- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Nov 1937, p. 78-94
- Wrench, Sir Evelyn, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The speaker's experiences and familiarity with Canada. A united Canada and a united Commonwealth. Canada's unique role to play in the world. Canada's partnership with the British Commonwealth, and in the North American Continent. Reasons why the speaker thinks Canada has been destined by Providence to have a great future in the history of mankind. Canada's dual culture. Canada's three great jobs to do: to help to unite and bind closer the unity of the British Commonwealth; to draw closer the bonds of friendship typified by our unfortified frontier between ourselves and the United States; to draw closer the intellectual outlook of the Motherland of France and the Motherland of Great Britain. A description of this trip to Canada for the speaker and his wife. A picture of what they have seen in Canada, and their impressions of the situation in Canada. The spirit of sectionalism in certain parts of Canada. A tendency to live in the past, as witnessed in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Greater attention being paid to historic shrines in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The issue of migration. The need for more new blood in the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The idea of farm schools. The need for more roads to be built in many parts of Canada. Suggestions for the development of Prince Edward Island. Quebec a province where spiritual values are put first. Evidence of Quebec being the most prosperous province in Canada. The lack of intellectual exchange between French-Canada and Great Britain. Aspirations of the Overseas League in the Dominion. The work of the Overseas League in the Prairie Provinces. The hope to stimulate visits from the Old Country to Canada. The need for farm workers in Ontario. The suggestions of a central Bureau to act as a clearing house to enable Ontario to get farm workers of the right kind. Difficulties being faced in the Prairie Provinces. An opportune time for the migration of people from Great Britain to the Prairie Provinces. The future for British Columbia. The possibility of building an Alaskan highway connecting the great Pacific Highway from Santiago, in the United States, up to the border of British Columbia and up into Alaska. Making British Columbia a great tourist center of the world. The need for one railway system in Canada. The development of airlines in Canada. A concluding optimistic note on Canada and the Empire. What is happening with the Empire in Asia and in Africa. The British Commonwealth helping to establish a new order.
- Date of Original
- 9 Nov 1937
- Language of Item
- Copyright Statement
- 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.
- Empire Club of CanadaEmail:email@example.com
Agency street/mail address:
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
100 Front Street West, Floor H
Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3
- Full Text
- CANADA AND A UNITED EMPIRE
AN ADDRESS BY SIR EVELYN WRENCH, C.M.G., LL.D.
Tuesday, November 9th, 1937
PRESIDENT: Our Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: I deem it a great honour to rise on behalf of The Empire Club of Canada and welcome our distinguished guests of today, Sir Evelyn and Lady Wrench. We always welcome members of those two organizations of which Sir Evelyn is the founder, the Overseas League and the English-Speaking Union. We also welcome on his first of many visits, I hope, to this Club, Mr. Hengstler, the recently appointed United States Consul General.
Sir Evelyn is perhaps the most travelled and introduced man in the British Empire. For the past twenty-five years he has travelled into the four corners of the earth. What a wealth of experience he has gained! As a youth the ideal of knitting closer together what we now term the British Commonwealth of Nations and the promotion of a better understanding among nations began to take shape in his mind and heart and ever since then he has steadfastly followed its gleam for the betterment of mankind and the promotion of peace. His personal character, the sincerity of his purpose and his devotion to this ideal, have found a ready response among all with whom he has come in contact. Truly he has made the creed of the Overseas League and the motto of the English-Speaking Union his own in word and deed. The creed of the Overseas League is, "Believing the British Empire to stand for justice, freedom, order and good government, we pledge ourselves as citizens of the British Commonwealth of Nations to maintain the heritage handed down to us by our fathers," and the motto of the English-Speaking Union is, "To draw together in the bond of comradeship the English-Speaking peoples of the world." To these principles he has been loyal.
I have great pleasure in calling upon Sir Evelyn Wrench, C.M.G., LL.D., our guest-speaker whose subject is, "Canada and a United Empire." Sir Evelyn. (Applause.)
