- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 21 Nov 1912, p. 81-90
- Macqueen, Lt.-Col. Fred W., Speaker
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- Item Type
- The birth of the conscious, imperial intelligence of Great Britain, a world power built upon freedom. External power and internal freedom as the attributes of political immortality. A detailed examination of the peculiar imperialistic features of Canada of the past, the present, and the future. Two great lessons we can learn from the great Republic to the south of us, one referring to language, the other to the flag. What we Canadians are doing in regard to our flag. Doing our best to have a united Canada and a united Empire, without regard to race, religion, tribe or tongue.
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- 21 Nov 1912
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- IMPERIALISTIC CANADA
An Address by LT.-COL. FRED. W. MACQUEEN, before the Empire Club of Canada, on November 21, 1912
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
I am indeed grateful, Mr. President, for the honour conferred upon me of being invited and permitted to address you on this occasion. The subject of my talk is "Imperialistic Canada."
Never before have the eyes of humanity been enlightened by the sight of a world power built upon freedom. Rome never conceived, much less ever attempted, such a consummation, and none but Rome has ever possessed the resources for its attainment; none, that is to say, until the birth of the conscious, imperial intelligence of Greater Britain. Within the ample orbit of this new star in the political firmament there are to be found the twin essentials of permanent human progress. On the one hand is the gigantic power of the allied empires annually growing in scope and majesty and capable of being turned with irresistible force against any endeavour to fling humanity back towards the ape, the tiger, and the despot. On the other hand is the complete, internal freedom of these immense democracies endowed with the capacity of continuous adjustment to environment, which is the prime condition of prosperity and happiness in every organism. External power and internal freedom are the attributes of political immortality, and Britain as she confronts the twentieth century, has grasped them both and is completely conscious of her conquests.
For lo! the kingdoms wax and wane, They spring to power and pass again And ripen to decay; But Britain, sound in hand and heart Is worthy still to play her part today, as yesterday.
Nor till her age-long task is o'er To Thee, O God, may she restore The Sceptre and the Crown; Nor then shall die but live anew In those fair daughter lands that drew Their life from hers, and shall renew In them her old renown.
Now, as Canada is one of those fair daughter lands which drew her life from hers, and as this Dominion is the greatest of all the British possessions and one third in area of her Empire, let us for a few moments look at the peculiar imperialistic features of Canada of the past, the present, and the future.
Canada was born to the French in 1535. She was born to the British in 1759 through that glorious victory of Wolfe's on the Plains of Abraham. In 1791 the then two provinces of Lower and Upper Canada were separated by an Act of Parliament, each province to have its own Parliament. They were re-united in 1841 and as union is strength, so it was with those two provinces; and out of the fogs and mists of those days appear the forms and faces of that noble band of men known as the "Fathers of Confederation." Canada received her baptism of fire on many battle-fields, but she was not christened and did not receive her name until 1867. On the first day of July, 1867, she received her name, the "Dominion of Canada," and from that day to the present time those provinces coming into Confederation have been growing by leaps and bounds and adding to themselves other provinces, until today we have, I hope I may say, a united and unrivalled Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Previous to Confederation we had no national spirit. We were then intensely British without realizing that we could be, at the same time, intensely Canadian. After Confederation this was changed, and I believe this great change was caused not only by the lives of those great men, the "Fathers of Confederation," but especially by the lives of two great men and their great works. Of these two great men, one was the greatest statesman Canada has ever had, and the other was the greatest diplomat of the nineteenth century. The great statesman was the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald and of the great works he performed one was bringing into life that great policy known as the "National Policy," 'a Policy that aroused our sleeping towns and villages till today many of them are veritable hives of manufacturing and commercial industry. Another great work was bringing to completion the building of that great Imperial highway, that transcontinental railway, the Canadian Pacific. You who were living in those days know that those in opposition to the building of that railway were legion, and one of the leaders of the Opposition made the statement, "that that railway would never pay for the grease on the axles." I have only to draw your attention to the fact that today we have two other great companies building their transcontinental railways, and when those roads are finished, finished mark you, they will still be inadequate owing to the great development of this country. I look upon every tie in the Canadian Pacific, not as an ordinary, common, dusty, railway tie, but a tie and a bond between province and province, till we, as Canadians stand, figuratively speaking, on the shores of the Atlantic arid the Pacific with our hands outstretched to welcome and encourage our brethren from all parts of the British Empire.
