Four Nations
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 22 Nov 1934, p. 137-147
Morrow, Colonel Charles, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
The history of Upper Canada and Western New York. A detailed review of this history, since 1678.
Date of Original
22 Nov 1934
Language of Item
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
The guest speaker, COLONEL CHARLES MORROW, Commandant of Old Fort Niagara, New York, was introduced by the President of The Empire Club, MR. DANA PORTER.

MR. DANA PORTER: It is particularly appropriate today that we have with us as our guest, Colonel Morrow, the Commandant of Old Fort Niagara in New York State and that we are also in a position to welcome as our guests, the members of the different teams who are appearing at the Royal Winter Fair, (Applause) and, along with them, Lord Dorchester, who is sitting at my left (Applause).

Old Fort Niagara is an emblem not only of a long period of peace in the past but is an emblem of what we may hope to attain in the future. It is also a significant thing that peace is only eventually brought about by a struggle because it is a fortress, an old fortress which would be so hopelessly inadequate today for any purpose, either of defence or offence in the way of warfare. The very appearance of it signifies how obsolete warfare is on this continent. (Applause).

It was by some happy stroke that Colonel Morrow was appointed as Commandant for that fort, because Colonel Morrow is not only a soldier but he has a peculiar capacity of being able to express himself in words which, very often soldiers say they are unable to do„ and he brings to us an example of that mellow culture of Kentucky for which we have a warm place in our hearts. It is with very great pleasure that I call on Colonel Morrow. COLONEL CHARLES MORROW: Mr. Toastmaster, Lord Dorchester, my friends of The Empire Club of Canada: I think I can say, 'my friends' (Applause) because the last time I had the pleasure of meeting the Empire Club and its representatives was when The Empire Club's national meeting occurred in Canada and Earl Jellicoe and his most distinguished party were entertained at Old Fart Niagara.

More than that, to this particular gathering in this particular city and part of our continent, I come as one who at least has been charmed and enraptured with the colour and the greatness of the history that has been made on this frontier, because surely the history of Upper Canada and Western New York holds in its memory the valourous deeds of great soldiers, the chant of martyred priests, the screaming war cry of Seneca and Mohawk, the soothing lullaby of a pioneer mother singing a babe to sleep before her stone cabin fires, the ringing sound of a woodsman's axe, the crack of a soldier's rifle, fire and sword-raid and plunder. And then, the strength of primal things, the turning of the forest, the strength that comes out of the new born earth, the building of log homes, the beauty and glory of Orchards in bloom, the magic of new vines joining hands, villages and hamlets growing into roaring cities--then, light, power and splendour, as man harnessed the great Falls to serve his purposes and through the genius of wondrous engineering built great canals to bear the commerce of an inland empire.

Surely the history of this part of North America is one of the greatest epic dramas of this continent. (Applause).

Late in the sixteenth century there came to that point where the restless Niagara River flashes into the sapphire sea of Ontario, one of France's bravest and best, Robert Rene Cavalier De La Salle, in 1678, to build there the first rude palisade of a fort and with that as a bast began his forward voyage, first down the Ohio, later through the Great Lakes on to the mighty Father of Waters, the Mississippi, to come at last on a sunlit land which he called Louisiana in honour of Louis, the sun King of France. And his amazed eyes beheld in wonder the rippling waters of the Atlantic--the Gulf of Mexico. La Salle had traversed Mid -America.

Wherever he went he raised cairns of stone, carved in timbers, buried in lead, the arms of France France's claim to hold Mid-America, the great valleys of the Ohio, the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Arkansas and the Redan empire greater than any king in Europe had ever reigned over.

To make her title clear, France sent to this New World, no weaklings. She sent the bravest and the best of her great French blood.

To challenge that claim came England's colonies from the bleak shores of the Antlantic--thirteen colonies to challenge France's claim to Mid-America. Through that challenge there came those wars which drenched this continent in blood for more than a hundred years.

Early in the beginning of the seventeenth century the high command of France had determined to exclude the English from Mid-America and to carry that policy into execution they built mightily and with great military vision. Coming up the St. Lawrence they seized Montreal and built there a fort and coming on up the lake they built Fort Niagara to control the great portage around the great cataract of Niagara, as strategic in that day as the Welland Canal is today, since it gave control and a water route between Erie and Ontario and a gateway to the western world.