SIR EVELYN WRENCH, C.M.G., LL.D.: Mr. Harcourt, Mr. ConsulGeneral, Members of the Empire Club of Toronto, Members of the English-Speaking Union and of the Overseas League: It is a very great pleasure to be back in the Queen City of Ontario. This is my sixth visit to Canada. I have four times crossed your great Continent, as far north as Prince Rupert and I have spent, I think altogether about a year of my life travelling in your wonderful Dominion. One of the things that made me happiest today as I came into the reception room was to see my old friend, Dr. Robert H. Noble here today, because I owe him my fife. I was very ill, with a temperature of cog in the year 1908 and he put me to bed in Grace Hospital. I spent eight weeks there and another three weeks in Hillcrest Convalescent Home. And here I am. I am not really quite sure whether he feels he did a good job or not. At any rate, that makes me feel absolutely at home here in Toronto, as I have always felt at home.
Another reason why I feel utterly at home in Canada. Canada was really the great inspiration of my life when I came here, for as a young man of 23, I got the Overseas League idea when I was staying at Rideau Hall in 1906, with the late Lord Grey, a very dear friend of mine, and the fundamental idea of the Englishspeaking Union, that is to say between the peoples of the British and American Commonwealth, came to me as the result of a talk with a very distinguished French-Canadian, Sir Wilfred Laurier, which I had during my first day on Canadian soil, so naturally I feel tremendously at home here.
Now, I am going to perhaps use the privilege of feeling so at home today to speak to you, if I might, almost as--anyhow, a Canadian for the time being. And, believe me, no one cares more for Canada than I do or tries more to stand up for her interests than I do--anyhow than I want to do.
Another thing I forgot to say. When my wife and I were wondering where to go for our' honeymoon, after looking at the map of the world and toying with explorations from Timbuctoo to Tangyanika we finally decided to come to Canada. I wanted her to get to love Canada as I do, and she does. (Applause.) During the past six months we have travelled 25,000 miles under the auspices of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and also a certain number of miles--I have not made the actual total-under the Canadian National Railway, but I am sure the C.N.R. will excuse me when I say I have a special feeling in my heart for the C.P.R. I used to know Lord Strathcona and I have never forgotten the first time I came to Canada as an absolutely unknown young man of 23. He told me to come down and see him at the High Commissioner's office, then at Victoria Street. (And I am so glad to see Mr. Howard Ferguson here today.) I went down to see Lord Strathcona, I think at a quarter to ten in the morning. You know some Englishmen get to their office at half past twelve and go to lunch at half past one. Lord Strathcona didn't and in the early days I met all the leaders of the C.P.R. I sometimes wish you had in Canada today the same vision held by the marvellous group of old men who originally built up this country.
Now, my theme is to talk to you on the subject of a united Canada and a united Commonwealth. That is a very wonderful theme to have to talk about in a forty minute after-luncheon speech. I only hope I will do justice to it.
First of all, I do think Canada has a unique role to play in the world. She is a partner, an equal partner in the British Commonwealth, a sister state with the Mother Country, and the other Dominions and she is also a partner in the North American Continent. There were days when some of my fellow countrymen--from Ireland, perhaps--who happened to be making a lucrative living in your country, Sir (the U.S.) used to advocate the absorption of Canada by the United States. It is usually the Irishman who makes the suggestion. I am half Irish myself. Those days are gone. I didn't on my recent visit to the United States find any one who suggested that Canada hadn't a great and noble part to play on this North American Continent. So, you have got the dual role, as I said, you are a partner, in the great part that North America is going to play in the world, and you have a partnership also in the British Commonwealth.
There is a further reason why I think Canada has been destined by Providence to have a great future in the history of mankind and that is because you have got a dual culture behind you. You have got two of the great cultural races of Europe behind you. You have all traditions of Shakespeare and the traditions that come from that little island there in those somewhat misty seas, sometimes, of the North Atlantic. You have got the great intellectual heritage of France. I think that is a wonderful possession. I envy Canada that possession, and, fortunately, both my wife and I have a good deal of Norman blood in our veins, so we feel we share that heritage, too.
