- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 8 Oct 1925, p. 264-269
- Dutton, Sir Frederick, Speaker
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- The Throne and United Empire. The throne as representative of that great estate of the realm, the Crown, always the most potent connecting link between all parts of the Empire. Two occasions on which the Dominion of Canada fought for the United Empire: when the Fathers of Confederation combined and were able to bring about the British North America Act of 1867, and in the disastrous war of 1914-18. The lack of doubt that the Dominion of Canada is always going to remain part of the Empire. The Royal Colonial Institute, its origins and aims. Preserving a united Empire. Need for the Institute when it was formed. Features of the Institute, members and facilities, meetings, structure of the organization, publications. The current problem of the inadequacy of the building in which the Institute is housed. Thinking of the phrase the "British race united" and what that means. Justification for the importance of the term "the British race."
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- 8 Oct 1925
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THRONE AND EMPIRE
AN ADDRESS BY SIR FREDERICK DUTTON.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
October 8, 1925.
PRESIDENT BURNS introduced the speaker.
SIR FREDERICK DUTTON.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,--The subject on which I am to speak today is the Throne and United Empire. We regard the Throne at the Royal Colonial Institute not in any way in its personal aspect--the man or perhaps the woman who may happen to occupy it--but as representative of that great estate of the realm, the Crown, which is always the most potent connecting link between all parts of the Empire. (Hear, hear) When we talk of the King we always mean our King in the Mother Country, your King in Canada, their King in Australia. On your bank notes you have a picture of King George, and there you have the thing typified; it is the Crown, the great connecting link between all parts of the Empire; and if there were no other, I am confident, it is a link which alone is capable of sustaining the integrity of the Empire and keeping us together. (Hear, hear)
I want to refer to two occasions on which the Dominion of Canada-or on the first occasion the
By profession a solicitor, for a long time practicing in London, England, Sir Frederick Dutton has during many years devoted himself in general to those things which have made for unity and solidarity of the Empire, and in particular the Royal Colonial Institute, of which he is VicePresident. Sir Frederick was born in Australia. His father, at one time Prime Minister of Australia, became the first Agent-General for South Australia to Great Britain, and so Sir Frederick at an early age came to "The Heart of the Empire."
people of the Provinces--fought for unity. The first was when the "Fathers of Confederation" combined, and were able to bring about the British North America Act of 1867, which constituted the Dominion of Canada. That stage was not reached without a great deal of violent controversy. There was great difference of opinion, not only within the Provinces but in the Mother Country, as to whether the destinies of Canada would be best dealt with by her taking, as she ultimately did, a constitution within the orbit of the British Empire, or whether the great growing powerful republic on the other side of your borders, the great United States, was not rather the ultimate destiny of Canada, and that she should seek her future by merging herself and becoming so many new Provinces or States of that great Republic. That was a great controversy.
Eventually, and happily as I say, the issue was settled by the passing of the British North America Act and the creation of the Dominion of Canada, one of the great self-governing, free, independent nations within the orbit of the Commonwealth of the British Empire.
But that was only a political battle. The next great battle in which this Dominion was prominently engaged, in common with all the parts of the Empire, was in the disastrous war of 1914-18. That was a battle in which human life in appalling numbers were sacrificed, in which human frames were jarred and crippled. All the horrors of that war were experienced by the various members of the British Empire, determined as they were from the beginning to see it through to the end, because they knew that the liberty and independence of every part of the Empire was involved in the issue of that conflict. I have heard the late Dr. Parkyn, famous as once head of Upper Canada College, a most brilliant scholar and eloquent man, and a most enthusiastic imperialist, speaking of Canada, say:--"Look at the issue that was in doubt in 1867. Had Canada decided to throw in her lot with the United States, then Canada would have been engaged, as the United States were engaged, throughout the greater period of the war, in making a great deal of money out of our necessities, and Canada would not have come into the battle until the United States came into it; whereas, having decided, as she did, to take her constitution within the orbit of the British Empire, Canada alone put into the field during the whole period of the war, and maintained all through, a larger army than the Duke of Wellington commanded at the Battle of Waterloo." Practical application of that kind enable us to realize what great results came from the decision such as the people of Canada made in 1866.