With consummate skill they built Venango and Le Beouf on the Alleghany; they built great Duquesne where Pittsburgh now stands to give control of the mighty reaches of the Ohio Valley, and coming on there arose the forts at Detroit to control the entrance between Erie and Huron, and with matchless skill and precision they built Mackinac to control the entrance to Lake Michigan, and St. Ignace and St. Marie to control the entrance to Superior. Then coming across it, they built the portage forts to control the Illinois--they built Vincennes on the Wabash, and as the crowning triumph they built Kaskas-kia and Chehoka to cover the Mississippi.

And France, from the strong rock of Quebec on to, New Orleans, controlled Mid-America by the chain of mighty forts.

To break that chain, the English colonies sent across five mountain ranges one English Major, George Washington to meet defeat and disaster at the hands of the French and to surrender Fort Necessity. You will pardon me, Gentlemen, if I say that that was the only surrender of George Washington;. And then there came after that disaster, fire and sword between the English colonies and the French, between the French's mighty unit of command the English with their ten independent colonies governed by thirteen loyal and wonderful governors, with only one fly in that ointment-all of those thirteen governors were terrifically and everlastingly determined that they would not agree on anything save the general proposition to disagree.

Then the lightning rapier fighters of France struck here and there. Schenectady was in flames; Northern New York knew fire and sword and Pennsylvania was helpless. Everywhere there was disaster and the call went out from those English colonies to the Mother Country, "Save us or we perish."

And England answered the call, as England has always answered the call of her children. (Applause). She sent to this continent the 40th, the 41st, the 44th and the 146th, and the great Grenadier Regiment of Scotland, the great Black Watch„ itself. She sent General Braddock, the greatest captain of his day and she sent with him an army that had been victorious on many stricken fields of Europe. Braddock with that army of men marched across those five mountain ranges to strike at French power in the valley of the Ohio, to strike at Duquesne. But, alas, the smooth battlefields of Europe were mot the American wilderness. The plan of campaign had been planned by the great Duke of Cumberland, sitting in London and he knew as little of the American wilderness as I know concerning the canals on Mars. Braddock marched gallantly and courageously but he was to meet on this continent one of the greatest foemen that ever soldier met. He was to meet in the American wilderness the American Indian who, on his chosen ground, in his own domain, was the equal of any soldier of his time. Braddock went down to one of the worst disastrous defeats ever sustained by English arms; he went down fighting with his British regulars and the American colonials fighting with him. When he died, he almost died in the arms of one of his aide-de-camps, the other two having been wounded-yea, in the arms of that same Major Washington who had surrendered Fort Necessity.

And that war continued with disaster everywhere-Fort Oswego and Fort Henry falling before the prowess of Montcalm, the Black Watch of Scotland storming at Ticonderoga and going down to defeat, disastrous and terrible, and yet a defeat which covered them with honour and in glory.

It is little known, perhaps, that the Black Watch of Scotland, from that disastrous defeat, still has as its battle cry that word which to them that day was one of defeat and disaster but which has lived in glory in their annals and traditions. When the Black Watch of 'Scotland went to Germany and went up against the German line, the cry went out from the Black Wawtch--Ticonderoga! Ticonderoga! Great in their history and great in our history

And then there came a change. The flag of France held. There was only one battle won-the battle of Lake George by Sir William Johnson, the great American colonial. Then there came the attack on that key-point of all France's power, Old Niagara, almost on our border here. If that chain of forts could be broken, France's power was broken in Mid-America.

They came by a water route, the three great British regular regiments and two regiments of English American colonials, one regiment from the province of Northern New York and one from the colony of Massachussetts, to strike at Niagara under the command of General Prideaux, to wrest that stern old fort, wrest that queen of the inland waterways from the French and to draw their lines tighter and tighter around it; and as they paralleled and zigzagged and approached it, the thunder of their guns shook its foundation, though it was defended magnificently behind its battlements by the great French engineer who had built it, Captain Francois Puchot.

