Christmas Luncheon
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 19 Dec 1974, p. 160-167
McGibbon, The Honourable Pauline, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Christmas luncheon. A program of Christmas music presented by the Choir of St. Paul's.
Date of Original
19 Dec 1974
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
DECEMBER 19, 1974
Christmas Luncheon
CHAIRMAN The President, Sir Arthur Chetwynd


Your Honour, Archdeacon Dann, Right Honourable Sir, ladies and gentlemen: A most hearty welcome to the 1974 Christmas party of The Empire Club of Canada. To all members, and their guests, both young and old, thank you so much for joining with us today to close out our fall season, and to make merry for a short time as we usher in the Christmas season.

The message of Christmas is one of peace, hope, love and joy. It is a time for families and individuals to renew the "ties that bind", and to pause for a few days to think on, and enjoy, the kinder things of life, and to love all of our neighbours near and far.

It is also a traditional time of goodwill and a renewed striving for peace on earth. So let us be of good cheer and good heart. Glad tidings are with us in this great Canadian Room. Old King Wenceslas is about--we have had a sumptuous feast, for which we thank our Maker, and shortly our herald angels will indeed sing.

The Empire Club of Canada has a number of fine and worthy traditions. We are known for our ability to organize such functions as these efficiently--you will note that the board of directors as recently as this morning ordered snow in order that we may also say welcome to winter!

One of the happiest of our traditions is the presence of our Honorary Vice-President, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, at our annual Christmas party. This particular tradition originated on December 18, 1924, when His Honour Lieutenant Governor Cockshutt and Mrs. Cockshutt were present. Fifty years plus one day later, we are privileged and honoured to celebrate a significant first, as we welcome the new Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Her Honour Dr. Pauline McGibbon, first woman to be appointed as the Queen's representative in our province.

Your Honour, on behalf of all gathered here (slightly over eight hundred, another record) I extend to you and your husband our warm-hearted affection, and through you to our beloved monarch, Her Gracious Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. We are indeed privileged to have you with us in this, your first official visit to us as the Queen's representative, and also as our Honorary Vice-President.

Your graciousness, warmth, dedication, and commitment to Canada and to its institutions commands our deepest respect and loyalty.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed my great honour to introduce Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Dr. Pauline McGibbon, and ask her to bring greetings on behalf of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Your Honour.


Mr. President, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen: It is a very real pleasure for my husband and me to share with you the annual Christmas party of The Empire Club of Canada.

As has been said, this is my first visit to the Empire Club since I became the representative of Her Majesty the Queen in the province of Ontario. In this capacity I would like to bring greetings to all of you and best wishes for the coming year.

As the Honorary Vice-President of this Club may I compliment you on the speakers who have appeared at your luncheons this fall. One of the drawbacks of this new position of mine is that it is not always possible to do those things one would like to do--such as slipping away and hearing these knowledgeable people.

Today, of course, has been held for months just for the Empire Club--and if I may add, Mr. President, for Dr. Peaker as it is always a joy to hear him and his choir.

A festive luncheon is not the time for long speeches. Rather it is the time to meet friends and exchange greetings. Thank you for giving this opportunity to my husband and me.


I would now ask our immediate Past President, Mr. Robert Armstrong, to make a presentation to the Lieutenant Governor. (Presentation of bouquet of roses to Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor.)


Your Honour, with your kind permission, I would now like to introduce the other guests seated at the head table. (Introduction in the usual manner.) Ladies and gentlemen, we have a number of first time happenings today. To my knowledge, certainly in recent history, it is the first time that we have had an Honorary President and an Honorary Vice-President at the same head table.

We all regard the Right Honourable Roland Michener, Canada's former Governor General, and Mrs. Michener, with great affection. Roland Michener was elected President of the Empire Club on April 19th, 1964. He was able to serve only a few months, for as we all know he was appointed Governor General of Canada that same year.

His contributions to Canada and the Crown during his distinguished service were enormous. As a graduate of The Empire Club of Canada, if I may be so bold, throughout those years he has also served as our Honorary President with warmth and distinction. All good things do, however, come to an end. To keep another of our fine traditions intact, I must announce to you at this time that Mr. Michener is resigning at the end of the year. At the same time, I am proud to tell you that His Excellency Jules Leger, Governor General of Canada, has graciously agreed to accept our invitation to become our new Honorary President.

I am happy to say that I learned, in a recent conversation with officials in Ottawa, that His Excellency's health has improved remarkably. As this will be Mr. Michener's last official appearance as our Honorary President, I know you would not want to see him rejoin our ranks, as it were, without a few words.

Sir, I invite you to speak to us at this time.

The Right Honourable Roland Michener addressed the meeting briefly.


As a token of our affection and thanks I would ask our First Vice-President, John Fisher, to make a presentation to Mrs. Michener. (Presentation of bouquet of roses to Mrs. Michener.)


Your Honour, ladies and gentlemen: next on our agenda is another "first", certainly for the person concerned--our Immediate Past President, Robert Ludlam Armstrong, learned in many things, economics, business, law, leadership, and warm human relations. This will be the first and last time that 1, as your President, pay official tribute to Bob Armtsrong and present him with his graduation certificate.

