CANADA'S INDEBTEDNESS TO THE MOTHERLAND
AN ADDRESS BY REVEREND BEVERLEY KETCHEN,
Thursday, 10th December, 1936
Immediately prior to the usual toast to The King, Major Balfour addressed the Club as follows:
Today is a momentous day in the history of the British Empire and in the history of the whole world.
When the sun rose on the heart of the British Empire this morning there was a King on the British throne whose democratic life and popularity has been without equal. Without revolt of his people against him, without pressure, but entirely from his own choice, a painful scene has been enacted in the formal abdication of the British throne by Edward VIII.
The consequent accession of the Duke of York to the throne continues the institution of the Monarchy, by which we owe our allegiance to the Crown.
To the new King we express our fealty and to the Royal Family and the Queen Mother, our sympathy.
"God Save the King" was sung, followed by the drinking of a toast to His Majesty.
PRESIDENT: Gentlemen, the Empire Club are honoured today in the first public appearance of His Worship, Mayor-Elect Robbins. (Applause.) We are also honoured in having as other head table guests some oaf the Board of Control, some of the Aldermen, who recently have been elected to the Council of this City. We congratulate them on their recent victory and we also extend our heartfelt wish that they will serve the City in the manner they can to the best of their ability and integrity. The Empire Club of Canada, by force of necessity, I may say, by geography, has a close association with the City of Toronto. The City of Toronto is the only city in North America, with possibly one exception in the United States, where there is any organization with ideal's or objects such as the Empire Club. We feel honoured in being in the fair City of Toronto for, (which from one who is a native of Toronto may seem like prejudice), it is the finest city in all of this world, and we might say, with slight alteration, as one of our literary characters said not long ago, "Toronto, with all thy faults, we love thee still."
We have as our guest-speaker today, Gentlemen, the Reverend Dr. Ketchen, Minister of MacNab Street Presbyterian Church in Hamilton. The fact that he has occupied that position, which in my youngest years I always considered the most exalted, for thirty-two years is enough to say with regard to his fitness to address an intelligent meeting such as this. Dr. Ketchen will address us today on a subject which is by virtue of recent news perhaps of greater import than it might ordinarily be.
When the analysis of individual's affairs are necessary, as international affairs should be analyzed today the Auditor's statement is one of the things which is asked for very early. The question of what Canada's debt may be is not a question entirely of dollars and cents. We have obligations which are not measured in that way and from the little I know of what our guest-speaker is going to say today, I think he is going to enlighten us somewhat on some of those obligations which we perhaps are not fully aware of now.
I have great pleasure in calling on, Dr. Ketchen, who will address us on the subject: "Canada's Indebtness to the Motherland." Dr. Ketchen. (Applause.)
DR. BEVERLEY KETCHEN: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: We are met today under peculiarly impressive circumstances, circumstances hitherto unknown and undreamed of in the history of this Club, circumstances which indicate more clearly than ever, I am sure; the high mission which an Empire Club has to fulfill and I think we shall show our British spirit best by just keeping steady and cool. (Applause.) All through these last few days of excitement and suspense I have felt perfectly sure that it would take far more than such an unexpected and almost incredible crisis to shake the solid structure of the Empire because British traditions and British institutions and British ideals mean more than any individual even though he be an almost idolized King. (Applause.) The spirit of the Motherland is undoubtedly sound and, by the way, I think that one of the finest and most reassuring things in connection with the whole affair has been the attitude of the Labour element in the Old Country. (Applause.) Unscrupulous opportunists have not been given much of a chance to capitalize the crisis. I had hoped almost up to the last minute that this might have been a kind of thanksgiving service today because we did love Edward and we built very high hopes on him. He had an unprecedented opportunity but since he has decided to put personal passion before duty and his people we must let him go with sorrow. We think he should have said, "I could love thee, Dear, so much, loved I not honour more." He should still have a place in our prayers, of course, because he still needs them, more than ever, but I am Calvinistic enough to believe that in the Providence of God some great good, as yet unforeseen, will come out of this unprecedented crisis and I think we shall show our faith in Providence and in the spirit of the Empire by just going on with our speech, like Browning's hero, who "never doubted clouds would break" and who held that "we are baffled only to fight better."