I think you have, therefore, three great jobs to do in the world; one, to help to unite and bind closer the unity of the British Commonwealth. Two, to help to draw closer--to written alliance--the bonds of friendship typified by your unfortified frontier between yourselves and the United States, and the British Commonwealth and the United States. Thirdly, to draw closer the intellectual outlook, anyhow, of the Motherland of France and the Motherland of Great Britain. If that isn't an inspiring tradition to have behind you, I don't know what it is.
Now, about my trip. On this particular trip my wife and I have visited every Canadian Province. We have not spent as much time as we should like in each of them. I had never gone to Prince Edward Island before and I was determined on this occasion that I would get there and we got there.
First of all, if I may, I am going to give a very rapid picture of what I saw in the different provinces and of- the impressions they made on me. First of all, just one unpleasant thing. I did feel on this visit that there was a spirit of sectionalism in certain parts of Canada. This I deplore. When I stood in that building in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and looked at the picture of the Fathers of Confederation there and in Quebec and other places, I wondered if everybody in Canada was being quite true to the ideals of the Fathers of Confederation. That was one of the things. Please remember, I used to know Canada before the war, in the very prosperous days. I did also find, I am sorry to say, rather a spirit of defeatism in certain sections, a lack of confidence in your own future and, I think, perhaps a tendency almost to apologize for the great vision of a united Canada. I can only tell you these are two impressions, I am sorry to say, I am taking away with me. I hope they are not the final word, I think they are not.
Now, as regards New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, I think I found there also rather a tendency to live in the past in some quarters, a tendency to be dissatisfied with the present, a feeling that they did not get altogether a square deal in federation, but rather a tendency to be satisfied with conditions as they are and not enough of the spirit, the youthful spirit. I think that is what the Maritime Provinces want. There is no more beautiful section of Canada or of the Empire. I think they want a little of the pioneering spirit of the Strathconas and the people who built your railways, and of mentality of the type of Henry Ford. My wife and I had the privilege of spending an hour and a half with Mr. Ford one day last week. I think you want people like him who refuse to say there is an impossible. When you see the things he has created in the material field, you realize when Henry Ford does give an opinion he certainly has some reasons for it. Henry Ford is an optimist. I say today the greatest need of Canada is optimists. (Applause.) One thing I was very glad to find, both in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Greater attention is being paid to your historic shrines. I notice a great change in that respect. Today you have got several wonderful museums. I do hope all of you are planning your holidays--I know in the United States they have a slogan, "Go to Europe, if you will, but see America first."--I hope in Canada (I am not paid for this by the railways) you will have a slogan, "See Canada first and don't forget the Maritimes," and if you do, please go to the wonderful museum at Annapolis (where the early struggles with France took place, and then go to the wonderful museum at Louisburg. I am not sure if it has been officially opened yet, it is going to be soon and it is a wonderful shine. There is another museum somewhere near Shediac, where the remarkable man, Professor Webster, lives, who has done such yeoman service. I have forgotten the name of the place. At any rate, Professor Webster has done a wonderful work.
I have been sorry to find in some places the tombstones of the United Empire Loyalists falling into disrepair. When we were in Saint John we wanted to visit the historic church--I have forgotten its name. Of course the doors were shut. Fortunately, on Saturday they were putting in some coal for the stove to heat the church for the following Sunday and two coal heavers let us in the back door. I wondered if at every historic shrine on this Continent you had to rely on two coal heavers to let you in. I don't think so. I have just visited some of the shrines on the Continent and I did find there a great pride in shrines. I do hope if any of the tombstones are getting into disrepair that you will put them right.
Also, another thing, I should like to suggest what modern Canada wants is a Gibbons, a Gibbons who will do for the epic of the United Empire Loyalists what Gibbons did for the history of Rome. It is a wonderful story which I think we, in the Old Country, often don't realize the full implications of, what the men and women suffered when they came into the Union. I hope some day there really will be a worthy story of that great epic.