The great diplomat of the nineteenth century was that grand Irishman who came out to Canada in the year 1872 as our Governor-general, Lord Dufferin. Most of the time he was in Canada he spent in going about from one section of the country to another breathing into Canadians, as it were, a new national spirit. Filled with an optimistic spirit himself, and realizing the great future of this country, he endeavoured to awaken in Canadians a sense of their responsibilities and inspire them with his own confidence in their future. He was the first Governorgeneral who ever visited our great North-west. He went to Winnipeg in 1875, and while there he gave an address under the auspices of the Manitoba Club. I would like to give you part of that address for the purpose of showing you the optimistic manner in which he spoke of this great country. Winnipeg, at that time, had a population of about five thousand. Speaking of Canada in general and Manitoba in particular, he said
On account of your geographical position and your peculiar characteristics, Manitoba may be regarded as the keystone of that mighty arch of sister Provinces which spans the Continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is here where Canada, emerging from her woods and forests first gazed upon her rolling prairies and her unexplored North-west and learned as by a sudden inspiration that her historical territories of Canadas, her eastern seaboard of New Brunswick, Labrador, and Nova Scotia, her Laurentian lakes, hills and valleys, corn-fields and pastures, though in themselves more extensive than half-a-dozen European Kingdoms, were but the vestibule and the ante-chamber for that great undreamt-of North-west, whose unlimited resources alike confound the arithmetic of the surveyor and the verification of the explorer. It was hence that, counting her past achievements as but the preface and prelude to future exertions and expanding destinies, she took upon herself a new departure, received the afflatus of a more Imperial inspiration, and felt herself no longer a mere settler on the banks of a single river, but the owner of half a continent, and in the magnitude of her possessions, in the wealth of her resources, in the sinews of her maternal might, the peer of any power on this earth.
Now that is the manner in which Lord Dufferin breathed into Canadians that new spirit which exhibited itself with wonderful force in the battle-fields of the second North-West Rebellion of 1885, and I think I can say that the back-bone of that Rebellion was broken when the western prairie sun shone on the bayonets of those loyal Canadians in their final charge at the Battle of Batoche, and that spirit exhibited itself with even greater force on the veldts of South Africa. I think the great Imperial feature of that war has been somewhat overlooked, and if I may be allowed to illustrate my own words, I would put it this way. Previous to the Battle of Paardeberg, there was a very old, a very well-known and a very reliable firm doing business under the name and style of "John Bull and Co., Limited." After the Battle of Paardeberg that old sign was taken down. It has been replaced by a new sign, very much painted in red, and that new sign today reads, "John Bull, Sons & Company, Consolidated." The stock of that company went up out of sight, but we, as Canadians, did not require to purchase any.---Why? Because it had already been bought, purchased, and paid for with the blood of those loyal Canadians in the trenches of South Africa.
In 1903, I heard a very eloquent Canadian in a very eloquent speech make this statement: "That when the history of the Nineteenth Century would be written, there would be one great nation and one great power particularly mentioned." He said the nation would be the United States, and the power would be steam. He went on to say that when the history of the Twentieth Century would be written, there would also be one great nation and one great power particularly mentioned; the nation would be Canada, the power electricity. Remember the year 1903. In 1905 a new Government came into power in the Province of Ontario. It seems to me that this new Government has been endeavouring not only to electrify but to enlighten the cities, towns, and villages of this Province. Within four years you saw the Niagara harnessed, and the cities, towns, and villages for 150 miles west of Niagara Falls, not only electrified but enlightened by that wonderful power, by, and through, the medium of the HydroElectric Power Commission. Today, that Commission is conserving other water-ways, and it seems to me that if the people of this Province are loyal to this Government and this Government is loyal to the people, the time is coming when this Province of Ontario will become, not only the manufacturing centre of this Dominion, but of this Continent, and even today I think we can say and realize the beautiful words written by a Canadian poet:
Four nations welded into one,
With long historic past,
Have found in these our Western wilds A common life at last.
