THE FLYING OF FLAGS IN CANADA.
Addresses by President J. P. Murray, Mr. E. M. Chadwick, Mr. J. R. Roaf, Mr. H. C. Osborne, and Lieut.-Col. J. Mason, at the Empire Club Luncheon, on October 11th, 1906.
Mr. J. P. Murray, President: I heard a criticism the other day that Premier Roblin's suggestion of having the flag flown on the school-houses of Manitoba during school-hours was going to make the flag so common with the children that it was a mistake. I think that criticism is wrong, for the reason that in the Army and Navy, I understand, the colours are brought out every morning and treated with that respect which we are glad to see. Another point; if we were to say that simple association is going to mean disrespect, it would not say very much for the inculcation in the children of respect for parents, teachers, and others whom they see every day. One of the reasons why we think the question of the use of flags in Canada would be a good subject is that very recently there have been some occasions for criticism upon the flying of foreign flags here. The recent hoisting of the United States flag over the City Hall in Winnipeg and its use in Montreal on the same day, and the substitution of the United States emblem for that of the Empire at our own Exhibition are occasions, which we regret and deprecate. The following is the Resolution which is to be discussed at our meeting:
The members of the Empire Club of Canada desire to take this first opportunity of expressing their appreciation of the proposed legislation of Mr. Premier Roblin and the Government of Manitoba, to encourage the flying of the Union Jack over the school buildings of that Province during school hours.
We would further express the hope that Mr. Premier Whitney and the Government of Ontario will consider whether some action along similar lines could not be adopted in this Province, as being conducive to inculcating and promoting patriotism amongst our school children.
In view, also, of the meeting of Provincial Premiers at Ottawa, we would take the liberty of suggesting for their consideration, the desirability of united action in this respect.
It is further hoped that every Canadian will resent the wrongful use of the National Emblem in connection with commercial and trade enterprises, by refusing to patronize the article or object so advertised.
It would appear to the members of this Club in this general connection, that the time has come for organized efforts to be taken, not only in encouraging the flying of our own flag, but in severely deprecating the use of foreign emblems, except upon special occasions, when they may be used in a friendly international way, with the Union Jack in the place of honour; and we further express the hope that individuals as well as organizations throughout Canada, will discourage the too free use of any foreflag. Finally, that when national standards--should lie used, the flags of our Empire, being educative and decorative, offer all that ought to be desired for all occasions that are not international, and their generous use will promote, more and more, a sturdy patriotism and dignified independence amongst our own people.
Mr. E. M. Chadwick: Regarding the Resolution which has been read, I would like to speak more particularly with reference to foreign flags being flown on International occasions. I think it will be well to interline there, "on proper authority and in proper manner," because a great deal depends on that. In the first place, the use of the foreign flag is, as a matter of fact, contrary to law, and in ancient times the displaying of a foreign flag by anybody in England would lead to very serious consequences. In these days, however, it is not customary in the British Empire to take much notice of such high treason, excepting when it leads to the endangering of people's lives and destruction of property. The flying of the foreign flag, besides being contrary to law, is, I think you will all agree, except on certain occasions, contrary to good taste. The Resolution proposes to allow that there are such occasions. One of these is inside of four walls, and no objection can in such case be taken, provided the spirit of the Resolution is observed in other respects; that is, the flag of the country should be in proper prominence. But out of doors, on land, and at sea, and that includes our Great Lakes, the rule as to the use of flags is one that is strictly enforced by the Admiralty, who are the proper people to take such duties in charge.
On the Lakes, nobody seems to trouble much about it, but the same law is in force on the Lakes as on the broad seas, and there are many of our steamers here which could be hauled up almost any day and fined one-hundred pounds sterling for displaying the foreign flag. Our Canadian ensign, which we use so prominently, is really a sea flag, the flag which Canadian vessels are allowed to carry. Every part of the British Empire has its own particular flag with the badge of the Colony. We use the arms of Canada. The use of that flag is for coasting vessels only, with this one exception, that Canadian vessels are allowed to carry the Canadian flag on the broad seas. The flag which we use is not a land flag. The Irish flag, however, which is green, with the Union Jack in the corner,, and the golden harp and crown, is a land flag.
These flags, of which there are perhaps nearly twenty, can be used by all British subjects excepting the Royal Standard. The proper flag to be used by a private person is the Union Jack. A couple of years ago a request was made through his Secretary to the King to lay down a rule for the use of flags, specifying what flags private persons could use. The King declined to give any ruling, but the Secretary stated that the Union Jack was the proper flag to fly. It is the land flag, and every person is at liberty to use it in British territory. Regarding the use of foreign flags, there is one thing I would like to say, because it is not generally understood, and that is, apart altogether from the illegality or impropriety of the use of foreign flags without proper authority and under proper circumstances, when a foreign flag is used it should never be put on the same staff with the British flag; that is, in the etiquette of flags. On the occasion of a meeting of the King of England and the Emperor of Germany in their ships, both flags were flown together on the same mast, but occupying the same position, which is the only occasion I know of in which such an arrangement of flags is used. Where a foreign flag is used, as I said, under proper authority and on proper occasions, it should not be on the same staff with the British flag.