Migration. I think both the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick and of Nova Scotia need more new blood. I know they have had lots of Scotsmen there in the past. When my wife and I were in Cape Breton we watched a negress walking along the main street of a village and we were told she speaks Gaelic in ordinary life. When we were in Quebec we heard old Highlander's still talking Gaelic. Lots of Highlanders in the old days came to those places. I am sorry to say not many are coming now. I think you have got to do something about migration in the Eastern Provinces. What I suggest is that you start farm schools there on the line of the Prince of Wales Fairbridge Farm School we visited on Vancouver Island which brings boys and girls of the ages, five, six and seven, out from the Old Country and trains them on the land and eight or nine years later they are Canadian citizens. I think something of that kind ought to be done in the Maritimes.
I think you have got to build some more roads, not only in the Maritimes but in other parts of Canada. Some of my American friends told me the drawback of coming to Canada with automobiles was that you don't have good roads all the time. Well, I am not going to say where I have struck some bad roads. That would be unkind. I do hope you will push forward the road building campaign taking place in Nova Scotia, officially, at the present time, because I believe in future the Maritimes and Prince Edward Island, Gaspe and on to Quebec will be a great tourist district for the United States visitors.
Now, Prince Edward is a little island. I have forgotten how long it is, about a hundred miles. Anyhow, there is a very high standard of prosperity there, though I am not quite sure the silver fox will continue to be as lucrative as in the past. I think even in Prince Edward Island it might be a good thing if there were some fresh blood of an especially selected type brought in. They lead a peaceful existence there. Sometimes they think the rest of Canada has forgotten about them. I believe Prince Edward Island could do much more in the way of producing vegetables, canning, fishing, and so on, if the settlers are the right people.
Now, Quebec Province. I think Quebec shows evidence of being the most prosperous province in Canada, certainly much more prosperous than I remembered it as being in the old days. One thing I must say, I do love Quebec Province and I feel sometimes perhaps Canadians don't realize what a wonderful thing they possess there. When I wandered about the Isle D'Orleans on the St. Lawrence, the farmers, the habitants, were cultivating the fields by the same methods as those of their great grandfathers and their forebears two or three hundred years ago, and we watched the peaceful rural life and in every village was a spire pointing heavenward, typifying those people do have the right spiritual values. I don't happen to belong to that Church. I do say this, if our civilization is going to endure, if any of the things we hold dear are going to endure, it will be only if we do put Christ in the place He should be in the order of things. (Applause.) I do want to say, sometimes when one wonders about industrial North America, one perhaps thinks the really fundamental things of the spirit may be forgotten. I don't think they are but superficially one might think so. So, I believe one of the things have got to do in this century as followers of Christ, to whatever religion we belong) and in this rocking world, mind you, we are a minority is to try to draw Christianity together. So, I took away from Quebec Province the feeling that with all its faults, there was a province where spiritual values were put first.
Now, when we wanted to see something of Quebec's modern industrial life, my wife and I flew by plane from Montreal to Noranda, 360 miles. I think it was one of the rockiest air journeys I ever had. I was air-sick--she wasn't--and I was mighty glad when we arrived at the end of the journey. We had four hours of buffetting. Those who have done much flying know what air pockets are. You suddenly slip about a quarter of a mile. It is a very unpleasant experience. We went up to Noranda and from the air looked down upon Ontario and Quebec Province, and we saw the two provinces, both made by God, looking extraordinarily alike.
Well, we had a very stimulating visit and we were immensely impressed with the type of people we met up there--just the same as you would meet in your Northern Ontario mining towns. It was a very interesting experience. It was the first time I had visited a gold mine in Canada.
Another thing that struck me. I was rather concerned, and I am now talking about England, I was rather concerned to find that there does not seem to be much intellectual exchange between French-Canada and Great Britain. I found that distinguished French-Canadians were invited by the universities in France to come and address them, but I don't think many of the British universities have done so. I hope through the instrumentality of the Overseas League we may be able to invite some distinguished French-Canadians so they may get to know us in our own homes and I am quite sure they will get a very warm welcome when they come. After all, in England there are some Englishmen who may not like Scotsmen, but they are there, we can't get rid of them. Also, in some places I have been, they don't like Irishmen. Now, as a half Irishman I find it is extremely useful when I travel in the United States. Once in Chicago I got in an argument about Home Rule with the traffic cops, but that is another story. Quebec is on this Continent, and, as it happens, I have actually met people in the Province of Quebec who have the temerity to say they were there first. I don't know--I have left my text-books behind. Anyway, I say you have got to accept the fact that French-Canada is a partner in the Dominion of Canada, and also, I may say, I did find some people in the Province of Quebec who don't appreciate all the good points of the citizens of Ontario.