I think you will appreciate the fact that if ever a speaker had a difficult job it is now and I think I shall have to cut out some of the playful preliminaries.
A Scottish Minister, meeting one of the problematical members of his flock on the street one day said, "Well, Andrew, I was very pleased to see you at the prayer meeting on Wednesday night," but things did not look quite so hopeful when Andrew exclaimed with surprise, "O, that is where I was, was it?"
Well, unlike Andrew's, my surprise came beforehand when I received your invitation to be here and, Mr. Chairman, among the honours fighting for first place in any man's life, one must be the privilege oaf addressing an audience of such distinction and super-intelligence as the Empire Club of Toronto, an audience almost as awe-inspiring as the British House of Lords. As you know, I presume, I am substituting today, which is generally a precarious business, and while I have in my time substituted for all sorts of ordinary men, I have never before had the conspicuous and bewildering honour of doing so for a Premier of Quebec.
The cynical club wag suggests that as some of the cruder forms of torture have been outlawed by civilization the modern world has resorted to after-dinner speeches which are like the sands on the sea-shore for multitude. Really, one of the reassuring things in these chaotic and devastating days is the fortitude with which people endure them. It shows that the stout, adventurous spirit that built the Empire has not perished from the earth.
The subject that was given to me today is "Canada's Indebtedness to The Motherland" which is just a little more restrictive than I would have liked, a subject which, unfortunately, has been dragged into the realm of controversy. I can hardly be expected to, deal with the subject like one skilled in the subtleties of politics or economics and before such a politically heterogeneous company as this it would be obviously unwise to give the kind of speech that might make the spine tingle at a Conservative caucus or a Liberal rally.
I suppose that a more vivid imagination than mine might see in the subject some opportunity to dilate on the material greatness of Canada, arguing that our obligation to the Motherland must be commensurate with our national capacity and, of course, it would be a very easy thing to muster a glittering array of dazzling facts regarding the potential material wealth of Canada, to let the imagination play recklessly about our fabulous natural resources, to dip into the future with prophetic vision and picture Canada with a hundred million people, surrounded by mountains of wheat, or to place an almost incredible pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow. Undoubtedly we do owe it to the Motherland to make the most of these natural resources, to make Canada a very rich and powerful nation but your President has so carefully and shrewdly worded the subject that I think I must pass over that aspect of things today because, of course, the Motherland had nothing to do, with our amazing endowment in natural resources. So I will have to take all one might say along that line as read. Like the old Scottish Minister who was reading one of those jaw-twisting, genealogical chapters of the Bible one Sunday. "Adam begat Seth, and Seth begat Enos, and Enos begat Cainan," and so on, and when he had called a few more branches of the family tree he closed the Book, took off his spectacles and said, "And, so, my friends, they just begat one another until the end of the chapter."
I want you to look at the romance and the responsibility of Canadian citizenship or, shall I say, Imperial citizenship, from another viewpoint. I want you, in the first place, to think of Canada as a priceless heritage. It would be impertinent, of course, to dwell on the romantic history of Canada before such an intelligent company as this but perhaps you will permit me to say a ward or two about the pioneers, those men and women whose obscure heroisms and achievements have never been acknowledged with the reverent gratitude which they deserve. General Gordon said once that the British Empire was made by her adventurers and I venture to say that among those adventurers few have been nobler than our own pioneers. At a dinner given here in Toronto a few years ago to celebrate the completion of that fine set of books on "The Makers of Canada" it was hinted that there should be a history of the unknown makers, the humble, sturdy, intrepid pioneers, the Scotch, English, Irish and Welsh adventurers, who came here when Canada was little more than a wilderness and amid difficulties and hardships that we can scarcely realize, laid the foundations for the Canada that we enjoy today. We could not intelligently consider our indebtedness to the Motherland without referring to them. Looking back on those pioneers what impresses us is their amazing faith and courage and industry, the fine, healthy simplicity of their lives, their plain living and high thinking, the splendid, solid, British foundations they laid for the future generations of Canadians to Build upon. I think we ought to pause once in a while to ask ourselves whether we are building the kind of national structure for which those foundations were intended, whether the comforts and luxuries of modem life are not making us morally anaemic, whether in the feverish materialism and self-indulgence of our age we are not letting slip some of the splendid, hardy virtues and healthy ideals of the pioneers. I think that there might well be a Pioneers' Day in Canada. Once a year at least, we should say with the English poet,
"Come, let us drink in silence ere we part, To every loyal and resolvent heart,
That gave the time its passion and its tears, Renunciation and laborious years,
To lay the deep foundations of our race."
