feeling, and that line of cleavage was unavoidable, so long as a thousand miles of rock and wilderness lay between the Ottawa and Winnipeg Rivers. Well, now, do you see where New Ontario comes in to bridge over that chasm, to join the Ottawa and Winnipeg Rivers, to join Quebec and Manitoba, to join the East and the West and to effect a gradual transition from Eastern Canada to Western Canada and to practically obliterate all possibility of cleavage in the future between the East and the West; because the East will merge into the West and the West into the East through this New Ontario. I can hardly imagine any gift that the God of Nations could have bestowed on any people greater, or of greater value, than this discovery of New Ontario. It is, therefore, not only Cobalt, remember, or Gowganda, or Porcupine, or the money that is to be made out of that new region; it is the question of a national asset of the highest possible value.
Now look at the prairies from a national point of view. There are, I suppose, some steamship companies who look upon the prairies as a dumping ground for the immigrants who pay fares to the steamship companies. And the railway companies look upon the West in somewhat the same light. They are carrying tens of thousands of passengers and receiving tens of thousands of fares for the West. There are land companies, you sometimes read about, that buy millions of acres of land at a dollar an acre and sell it at $5 or $10 an acre, and pocket about $9,000,000 on .the deal. These men look upon land in the West from a different point of view than I would look upon it. I have seen enterprising men in Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Lethbridge, and Vancouver, whose Kingdom of Heaven consisted of real estate and corner lots--(laughter)--their Kingdom of Heaven! And so there are multitudes of people who look upon the West as the place that provides for the speculator and the real estate agent corner lots at boom prices, so as to get-rick-quick.
Now, the West is a very different thing from that to me. I look upon those vast prairies of the West as a region where men can lead an outdoor and healthy life--healthy in body, in mind, and in character--men who can till the ground and be brought in constant contact with nature; because you know many of the best men in the cities come from the country, and the best men in the Dominion have come from the country, and we must always look upon the country as the great recruiting ground for our men-the bone and sinew of our nation. There you have got the finest field in all the world, healthy climate and splendid outdoor life, in contact, in immediate contact, with nature that will suffer no hum-bug. It not only grows men but grows grain to feed our fellow-men. That I conceive to be a very high office--to be the granary and bakehouse of the world and for our fellow-men. It is not only the exchange of goods, which, of course, is of very great value, but here is the actual creation and production of that which is the very life of man-the staff of life. As Egypt was to the ancient world, so Canada will be to the modern world, because of our great Northwest, which is going to be the granary of the world.
Now look at our geographical position from a national point of view. If you had to pick out from this planet a piece of ground that would build up a nation that would possess the gates of the nations, you would choose the Dominion of Canada. Do you know it is the shortest route from the Atlantic to the Pacific, across the continent, through the Dominion of Canada? You do not go from New York to San Francisco because the earth bulges out at that point-in Canada it dwindles. We are told that in the far regions of the north surveyors have to consider the shrinkage of the planet in making their geographical survey. We have the shortest route ffom the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Vancouver and Prince Rupert, the shortest route to China and Japan, and from the Atlantic seaboard the shortest route to England and Europe. I am told that from Liverpool to Yokohama through Canada is over 2,000 miles shorter than through New York and San Francisco, and great as is the enterprise and ability of our neighbors to the south, I think a handicap of 2,000 miles or more is a little too much even for the enterprising American. That is to say, geographically, we are in a position to command the Atlantic and the trade of Europe, and the Pacific and the trade of Asia -that is, practically the trade and industry of this planet is largely in the hands of the Canadian people if we choose to put out our hands and seize it. Now here you have our geographical position. These are all questions of the highest possible interest from a national and from an Imperial point of view.
I consider that not only material resources go to make up a nation or an empire-they are only the foundation. They cut in the end a very small figure as compared with other elements that go to make up the national life, and we have in Canada-though still a young people-all the great elements that produce great men, great citizenship, and great nationhood. We have a history. People sometimes tell me "Why, Canada has no history." I question whether there is an old land in the world that has a more romantic history than this Dominion of Canada. If you take it from the foundation of the city of Quebec, even, to the present time we have all the elements of romance in our national life. Sir Wilfrid Laurier gave a very interesting address a short time ago on "The Explorers of Canada." You will not find in Sir Walter Scott, or the old history of Greece -even in the romantic history of Greece-anything to surpass the travels of LaSalle under the French regime, or the travels of Fraser, Mackenzie and Thompson in connection with the great fur-trading companies of the West. You have hid men who, in the days to come, will stand out as do many fabulous characters in history. In genealogy, in our parentage, we have men who left all behind them in the Republic to the south for what we call sentiment-for the love of the old flag and the old throne; left all behind them to come and carve their way in the forests of Ontario, to lay the foundations of these beautiful towns and cities that are the pride of not only the Dominion of Canada but of the whole Empire today. And not only have we the U.E. Loyalists, the pioneers, both men and women, but many more -I would not exchange my parentage in Canada for the blood of all the Howards--the noble men that laid the foundations of Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces. We could seek on earth no nobler ancestry than this. We have had all the virtues that go to make men and make nations if we can only preserve those virtues and follow in their footsteps. Then religion! Is there a nation which has heroes exercising more religious influence than we have in the Jesuit Fathers, or the pioneer missionaries who followed the settlers as they carved their way through the forests of the Maritime Provinces, Quebec, and Ontario; as they stretched across the prairies and mountains of the West, as they followed all the rivers on to the Arctic Sea? A nobler body of men cannot be found since the days of the Apostles than these men who founded our churches in this Dominion of Canada.