Through the young giant's mighty limbs,
That stretch from sea to sea,
There runs a throb of conscious life, Of waking energy.
From Nova Scotia's misty coast,
To far Columbia's shore,
She waits, a band of scattered homes And colonies no more,
But a young nation with her life Full beating in her breast,
A glorious future in her eyes, The Britain of the West.
The "Britain of the West," that sounds all right. Let us see if we can improve on that. Many of you may have noticed on taking up your daily papers the last few years, the increasing number of titled people from the old lands who have been visiting our Dominion. Later on, you have noticed by the same papers that these people have been returning home, that they have 'purchased large tracts of land in some one of our fair Provinces, and that they are going to return.
Now, let us see what it means to the Old Country, to Canada, and to these people themselves. We all know that one of the great troubles and curses of the old lands in the past has been that too many broad acres are owned by too few landlords. Now, these people coming to Canada and purchasing large tracts of land will, no doubt, go home. They will place thousands of acres of their own land in the Old Country on the market. They will, no doubt, keep their ancestral homes and a few acres about them, but by placing this land on the market, they will be helping to solve one of the great troubles in the past; and by coming to Canada and bringing their ancestral trees with them, their wealth, their education, and their intelligence, they will be the best class of people we can possibly get hold of. By coming to Canada--a young, growing, expanding, and developing country--they themselves will both expand and develop. So in a few years this Canada of ours will not be known as the "Empire of the West," so depicted by the poet, but will become, on account of our geographical position in the Empire, on account of our peculiar, loyal instincts not the "Britain of the West," but the heart and centre of a greater empire than has been.
I come to another phase.
To the south of us is the greatest republic the world has ever seen, with a population of some 95,000,000 of people. In the northern zone we have the Dominion of Canada, population in round figures, 7,500,000. In area we are 111,992 square miles greater than the United States, counting Alaska, and we are backed up by the greatest Empire the world has ever known. With an area of over 12,000,000 square miles, and a population of over 410,000,000 of people, sharers in such a realm, heirs to such vast and varied privileges, we, as Canadians, need not be ashamed. Between these two countries is a border line three thousand miles in length, 1,400 miles of this border line is made up of our beautiful lakes and rivers, the other 1,600 miles is an imaginary line.
I presume that if every one here had been living in the years 1775 and 1776, we would have been holding up our hands in holy horror at the idea of the New England States cutting themselves away from Britain. Is there a man in this audience, today who would blame the Americans for having done what they did on that occasion, and if you blame any one, would it not be the politicians who managed affairs in the Old Country at that time? It seems to me that nowhere in modern history can we find an example of the peculiar and mysterious workings of a Divine Providence better exemplified than in the relations between these two countries. Well, our neighbours became a Republic, and on account of their becoming a Republic, those people in foreign lands of Europe who were antagonistic to monarchial rule, to the Anglo-Saxon race, or to British rule, poured into the United States by their thousands. What did the United States do in their wisdom? They had, figuratively speaking, in every port of the United States, a wonderful piece of machinery, and as these people washed through that machinery, they came out on the other side speaking what-the English language, and today you have 95,000,000 of people to the south of us with only one known, one recognized, and one official language, and that language English. Now, what does that mean to us in the future? Well, if it means anything, and if we can read the writing on the wall, and I think we can, it means that the time is coming when the Union Jack of Britain and the Old Glory of the United States will be tied together in a knot, and that knot a love knot, and when all the English-speaking races of this world will be marching together under those two banners in one solid phalanx for all that is good and for all that is right.
Now, what is our peculiar duty as Canadians, as a great link in the chain of Empire that encircles the world, our link being placed opposite this great Republic. I think our duty is a very simple one and can be answered in four words, "Mind our own business." The Americans have their great problems to work out, but have not we in Canada our great problems, and is there any one here who will say that there will not be greater? Then, if we have these problems, let us be men and face them and play the game. Let us be men, and as righteousness exalteth a nation, let us have a righteous nation and exalt ourselves.