They, I am sure, suggest no inconsiderable part of our indebtedness to the Motherland.
We have inherited, not only a country inconceivably rich in possibilities of power, but also great traditions which we are honour bound to cherish and preserve.
It is said that when the Titanic went down, Captain Smith compressed all he had to say into two words. He had no time to make a speech. No speech was needed. "Be British," he said. That was enough. That meant that the women and children went into the life-boats first. It meant there was no hysterical panic. It meant chivalry and honour. Centuries of a great tradition went into those two words, "Be British." We must not let a great tradition like that go by the board. One can hardly imagine the words, "Be Italian," or "Be German," or "Be Russian," having .any such chivalrous and honourable implications. But in Canada we can see to it that the words, "Be British" will never lose their thrilling, traditional significance.
Next to Providence, the Motherland has the greatest claim upon our gratitude arid our loyalty, and sometimes we need to, be reminded of it lest we forget. We must not let the flag float at half-mast in: Canada and we must not let ignorant, fanatical radicals dishonour it. (Applause.) There are, unfortunately, Canadians of British stock who, in spite of our impressive British background, would let the Motherland bear all the brunt if she should be dragged into another war. We enjoy in Canada a multitude of blessings for which our British forbears struggled and died on many a blood-stained field. Indeed, if it had not been for British honour and the loyalty of the Dominions in the last Great War, what might not have been our fate? Yet we hear-well-thoughtless people asking, why should Canada become entangled in European squabbles? One thing we may be sure of, and that is, if the Motherland ever does become involved in another great international conflict, it will be through her unfailing and unflinching championship of things that are essential to the welfare of mankind. It will be because the Motherland still has the spirit that has ever thrilled us with pride and we would surely deserve the disgrace of degenerates if we failed to support her.
As the Editor of the Hamilton Spectator pointed out on Armistice Day, it is a consolation to reflect, as members of the British Empire, that the Motherland has done everything humanly possible to turn the thoughts of the nations into channels of sanity and that it is only because her wise idealism is too high for them that she now finds herself committed to the strongest policies oaf defence.
I say that we would be hopeless ingrates if we were to put our loyalty into cold storage if we did not frown upon everything that endangers Imperial attachment and fidelity. What would Canada be anyway outside the Empire? How ludicrously impotent she would be in her visionless isolation! Not for Britain's sake only and not for Canada's sake only, but for the world's sake, the integrity of the British Empire is of the most vital and fundamental importance for undoubtedly it is the greatest arid most beneficent political achievement in the history of the world and, outside of the United States it is about the last remaining refuge of democracy in a world gone mad with lust of power. That refuge must not be weakened. In, the years 1914 to 1918, thousands of our finest gave their lives for the Empire and its ideals and, to borrow the deathless words of Abraham Lincoln, "It is for us, the living, to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."
The Empire must be built stronger and stronger for the word's sake anal every Dominion must do its part in the building, that she shall remain forever powerfull enough to protect the weak and to resist the oppressor, to disarm the violator of human liberty and to bring the peace and happiness that so many thousands gave their lives to secure, and to us, the inheritors of British traditions and British institutions, British ideals and, shall I say, British protection, the challenge lies in those immortal lines of John McCrae:
To you, from falling hands we throw
The Torch--be yours to hold it high.
Finally--I have an hour yet, anyway--(Laughter) finally, I think we owe it to the Motherland to make Canada, great in the things that have made her great. The strength and prestige of the Empire must depend upon the strength and prestige of the constituent parts. Nothing, surely, could be more obvious than Herbert Spencer's dictum, that the character of the aggregate is determined by the character of the units.
