The Scottish Trade Mission
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 19 May 1932, p. 188-196
Montrose, His Grace the Duke of, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club.
The history of the Order of the Knights of Nova Scotia. The Clearance of the Highlands, some 100 years ago. The journey of the Scottish Trade Mission on the ship "Letitia." The concept of trade cruising. The purpose of the trade mission. A description of some of the goods offered. Canadian goods of interest to the Scottish. Preference for trading with Canada over the United States, and reasons for that preference. The question of developing cheaper transport. Advantages of developing trade. Employment conditions in the United Kingdom.
Date of Original
19 May 1932
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Full Text
Thursday, May 19, 1932

(Joint Meeting with The Canadian Club.)

LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE A. DREW, President, introduced the speaker.

THE DUKE OF MONTROSE: 1 can assure you on behalf of my colleagues of the Scottish Trade Mission, how deeply we appreciate the kind hospitality we are receiving during our short stay in Canada. Your hospitality has been overwhelming; it has been kindness personified. They say sometimes that Scotsmen "hae a grand conceit o' themselves." Well, gentlemen, if we are going to get receptions such as the one you have given us today, it is no wonder that we have swollen heads.

I might at this stage quote from our Scottish bard, Burns, "Would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us." I assure you we appreciate very much the welcome we have received here in Canada. They always say where there is a large number of Scotsmen, you meet kindliness. I believe now that over two hundred thousand Scotsmen are now settled here in Canada, and I believe there is no other nation in the world which keeps up and holds out the hand of friendship in the same way as we do. You never hear of any other nation having a Bum's night or a St. Andrew's night, and you know on these occasions when Scotsmen forgather it is simply kindliness, a friendliness among themselves that makes these things take place. It is not always easy, some people say, to find a Scotsman when you want him. It is not always easy when you are in trouble to find a friend when you want one, but you can always find a Scotsman when you want to. You have only got to go to the nearest shipping port and put your head down in the engine room and shout out, "Hey Mac, have you got a corkscrew ?" and then you will get a reply from the chief engineer at the bottom of the ship, "Aye, mon, I am comin'."

Mr. President kindly alluded to my visit here in Canada, but I can assure you 1 almost feel myself half a Canadian because the Scottish Trade Mission, of which 1 have the honour to be Honorary President, came over in the Letitia, the Scottish Trade Mission Ship. The Letitia, 1 might point out, is by no means the only trade mission ship that has come to Canada. 1 mean long ago, three hundred years ago, in the time of King James the First, there was a rumour came to Scotland that they were forming a new Spain, a new France, a new England, here in the great continent of America, and Sir William Alexander, a famous Scot said at that time, 'Why should there not be a new Scotland too?" And with the approval of King James he got together a certain number of enterprising Scottish traders and he sailed over here and landed on the shores of Nova Scotia and started a. plantation, or rather, I should say, an overseas settlement, on these shores. As time went on, Nova Scotia prospered and the King of Scotland was so satisfied with the settlement that he created 120 knights of Nova Scotia among the gentlemen who had come over. He gave them the Order of Knighthood of Nova Scotia, and out of these 120 families there are only sixty families now in existence. All the other families have died out, some by natural death, but many on the battlefield by slaughter or other causes, and we in Scotland value the Order of the Knights of Nova Scotia almost more than, any other Order. It is one of the few genuine old Scottish Orders which will never be added to. All other orders are added to by the Sovereign of the country, but the old Scottish Order of Nova Scotia will never be added to. As time goes on it will, become more valuable. My family happens to be one of those still in existence in Nova Scotia. There you

see the old yellow ribbon of Scotland, the colour which you see in the old Scottish Standard, and we. pass this order on proudly as an heirloom from father to, son, and

as I say, as families die out it will become more valuable; like old wine it will improve with age. (Applause.)

Then, gentlemen, I have another connection here in Canada. Some one hundred years ago there were considered to he too many people living in Scotland, too many people to maintain themselves. One hundred years ago our country was a very poor country. There were no roads me hundred years ago in Scotlandno roads at all. All communication was by horse or pony over steep and rocky mountain trails. The farmer in Scotland at that time only worked to feed himself and family, and there was nothing for export. If the harvest failed, they were face to face with starvation In many lonely glens of Scotland, families were faced with poverty and destitution, and some of the wealthy farmers decided to send out some of the families. This was called "a clearance in the Highlands," and certainly did a great deal of good. But remember, gentlemen, these land owners did no more than what the Government are doing. today in assisting emigratiom They did exactly the same, and in my home where I come from, in the Island of Arran, the landlord of that date, the Duke of Hamilton, sent two lots of sixty families each and they settled not far from Guelph. My son, who was here five years. ago as a harvester in, the Canadian harvest,, earning five dollars a day, went: to this, village and there he met the inhabitants, and the strangest thing was that on the. morning he arrived theoldest per~ in the village, a woman of 97 years of age died, and this same old lady was the last person to be carried as a baby at the Island of Arran when these families sailed to this great country. He got a reception of the most enthusiastic description from these people. When he saw how wen they were doing--when he saw them living in large homes and settled comfortably with an air of prosperity all around them, and when he thought of the barren and rocky place from which they came he could only say that the "clearance of the Highlands were after all a 'God send'. (Applause.)

