Young Ambassadors of Empire
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 7 Nov 1929, p. 289-300
Wigle, Colonel E.S., Speaker
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Some thoughts with regard to the Empire. The natural resources and the heritage which we have in Canada. The association of the two names Canada and Empire. The issue of Canada's flag. Discussion surrounding an Anglo-American pact in regard to the peace and happiness of the world. Some words from Sir Wilfred Laurier with regard to England and the United States fighting side-by-side. The Boy Scout movement. The Canadian boys at the international jamboree this year. Details of the jamboree. Comments on the Boy Scout movement as a power for peace and happiness throughout the world. Interest in the Boy Scout movement in Canada.
Date of Original
7 Nov 1929
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Full Text
7th November, 1929

PRESIDENT EAYRS introduced the speaker, who said:

Mr. President, Members of the Empire Club, it is a great pleasure and a distinct honour to be invited to speak to the members of this Club. Coming as I do from the most southwesterly part of the Province of Ontario it might be suspected that my thoughts of empire might be somewhat contaminated by my proximity to our neighbours in the great republic to the south, but I come to you today as a Canadian-born, having lived all my life in Canada. But, strong as I am as a Canadian, I am just that much stronger as a Britisher. (Hear, hear and applause.)

Gentlemen, today I am to deliver some thoughts which I have with regard to the Empire, first. I am going to speak to you today in the same way as a young clergyman who was invited to speak to the prisoners in a penitentiary, and the warden, in answer to his questions as to the manner he should adopt in addressing the prisoners, replied, "Just come along and speak to them as you would talk to your own congregation; the only difference is that your chaps have not been caught yet, and mine have." (Laughter.) So I just feel that I can speak to you today just as I feel.

As a Canadian I often think of what a wonderful heritage we have in the national resources of our country, the greatest in the world. We do not know the bounds of our lands, forests, fisheries and agriculture. Then I feel that a large percentage of the people of Canada have a great heritage in the stock from which we came-the very fine stock of Old England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France; a stock that has done so much for the British Empire and for all the European countries. Our hope is that we may do for Canada what those men have done for the British Empire.

We have the two names associated-Canada and the Empire. There are many things that sometimes tend to disturb that feeling of empire which we have in Canada. I particularly wish to mention, though a great many of you may differ from me, one in regard to the flag. Being a thorough Britisher, I stand four-square for the maintaining of the grand Old Union Jack as the flag of Canada. (Hear, hear and applause.) Every man may have his own opinion in regard to it, and it may be a matter of sentiment, but when you look back at the history of Canada since the Conquest, every war we have fought has been under the old Union Jack; in the War of 1812, in the South African War, when we sent 1,000 men from Canada under the command of that splendid Britisher, General Wm. D. Otter (applause); again, when the Great War came on we sent 500,000 men from Canada, and they fought under the Union Jack side by side with the Stars and Stripes of the United States of America and with the tri-colour of France. So there is a great deal of sentiment with me in regard to retaining the grand old Union Jack as the flag of Canada. It has been floating over all our educational institutions, our halls of learning, our judicial buildings and our public buildings, and now it floats over all our public schools in the various provinces of this Dominion. Any one coming from the United States into Canada and seeing the Union Jack need have no doubt about where he is, for he knows that he is in Canada and a part of the British Empire. It may be a matter of sentiment, but I am strongly convinced that it is better for Canada, as a part of the British Empire, to retain the grand old Union Jack. I think there is nothing that can ever make us, as Canadians, forget that flag under which our infancy has been developed and defended, and it has created in the national life a spirit of freedom, British fair play and protection.

We have recently had a personal interview between the Premier of old England and the President of the United States looking towards an Anglo-American pact in regard to the peace and happiness of the world. My thought has been that if at the ending of the War, instead of an Armistice being declared, the enemy had been called upon to surrender and lay down their arms, and if the United States at that time had been strongly bound up with the British Empire and with France and the other allied forces, and a peace pact had been dictated by the British Empire and the United States combined, from which the United States could not have declined, then I say we would have had what they are endeavouring to bring about today-an Anglo-American alliance which would have said to the world, "We shall have peace"; because those two nations behind a peace pact could have enforced it at any time. Then they would have done something on which we could rely for the peace and happiness of all nations.

I am not given to quoting very often from one of our distinguished statesmen, because in his day I differed from him in politics-I refer to Sir Wilfred Laurier. He issued these words in 1889 at a banquet at Chicago, speaking to the toast of Canada:-

Can we not hope that if ever the banners of England and the banner of the United States are again to meet on the battle-field they shall meet entwined together in defence of some holy cause, the defence of some holy justice, for the defence of the oppressed, for the enfranchisement of the downtrodden, and for the advancement of liberty, progress and civilization?