There are two great lessons we can learn from the great Republic. One refers to language, and the other to the flag. As to the language, I do not know what is contained in the Treaty of Paris, in the Acts of 1791 and 184.1, or The British North America Act, but if there is anything in the Treaty or Acts whereby we have allowed our French-Canadian brethren the use of the French language in Canada, let us be men and let us live up to our agreements, let us see to it that in no other province of this Dominion will there be more than one official language, and that English. As to the flag, it seems to me that our American cousins magnify their flag to such an extent that the foreigners going into their country in a few months learn to love that flag and forget that there ever was any other in existence.
Now, what are we Canadians doing in regard to our flag? The Honourable the Minister of Education for Ontario performed a splendid act when he had all our rural schools presented with a flag. But what are our great patriotic clubs, our Empire and Canadian doing in regard to the flag? I have been at many meetings of these Clubs where I have never seen a flag. It seems to me that all our patriotic institutions could well take a page from out of that noble order of women known as the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. In every Chapter of this Order they have what is known as a standard-bearer. It is the duty of that standard-bearer to place the flag in front of the Regent at every meeting, and after the meeting to take care of the flag until the next meeting.
I once heard an eloquent professor of the University of Toronto in addressing the Canadian Club of Woodstock make this statement: He said that times were always changing, that a few years ago the Christian people of Europe and America were praying that the great wall in China might be cast down. He said, today, figuratively speaking, that wall has been cast down, and these same Christian people are praying that we might be able to build up a wall to keep the Chinese out. But you can't do it. He drew our attention to the fact that owing to the unrest in Europe, and there is more unrest today than there was then, that hundreds of thousands of foreigners would be flocking to America, and Canada would get her share. He thought we should do all in our power to assimilate these people, and he would suggest the proper way to do it would be to meet them with the Bible in our hands. I quite agree with that learned professor, but I want to add something. Let us by all means meet these people with the Bible in one hand, but in the other let us carry the flag of our country, and let us teach these people, not only. to love our God, but to honour our King,, and then we shall have done our duty. The time will come when these foreigners, and their children, and their children's children will say, in those beautiful words of Ruth: "Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God."
In conclusion, lately at the call to arms to assist our Mother Country in an hour in which our aid was of moment, there was just what always will be, and let the world take knowledge of it, in spite of local differences and dissensions, there was a united Canada pouring forth her treasure and her best hearts' blood to maintain the honour of the British Crown and the supremacy of British rule. This has taught us that we can rise superior to local dissensions and party differences. Let us in the future be no fomenters of, or participants in, any source of conduct that may separate or wound, but let us go forth, each of us, to do our best, to have a united Canada and a united Empire, without regard to race or religion, tribe or tongue. Let us in the future, as in the past, follow the example of the Romans of old, so beautifully described by Macaulay, where he says
Romans in Rome's quarrel,
Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life,
In the brave days of old.
Then none were for a party
Then all were for the state
Then the great man helped the poor
And the poor man loved the great.
Then lands were fairly portioned,
Then spoils were fairly sold,
Then Romans were like brothers
In the brave days of old.
Now those lines were on a very ancient theme, "ancient Rome." Lately, I read lines by a Canadian poet, and though he was no friend of mine, I reverence his patriotic ideas where he says:
Instil in our little children, As they learn to write and read, Less of the modern teachings, Which tend to graft and greed, Preach to them love of country And less of the love of gold, Give them the noble maxim, Of what we have, we hold. Ceasing your cant and snivel, What is your snivelling worth, If you leave unkempt, unguarded, The lordliest land on earth. Let me ask you, gentlemen, as you leave this hall today, to go forth in national affairs as patriots rather than as party politicians, banded together to make this land, this Imperialistic Canada of ours, this land of the Maple Leaf, this land we love so well, a veritable garden, beautiful to look upon, and delightful to dwell in.