Then, from the west there came Captain Aubrey and Captain Francois De Lignery, rallying the French through all those scattered western forts--Venango, Le Boeuf, Mackinac and Detroit-their French regulars and bringing also the Western Indians, to come up the shores of 'Erie to land above the Falls of Niagara, and to come on with that great relieving body to relieve Captain Puchot and the French who fought behind Niagara's walls.

The western Indians, hundreds of them, had been in the disasters sustained by Braddock's arms, and they had been taught by the French through that victory that the English were easily defeated.

General Prideaux had been killed early in the seige by the premature explosion of a small cohorn and this left the English command to Sir William Johnson. Johnson drew his forces up with the right flank resting along the great gorge of the Niagara and, extending eastward, the English position was covered by Colonel Butler with the great Mohawks to intercept that relieving body.

The French came on boldly, believing that victory was within their grasp, to be met by the Black Watch of Scotland in battle array and to hear the terrible war cry of Seneca and Mohawk go up, and to watch the western Indians falling before an enemy they had never been able to defeat. And when that battle was over,, that French army was destroyed, dead or in captivity, and the next day, the flag of France came down from above Old Fort Niagara and the Union Jack of England went up, and on this stricken field of La Belle Famille had been almost decided the most momentous question of this continent-that this continent should be all English, not half French and half English.

Then, the western forts fell, one after another, like a house of cards. Montcalm was denied that reinforcement and support from the west which, had it been able to have joined him, there might have been a different story on the fields of Abraham, where Montcalm died and the illustrious Wolfe conquered.

And the Pompadour said to Louis in France, "O' Louis, why do you withdraw your smile from us? Why, you have lost nothing in America. There are there but some barren acres of snow and ice." Barren, acres of snow and ice? They lost an empire greater than any Bourbon king was ever to reign over.

Then there came that War of the Revolution which, in many of its aspects, was a civil war. It divided families, broke up life-long friendships and more especially in this western part from New York it smote very heavily. Niagara remained always in the hands of the English. Then there came the fighting in the villages of the Cherry Valley; when neighbours fought old neighbours; there came the fighting in the valley of the Wyoming-fire and sword; there came Oriskany, when reinforcements were denied to Burgoyne and the Iroquois Confederacy was dealt a blow from which it never recovered. Finally, that war coming to its conclusion left Niagara still in the hands of England.

Then came the Treaty of 1783, the Treaty of Paris. From the time of that Treaty, in 1783 to 1786, there was a period which came to be what we call in our history, "the hold over period", England holding in the American territory, Fort Oswego, Fort Niagara, Fort Detroit and Fort Mackinac.

It was during those years that Canada received that great population which gave her upward movement, a terrific colonizing movement, perhaps unequalled in the stories of this continent. The great ancestor of His Lordship, General Carlton, in his evacuation of the British army from the City of New York, brought not only the weary and footsore regiments of George the Second, to Canada, but he brought 25,000 American Loyalists--Loyalists who, through all those seven years of fighting had stood loyally by their King. (Applause).

There came to Upper Canada in that day a great soldier and a great statesman„ John Graves Simcoe to become the first Governor, and through Old Niagara there streamed 10,000 American Loyalists, as highly educated, as charming and as fine people as England had ever sent to her colonies in this country, breaking up their homes, their all having been taken from them, breaking up the friendships and the ties of years, severing families and friends, the one from the other. They came from old New England, they came from Philadelphia„ from Boston, from the city of New York, by waggon and team and by oxen and migrated north of them, ten thousand of them sweeping through Western New (York to cross under the shelter of Old Niagara's guns to become your wonderful pioneers of Upper Canada.

Surely, in that movement and as a result of that War, Canada owes much to those earlier settlers of the English colonies on the Atlantic seaboard. They brought with them their traditions of that day, of the early settlement of those that had gone before them, a great part having fought together for a hundred years against the French, having fought each other. And they came here, those pioneers, those of English stock, the same stock as the people they left back behind them-surely the same great stock.

And then there came those years when the English race moved mightily forward, especially in the lower part of this continent. The English and Irish and Scotch were not to be denied. They went north of the Ohio-blood and tears? – yes, they bled for every acre north of the Ohio. We left more men as we met defeat at Newark than Braddock lost before he came to this continent, and that defeat was not half over when St. Clair met disastrous defeat on the Miami. O, the English, Scotch and Irish paid in wealth for the land of the Ohio.

