THE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES IN THE CANADIAN ARMY
AN ADDRESS BY SIR ROBERT FALCONER
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
October 7, 1918
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,--It is a great pleasure to be back home again and speak again to one's old friends in Toronto, and to have the pleasure of telling you a little of what is being done in this particular line of activity which has been inaugurated and is being carried through in Britain and in France. Most of you will probably have seen in last Saturday's paper this word from Ottawa
The Khaki University has been placed on an official and permanent basis. Acting on the recommendation of the Minister of Overseas Forces, the Government has decided to establish a Department for Educational Service in the Canadian Military Overseas Forces. The Department will be under a Director of Education and a branch general staff, and through such a branch will be responsible to the Minister of Overseas Forces. The Director of Overseas Education will be responsible for the administration of the educational service, including control of personnel, and will be assisted by a Deputy. An advisory Senate will meet periodically and advise upon matters of policy. Educational organization in England and France will each be under an
Sir Robert Falconer is the President of the University of Toronto. He has been interested in the "Khaki University" from the first and spent the summer of 1918 overseas in the interest of the Education of Soldiers while on service.
Assistant Director of Education, who will be responsible to the Director of Education. Such civilian personnel will be employed as is considered necessary, and will be given honorary rank in the overseas forces. The cost to the Canadian Government, not including separation allowances, is estimated as--Pay and Allowance, $219,263; subsistence allowance, $25,000; Cost of Rations, $7,500; Maintenance in France, per capita rate, $97,000; Barracks Services, $15,000. The Khaki University is the first of its kind to be established by any of the Allied Governments.
The Order-in-Council under which it is created recites some of the Educational work already accomplished. I do not linger over that.
It is not intended fully to employ the entire personnel authorized by the establishment, but the Order-in-Council adds that it is desirable to have it authorized so that no delay may occur on demobilization, and an appropriation of $25,000 has been made by private contribution in Canada towards University education.
Now, that is a very important announcement, and one that personally I was very glad to see, because in London they have been waiting nearly two months for this authorization. The general outline had been drawn up sometime in June; the principle had been passed upon by Sir Robert Borden and his colleagues when they were in London this summer, but the outlay involved in the establishment of it was so large that it was felt that it should be first considered carefully by the Cabinet at Ottawa, hence the delay. This official announcement means that this movement, popularly known as the Khaki University, has definitely entered upon a new stage, and I believe that the Canadian forces are the first of any of the Allied armies that have had such a step as this taken -a step that is as different from anything that has happened before, as the war of today is different from former wars. That a Government should definitely recognize a Department of Educational Services during war means that it is aware that the class of men who are in the ranks are men of a calibre that did not go to war in the old days; and also that if war is to be carried through in the most efficient way, the morale of the men must be maintained; also that the evils which in past days have resulted from demobilization because of haphazard arrangements, or none were so disastrous in their results, that dangers of this kind must be anticipated and every effort must be made to return our men to the country, fitted as far as possible to assume the vocations which they had before, or fitted to step into the new kind of life for which they had begun to prepare themselves. 'Phis announcement, then, is a tribute to the quality of our men at the front, and I believe also to the intelligence and far-seeing statemanship of our men who are in control of the army. What has been done by Canada is being followed by other countries. England is taking similar steps, as Australia and New Zealand are also doing; but we have the honor, I think, of beginning this movement.
This Khaki University began in the minds of those who were particularly interested in raising the tone of life of the soldier, and also who had enough prevision to look to the time of demobilization. The Y.M.C.A. in their Huts came into constant touch with the soldier,-they knew the kind of men that composed our Army, and how many there were who needed education; the Chaplains also were interested in it; and from various sources the suggestions came and were developed. Finally, under the influence and direction, and on the suggestion, of the Y.M.C.A. in England, President Tory, of the University of Alberta, was asked a year ago last July to go over to England and France and investigate conditions-a work for which he was particularly well adapted. He had been Professor of Mathematics in McGill University for many years, and was there well known for his administrative capacity. He then undertook work for McGill on the Pacific Coast, and for the last nine or ten years he has been President of the University at Edmonton. He has a great deal of energy and organizing skill; understands the Educational systems of Canada from Atlantic to Pacific; and has been particularly interested .in various educational movements in this Dominion; so the country was exceedingly fortunate in securing him for this investigation. He was given full opportunity to carry through his mission. General Turner, in England, welcomed him, and in France he was given a chance to see what could be done there. Of course in summertime in France, while active service is on, it is extremely difficult to make such an investigation as he would desire, and the work that he did was based very largely, I suppose, on what he saw in England. His report was an exceedingly important one, and when he came back he approached the Universities of the Dominion. The name "Khaki University" had been given to it, which I always think was a little unfortunate, but it has caught the public imagination, and although it is somewhat misleading, I suppose it will remain with it to the end.