Well, I am glad to see a little more getting together. Let us for a moment forget the bad qualities-we have all jots of bad qualities--and let us only think of their good qualities and let us have them think of our good qualities. That is one of the great needs of Canada today.
Now, as regards the Overseas League. It is going to open up, I hope, on a larger scale in the Dominion. We are seeking to do various things. First of all, when we looked around for some one to put in charge of the work--we consider it the most important work the Overseas League has to perform--we did select a Scotsman, Mr. Bridges. There is a Scotsman, as you will find if you talk to him.
I wish I had time to tell you what they said about our English accent in the United States. When I was going up in the elevator in the Olympic Hotel in Seattle, the elevator man said (my wife wasn't there), "You folks speak mighty nice English." I was rather pleased because the first time I ever visited your country, Sir, (The U.S.) I went across from Niagara, Ont. (I think you call it) to Niagara, N.Y., and it was a hot summer day and I wanted an ice cream and I went into one of Child's restaurants and a tall Nordic young lady, dressed in white overalls, and other things as we'll, came up to my table and in, I thought, my best Canadian or American accent, I said, "Can I have an ice, please?" She looked at me and said, "How?" (Laughter.) That was the first realization I had that I had an English accent. I got it in the Overseas League.
We also appointed in charge of the work of the Overseas League in the Prairie Provinces a young Canadian lady, Miss Gray, whom comes, I believe, from Ontario. What we hope to do is stimulate visits from the Old Country to Canada. We brought a party of 180 visitors. We only gave them a week in Canada on this occasion but we hope to have many more visits of that kind and we also hope to provide facilities for visitors from Canada when they visit the Old Land and also, on one of these trips we hope to have a two Motherland trip, to enable visitors to go to the shrines of old France and Normandy and Britain. And we are establishing in Canada a film library showing films of every part of the British Commonwealth which are available for' schools. I haven't time to talk at length of them.
I have only thirteen minutes and I haven't started talking about the British Commonwealth. In Ontario you still want some farm workers. I believe there should be a central Bureau to act as a kind of clearing house to enable you to get farm workers of the right kind. I haven't time to go into these things in detail.
I also hope that in time you will get a much larger number of visitors from the Old Country, when they go by sea planes, as no doubt they will, down to the Maritimes and down the St. Lawrence and visit the wonderful lakes in Northern Ontario.
The Prairie Provinces. It was a very sad experience to go back to the Prairie Provinces after an absence of twenty years, but I was tremendously struck by the stiff upper lip the communities in Southern Alberta and Southern Saskatchewan are keeping. They are facing tremendous difficulties, difficulties that I had no idea of until I went through the Canadian dust bowl. I hope that perhaps two or three good seasons are about due now after nine lean years and again Western Canada will take a great jump forward, but for the moment I don't think it is opportune to suggest migration of people from Great Britain unless the people in Great Britain pay all the expenses to the prairie provinces. I think the Prairie Provinces, especially the Northern area have a very great future before them. Just for the moment, I think you have got to accept the fact that the southern territory touches East Dakota and is subject to the same natural conditions as the United States sections across the line. They should go into more strip farming and pasturage rather than trying only to grow wheat.
British Columbia has an enormous future before it. I think it is ridiculous to have the population of a London suburb occupying that great province. I think there definitely should be some large scale migration, group settlement with expert guidance. I think the day is gone when pamphlets can be distributed in the Old Country which tell a man that fame and fortune awaits him if he comes to this great land. I think it has to be a co-operative form of migration and the kind of youth migration I saw on Vancouver Island.
I would like Canada and British Columbia, if they can beg, borrow or steal the money, to build an Alaskan highway, connecting the great Pacific Highway from Santiago, in the United States, right up to the border of British Columbia and continue up to Alaska. If you did you could make British Columbia one of the great tourist centers of the world.