Mr. J. R. Roaf: Mr. Chadwick has given us the legal aspect, which it is proper for us all to know. I think that the Resolution goes further. The point we want to tale is as to the general use and encouragement of our flag in this country. Some years ago I was at the opening of the Court at Port Arthur. The Sheriff asked me to fall into procession with the lawyers and judges, to make the occasion as impressive as possible, so that the people would learn something of what was meant. Do we not want that spirit to be instilled into our children?-that it is not only the majesty of the law, but the sovereignty of our flag that we want them to learn. Our flag can convey a two-fold meaning; we have the Imperial meaning and we have our national meaning. We fly our Canadian ensign; the Imperial part of it is the Jack in the corner, but the badge in the fly is our particular part of it, our national part, and we want our children to understand the significance in both these respects. We recognize that we are old enough to know our own position, that we are not like a new empire, be it an empire or a republic, that has been started within 150 or 200 years. We do not have to consider it necessary to read the Confederation Act every 1st of July. Our people know their liberties and act upon them, but when we have such an outcry right alongside of us do we not want to have our children learn something of the solidity of our flag? It would be well if we could have our flag over every school-house, and every school-child be educated up to the importance of that flag and what it represents to him. In this democracy of ours, the people control the country; the flag is their embodiment and they ought to have that respect for the flag which every honest citizen feels. I would have no objection to using other flags for decorative purposes-let them all be there--but we must take care that in every case we have, as Mr. Chadwick says, the flag of our Empire occupying the place of honour.
Mr. H. C. Osborne: I am very glad to participate in the discussion, though I must confess I am not very well versed in the law touching the use of national flags. I am very much interested in the instructive remarks made by Mr. Chadwick, and I should like to say, as my small contribution to this discussion, that any Resolution which is passed at this meeting and which goes forth as the utterance of the Club, should be couched in terms of great moderation, because this is one of a number of things which touches very nearly the national self-respect. We all know that when a poor individual or a nation is surrounded by strong, rich neighbours, one is apt to be a little defiant and sometimes peevish, and Canada for so many years occupied the position of the poor relation that it was rapidly becoming a little bit defiant and peevish towards other people, and more particularly towards our rich and powerful neighbours. This is a very far-reaching fact, because it is a most deplorable condition in the United States. It is very difficult to fly a British flag of any kind there excepting on very extraordinary occasions and within very clearly defined limits.
Now, for my part, I shall consider that there are times and occasions when it is quite proper that foreign flags should be flown. We all know that when an American yacht, for example, visits our harbour, all the boats in the fleet fly the American flag at the bow, and this is a graceful compliment which we can well afford to pay to our visitors who come here to participate in our sports from time to time. On the other hand, you all know equally well (if you pass the months of July and August in England) that London is over-run with trippers, and all the shops are flying the American flag because they think it is a compliment to visitors and will draw custom. No one has any objection to it. As far as Canada is concerned, I shall be very sorry to see us fall into the position which is taken so widely in the United States, where every time a Union Jack is flown it evokes pronounced hostility. On proper occassions and under proper safeguards and with regard to the rules of etiquette governing such things I think we should have no objection to a foreign flag being flown here.
Further than that, another result of this condition which prevails in the United States is that the national flag is flown on far too many occasions; I am very much opposed to flag waving; I have too much respect for it to see it waved on every possible occasion, and certainly it is positively repulsive to me to see the national flag used to advertise an auction sale. As far as Canada is concerned, I think we should do well to advocate, by every means in our power, the general use of our Union Jack on all proper occasions and to deprecate the use of the Union Jack on improper and unnecessary occasions. When it is desired to fly, as a compliment to visitors, the flag of a foreign country, then I most heartily say that the Union Jack should never be displaced from its position of honour. We all remember a keen discussion which took place over an incident at the Toronto Exhibition. The principal cause of complaint was that on that occasion, being American Day, the Union Jack was taken from the post of honour and the Stars and Stripes was flown thereon. This I think is distinctly wrong and ought not to be countenanced by us, and I think the Empire Club should carry on a campaign of education along these lines.
As far as Ontario is concerned, I should like to pay my tribute to the Daughters of the Empire. They have made it their business to ascertain whether every public school in the Province has or has not a Union Jack, and if it had not they presented one to the school. One cannot very easily over-estimate the value of the flying of the Union Jack on public holidays, and upon national days, and upon every proper occasion, over school-buildings, where the young boys and girls who are there have an opportunity of seeing their flag and learning what it really means to them. There are too many small villages where one rarely sees the Union Jack, and I think it proper that we should do something to further the flying of the Union Jack over all the school-buildings in the Province of Ontario, and in fact in the Dominion of Canada. I think that we should not fall into the error of flag waving or of issuing any pronunciamento or any resolution which would be deemed unreasonable or extreme. We want to do just sufficient to encourage the respect of our own flag, to encourage flying our flag on proper occasions, and at the same time there should be a necessary corollary that we have no objection to the flying of foreign flags on proper occasions and under proper safeguards.
Lieut.-Colonel James Mason spoke briefly on the importance of inculcating in the minds of the young a respect for the flag, and stated that he hoped that Hon. Mr. Whitney would take the hint from Manitoba and that the idea would be carried into effect in all the Provinces.
The President: I am very sorry we have not the pleasure of hearing Inspector Hughes, who would tell you that there are probably more Union lacks in the schools of Toronto than in the schools of Great Britain; that there is a great deal of good work being done in Toronto in educating children as to the history of the Union Jack and what it means. Now I should like to know what your views are in reference to this Resolution. If it shall be accepted by the Club with Mr. Chadwick's addition, that is, that "the flying of foreign flags should be only on proper authority and on permission being given." The motion passed unanimously.