(Hear, hear and applause.) Those words became true in the late War when we had the United States and the British Empire fighting side by side for freedom, justice, the protection of the weak as against the strong; so that if Sir Wilfred could have lived until today I am satisfied that he would have had the same view-that while the United States and the British Empire had their banners entwined, if a peace pact had been drawn up at that time and signed by those two great nations, we could have been assured of peace and happiness for ever.

In addition to that, there would have been no necessity for the British Empire strengthening its navy by building greater and stronger ships, or for the United States spending millions of dollars to build greater ships for their navy. The navy which those two countries had at the close of the war would have been a sufficient protection for all the high seas. A solemn pact between those nations for the peace of the world would have given peace, and at less expense than under the present plant. Those are my sentiments with regard to the British Empire as a Canadian, a Britisher, coming from United Empire Loyalist stock. Like Sir John Macdonald, one of the other great statesmen, I can say, "A British subject I was born, and a British subject I will die." (Applause.) So if we take the sentiments of those two great statesmen, as uttered in the days when they were active, I say we have before us a picture which words cannot explain, and we do well to follow the sentiments of those statesmen who made Canada great in their day. (Hear, hear.)

Now I come to the subject about which I am to speak more particularly, the Boy Scout movement, which has been very dear to my heart ever since its inception in Canada, I joined the movement in 1910, and I have seen its commencement and its growth. I am to speak of the great jamboree which has just taken place in Old England, near Birkenhead. In 1924 there was an imperial conference of the Boy Scouts in England, and in the same year there was a meeting of Boy Scouts at Copenhagen. The international jamboree this year assembled in one of the beautiful English parks, containing 450 acres. There were 50,000 boys from 42 different countries, representing over 2,000,000 Boy Scouts throughout the world. It would be impossible to picture the event in words; a man must see it in order to get the impression which I got.

We sent 160 boys to represent the Dominion of Canada, from the extreme points of the West, as far North as Fort Simpson to the extreme points of the East. Those boys were selected according to a certain standard. They must be between 15 and 18 years of age, and they must have been qualified to obtain the King's Scout's badge, which is the highest a Boy Scout can obtain. Those boys were divided into four troops, which were named after four Governors-General of the Dominion of Canada-Willingdon, Byng, Connaught and Devonshire. Those boys were placed in different troops, so that they were mixed up from East to West and from North to South. Those boys were stalwart, clean, splendid looking boys from excellent families. You can seethe reason, then, for what is quoted from an English newspaper on the card calling this meeting. Speaking of the Canadian Camp that newspaper said:-

Their camp was much the best I saw. They are the only unit, except Australia, which measures up to the full woodcraft standard formulated by Baden-Powell. They have received the highest praise for their equipment, discipline and general scout-craft.

That is a wonderful tribute to the Canadian boys. (Applause.)

When the Duke of Connaught came to open the camp he asked for a guard, and some Canadian boys were selected to form that guard, after a keen competition with all the Boys Scouts which were in camp. The Canadians won out on the keen competition by reason of the facts stated in this notice. Naturally, of course, the troop with the name of Connaught was selected for his inspection, and a finer lot of boys you could not have looked at. I have a picture of them here showing the grand old Duke of Connaught passing down the line and shaking hands with every boy, and congratulating them upon their experience, and expressing his delight that he was able to shake hands with the boys from Canada representing the Boy Scout movement.

When the jamboree opened we had a large field in which the boys were all assembled, facing a large arena capable of holding 50,000 people. Unfortunately the weather was not such as it ought to be, for we had rain all the time, and when it did not rain in the daytime it rained at night; but on the day when the camp was opened the sun was shining beautifully. I saw 50,000 boys march past, the boys in front carrying banners from 42 nations in the world-little Japs, Australians, New Zealanders, Russians, Germans, Belgians, Norwegians, Swedes, a chap from Czecho-Slovakia, and all those different countries, and from Denmark, the Duke of Connaught and Baden-Powell taking the salute.