From, the standpoint of material resources there is perhaps no greater country in the world than Canada. What a destiny might be ours if we will only learn before it is too late to make this national wealth serve the high and noble ends of nationhood! But, lest we glory in these things above measure, it might be well to reflect that in the history of nations, material resources have been comparatively immaterial. Ancient Greece was not very rich in material resources, yet she made a unique contribution to the world's culture. Palestine was not very rich in material resources, yet she made a unique contribution to the world's religion. Scotland is a small country though, as a native once boasted, it would be as big as England if you flattened it out. Physically, however, Scotland is a small country with a gray sky and a grudging soil, too, for the most part, yet the contribution of Scotland to the intellectual and moral life of the world has been one of the miracles of history. (Applause.) Somehow, on a little oatmeal, Scotland has provided not only Prime Ministers and Archbishops for Westminster and a few outstanding Governors-General, but leaders in every department of human activity and enterprise . . . I see you take that for granted. (Laughter and applause.)
The greatness of England was never dug out of mines or harvested from broad fertile acres. The greatness of England has sprung from her Wellingtons and Nelsons, her John Brights and her William Wilberforces, her Shakespeares and Miltons, her Victorias and Florence Nightingales. That greatness has been achieved without any of these wild, erratic "isms" so feverishly advocated as panaceas today. (Applause.) The greatness of the Motherland lies in things unseen and eternal. It lies in the ever wonderful and altogether admirable spirit of the people arid in some way I trust that Canada wild become a truly great nation.
Harry Emerson Fosdick, addressing a New York audience recently, daringly launched out into a scathing denunciation of the American worship of bigness, big country, big cities, big buildings, big business and so on. He pointed out that the only thing that ultimately matters is what these big things do for the people and so our supreme concern in Canada must be the development of our human resources, the physical, social and moral welfare of the people. It is often said that we need more people in Canada. They will come in time no doubt, but our immediate business is to make more of the people we have.
I am sure we have not yet forgotten the epic chivalry of those draegermen in Nova Scotia, as they dug and cut through that stubborn, threatening rock to the two men imprisoned down there in the dark. (Applause.) When two of those men were interviewed here in Toronto by my friend, R. E. Knowles, they said that they would not have done what they did for all the gold in Nova Scotia and I could not help thinking of that great verse in the Bible which, I hope, is familiar to you: "I will make a man more precious than gold." Figuratively, we must go off the "gold standard," realizing with john Ruskin, that great politicial economist, that the true veins of wealth are not yellow but red, not in rock but in flesh, and that the end of civilization is not money but men. (Applause.)
Thomas Gray was right in his famous "Elegy:" Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart, once pregnant with celestial fire,
Hand that the rod of Empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstacy the living lire.
That is, you see, who knows what wonderful possibilities lie in the brains ,and the hearts of the common people? And to give these struggling, careworn, discouraged and distressed common people an outlook, both to the sea and to the stars, is the highest Imperialism. Surely the worthiest of all worthy ways to recognize and at least partially discharge our indebtedness to the Motherland is to -make life a little simpler for those who are confused by it and happier for those who are tasting the bitterness of it and safer for those who are feeling its perils.
PRESIDENT: Mr. Mayor, Gentlemen, may I express on your behalf our thanks to Dr. Ketchen for this reassuring address, so, consistent with the principles and the motto of the Empire Club of Canada. His speech today has been, more than that, it has been a most refreshing interlude in a day of days for the whole of the world.
If I may be permitted to refer to that circumstance again, may I say that your Executive have in, mind the sending of a communication to the Prime Minister of the Mother of Parliaments for the part he has taken in the momentous affair. (Applause.) I take 'it, Gentlemen, you approve of this action and. I shall follow your directions, accordingly.
This meeting, according to our present plans will be the last meeting until after the Christmas vacation and I wish to take this opportunity, an early one, of wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
Following the address of Mr. Beverley Ketchen, December 10th. The communication referred to in the President's remarks, sent to the Hon. Stanley Baldwin, is as follows
"The Empire Club of Canada at meeting held today unanimously passed resolution commending your statesmanship in recent constitutional crisis." to which reply was later received in the following words
10, Downing Street,
16th December, 1936. Dear Sir,
The Prime Minister has asked me to write and thank you for the cable which you were so good as to send him on the 11th December conveying the terms of a Resolution unanimously passed by the Empire Club of Canada.
It has been a source of great strength to Mr. Baldwin during the difficult days through which the Empire has been passing to feel that he has had the confidence and loyal support of so many of his fellow countrymen and of friends throughout the Empire.
Yours very truly,
"L. S. S. REED." The President,
The Empire Club of Canada."