- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Dec 1924, p. 347-356
- Stuart, Sir Campbell, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The speaker's work of making better known the story of Canada; the story of its past. Proving that there is enough statesmanship and enough courage to carry on and carry through, and to follow the Fathers of Confederation in their ambition to build a united Canada, and not a league of Canadian provinces. Collecting records for our archives in the Old Land. Paying tribute to Dr. Doughty, the keeper of the Canadian archives. The formation of the English Society. Building up the archives. The speaker's detailed account of his activities in England and France and the banquet that he organized at Versailles. Working together to weave the great national story, the history of Canada, into our national life, to give inspiration to Canadian character, to increase our pride in Canadian birth, and develop a fuller Canadian consciousness, a real Canadian unity.
- Date of Original
- 4 Dec 1924
- Language of Item
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AN ADDRESS BY SIR CAMPBELL STUART, K.B.E.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
December 4, 1924.
PRESIDENT BROOKS introduced Sir Campbell Stuart, who was received with loud applause.
SIR CAMPBELL STUART.
Mr. President, my Lord Bishop, Gentlemen of the Empire Club of Canada,--It is a great inspiration for me to be back again today in this great city of Toronto, the capital of the Province, which has played so great a part in the history of our country.
On coming back to Canada I met with a good deal of pessimism respecting the future and our ultimate destiny, but that very attitude has fortified me in the work I am trying to do in the Old Worldmaking better known the story of Canada; the story of its past. If you look back into our early history, you will find there were then problems to be solved, difficulties to be overcome, some of them the same as ours; but, my countrymen, I venture to say that the faith and courage of those pioneers, your fathers and mine, who lived and died to make this country, are still with this generation, and we shall make it a better country than the one they left behind them for us to enjoy. (Hear, hear)
I think that a pessimist is a curse to any country, for after all, any fool can preach the gospel of
Sir Campbell Stuart, K.B.E., formerly Managing Director of the London Times Publishing Company, is a Canadian. He was Military Attache to the British Embassy at Washington in 1917, and Managing Director of the London Daily Mail, 1919-1922. He is Chairman of the Executive Committee of the English Historical Society, was the main factor in organizing the "Societe d'histoire du Canada," and gave a great banquet in the Palace of Versailles to mark its founding. There were present representative members of the great families, both French and English, that had a prominent part in the making of Canada.
despair (laughter); but it is a man's job to prove that there is still enough statesmanship and enough courage to carry on and carry through, and to follow the Fathers of Confederation in their ambition to build a united Canada, and not a league of Canadian provinces. (Hear, hear)
I feel that I have been primarily invited to tell you something about what I have been trying to do with regard to collecting records for our archives, in the Old Land. In the very outset of my remarks I wish to pay tribute to a very distinguished and remarkable citizen of Canada who has for many years done, and is still doing with equal activity, a very great and noble and wonderful work for Canada in collecting at Ottawa those priceless archives, and giving to those who will follow something that will really be the charter of our country. I think every Canadian should be proud of Dr. Doughty, the keeper of those archives. (Applause) What little I have been permitted to do in the Old World is to support the work of Dr. Doughty; a work that is supported with great spirit in this province by Colonel Fraser, and to try to form over there societies whose main object is to secure historical papers from whom we can. I would request the great fraternity who sit in front of me, and to which I have the honour to belong, to carefully edit my remarks, for I am going to be a little indiscreet--for that is the prerogative and privilege of being at home. (Laughter)
When I started out to form the English Society, I went to see Lady Minto, whose husband when GovenorGeneral of Canada encouraged the movement, and whose widow still continues to show great interest in this country. I thought she was a very proper person to represent the families of Great Britain and Ireland, in the founding of an organization over there. She readily agreed to my suggestion, and communicated with the Duke of Connaught, and as the result of the letters she wrote, the Canadian History Society in the British Isles got its start. I took advantage of the presence in London at the Imperial Conference of the Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada to unfold my plan to him, at a dinner at which my friend Sir Joseph Flavelle was present, and also the descendants of most of the great families in high places in Canada in the past, who are now resident in London, so far as we could discover them. After dinner we told the company that there was such a thing in Canada as the archives, that there was a place there in regard to which they might wisely remember in the codicils of their wills; that there was a place which would greatly appreciate treasuring the historical documents, which we would be glad to receive as a gift, and would gladly acknowledge in the most public manner.