Patriotism! Can you find in any history a more wonderful feat than that accomplished by Wolfe with his little army when they climbed the banks of Quebec and fought the 'battle of the Plains of Abraham, or in our own 1812 war in the Niagara Peninsula, or in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885? When I am in Winnipeg, I always go to see the little cemetery of St. John; to see that little monument erected by the officers and men in memory of their comrades who fell at Duck Lake and Batoche. And as long as the history of England lasts and English heroism is celebrated in prose or verse, Paardeberg will fill an honoured place. Citizenship! Why, we are seeking today to solve one of the most delicate and difficult problems of citizenship, and we are solving it successfully by the fusion of two great races in the exploiting of the resources of half a continent.
We have credited ourselves, and rightly, with great achievements along certain lines in the past-we are proud of our ancestry, of our history, of our heritage. Let us now find an outlet for some of our energy and enterprise on the deck of a man-of-war, and if we spend a few millions on a fleet of men-of-war, and men to man them, it will be all to the good-it will do something for the future development of the human resources of the Canadian people. It will do us all good. It will take men living in obscurity and cause them to devote their lives to a career of honour and of interest to the nation, to the Empire, and to the world. I believe the Canadian people will be all the better for taking a few millions away from the loose conditions in which they are in at Ottawa sometimesto be grabbed at by people who have no claim to them! A few millions spent upon proper men-of-war--and remember, there is no humbug with a man-of-war, because it will either turn turtle or go to the bottom if not properly built ,and properly manned. I believe the salvation of the Canadian people is to have something of this kind today, offering as it would a new career to the young men of Canada.
Then I believe also the Canadian people feel that we ought to draw the bonds that unite the Empire together, more closely. I do not know exactly how to express itI do not want to trespass on forbidden ground and introduce controversy. But I believe this, that our people feel that something is going to happen. We desire to be members of the British Empire; we are satisfied that the present condition of the Empire cannot continue forever--some political change is imperatively demanded. It may be that our Dominion of Canada may become an object lesson to the Empire, and just as we have the Dominion Parliament at Ottawa, then the Provincial Legislatures dealing with the narrower questions; so, by and by we shall have an Imperial Parliament to deal with Imperial questions, and Scotland, Ireland, England, possibly Wales, handling their own local affairs-an Imperial Parliament for Britain and the Dominions beyond the Seas-an Imperial Parliament to take in the whole Empire. I believe there are a great many people in Canada today who are neither statesmen nor politicians, but who dream dreams, who some day, somehow, have a vague idea of evolving into great speakers-geniuses in the British Parliament, though they have never spoken on any great question yet before them!
The position of our commercial relations should be of a closer character, could be cemented more firmly than at the present time, I think. I do not know that I advocate the Preference we hear so much about today, nor the Chamberlainism on the other side-that is not my point; my point is that something of the kind ought to be brought about soon in connection with the relation of Canada with the Motherland and with all the other parts of the Empire. Above all, and this is my last word: there is something more important than ships or men-of-war more important than trade and preference, and that is the training of citizens, the training of men for the nation and for the Empire. And here we have the great problem of problems: What is a man? and How are we to train men? Now, the home must take its place in this great work, and I am afraid the parents of today are abrogating many of the highest rights of family life in various ways which you can understand, but more especially in neglecting the training of their children. I believe you never can dispense with the home. The church, the school, the world, will never replace God's own institution -the home. I want to bring home to the parents, the fathers and mothers, the fact that there is something more important than playing bridge, or smoking cigars at the club-this training of your daughters and your sons at home for the highest inheritance of citizenship in the Empire today. We want our schools to do their part also, and not to teach only "Reading, Riting and Rithmetic," all very important in their places.
But there is something more, and Lord Grey pmt his finger upon one of the blots in our life of today-the mannerlessness of our youth, especially the boys. I would that we could solve the problem of training our boys to have respect for older people, for people with grey hair, as for example in China, where the people are trained to respect their parents and older people. I want our boys to respect older people, whether their station be secular or religious. Then our mode of speech! I do not pose as an example so much as a warning. I am one of those unfortunates, partly Scotch and English and partly French, and my whole speaking apparatus has in some way beet put out of joint; but I have felt when I have come from England, for example, or other parts of the world, that the time has come for the Canadian people to consider this matter, of voice-accent--which goes with the highest culture of the mind. There is a work for our schools, to train not only the intellect and character, but to train all that makes for the full development of citizens, or the highest type of citizen-what we call the "English gentleman."
Our press has a work to do here also. Now, I am one of those who admire our Canadian press, and I think we have papers that are a credit to our country; but I think if the Mail and Empire were a little less Conservative "dyed in the wool" Conservative; and if the Globe were a little less Liberal-"dyed in the wool" Liberal; if the one would riot so greatly worship their demi-god, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, or the other so greatly censure that old miscreant, Sir Wilfrid Laurier; and if they were a little more independent from a political point of view so that we could have the sound and sober sentiment of our thinking people-instead of screening the misdoings of their party-it would be a great advantage. I would that we had an electorate that could make it impossible for a man with a stained character to stand before a Canadian audience. The political orgies we read about, should not only be impossible, but impossible of even being suggested--because there is no smoke without a little fire. We want men of independence in our electorate who will consider these questions in their own mind, and come to conclusions regarding the same in their own minds; and this leads me to my last point-What is a man?
In my judgment it is principle and character that constitutes a man-it is not a forked radish with digestive powers and powers of locomotion-it is not the instrument that is swayed with every wind that blows on the top of a church steeple-but a man is one who knows the truth and loves the truth and is going to speak the truth, who knows the right, loves the right and is going to do the right-he is not swayed by every wind that blows. Now, I leave these two question with you--What is a man? and How are we going to produce men fit citizens for our Dominion and our Empire.