I saw a very amusing incident when the little Japs came along. The Canadian boys had gone by in perfect step by reason of their special selection. Some of the others were not able to keep step as well as the Canadian boys. When the little Jap boys came along it was very comical to see them imitate the German "goosestep" as they went past the saluting post. Another striking incident was that there were 300 Boy Scouts from the United States-a pretty good representation--but not as fine a lot of boys and not of the standard that our boys were. (Laughter.) They came along, and in the salute they pulled off a stunt which took well with the British people. Each boy had a miniature flag of Stars and Stripes on his breast, and when the command was given, "Eyes Right!" each boy pulled out the little Stars and Stripes and waved it to Sir Baden-Powell and sang "He's a Jolly Good Fellow." You can imagine the thrill that would go through the crowd on seeing the large beautiful flags at the head of the troop and the small flags as they came to the saluting post. What a wonderful sight to behold, and it brought a cheer from the splendid English people. You know, it has got to be something to catch the Englishman over there, to show any great degree of enthusiasm for anything; he is slow to move, but when he does he goes some. (Laughter.) This sight was beautiful in the extreme. After they had all marched past they assembled in front of the grand stand, and the Duke of Connaught and Sir Baden-Powell addressed them.

To show exactly what the movement meant I will present to you another picture. Our Dominion Government had established a tent in the Canadian Camp, and in it were different products of Canada, not in very large number, but they had a beautiful map of the Dominion. I was privileged to be present in the camp, and took a great interest in explaining to the boys from other countries Canada's extent from east to west and north to south, and pointing out our wealth in the different provinces. They were very much interested. One day a couple of little chaps walked into the tent arm-in-arm. One was as black as the ace of spades, his teeth were as white as ivory, and his eyes sparkling like diamonds. Alongside of him was a little English boy, and as they came in I said, "Well boys, I am glad to see you; I suppose you are twins, are you?" The English boy said, "No, Sir, we are not twins." I said, "where did you get this boy from?" He replied, "I am from Ceylon." I said, "You are not camping and living together, are you?" The English boy said, "No, this little chap came along and asked if I could show him where the Canadians were, and I told him to come along and I would show him." So those two boys had never met before. They were greatly interested in the exhibit of Canada as displayed there, and I tell you it thrilled my heart just to see them, for there was an example of the spirit of the Boy Scout camp. Those boys had never seen each other before, but we had 50,000 boys in camp for two weeks, and there was not a misdemeanour that called for any strict discipline. (Applause.) I want to say to you gentlemen, you fathers-probably some of you have boys in the Boy Scout movement-that you could not get 50,000 boys of that age together with such a record if they had not had the Boy Scout movement. That is what the Boy Scout movement is doing today throughout the world.

I want to emphasize some things that took place there. We had a splendid service on Sunday. The Archbishop of Canterbury was there, and Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, representing the Catholic boys who were in camp. Picture to yourselves those 50,000 boys assembled, and the arena filled with the people of England and other countries. I saw men high up in military life of France, with three rows of ribbons across their breast; members of Parliament; generals in the army, and men of high standing in those foreign countries who were there enjoying every minute what was going on. I want to read you extracts from messages which those high dignitaries left with us, and coming from such eminent men they mean much to our Boy Scout movement. The service was held on the 4th of August, the anniversary of the outbreak of War, and the Archbishop of Canterbury made allusion to that, and then, referring to the Boy Scouts, he said

Here is a power without which treaties and leagues are of little avail. It is a power of the spirit. It passes into you and lays hold of you through the instinct of comradeship one with another. You are learning it when you see boys of many nations and many languages wearing the same Scout's uniform and obeying the same Scout law and when around the camp fire you meet together. In future days, when you have become citizens of your various countries, you will remember and know that, in spite of any differences which may arise, you are all brothers.

That was the sentiment expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury; and further on this:

Thus day by day, by an instinct you are scarcely aware of, you are discovering that happiness does not go with selfishness and that what makes life 'worth living is not success for self but the service of others.

That was the message delivered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the greatest men in the Church of England. Then Cardinal Bourne used these words

It may be well to recall to you the attitude which I have always held towards the Boy Scout movement. Almost at the outset I was honoured by being consulted by its founder, the Chief Scout, who very courteously sought my advice. I discussed the whole matter with him, and I was assured that Scouts would always be taught to follow the voice of their conscience and to worship God as they best knew how; that those who had well-defined religious convictions would be helped and encouraged to worship God in accordance with those convictions.

I am glad, therefore, to have this opportunity of testifying once again to my esteem and deep appreciation of the Scout movement; and of encouraging the Catholics of every nation to give it their warm sympathy and support. I congratulate Sir Robert BadenPowell on the extraordinary success which has been given to the work with which his name is for ever associated. From my heart I most earnestly beg God's blessing upon the Boy Scouts, the Rovers and the Cubs, and all their leaders and masters, to whatever race, to whatever religion they may belong.

Now, I say that is a wonderful statement in behalf of the Boy Scout movement.

