- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 27 Apr 1978, p. 439-453
- Cruise, Dr. James E., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The Royal Ontario Museum—past, present and future. A description of the ROM as one of the great museums of the world, with features of its uniqueness. A history of the ROM, its inception in 1851 and its development since then. Anecdotes concerning some of the ROM's greatest contributors and curators. The China collection and how it was created and developed. The various location and structural changes. The current renovations of the ROM.
- Date of Original
- 27 Apr 1978
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- APRIL 27, 1978
The Museum--Past, Present and Future
AN ADDRESS BY Dr. James E. Cruise, DIRECTOR, THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM
CHAIRMAN The President, Peter Hermant
Ladies and gentlemen: One of the unique, interesting and, therefore, very Empire Club traditions is that immediately upon becoming a Past President by means of the ballot which has just been cast, one is instantly called upon to introduce the guest speaker.
But perhaps that is particularly apt today because, I suppose, Past Presidents qualify as relics and certainly our guest of honour today has more than a passing acquaintance with relics.
When he was nominated as Director of the Royal Ontario Museum on July 1, 1975, the appointment of Dr. James Edwin Cruise "rocked museum circles far and wide", according to The Financial Post--since he was a man who had come out of nowhere. In fact, he was working at the time as Associate Dean and Professor of Botany at the University of Toronto.
And yet the choice of Dr. James Cruise would appear to have been an eminently sensible one if one looks into the background.
James Cruise was born in Port Dover, Ontario, and was educated in public schools in Woodhouse, Port Dover, and Simcoe.
Having graduated from high school, he joined the RCAF and served during the war as an air navigator and navigation instructor until he was discharged following the hostilities with the rank of Flying Officer.
He continued his education and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biology at the University of Toronto and his Master of Science and Ph.D. at Cornell University. He commenced his teaching career at Cornell and taught also at the State University of New Jersey and Princeton before returning to his alma mater.
Successfully combining his academic career with administrative talents, he has served as president of the Ontario Society of Biologists, secretary of the Canadian Botanical Association, where he is also on the awards committee, and consultant to the National Science Foundation in Washington, as well as being an editorial consultant to a host of Canadian and American journals.
Cruise himself is a prolific writer in his field and has authored and/or collaborated on thirty-eight books, papers or pamphlets, at last count, and has four in progress at the present time. If there is any truth to the old "publish or perish" adage, Dr. Cruise is immortal.
It was not surprising then that the Board of Trustees chose this "outsider" to become the Director of the largest museum in Canada--one of the top ten museums in the world, housing more than six billion artifacts--with an annual budget in the area of eight million dollars, a staff of some 350 people, volunteer membership of some five thousand, and an attendance of more than one and a quarter million people a year.
"I'm sure I wasn't selected because of any inner knowledge of the workings of the museum," Cruise told William McVicar of The Globe and Mail immediately after his appointment, "but I do have administrative experience and experience in some cognate scholastic disciplines. I feel I have the advantages of an insider. I've been a friend of the museum since I was an undergraduate."
THE MUSEUM--PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE 44I
He is also "a museum man", a term devised by J. B. Priestley, in that he told David Quinter in The Star that he is "an excessive collector--postage stamps, coins, and antiques."
And as an aside, the farm on which he was born in Port Dover and which he maintains today as a combination artistic (he is a metal and wood sculptor) and agricultural retreat (he raises mute swans and Aberdeen Angus cattle) is, once again in his words, "stuffed with Canadiana".
He has a very clear and positive idea of where the museum should be going. In an article entitled, "ROM's New Director Wants a Museum with More Pizzaz", Dr. Cruise explained that he saw the museum as a hub of social life for the city; that he wanted music to be performed there and soirees to be held on the premises; that he saw his role as director as bringing a sense of direction and excitement to the museum.