Dr. Tory laid before the Universities his plan, which was that the Y.M.C.A. should raise a certain amount of money and withdraw themselves from any active direction of this organization, and trust the money to a committee chosen on this side, mainly from the Universities; that President Tory would, if possible, secure from the University of Alberta an extended leave in order that he might take charge of the movement in England and France. The Committee was established,-a large and very representative committee. I take these names from the Report given to Sir Robert Borden by President Tory a few months ago:
George Campbell, Chairman Board of Governors, Dalhousie.
W. M. Birks, McGill.
I. W'. Ross, McGill.
Dr. Hamilton Cassels, Queen's.
Sir Edmund Walker, Toronto.
Col. Leonard, St. Catharines.
G. E. McCraney, Saskatchewan.
George H. Wood, Y.M.C.A.
Vincent Massey, Toronto.
Isacci Pitblado, Manitoba.
Chief Justice Harvey, Alberta.
President McKenzie, Dalhousie.
Sir William Peterson, McGill.
Principal Bruce A. Taylor, Queen's.
President Walter Murray, Saskatchewan.
President Maclean, Manitoba.
Dr. G. C. Creelman, Agricultural College.
C. W. Bishop, Secy. Y.M.C.A. as Secretary.
And I, myself, was chosen Chairman.
To this Committee this money, in a general way, has been entrusted; I can hardly say it has been directly entrusted to them, but this Committee has to authorize the general scheme under which the money will be spent by an Executive Committee that resides in London, as this large committee cannot be called together on all occasions.
President Tory has been set aside for this work, and now that the movement has been recognized, it is settled that he is to be Director of the Educational Services of the Canadian Forces overseas, and I believe he is to be given the rank of Honorary Colonel without salary; he is not even paid a salary by this Committee, but simply certain expenses are to be allowed. Dean Adams, of the Faculty of Applied Science in McGill, will almost certainly be his Deputy. Then there will be two Assistant Directors, one for England and one for Prance; the latter will probably be Captain Oliver, one of the chief Chaplains in France, who has done a great educative work with the forces there, over a long period; and Principal McKinnon, of Halifax, will be assistant Director in England. These men know the undertaking, they have grown up in it, and will prove to be skilled and experienced. Dr. Tory has offices at 31 Bedford Square, London, and quite a large staff. A calender is being prepared in which the courses will be set forth. Libraries are being purchased, and a very large correspondence work is being done.
Let me now turn to the aims that are set before this movement, and the kind of work that is to be done. As I said, it is in a way a misnomer to call it a University, for the amount of real University work done will be small. It is true that our Universities will recognize any University work that is done; the Senate of McGill, for instance, and other Universities have all said that if President Tory and his committee certify that the work done is of matriculation grade, or first year grade, or whatever it may be, we will accept their decisions; we have given him that general assurance. Of course we are particularly fortunate in having President Tory there, because as a University man familiar with the educational systems in this country, he knows our standards, and of course we can rely upon his good faith and that of men like Dean Adams, both of whom are in the Conference of the Universities every year, and also of men like Captain Oliver. But speaking in an off-hand way, I should think there would not be much more than a fifth or a quarter of the work that would be of University grade. However, the whole educational system of the Army will be directed by men with University standing, who understand also the Educational systems and the various educational standards and methods of the Provinces, hence we are assured that educational work of any grade will be carried on in a thorough way.