Then Wayne came to win the battle and the English sent the Royal Artillery to protect those fleeing Indians from the wrath of Wayne.

Time and again in the years between 1783 and 1812, the infant government of America and the beginnings of government in Canada were almost on the point of war and, finally, that war broke, inevitable, unfortunate and terrible, that war broke on this frontier and this frontier bore the brunt as did the frontier of Western New York. Lundy's Lane, Queenston,, Chippewa-the attack and sortie at Fort Erie-surely they stand high in the records of valour that are common history of the war on both sides.

Then there came peace to bless this frontier and in 1817, there was executed that greatest of all treaties and agreements, the Rush-Bagot Treaty, which disarmed 'a frontier 2,600 miles long and took from the Great Lakes the haunting fear of great grim fighting ships and left it to commerce to bear the rich argosies of the trade of an inland empire-the shortest, clearest and cleanest of all international agreements, the Rush-Bagot Treaty stands as a monument to the common sense of the English-speaking nations of this continent. (Applause)

And then the decks having been cleared by war, the English owned this continent and began its exploration and began its conquest, the relentless, marvellous movement to the west.

There was a great movement a thousand years before Christ was born when the Goths and the Huns and the Vandals came across Europe. It was a great„ a marvel lous thing. But those great marches never compared in any feature with the conquest of the North American continent by the English-speaking race. Two thousand miles we went to reach the shores of the Pacific--the greatest march--hundreds and hundreds of waggon trains, their covered waggons, men, women and children, marching with their belongings tied to the waggons, across three great mountain ranges and those mountain ranges were tipped with snow, to cross the great American desert, and destiny marched before them as it marched with them and they covered those great routes with their dead. But there were births, too, in those great caravans--life was coming to complete the cycle. A great waggon train was drawn at night into a circle, and the songs of those marching men and those wonderfully courageous women, those songs were going back into the spiritual things of a deep life. They marched over roads that had never been laid out by any engineer, lead never been surveyed. It was not done by government; it was done by people marching with Democracy for their leader and in their souls the burning hope of tremendous opportunity in a free world.

So they marched up the Peace River on your side up to the Fraser, down the Saskatchewan to the great Columbia. They marched on our side toward Oregon, down the Walla-Walla, advancing to come into the Valley of the Columbia-haggard, hungry, shoeless, hatless, covered with furs and bear skins, yet they carried on over each mile, those columns closing up, those cavalcades moving forward, until they reached the shores of the Pacific. And there went they who had known a thousand camp fires; they knew the glorious light that came from cabin homes and the American Continent was conquered.

Some day that song may be sung; some day that picture may be painted. But it requires one as great as Wagner to write the magic chords of that song; or one with the magic brush of a Raphael to paint that picture.

But after all is said and done, the scars of our wars have been obliterated by kindly, generous actions. Time has smoothed out war's wrinkled front, the prejudices and the passions of the past. There remains for you, on this side, the wonderful leadership of Brock, the dauntless courage of Drummond. You will not deny to us, I am sure, our admiration for our great Admiral Perry, (applause) or our devotion to Scott, Brown and Porter. And if you, in Canada, love your heroine, Laura Secord, we love our American heroine, Fanny Doyle. When all is said, when all is written, there remains but one great thought and one great and everlasting truth: We, of today, are the inheritors through the genius, the courage and the endurance of a common ancestry, of this, the richest land in all the circle of the sun. We are not only the material inheritors, we are the spiritual inheritors and that inheritance should keep us knit close together in the kingdom of the mind, keep us close neighbours and good friends, teach us friendliness and teach us helpfulness and all of this, in order that the English on this continent shall march ever forward to their manifest destiny and that English tradition and English Democracy shall not depart from this land nor perish from this earth. (Hearty applause).

MR. DANA PORTER: Colonel Morrow, the applause of the members of this Club is the best testimony of the interest and enjoyment they have had in listening to your eloquent address. You have painted a most vivid picture of our vivid past and I might almost say that the song which you mentioned, for us has already been sung; and I might also say that the picture you say you await for, has for us already been painted. (Applause).

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Four Nations

The history of Upper Canada and Western New York. A detailed review of this history, since 1678.