As a direct result of that particular dinner the Government of Canada has received a very large number of invaluable documents from the families of Lords Dartmouth, Durham, and I do not know how many more; and it has shown the people of the Old World that we are proud of our past and anxious to collect everything we can to make it better known not only to ourselves but to them as well. (Applause)
I realized then that this was only the first step in that kind of missionary work; for, as you all know, we have the English history of this country--of our part of this country, at any rate, since 1759--but that there was an enormously important part played by the French people in the early days, and no archives in Ottawa would be complete without the story of those great Frenchmen who came to this country at the very beginning, and carried through. (Hear, hear)
Therefore I recognized that it would be necessary to go to Paris. It is much easier for me to go to London than to Paris, because it is rather an unusual thing to ask those French families to give of their treasures to a country which no longer belongs to them. So I first of all came to Canada; and, dining here one night as the guest of your provincial Premier, Mr. Ferguson, I learned that Mr. Taschereau was also addressing a meeting in this city. Now, may I be a little indiscreet and tell you that I found that he was travelling back to Montreal that night, and that I so arranged my own affairs that I also travelled to Montreal that night, and by the same train. (Laughter) I went into the drawing room of the Prime Minister of Quebec, and I said, "Mr. Premier, I have come a long way to convey to you an invitation. I have in mind to invite to a banquet in Paris the descendants of the great families of England and France who have made this country, but I feel that I should have a raison d'etre for inviting you, and that raison d'etre should be to give them the privilege and high honour of meeting in Paris the Prime Minister in metaphor, so to speak, of New France." The Prime Minister in metaphor, so to speak, of New France, looked at me and said, "Where will the banquet be?" I have found that it is a great thing to carry through hurriedly without hesitation, and I said, "Mr. Premier, naturally in the Palace at Versailles." Whereupon Mr. Taschereou said, "Why, of course I shall be present." (Laughter and applause)
I went back to Paris, and I saw the only two noblemen that I then knew, that were in any way connected with New France--The Duke de Maripont represents the great Chevalier who went to Dover, and that other one was the Marquis de Montcalm; and I said to those two noblemen, "I want to organize in France the French-Canadian History Society, and I want you to father it and get other gentlemen to join, and I want to give a banquet, and I want you to meet at that banquet the Prime Minister, in Metaphor, of New France; he is coming all the way to meet you." Whereupon the Duke and Marquis said, "And where will the banquet be?" And I, without hesitation, said "Why, naturally, in the Palace at Versailles," and they said, "We will be there." (Laughter)
Then I went back to London, and as I have spent a very active journalistic life, being connected with The Times, I have had the opportunity of knowing most of the people in the world of diplomacy, but I was not quite en courant with the procedure to be followed; because I recognized that I had a premier, a duke and a marquis who had already accepted my invitation. I knew very well the French Ambassador to St. James, so I went to him and said, "Your Excellency, I am in great difficulty; I am giving a great banquet in Paris"--and I visualized what has since taken place--"and I have already three guests." He encouraged me to go ahead, and said that everything he could do he would be glad to do if I would let him know. I said, "That is why I called; it is just a small matter, but I am afraid I have put my foot in it because I have invited those gentlemen to take dinner with me in the palace at Versailles." The French Ambassador is a true diplomat. He never blinked an eye. He looked at me somewhat coldly and said, "It has never been let to a foreigner." I said, "That is why I came here; we must see this thing through somehow; you are the ambassador to England." He said, "But what do you think I ought to do?" I said, "If you will give me a letter to the Director of Palaces, whoever that gentleman is, I will go and see him." I added, "If you will write it in your own handwriting it would carry more weight"--these things do in the Old World. So he did write this letter to a gentleman whose name I dare not divulge even here,
I went to Paris and called on him, and after a certain preamble and a general discussion about international politics, I had to confide in him that I had now four guests that were coming to a banquet with me in the palace at Versailles. Whereupon he was not as diplomatic as the ambassador, and I won't tell you what he said, but he was not as optimistic, and he said, "This is not an ordinary application," and he intimated that he would have to give me another palace near by, perhaps. I pointed out to him that Louis XIV had dreamed the dream of French Empire in Canada in that particular palace in Versailles, and that I could not have that dream dreamed all over in another place. Well, he said, it would perhaps better for me to see the architect, as the application was very unusual; so I asked him to give me a letter, and I urged him to give it in his own handwriting, and at once, as I had a car at the door. He said, "If you could come in tomorrow"--but I said it would be impossible to come tomorrow; so he gave me the letter to the architect, and I took with me a young Englishman who had played a great part in Paris during the war; and we let the architect know that if he allowed this banquet to take place he would also be one of the persons. (Laughter) After two hours the architect recognized that he was immortal, and he said, "Take the palace." (Laughter)
But, Gentlemen, many of you here know as well as I do that it is one thing to get a verbal order, but quite another to get a signed contract. When I got back to London, I hurried after the descendants of all the great English families; and my three or four guests had got to about sixty when I received a letter from the French Government informing me that they had given me the Petit Palace. So I went straight to the French ambassador and said, There is another dilemma, I have got the wrong palace; and now I have fifty-four guests instead of three." He said, "You had better go back and see that director." So back I went with a further explanatory letter about this dilemma. The director said, "I am quite willing, but you had better see the architect." My friend the Professor of History at that time had gone back to London. I found Mr. Roy, the Canadian Commissioner, who was very helpful to me in this matter, and we decided that it would be a good plan to get the officials together; so we all got to Paris together, and I saw clearly that we had to tell the Director of Palaces that he also should be immortal; and then we got the palace back. (Laughter)
Now, Gentlemen, you might think that having got the palace I was very well satisfied and happy, but I assure you my troubles only then began. Naturally I knew there were people with some knowledge of Canadian history, with descendants all over France, and I got a considerable array of persons, and finally 200 people said they would come and feast with me, including from England the Duke of Connaught.