There are still a few vacancies in the very select community in that dear little place of Victoria. Of course they say they are only for retired Colonels. Anyway, if they are, a Colonel has got to retire, and I don't think he can go to a better place than Victoria.
I have also said you want more Henry Fords, Strathconas and Shaughnesseys, and all of those early pioneers. I have got to be awfully careful what I say. If I say anything you don't like, put it down to the Irish half in me and forgive me. I don't know whether this is true or not, Canadian friends have told me that when you have a change of government in Canada, occasionally some of the employees lose their jobs. Is that true? (Laughter.) All rig it. Please understand, I am non-partisan. I have friends in all camps or both parties-a number of new parties have been established in this country. I am not talking, naturally, about Ontario. What I do say is this, one of the things a really virile Canada that believes in its destiny would do is to wipe away abuses of that kind. When a government changes there should be no change in the public service.
And, on the railway question. Probably you will say I am prejudiced, having travelled so much under the Canadian Pacific Railway aegis. However, I did drive a locomotive that belonged to a now defunct railway, the Canadian Northern. I drove a locomotive across the Prairie Provinces and I didn't kill anybody. I can't help feeling, sooner or later, Canada has got to have one railway system. (Applause.) But I think you have got to promise all the labour unions that their jobs will be all right first. (Applause.) I don't want to come to Canada--and advocate fewer jobs--only don't appoint any new fellows for a few year's until the other fellows get worked off. Sooner or later, economy will do that. Not that I want to suggest that the two great railways aren't the most efficiently run in the world.
What is next? O, yes, this is much more dangerous. I understand some of your great and far-seeing Canadians are dealing with the extremely difficult problem of state and federal rights. I was actually told by two men in this hotel last night that ten governments is too many for a country of ten million. I don't know if that is your view or not. Possibly there might be a way out. You might get a local confederation of provinces, anyhow, keep the number down to six. Some people think you would he better with none at all. Anyhow, I don't know, if it is practical politics. It is a very expensive job having one government looking after 700,000 people, though I imagine it is done fairly efficiently.
Air development. I think you are going to have great air development in Canada. One thing I note on this trip is this. I find, speaking with all due deference, Sir, there is no particular desire for absorption by the United States at the moment. Under a Republican regime it might be different, but I have actually in your country melt some people who wished that they didn't live in the United States at the moment. Now, I think, seriously, that the relationship between Canada and the United States is the ideal of what the relationship between two nations should be. No arguments, trusting the other fellow. Sooner or later, humanity has got to follow your example or go under in that respect. (Applause.)
Now, five minutes to end up with on an optimistic note. First of all, Canada and the Empire. May I say I have several allegiances and today I have the privilege of speaking on my allegiance to Canada and the British Commonwealth. I have other allegiances. One is toward the unity, anyhow the spiritual unity between the two great Commonwealths of the United States and the British Commonwealth. That is one of my religions and, ultimately, I believe in world unity, though I must say after my experience in the last twenty years of travel about Europe on a mission of that kind, perhaps that day isn't quite as near by as I hoped. Just because I believe in world unity, it doesn't mean I budge one iota in my belief that there is a spiritual purpose behind the British Commonwealth, that it can do something in this world that no other group of nations can do. I have no sympathy with some people who try to apologize for the British Empire. (Applause.) I ask you, what would the plight of Europe be today if there wasn't a disinterested Great Britain, trying to keep the scales? I have met some people, even in Canada and also some--perhaps Irishmen in the United States who have criticized the policy of the British Government. I belong to no party. I am quite sure the British Government in Great Britain has made as many mistakes, probably, as other governments. I am not talking about Canada, of Course. They are all human, but I do ask you to try and picture the task of enormous difficulty which Great Britain is very often facing alone in Europe today. You have a diplomatic situation changing from day to day. You have dictatorships in existence who can give quick decisions. I spent fourteen years of my life under Northcliffe. He always regarded himself as a yes or no-man. Just as in Henry Ford's plant, you have a yes or no-man. When I had a talk with Mussolini four years ago I realized that dictatorships have certain advantages over democracies. You can get quick decisions. In a democracy you have got to carry the people with you, but I do say this, whatever ,the blunder's we have made in the British Commonwealth we have wholeheartedly tried to preserve the peace of the world since the Great War. (Applause.) We have tried to stand for the underdog, and if I believed in the British Commonwealth, as I did when I left College, as I have all my life, I believe in it a hundredfold ,today, because I am not exaggerating, Sir, if the British Commonwealth were to become dismembered now, I say, God help civilization. (Applause.) So, I really haven't got any patience with people who try apologizing, explaining away the British connection within the British Commonwealth. We don't want unwilling partners. We don't raise a hand to persuade anybody to stay in the British Commonwealth who wants to get outside. That is true if anything was true, but the British Commonwealth has got a role to play today that no other nation can play--and in that role I believe Canada is destined to play a predominant part.