Any of you who were lucky enough to squeeze into the building last week for a celebration called "Romerama" and who viewed the various displays from medieval sword fighting to pillow-lace manufacture and heard music ranging from contemporary to the strains of a steel band will attest to the fact that the ROM is alive, well and extremely vibrant.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure for me to introduce to you the Director of the Royal Ontario Museum, Dr. James E. Cruise, who will address us under the title, "The Museum--Past, Present and Future".
Mr. President, distinguished head table guests, members and guests of The Empire Club of Canada. It is an honour for me to be able to speak with you about the Royal Ontario Museum, its illustrious past, its intriguing present and exciting future.
Our Royal Ontario Museum, located right here in Toronto, is one of the great museums of the world today. I am able to make this statement in all modesty, since I am completing only my third year as the museum's Director and, in the words of a slogan with which you will become very familiar during the next few years "ROM wasn't built in a day". As a matter of fact, we are building today on a fine, firm foundation laid over many decades by dedicated volunteers and staff.
There are few major museums in existence which still hold together under one roof both science and art and archaeology departments in the way of the ROM (allow me to use this popular acronym from time-to-time in the interests of completing the story I wish to tell in these minutes which have been allotted for the purpose). I have been informed recently by the International Association of Art Teachers that they know of no single building in North America which presents to the visiting public so many different kinds of three-dimensional visual experiences as does the Royal Ontario Museum, with its galleries of natural history scientific specimens and its world-famous collections of man-made artifacts spanning at least 35 centuries of our technology and culture on this planet Earth.
Let me go back for a moment to the beginnings of this `great Toronto Museum. The assemblage of our collections began early in the last century, and a provincial museum was established in 1851 in the Normal Model School. Just as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington is referred to as that nation's "attic", so the collections of the little provincial museum on St. James Square (now the site of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute) grew slowly and in a haphazard manner through gifts and bequests of private collections and of items which heirs felt were too good to throw out.
In 1876, a boy was born in the village of Exeter, Ontario who was destined to have a great influence on the museum world. His name was Charles Trick Currelly. My own great uncle, the Rev. Jasper Wilson, was later stationed with his family at the Methodist Church and Manse at Exeter, and
Jasper Wilson tutored ten-year-old Charles Currelly in Latin and Greek during the winter of 1886/87. Currelly graduated from Victoria College of the University of Toronto in 1898, served as a missionary-minister in Northern Manitoba for the next two years and then, armed with a few ancient Roman coins, set sail in the spring of 1902 for the British Museum. The coins gave Currelly a chance to meet the famous Egyptologist Sir William Flinders Petrie, who was intrigued enough by young Currelly's ambition, drive and seemingly insatiable curiosity to offer him a position on the staff of the committee of the Egypt Exploration Fund.
These next few years, spent with Flinders Petrie in Egypt and in and around the British Museum, made Charles Currelly determined to devote the remainder of his life to the amassing of a great museum collection for Canada. Although it was Victoria College which had assisted him during his early years overseas, Currelly decided that the museum which must be re-established in a new building in Toronto must be an integral part of the total university, rather than of just one of its federated colleges.
Sir Edmund Osler, Mrs. H. D. Warren and other Toronto officials and philanthropists visited Dr. Currelly while he was working in Egypt in 1906. Some of you may recall a photograph of that party astride camels at one of the pyramids, a photograph which was reproduced recently in one of our Toronto newspapers.
C. T. Currelly was a dogged and determined young man, and by 1910 he had convinced Sir Edmund Walker, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the University of Toronto, to support his cause.
The Royal Ontario Museum was established in 1912 by an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It was originally five separate museums, each with its own director, the Royal Ontario Museums of Archaeology, Geology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology, all to share the one long narrow building which is now the west or rear wing of the ROM. This building runs parallel to Philosophers' Walk, and the front entrance of the museum was from Bloor Street, near the present location of the stone gateway leading down to the walk which was constructed over Taddle Creek. A still prominent local plant nursery maintained a sales station across the street from the new museum, where the Park Plaza Hotel was later to be constructed. The museum building was officially opened by H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught on March 14, 1914.