The aim of this movement, as I said, is to engage the attention of our troops through their leisure moments on active service at present, and particularly in the period of demobilization, in order that they may be returned home more capable intellectually than they would have been otherwise; that they should not be allowed to drift aimlessly along, wasting their time, with the result that when they came back home they would be intellectually listless and in a condition that would render them certainly not as able as previously to undertake any work that they would be called upon to do. So there will be an inferior grade of education and a higher grade of education. The education is to begin at the very bottom. At one of the Camps in England I got a great surprise when I was told by the Colonel,-who knew what he was talking about, and in fact was acting-commanding officer in charge of this camp, one of the largest that we have, -that a number of the men in regiments from an English-speaking Province of this Dominion could not read or write. In my optimism I had believed that ignorance of that density would be unknown in Canada's army. Surely our educational systems in this Dominion should not have allowed such a thing as that to have taken place. I may say it was not from Ontario that the regiment came. President Tory was with me at the time, and I turned to him and said, "Well, there is a job for you," and he said, "It -will be part of my job, to see if possible that no man shall come back to Canada who cannot read and write." Some already are being taught, and he mentioned one or two in that very camp who were proud and happy men; one of whom came and said "I was able to write home to my wife last week." Of course such ignorance is not to be overemphasized; there is not a great deal of it, but there is more than there should be, and the reason I have mentioned it is merely to show that the work of the Khaki College must begin at the very lowest stratum and send men back intellectually better equipped than they were before.
Move up a little higher, and we come to other departments of activity. The three main departments will be Commercial, Agricultural and Engineering subjects, together with general education of that grade. In the report that was presented in May, covering the work of last winter, there were enrolments, in the various camps in England-Witley, Bramshott, Shorncliffe--which is now being reduced materially-Epsom, Basingstoke, Bixley, London Centre, totalling 2,351 men studying Agricultural subjects; 1,363 in Commercial; 1,503 in Engineering; 2,789 in general education. The Engineering subjects, for instance, are taught in a practical way, and there is a certain amount of apparatus, engines, etc., in some of the chief camps. in which such instruction can be given. In addition to those subjects, lectures and courses were given to occupy the time of the men, a side of the work which is to be emphasized particularly during the coming winter. For instance, there will be a course on the Natural Resources of Canada which will, probably be delivered by Dean Adams of McGill, and few men in Canada are more competent to conduct such a course, as he is an eminent geologist who has been in the Geological Survey, and is a member of the Advisory Council on Industrial Research. There will probably be another course of lectures on the Political Constitution of Canada as compared with other constitutions; the Government of Canada in all its parts; and the Social Problems that lie before the country. The object of these courses is not so much instruction on which examinations will be set, as general information to equip these men to become better citizens. There you have, then, the two sides of it-instruction, and general education as a result of lecture courses. This instruction is carried out by personal contact with teachers, and by correspondence directed from London and carried out in the camps all over the country.
During last winter this work was effective in France as well as England, because France was relatively quiet in winter, and it has been a tremendous boon already to our soldiers in their spare moments. You require to be among the men only a short time to realize what need there is of giving them something to engage their attention. Of course there is no need of that when they are on active service at the front, but at other times they must be given interest in their life, and it is a pretty difficult matter at the front and in those large camps in England to maintain their interests at a high level. This Khaki University, as it is called, goes on the understanding that the primary object is to maintain the interest at such a grade that the man will be kept up, and not become a creature of his circumstances, and therefore will also become happier and a better soldier. For this purpose a most important factor is the use of libraries. An immense amount of money is being spent on books--cheap books and standard books. These are placed in every camp, and not only in one portion of the camp, but in, may be, half a dozen different huts scattered over a camp--such as Witley, where there were 20,000 men at the time I was there, or Bramshott, where there would be 18,000. In these huts in different parts of the camps, the libraries are placed in control of men set apart for that work. The Government is under no expense for the purchase of libraries or of apparatus, as that is being attended to with the money that has been raised and put at the disposal of the committee; but the Government is setting aside a certain number of men, mainly commissioned officers, but some non-commissioned, the main part of whose duties will be to supervise work in various Camps, and to give instruction. Those men draw their ordinary military pay, and the calculation of this cost to the country is largely a matter of 'seconding' from various military duties, so that it is only an indirect expense to the Government. The military authorities will also probably set aside here and there certain huts, and put them down as costing a certain amount of money; but in the large camps the Government is spending no money on headquarters for instruction; most of the headquarters for President Tory's work have been purchased and equipped through this fund raised by the Y.M.C.A. For instance, at Seaford, not far from Eastbourne, with 17,000 or 18,000 men, President Tory rented quite a large private house near the camp, admirably suited for his quarters, and from that the whole work at Seaford will be directed; and there will be huts through the Camp itself where libraries will be placed. At Witley a hut suitable for this work was built. Therefore that kind of expense falls on this fund, and the country will have only the indirect expense through the transfer of men who are now doing other kinds of military service to this instead, still counting them on the strength of the army and giving them their regular pay.