We are doing a very difficult thing both in Asia and in Africa. Dominion status has, of course, settled the relations of the white population but we are gradually trying to give those different civilizations which come under the British flag in the two great continents, the Dark Continent and the Continent of Asia, a form of government suited to them. It is a very, very great experiment, and it is being done in a disinterested way. The idea that Britain wants to grab more land simply isn't true.
Also, Sir, I would like to reassure some fellow countrymen of yours who met last Saturday night in Boston-not your countrymen, but countrymen of mine. They met in the interests of the society to promote the interests of the Irish Republic. And they held a meeting in New York the other day and they said, "Why should America, have any truck with a country that refused to pay its debts?" As it happens, I was born in Ireland and rumours did reach me the last time I was in Ireland that Ireland always hasn't paid all its debts. It may not have been true. Anyhow, friends of the Irish Republic in New York get up and tell the President of the United States what he should do. I think he would pay more attention to those words if they were uttered by people who were born and whose ancestors were born on the American Continent.
Now, a minute more. A hundred years ago, Great Britain, despite all the economic arguments of the time, thanks to having a group of men of vision, abolished slavery. For nearly fifty years, Wilberforce, despite enormous opposition, worked to abolish slavery and in his lifetime it was abolished and that was one of the great steps forward. He achieved his goal. Why? Because he was entirely disinterested and was working for a great ideal. In all humbleness I say today in the British Commonwealth we have got just as great a task to do. We have got to abolish the slavery of men's minds. We have got to help to establish a new order.
When I looked at the San Francisco bridges the other day, those wonderful structures, I felt tremendously that what we need is political engineer's to build a system by which the nations of the world could live together in friendly co-operation and, as I said at the English-Speaking Union Dinner, Mr. President, the other night, it is my firm conviction that there is only one way in which to build up a new and better civilization and that is the real thing that we have got to work for in the remaining sixty-three years of this century. That is to try and put into operation the ethics of the founder of Christianity, "Thou shalt love Thy neighbour as thyself." (Applause, prolonged.)
PRESIDENT: Sir Evelyn, we also thank Dr. Noble. (Applause.)
Today, Sir, you have brought home some truths and have given us food for thought in this inspiring address and we, as Canadians and members of the British Commonwealth of Nations will do well to ponder over them very seriously.
On behalf of our guests, the radio audience and our members, I thank you Sir, and wish you and Lady Wrench a pleasant visit here, a safe return and continued success. And now, for a moment, that Scotsman, Mr. Bridges.
MR. BRIDGES: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, I shan't detain you more than half a minute. It is my pleasant duty today, Lady Wrench, to present to you, on behalf of the members of the Overseas League here in the City of Toronto, a little souvenir which we hope you will take away with you and we hope you will keep before you always to remember this very happy visit to Canada's Queen City. (Applause.)
LADY WRENCH:I won't take more than a minute of your time. I should like to say how deeply touched my husband and I are at this gift you have made us. We would not require to have that in order to carry away very warm and happy memories of our visit to Toronto. Every time we look at it it will be with very special thoughts of gratitude to our Overseas League friends here in your great city. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT: The meeting stands adjourned.