Dr. Currelly was of course the Director of the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology, and during the twenty-year period from 1912 to 1932 the collections under his curatorship grew prodigiously. There were of course no national or international laws to control or prohibit the buying, selling and export of national cultural heritage. The League of Nations, after its establishment, had concerns other than with the international movements of artifacts and collections and so, individuals and institutions with the will and with the financial resources busily acquired treasures from around the world.
Dr. Currelly did not have much of an acquisitions budget during these years. The museum was always a relatively poverty-stricken division of the university, and the government of the province never permitted the use of tax-generated revenues for the purchase of artifacts. Dr. Currelly reports that the first Board of Trustees, appointed in 1912, knew that the museum had substantial 'financial debts, but never inquired into them. He says "I kept the debts at about $80,000 for some years. The Board knew there were debts, and that they were heavy, but officially took no cognizance of the matter." This situation changed in 1916, when the Board instructed Currelly that no more purchases were to be made except for cash payments.
Dr. Currelly had a discerning eye, not only for archaeological finds of museum quality, but also for people. He seems to have been able to spot world travellers and international dealers who were discriminating and who, in many instances came to know and respect the growing collections to which they were contributing in this vigorous young North American museum.
When Dr. Currelly learned of the availability of an artifact or a collection which seemed important, whether he had the necessary funds or not his typical cabled response seems to have been "ship it".
His way with people included the ability to recognize those individuals with substantial personal wealth, and then perhaps more importantly for the sake of the museum to persuade them to pay for and present the items which were frequently by this time already on the high seas and addressed to Toronto.
I hesitate to mention the names of any of these benefactors for there were many, but two of the very generous ones have already been named, Sir Edmund Walker and Mrs. H. D. Warren. Mrs. Warren, an American by birth, lived at the corner of Wellesley and Jarvis Streets, was the very successful Chief Executive Officer of the Gutta Percha Rubber Company, and an extremely generous and cooperative friend of Dr. Currelly. In his own autobiography, Dr. Currelly pays tribute as well to the generosity of Sir Robert Mond, Sir Edmund Osler, Sir William Ridgeway, Dr. Alan Sturge and Dr. Sigmund Samuel.
Mummies and mummy cases and canopic jars containing mummified human internal organs, stone and wooden sarcophagi and painted wall reliefs arrived from Egypt. From Greece and Italy came thousands of bronze and gold coins, clay lamps and a stunning collection of red and black pottery jars, jugs and amphorae, all from before the time of Christ.
Truly exceptional artifacts began to flow to the museum from China, and three men were particularly responsible for feeding these treasures to Dr. Currelly, who himself never made the trip to the Far East. Mr. George Crofts was a fur merchant whose casual first visit to Dr. Currelly's office in November of 1918 was to significantly change the future of the institution. Mr. Crofts had some photographs of artifacts with him and Dr. Currelly said "I've seen nothing like them. No such objects as these have so far appeared in England."
"You're quite right," was Crofts reply, "these are the finest so far discovered."
Currelly said, "Perhaps you would rather not talk prices, since we have no money, but if you would have no objection to telling me, I should very much like to know the price of these two objects," and he held up the photographs.
Crofts replied, " I have a strong feeling you would be worth helping here in Toronto, and I should like very much to help you. You could have those for..."
And he mentioned fewer hundreds than Currelly had expected thousands.
Currelly gasped and said, "Then how much would this be? And this? And this?"
Crofts did some rapid figuring, and Currelly did some fervent hoping that he wouldn't wake up to find that it had all been a dream. Here was the finest collection of T'ang objects Currelly had ever seen, at about one-fifteenth of what he estimated their price to be.
Currelly said, "Let me have the photographs please. I'm not allowed to run into debt for the museum, but I'll tear the money out of Toronto in ten cent pieces before we'll let such a chance as this slip by."