I went to Versailles, and found there was no kitchen in the palace, and I was afraid we could never have a banquet there. But in speaking to a caterer in Paris he gave me encouragement. It must be remembered that it takes 30 minutes to go from Versailles to Paris, and I thought the luncheon would not be very warm after travelling that distance; but if there is one thing in which Paris excels the whole world it is in the art of eating, and the Paris caterer said, "Yes, I think it can be done; I would like to have it mentioned that I played a part in connection with this banquet." (Laughter) I said, "There is room for quite a number, carry on." Well, I succeeded in getting him to arrange it, and really it was a wonderful triumph on his part. That luncheon was served in the Palace of Versailles from Paris, yet everything was hot, and it was really a great banquet, with all the wines and so on just as we would be having here--well, not the wine. (Laughter)
Then I realized that I had considerable responsibilities, because after that the French Government wrote to me: "Now, we have lent you the palace, and you can have this very extraordinary company of distinguished people there, but it is your responsibility for the day." Well, there is a great institution in the city of London which is comprised of hatters, and as my bank account has not yet reached the proportions that would allow me to pay for the Versailles palace if I had to renew it, I walked up to the institution known as Lloyds and I said, "I would like to insure for one day the Palace at Versailles." (Laughter) They said, "This is an unlooked for premium?" and I said, "Yes, that is why you want to make it cheap." They said, "We will;" and they did, and when it was over Dr. Doughty said that the premium ought to go to the archives, so I even lost that precious document. (Laughter)
You who have read French history will know that during the days of Louis XIV there were two rather wonderful tapestries on which he used to walk, and which were stored away outside of Paris. I thought I could bring those two tapestries to the banquet, and I went back to the Director and asked him if I could have the use of the tapestries for the occasion, and he said he was willing if the guardian-in-chief approved. The guardian said, "Yes, I will let you have those tapestries, but I would like it to be understood that I had something to do in the getting up of this banquet." (Laughter) Well, I got the tapestries, and if you can visualize it here today, it was rather wonderful when the Prime Minister of France and the Chamber of Deputies entered that gallery at that time to see those grand tapestries which Louis XIV had walked on in the long ago--the spirit of the great king all around us at that time.
I had engaged a 17th century orchestra, and when we entered the great dining hall that orchestra played the old tunes of Louis XIV; and, what is more interesting to Canadians, it played the accompaniment to a FrenchCanadian tenor who was born in the Province of Quebec and who is now singing in the Paris Opera House. On that day he rendered the folk-songs of French Canada. (Applause) Those French-Canadian chansons were sung by the young French-Canadian at Versailles; and so it happened that those old folk-songs of Quebec which had been heard on the fair fields of Eastern Canada were also heard so many years later at Versailles. (Applause)
The Government at Ottawa were kind enough to send me an enormous collection of autumn maple leaves; and when they reached Versailles they were in a perfect state of preservation, and I put them on each of the 18 tables; and on each table I put a spray of lilies of France, and so we had at each table the emblem of old France and maple leaves of this country. (Applause) You do not know how many people in France came to me afterwards and asked me what those maple leaves were. Nearly all of them had heard of the maple leaf, but few of them had ever seen it before--which brings home some of the things that need to be made known outside of Canada.
When we got to the question of seating my guests a very real difficulty occurred. [The speaker then outlined the plan of seating his 180 guests at 18 tables, arranging each group of 10 in the order of precedence that rules in France].
When the Prime Minister of the French Republic got up to speak, I think nobody in that wonderful company will ever forget his words. Turning to the Duke of Connaught he said, "In the New World neither was victor; neither was vanquished; we both lost; it was Canada's victory; may God give her the best of what we are trying to give her, in her own great tomorrow." (Applause)
Well, that is all over, and as I said, it was a great object-lesson to see Montcalm in that Old World palace toast the health of Wolfe, without rancour, with all yesterday around him; and I, a Canadian, born and bred from generations past in this country, I thought that day of my own native land, and I hoped the same spirit of cooperation and good will might exist between our people in this country that existed that day between their ancestors in the palace of Versailles. (Hearty applause)
I am wondering if all working together we cannot weave the great national story, the history of Canada, into our national life, to give inspiration to Canadian character, to increase our pride in Canadian birth, and develop a fuller Canadian consciousness, a real Canadian unity. If we instill such ideals into our citizens, we shall not need to fear for our future, and we will be true to our early pioneers. Ours should be the enthusiasm to dare and accomplish what they could only dimly perceive. According to their abilities and their patriotism they builded for us the free country we enjoy; they cleared the paths; they pointed the way. It is for us today to realize, in the field of ultimate achievement, the visions they dreamed, the ideals for which they toiled. (Loud applause)
SIR JOSEPH FLAVELLE expressed the thanks of the Club for the very admirable and moving address.