Robert Armstrong served The Empire Club of Canada during the 1973/74 season with great distinction. It was my good fortune to serve under him as First Vice-President, and to learn from him the perils and pitfalls as well as the responsibility of serving The Empire Club of Canada as President. If I come out with my skin intact this year it will be largely because of his wise and firm guidance. If I don't, it will be because I did not listen and learn well enough.

Today, it is my special privilege to honour you, Robert Armstrong, with an illuminated scroll of office which bears the signature of our retiring Honorary President, The Right Honourable Roland Michener. It reads, far too simply, "The Empire Club of Canada acknowledges with grateful thanks the services of Robert Armstrong as President during the year 1973/74."

Such a modest statement is hardly enough thanks to you for providing us with an outstanding year as President. This comes to you in grateful appreciation from the Board of Directors and all the members of The Empire Club of Canada.

Just before you have your last cut at the cat, so to speak, and in recognition, as is the case with most of us, of the fact that there are other persons who inspire and encourage us to excel in life, I would ask Peter Hermant, our Second Vice-President, to make a presentation to Mrs. Armstrong, who I know is the real reason for your success! (Presentation of bouquet of roses to Mrs. Armstrong.)

Mr. Armstrong made a brief reply.


We now come to the highlight of this Christmas luncheon. At this time I should like to introduce to you Dr. Charles Peaker, the talented and delightful gentleman who with the ladies and gentlemen of the choir of St. Paul's Church, Bloor Street, will soon entertain us and lead us in singing some of the old familiar Christmas carols.

This is a particularly pleasant and easy task for me. I must confess that this part of our programme is what might be called "a rigged deal", as some in this room know that currently I have the honour to serve as Rector's Warden of that great church on Bloor Street. I have been careful to surround myself with my rector, the clergy, the choir and even some of the congregation, but we do promise that we will not take up a collection today!

Dr. Peaker is a remarkable and well-known musician. His name and fame are known throughout Canada and in many other countries. 1974 marked the 132nd year for St. Paul's. It also marked the completion of thirty years as organist and choir master for Dr. Peaker. He is also organist at the University of Toronto and Honorary President of the College of Church Organists.

To add glory to his already distinguished career, on December 6, 1974 he was honoured at an investiture in Ottawa by His Excellency the Governor General of Canada with the Order of Canada. December 6th was also Charley Peaker's seventy-fifth birthday.

In honour of the achievements of this distinguished and talented musician, I am happy to say that the Board of Directors of The Empire Club of Canada has authorized me to present him with an honorary life membership. I would ask Dr. Peaker to come forward to the podium, where Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Right Honourable Roland Michener, both old friends, will make a joint presentation.

Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor and the Right Honourable Roland Michener made a joint presentation to Dr. Charles Peaker of an honorary life membership in The Empire Club of Canada. Dr. Peaker acknowledged this recognition with pleasure.


As Dr. Peaker makes his way to the choir who are now in position, I wish to make special mention of some people in this room.

First, our old friend Stanley St. John, who is with us faithfully each week at the piano.

Pipe Major Ross Stewart of the 48th Highlanders of Canada.

There are several special ladies who contribute to the successful operation of The Empire Club of Canada. First, of course, is Mrs. Eleanor Cook, our Executive Secretary, without whose hard work and support this president and several former presidents would be in trouble, and Marjorie Everard, her assistant. The secretaries of our officers and directors, whose faithful help has been invaluable, and especially to my own secretary and others on my staff, who keep me in line and keep the home fires burning. To all those, thank you so much.

To George Stafford who arranged this grand luncheon, and to Adrienne, Charlie and all the wonderful staff of the Royal York Hotel who look after us each week, our heartfelt thanks. Lastly, just before we harken unto our angels as they herald in our Christmas music, another fine tradition of The Empire Club of Canada is the fact that each week we have as our head table guest a student from one of Toronto's secondary schools. We invited all twelve who were with us this fall to be our guests today. Unhappily many of them are in the midst of exams. However we do have four of these fine young people with us. I would ask them to stand and be recognized.

And now let the music begin.

A programme of Christmas music was presented by the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Choir of St. Paul's, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Peaker, Organist and Choirmaster.


On behalf of everyone in this room, the members, the guests of The Empire Club of Canada, hearty thanks to you, Ladies and Gentlemen of St. Paul's Choir and to your leader, Dr. Charles Peaker. Your music has inspired us.

The next meeting of The Empire Club of Canada will be in the ballroom of the Royal York Hotel, Thursday, January 9, when our speaker will be Dr. Bette Stephenson, President of the Canadian Medical Association. Her subject will be "The Doctor's Dilemma, Circa 1975".

We have come to the end of a marvelous session. A merry Christmas and God bless us everyone.

Would you now stand as we sing Canada's national anthem, and remain standing as the Vice-Regal party leaves.

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Christmas Luncheon

Christmas luncheon. A program of Christmas music presented by the Choir of St. Paul's.