And of course all of those T'ang objects and thousands more came into the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum. Mr. Crofts travelled extensively in China and kept shipping a steady flow of artifacts to the ROM during the years from 1918 until his death in 1924.
The Rt. Rev. W. C. White served as the Anglican Bishop of Honan Province during the period from 1920 to 1936. Bishop White collected assiduously for the museum and, upon his retirement returned to establish the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. Through the efforts of Mr. Crofts and Bishop White, the museum came to possess world-quality collections of Shang Dynasty cast bronze vessels (from around the 14th century B.C., and with some of the earliest written Chinese language incised into them), ceramic tomb figurines representing Chinese people of all ranks and professions, visitors from Western Asia and the Mediterranean countries, horses and other domestic animals, and as well stables, houses and living compounds, many of these perfectly preserved artifacts also dating from before the time of Christ.
Through the Rev. James Menzies, the father of Mr. James Menzies who is currently Canada's Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, the ROM acquired the world's largest and most important collection of oracle bones. These animal bones were used to foretell future events and are important because they have etched into their surfaces the oldest known Chinese characters. We are fortunate at the museum not only to have the greatest collection of these ancient oracle bones, but also to have now on our staff a young man, Dr. James Hsu, who is the leading authority in their interpretation. Dr. Hsu is currently working on his third book and scholars throughout the world know of the importance of these Toronto collections.
Our museum has come also to possess the largest extant collection of Chinese Imperial Court robes, hundreds of silk ceremonial robes, embroidered and re-embroidered in coloured silks and silver and gold threads.
There are many fascinating stories about the acquisition of the Chinese treasures, particularly the Ming Tomb and associated stone statues and structures. Some of these items from China came to us through the collapse of Austria after the First War. During the Boxer troubles, an Italian contingent in China decided to appropriate and drag away two of the largest and finest Dogs of Fu ever known, weighing about fifteen tons each, and superbly carved. The Italians soon tired of this pursuit, and George Crofts was later able to buy the two abandoned Fu Dogs for $500. A little later Crofts purchased the tomb of General Tsu Ta Cheou with the archways and some of the statues of the avenue leading to it. The tomb is of Ming Dynasty, that is dating from a little after 1500 A.D., but fortunately for us one of the archways had been taken from an earlier tomb and is from the glorious period between 1000 and 1100 A.D.
It cost the museum $200 to disassemble these great sculptures in the interior of China and bring them to the coast on three flatcars, but with all our scientific modern lifting apparatus in Toronto, it cost $365 to bring them from Union Station into the museum yard. This particular Crofts shipment to the Royal Ontario Museum weighed 150 tons.
You will note that I have been speaking at length about the Museum of Archaeology, but let us not forget the four museums of science, whose Directors during these decades were prominent members of the university faculty.
Dr. Arthur Philemon Coleman served as the Director of the Museum of Geology from 1913 to 1922. The Museum of Mineralogy was directed by Dr. Thomas Leonard Walker from 1913 to 1937. Dr. William Arthur Parks directed the Museum of Palaeontology from 1913 to 1936 and the Museum of Zoology was headed by Dr. Benjamin Arthur Bensley from 1914 to 1934.
Each of these distinguished museum scientists has been immortalized for me in a different way. Mount Coleman in the Canadian Rockies was named for A. P. Coleman. The Walker Mineralogy Club still holds its monthly meetings in the museum. Dr. W. A. Parks had much to do with the selection of the ornamental Ontario building stones used in the construction of the 1932 wing of the museum, and was the father of Dr. Arthur E. Parks, today one of Canada's renowned senior surgeons. Professor B. A. Bensley was the author of the hard-covered text which became the Bible of every second year zoology student in Canada, "Bensley's Practical Anatomy of the Rabbit".
By 1932 the five museums were hopelessly crowded in the 1912 building. The university demolished Argyle House, the three-storied Victorian mansion of the Archibald Hamilton Campbell family at 100 Queen's Park and proceeded with a tremendous expansion of the museum building.