Those are the two occasions on which Canada in particular has been engaged in what I call great battles for the United Empire, and I hope that the memory of those things will never fade from the minds of the Canadian people, and that having fought those battles you have fought them once and for all, and that we may never in any part of the Empire have any doubt that the Dominion of Canada is always going to remain part of the Empire. (Applause)
I would like now to speak about the body of which I have been a member since 1880, having been largely concerned in the direction of its affairs for the greater part of that time,--the Royal Colonial Institute. From the date of its organization in 1868, it has been engaged in a constant battle, year in and year out, to preserve a united Empire. There was a great need for the Institute when it was formed. The very controversy to which I referred was one of the main reasons that led to its formation. Some of our people at home saw the danger involved in such issues and controversies. It was not only that politicians in the highest circles, the Manchester school, were in favour of the idea of "cutting the painter" with all the Colonies, which they looked upon as a nuisance, but Statesmen at home, in their foolishness, thought that they would thus be getting rid of a great many little difficulties occurring from time to time in their administration. It was to counteract that school of thought, and to have a society organized to battle against it, that our Institute was formed, so that we might demonstrate that the prosperity of every man, woman and child, and every institution within the regions of the Empire, should remain and keep developing as a United Empire. (Hear, hear)
How are we as an institution to fight our battles? Our plan of campaign was laid down in our charter of incorporation. First of all our object was to maintain the unity of the Empire; in order to attain that our purpose was to diffuse knowledge and information, for there is nothing so dangerous as ignorance on the part of great bodies of people who may have it in their power to decide momentous issues. I think our Institute can proudly claim that it has been the main mover and organizer of the creation of the knowledge and information about the British Empire that is now so general.
Another necessary feature of the Institute was a central place for meeting and carrying on its objects. In Northumberland Avenue, right in the centre of London, we have a building where members of our body can meet, and we have developed what I may call the domestic part of it to a very high stage of utility. We provide for our members practically all the amenities of a first-class club; they can come and get their lunch there; they can read all the papers, including those of their own country, and I believe this is the only place where it is possible to do that. We have a wonderful library comprising 164,000 volumes, increasing every year by 3,000 or 4,000, and it has been the object of the Council to have a copy of every book of importance that has been published with regard to any part of the Empire. The result is that our library is not only of use to our members, but it is made accessible to the public, and is greatly resorted to by politicians, writers and students for study and writing on imperial matters. In that way it is a most important factor in diffusing information.
Then we have a series of meetings when papers are read about different parts of the Empire, and discussed, public meetings outside of our own building and meetings of a more social nature within the building. We are always entertaining distinguished representatives of political and other life from the Dominions. All these meetings and functions receive the widest publicity in the entire Press of the Country.
We publish every month a journal under the title of "United Empire," which records not only our own proceedings but contains also a great deal of most interesting and instructive material and articles about the other parts of the Empire.
But we have our problems, just as you in Canada have yours. Our great problem is that our present building in Northumberland Avenue is altogether inadequate for our growing needs. With our library growing every year, we have to keep our books scattered all over the building, so that the Librarian has no proper control over them, and the public wanting access to books are inconvenienced. That alone would justify the increase in our building. This also applies to the room where we keep our files of newspapers of the Empire. We have no properly equipped hall where we can hold our own meetings and public functions. We wish to make our building the great imperial centre in the City of London. We want our building to be made familiar to every visitor in London. Northumberland Avenue is now one of the great arteries of London, and every year millions of people go to and fro there.
I would like our building to be such as would speak to the passerby in something like the terms of the lines which I have written, and which I venture to think you will consider very bad verse:--
"All ye who pass this way along, Look at me, and when you sight it, Learn that we work all the time within To keep the British race united."
Now, gentlemen, think of that particular term--the British race united. Think what a splendid theme that would be for any real poet to write real poetry about. The British race has spread itself into all quarters of the globe, and has carried with it all those great traditions and qualities which have made the British Empire what it is,-the industry, energy, endurance, freedom, free institutions, evenly administered justice, well-being, fair play, and what is more important, an intense desire to be allowed to work out our own destiny in amicable relationship with all other countries. (Applause)
If you wanted any further justification for the importance of that term-the British race-read Lord Milner's "Credo," recently published, in which he says, "I am an Imperialist because I am of the British race, and my patriotism is not confined to any geographical limit; it is the racial limit which is the only thing I have in my mind." So he says, "In calling myself a member of the British Empire I consider that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,-any part of the Empire you like--is as much my country as the County of Yorkshire or Suffolk." (Applause) There is a great spirit pervading the whole of that idea; it has been the creation of such which has been the object and work of the Royal Colonial Institute during all these years.
PRINCIPAL W. L. GRANT, of Upper Canada College, Honorary Secretary of the Canadian Branch of the Royal Colonial Institute, expressed the thanks of the Club for the address.