Then we had the Prince of Wales there, who came and delivered a message from his father, the King of England. I am going to read to you what the Prince had to say, because I think it is of considerable importance, for it came from the Empire and was given right in the heart of Empire where those Boy Scouts were from all nations of the world. The people of England were wonderfully kind to those boys from foreign nations, and I am satisfied that when they went back to their own countries they will never forget what they saw and the treatment they received at that jamboree. I will not take the time to read the message from the King, but I want to read a few words from the speech of the Prince of Wales, who is the Chief Scout of Wales. He said:

The British way of expressing the idea is to say, "Scouting breeds true sportsmanship." But sportsmanship is not an easy word to define. It means straight dealing and playing the game. It means self-reliance, and at the same time team work, playing for your side and not for yourself, winning without swank, losing without bad temper. It also means thoughtfulness and making allowances for others. It is an idea of loyalty and of service. The one thing it hates like poison is selfishness.

Those observations are very like the Prince. Here is a picture of the 50,000 Boy Scouts assembled from the different nations in the world, and the British boy, and others from the British Empire listening to the message from the King, which said, in effect, "I am very sorry indeed that I cannot be present myself, but I am sending to you my son, and his sentiments are my sentiments with regard to the Boy Scout movement." (Applause.) Could there be any greater picture, or anything more beautiful than that presented to those 50,000 boys? When they go to their homes, spread over every part of the world, they will not carry merely a newspaper message, but it is going to be a message carried by those Boy Scouts themselves into their homes and their countries. They are going to carry the Boy Scout message and the impressions which they received at that great jamboree.

I say here, without contradiction, that this Boy Scout movement, spread all over the world, is a mightier power for the peace and happiness of the world than all the leagues of nations or any other league you may form among diplomatic people and try to enforce. I say that this movement in the homes, with their mothers and fathers and playmates and associates, is going to be a stronger impulse for the peace of the world than all the Leagues of Nations which you may draw up and endeavour to enforce. That is my idea of the splendid Boy Scout movement. (Applause.)

The Canadian boys were taken for the trip through old England and into dear old Scotland. You will observe by my language, of course, that I am Scotch(laughter)-but as a Canadian, having visited those countries several times I am filled with the spirit that prevailed. Our boys were taken to the dear old Abbey, and they deposited a wreath on the grave of the Unknown Soldier. On this particular day Westminster Abbey was filled with visitors, and a great number had come from the United States. The visitors were requested to stand back and give the boys room to march in. The ceremony was so solemn, and done with such grace and feeling by the boys, that men and women could be seen wiping the tears from their eyes. Probably some had lost a dear friend on the battle-field, and some may have had some other sentiments. Will those boys ever forget that, or forget old London, which they saw in all its greatness? Will they ever forget the day when the Duke of Connaught took them out to his home and gave them a splendid time there? Or the ride to Windsor, Eton, Oxford, Cambridge, all through the north of England and Scotland-Edinburgh, Glasgow, and all those places? Or is it possible that those boys coming back to Canada will ever forget the impression they got from the wonderful treatment meted out to them in the jamboree and in their trip to old England?

Now, just as I am emphatic in regard to our own Canadian boys, I can say the same in regard to boys from other countries, because they were given the privilege of seeing all those things, having been taken around by Lords and Dukes and big men of England who are behind Baden-Powell in this great movement, so that those boys will go home with the same impressions as our own boys. The foreign boys were given every attention, with interpreters to explain everything. Those boys would return home with a higher respect for the British spirit, and with that feeling of safety that permeated the whole of Old England and Scotland.

This is what is being done throughout the world, and I am proud that the Dominion of Canada takes such an interest in the Boy Scout movement and that such men as Mr. Mitchell, on my right here, and my friend Mr. Lathorn and Mr. Arnoldi and others who are sitting around this table today, are so much interested in the movement. We have over 50,000 Boy Scouts spread throughout the whole Dominion of Canada, and we are organized in every part of the Dominion. If you have a boy in the movement you can afford to give a little money to the men who are giving their time, like Mr. Mitchell, to help the movement along, and when you are doing that you are doing one of the greatest things you could do for this great Dominion of Canada. (Loud applause.)

PRESIDENT EAYRS voiced the cordial thanks of the Club to the speaker.

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Young Ambassadors of Empire

Some thoughts with regard to the Empire. The natural resources and the heritage which we have in Canada. The association of the two names Canada and Empire. The issue of Canada's flag. Discussion surrounding an Anglo-American pact in regard to the peace and happiness of the world. Some words from Sir Wilfred Laurier with regard to England and the United States fighting side-by-side. The Boy Scout movement. The Canadian boys at the international jamboree this year. Details of the jamboree. Comments on the Boy Scout movement as a power for peace and happiness throughout the world. Interest in the Boy Scout movement in Canada.