The Great Depression was deeply entrenched, and the decision was taken to have all the excavation done by hand by men with shovels. These men were paid twenty-five cents per hour. The records do not show whether at that wage the men provided their own shovels or whether equipment belonged to the contractor. The records do show however that these labourers were allowed to work only on alternate weeks, thereby providing some employment for twice as many.
Alfred Chapman was the architect and Construction magazine of November 1933 makes the following comment on the finished building: "It is a building of real distinction, of which the citizens of Ontario may well be proud, and which does credit to those who were identified in bringing it into being."
The late A. S. Mathers, writing in the Journal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1933 had this to say: "The interior of the building is a surprise and a pleasant one; the somewhat complicated ornament of the facade is forgotten and a plan on the grand manner unfolds itself. It is simple, direct and big in scale. One is convinced that the early Beaux Arts training of the designer has not been in vain. The outstanding feature of the interior is the glass mosaic ceiling of the entrance rotunda. It is executed in colours and gold, and strikes a fine note in the one part of the building which the architect could decorate without conflicting with the exhibits."
A major reorganization of the total museum took place in 1955, and the five distinct museums became three divisions of a single institution under one Director, Dr. Theodore Allen Heinrich. Dr. A. D. Tushingham became head of the Division of Art & Archaeology, Dr. V. B. Meen, head of the Division of Earth Sciences, and Dr. F. A. Urquhart, head of the Life Sciences Division.
In 1963, Dr. W. E. Swinton succeeded Dr. Heinrich as the Director and Dr. Tushingham became the Chief Archaeologist, Dr. Meen, the Chief Mineralogist, and Dr. Loris S. Russell, the Chief Biologist.
Dr. Peter Swann, an Orientalist, succeeded Dr. Swinton in 1966 and he was a strong advocate of showmanship in museum display and community participation in museum programmes. In 1968, during Dr. Swann's tenure, two major events occurred at the ROM--the opening of the crowd-pleasing McLaughlin Planetarium and the separation of the ROM from the University of Toronto. During the time Dr. Swann was at the museum (1966-1972), attendance doubled, government support greatly increased, and the museum received more publicity each week than it had formerly received each year.
In 1972 Dr. Walter Tovell, Mr. Maxwell Henderson and Dr. W. B. Scott became the new management team concerned with the future of the ROM. They served wisely and well during their three-year term, bringing the plans for expansion and renovation further along the road to realization. I am sure no one will forget the outstanding exhibition held in the museum during the summer and fall of 1974, entitled "The Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of the People's Republic of China". It was the largest exhibition ever shown in the museum's history. The credit for the successful conclusion to the long and complex negotiations for staging the exhibition goes to Mr. Noah Torno, the Chairman at the time, Dr. Tovell and Mr. Henderson.
I have taken up a lot of your time with a review of the museum's history, and you may well ask about today. What goes on at the ROM in 1978, how large is the staff, what kinds of people work there, and what are the institutional priorities and goals?
Although entirely separated administratively from the University of Toronto since 1968, the museum still maintains close academic links, and about twenty-five of the seventy-five curatorial staff members are cross-appointed to a variety of departments at the university. These curators are responsible for the care of the collections in twenty different departments; they do research and publish in , scholarly and scientific journals, much as university professors do. In addition they teach undergraduate and graduate university students, and are responsible as well for the scholarly input to our gallery displays, special exhibitions, travelling exhibits, school cases and museumobiles.
My own position is so challenging because of the numbers and nature of the people with whom I interact during the course of a normal day or week. Our Board of Trustees consists of twenty-one dedicated volunteers of whom fifteen are appointees of the province. Our full-time staff numbers 377, and is augmented by the efforts of some two hundred remarkable volunteers. The museum has 5,300 annual and higher category members at the present time. Education, extension services to areas outside Metropolitan Toronto, and museum services to the 330 other museums in Ontario and the more than 1,500 in Canada are high priority features of our total programme. Our clientele on the main site includes nearly 1,000 students per day of the academic year, for an annual total of some 200,000 students in organized groups, and a total annual attendance in excess of one million visitors. The Sigmund Samuel Gallery of Canadiana at 14 Queen's Park Crescent West--and the Samuel R. McLaughlin Planetarium are integral parts of the Royal Ontario Museum.