The work hitherto has been in its initial stages. Everyone who has visited the camps and talked with those in command will recognize that the most serious problem will arise during the period of demobilization. Our men are now active, movement is everywhere; ever since the 8th of August last there has been movement across the Channel and movement in France, and very little lack of interest. A certain amount of work of this kind could be done in England, but not a great deal. But everywhere the man in control asks, "How are we going to hold our men in when the war is over, and when there is nothing for them to do in France or in England? Can they be kept in France? Can they be kept long in England? What are we to do with them at that time?" You are not long with the ordinary soldier, or officer for that matter, Without discovering that his heart is in Canada, that his mind is always turning to Canada, and that he is constantly thinking of home. He will not want to remain in England or France one day longer than he can help, and to restrain men under discipline when they are in the least eager to get home is going to tax the energies and courage and wisdom of all those who are in command during the period of demobilization; and during those months, the educational services will find their fullest scope. It is probable that at that time a special camp will be set apart for this work, to which probably the men who are really interested in education will be brought where officers will be stationed whose particular duties will be the education of those men. It is quite possible also that some men in the higher grades may be attached to various Universities; for instance, the University College of London has offered its laboratories to be thrown open to any overseas students whom Dr. Tory may send there to finish their scientific education during this period, and a certain amount of work of this kind can be done, although I do not anticipate that a large portion of the work will be of that grade. A certain amount will be of matriculation quality, and possibly of the first year in Arts. But work of this grade will be very important. No doubt in the ten years after this war this country will suffer from depletion in the professional services. Medicine will not suffer quite so much as other departments because we have had more. men in Medicine than in almost any other branch, due to the circumstances of the case. Engineering is going to suffer very seriously. Let me give you an example, for I do not suppose you realize the change that has come over our own University. Before the war we had an attendance of perhaps 750 students in the Faculty of Applied Science; this last year we had 150-600 fewer. The year before we had 175 to 180. Most of the men we have recently had in attendance have been in the first two years; when they got beyond that they enlisted and went away, and there has been such a depletion in the Engineering Faculty that the engineers around the city have become serious over the matter, and have actually established this year several scholarships for entrance into the University in order to stimulate boys to take up Engineering. Some of that foolish talk that we heard at the beginning of the war about closing the University is now probably silenced for good; the public is beginning to realize what those of us who knew about it said at the beginning-that instead of letting things go haphazard, we should keep our eyes more on the future. We are going to suffer in a good many professions for the next ten years just because of the haphazard way we went to work in the beginning of the war. Very few school teachers are coming forward. All over the country the women teachers will be in an overwhelming majority; the men have gone into the Army and have been drafted into the war, and although we tried to get them relieved, the military authorities said they could not do it. The ranks of the clergy will also suffer from a great dearth of men, and I do not know how the churches are to meet their problems. Canada will suffer from a lack of men in almost every profession in the next ten years.
Now comes in this important factor,-the Khaki University. The young men, the boys at school who were heading for the University, will get a chance to complete their Matriculation and to take up their professions as intended before the war; and that will be a saving for the country. Then there are others, such as boys of 19 who had matriculated and possibly taken one year in College. In going overseas they have got into a new environment and possibly to a great extent have been weaned away from their own ambitions and ideals and purposes, and they would be lost also, simply because of the new environment, for they would think they had got so far behind that they could not resume their studies. It is not a real kindness to grant a year to a man. Men often come to us and say "My son has gone overseas; do treat him decently and make it easy for him." What is the use of giving to a boy a favor that is not worth anything to him? He cannot do the work of the next year, and it is no use allowing a year, for you are not helping the boy. Many when they come back will say, "I am so far behind that it is hopeless for me to pick up," but of that kind many others can be saved in this Khaki College, for they will be taken hold of and given instruction, supposing the period of demobilization were to take a year or even six months. Earnest boys, with nothing else to take their attention, might be made fit to resume a life-work at home which otherwise they would have abandoned.
This scheme, therefore, is one that is a conservation of natural resources of the highest order, and those resources are to be partially of University grade-and we see how much need there is of them. There will be perhaps two-thirds of the other grades, namely, commercial, agricultural, engineering and general education, and even of the lowest grades. But the whole scheme is the development of an intellectual interest which will make our men better citizens and better Canadians. I believe that the men themselves will be very grateful for the opportunity that will have been afforded them of not only employing their time when they will greatly need new interests, but also of so employing it that they will be restored to their country not only as good soldiers with a wonderful record, but even more as intelligent members of society.