The museum possesses the world-famous collections to which I have earlier referred, and many others. Our collections of Canadian textiles and costumes, of Islamic textiles of the 8th to 10th century A.D., and of 17th century French printed textiles are the best in the world.
In addition, we are a world centre for the study of tropical bats, with some 35,000 specimens of these, not to omit mention of our approximately one million insect specimens.
Our current staff is of high calibre. The great need at this stage in our history is for space. In 1933 the museum had four and a half acres of public gallery space and a staff of sixty. In the forty-five intervening years the collections have grown tremendously, the staff has increased 6.3 fold, there has been more than a 30 per cent encroachment on public gallery space, and these public gallery areas now total less than three acres. In addition, the museum now operates as well from six rented off-site locations.
Our Board of Trustees has planned well. They have decided to hold the museum's Art & Archaeology and Science Departments together in one institution, and have decided to essentially double the floor space of the museum through in-fill construction at the familiar Bloor Street and Queen's Park location.
The existing H-shaped building will be converted into what will be an energy-efficient rectangular structure. For the first time the priceless heritage of our collections will be stored in environmentally controlled atmospheres, dry air for Chinese bronzes and Egyptian mummies, consistently humid conditions for inlaid furniture and other artifacts of wood, and on-site cold storage for the furs of garments and the study pelts of the Mammalogy Department.
And the public will not be forgotten. The existing building will be cleared out to its 1933 level of public gallery space, and completely renovated, with new wiring, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning.
And then, on the Bloor Street side, in the north courtyard, there will be thousands of square metres of brand new gallery space.
Your encouragement and support will be needed to bring the new Royal Ontario Museum of 1982 into being. It is an institution of which all Canadians can be justifiably proud.
The appreciation of the audience was expressed by Mr. Sydney Hermant, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Ontario Museum and a Past President of The Empire Club of Canada.
Ladies and gentlemen: This is, of course, the final meeting of the Empire Club year and I would like to thank you, the members, for doing me the honour of allowing me to serve the club as its President.
It has been an exciting, challenging and interesting year for me--one that I will never forget.
It goes without saying that The Empire Club of Canada has undoubted prestige and reputation, and to be its President is good for one's self-confidence and self-esteem. Let me assure you though, and perhaps this is really meant as advice for Reg Lewis, that one is never far from the harsh edge of reality. Let me quote from a letter I received following my first meeting. "Dear Peter--It's amazing what can be accomplished with a little ham and a rented suit!" With friends like that--you can have a good time!
This meeting and this season is adjourned.
SUBMITTED ON BEHALF OF THE EMPIRE CLUB OF CANADA
Ladies and gentlemen:
The Empire Club of Canada is a unique institution which is currently completing its 75th year as a speaker's forum and outlet for opinion. The club meets weekly during the fall and winter months in Toronto and conducts a series of speeches by prominent Canadians and international speakers from all over the world representing all walks of life and points of view.
Additionally, through the Empire Club Foundation, the club has maintained a yearbook throughout its history which is a verbatim transcript of all speeches given to the club. A reading of the yearbooks, since their inception, constitutes a first-person account of the history of Canada, the Commonwealth and the world.
Because the club's history, and that of the country, are so closely interwoven, the Board of Directors felt that it would be fitting and in concert with our constitution that we submit our views on Canadian Unity--the subject which you, the Task Force, are examining.
The rationale for Canadian nationhood, at least in geographic terms, has always been an implausible one. Time, and the development of the North American continent, has showed us over and over again that the natural lines of communication and co-operation are north and south, rather than east and west. Further, the development of the Canadian populace has emphasized this fact, since more than 90 per cent of Canadians live within a hundred miles of our common border with the United States.
While it is true that in terms of pure land mass, Canada is the second largest country in the world, it must be admitted that a great deal of this land mass is as yet uninhabited, uncivilized and even untouched, so for all practical intents and purposes we are dealing with a country that is 4,500 miles long and one hundred miles thin.
Obviously, such a conformation is fraught with difficulties, We must take issue with those who claim that the fact of our two founding peoples is somehow a myth. In our view, there is no doubt that the English and French together were responsible for the political organization of Canada and that no amount of frustration or compromise will change that fact.
There is a distinct and clearly drawn difference between the people who founded our country, and those who came here of their own free will and through their hard work prospered personally and helped create a nation. If immigration were to go on in its infinite variety, that would still not alter the fact that our country was created politically and culturally by English and French settlers who came here in search of colonization and a new way of life. No Canadian can avoid the responsibility of full citizenship.
In our view, it is important to come to grips with the reality of our present situation. Much as we would wish it, it is impossible to use hindsight and retreat into history or undo well meaning but incorrect decisions which may have been taken from time to time.
The fact that legal jurisprudence in the Province of Quebec differs from the rest of Canada is a significant factor in setting French Canada apart. Other obvious contributing elements are language and culture.
The awakening of self-realization within the Province of Quebec has tended to polarize national opinion for and against "separateness". Efforts over the last fifteen years to make French Canada feel more at home in the rest of the country have been expensive and not completely successful.
There has been and continues to be a tremendous amount of confusion as to the intention of the bilingual programme as initiated by the present government. In western Canada, the effort has been viewed as a method of artificially creating a French fact throughout the nation. In Quebec, the general view has tended to regard the federal programme as a "sop" to their legitimate grievances.
We think that there are things that can be done to ease the situation in which we find ourselves at present and which will at least make some headway towards settling our differences. We fully realize that as long as human beings exist, the prospect of absolute agreement is not likely in Canada--much as one would wish it.
In essence, we believe that the theory of an officially bilingual country is a good one. Canadians, whether they speak French or English, should have the opportunity of addressing the bureaucracy and the courts in the language of their choice and this would seem to us to be a basic tenet of a united Canada.
In the practical operation of national programmes, the benefits and costs should be apportioned to all parts of the country according to their need. It is important to know that we make a distinction between "bilingualism" and "dualism". In a country where every group can be defined as a minority, we find it difficult to rationalize how only two of these groups should be recognized.
For those who argue that some special status should also be given to other languages which have prominence in the country, we would remind them that the official bilingual policy extends only to those founding languages. Others who have come here are free to speak their tongue and cultivate their culture to the fullest extent, but not with official support.
Further, our feeling is that it would be beneficial to transfer the Canadian constitution from Westminster and enshrine it in Ottawa so that it can finally be a fully Canadian document. We would stress, however, that it is essential for our way and quality of life that the system of parliamentary democracy recognizing the Queen of Canada and the apolitical structure of Governor General and Lieutenant Governors be maintained, both from a traditional and practical point of view.
We believe that many of our problems would be greatly eased if it were possible to reduce the level of economic disparity which presently exists. For example, this is particularly true of the geographic uneveness of economic activity and to this end we believe it would be helpful if the government were to divert some of its assistance funding into plans which would help in moving unemployed workers and their families from depressed areas to those locations where labour is needed. Our belief is generally that a healthy and employed population has little time for political bitterness or violent solutions.
Also, we believe that the government could materially contribute to a feeling of Canadianism by providing and ensuring that travel within Canada is at least as financially attractive as travel outside the country.
It is not necessary to have uniformity in order to be united.
We believe that it is important to recognize practically and legislatively that the Province of Quebec and French Canadians are indeed different from other Canadian provinces and ethnic groupings. In truth, each Canadian province and its peoples have fundamental differences. Canada is not a melting pot, but is a free association of differences all striving for common goals in the Canadian mosaic.
Respectfully submitted, Peter Hermant, President