But, gentlemen, I have somewhat wandered from my subject. I must get back to our Trade Mission. We came over in a ship called the Letitia as a Trade Mission* organized by my good friend Mr. Donaldson and others of the Anchor Donaldson Line, and a very efficient Mission ship it is. They say it is the largest and finest collection of goods brought on exhibit from any country in the world to, your shores, and I know you have had other exhibitions before this. The Letitia nevertheless is considered one of the best mission ships at the present time. This idea of a mission ship is me likely to grow. You know how cruising has grown from quite a small beginning to quite a big enterprise today. This idea of a mission ship enables business men, business men of different countries, to see the manufactured goods of each. Traders come over and see haw other manufacturers are doing business, and there is a friendly relationship established and from that results an increased trade. We believe that this is a thing which is going to grow and grow beneficially to our Empire. Alter all, gentlemen, it is our Empire and those of us in the United Kingdom intend to make the very best use of this idea of trade cruising. We built up our Empire and our great trade on our dependence on the sea. We are a maritime nation greater than all the countries in the world, and these of the British Empire are those who will stand again by carrying out trade missions by sea. We, are not trying in the Letitia to sell over the counter. What we are trying to do is what your President mentioned, namely to get in direct touch with your leading buyers and manufacturers. We want to meet your best merchants and manufacturers. We want to meet your best merchants and manufacturers and to find out from them the best way to develop trade, in what way we can develop our trade to the largest possible extent, and, of course, by meeting you you can help us materially and we can also help you. We can, show your people here the goods we are making-that is the quality of the goods we make, the goods we are making in Scotland today. You can examine them and tell us if they suit you. We have on board about eighty-seven stalls on which one hundred and forty different lines of manufactured goods are to be seen. We have also competent representatives to explain and discuss the business with any one who chooses to call. and I am satisfied to hear that we have had to turn several thousands of visitors away. We have had more than ten thousand people on board that ship to see our goods, and that in itself is an indication of the interest which the people of Canada are taking in our trade mission.

Nevertheless, gentlemen, I think we have been rather neglectful of Canada. Take your great Toronto Exhibition which you hold annually. I believe we take only ten per cent. accommodation for exhibits. When we take into consideration the fact that in other exhibitions, in other places in foreign countries, we occupy much more space for exhibits, then we are bound to ask ourselves if we are doing our duty. If we were doing our duty we would take the same amount of space as we take 'm an exhibition in any foreign country, for instance such as the Buenos-Aires Exhibition. We have failed to do that in the past, but 1 hope that as a result of your interest and the kindness which has been shown to us in that direction at the next Toronto Exhibition, or at least at the one after that, we will have on exhibit a much larger and better selection of goods than we have had in the past. I know people say what sort of goods em you give us,, or exchange with us? Well, gentlemen, every one knows the quality of our coal. We believe that we can sell you a great lot more anthracite coal than we are at present doing. Then we believe we can sell you wool. We are very anxious to sell you our wool from our famous black sheep. It is very suitable for carpet making. You have here in Toronto several carpet manufacturers whom I am anxious to meet. We used to sell our wool to America, but we lost our market for various reasons and America is now buying from South America and we are trying to cultivate a trade with Canada. This wool is an important thing to our Scottish farmers and it is also important to you business men here in Canada, because if we in Great Britain have no market for our wool we cannot buy the modern agricultural implements which you manufacture.

What we say is this-if you buy our wool we shall be in funds to buy your agricultural implements. As things are now, nearly all our Scottish farmers have Canadian reapers, disc plows and other things, but more are required and we will not he able to buy these goods because we have no trade and we cannot sell our wool. We are too poor to buy these things. If we have interchange of trade, we shall be in a position to buy your agricultural implements. We say we would rather trade with you in the Dominion of Canada than in the United States, which has barred and bolted the door in our faces. If we build up our trade with you, it helps to give outward and inward trade to our ships. I think that my friend Mr. Donaldson will say-if you have outward and inward cargoes it enables the ships to give lower rates for transportation, and that means cheaper transport will give you greater facilities in foreign competition. You are anxious to sell your meat. We want to feed our Army and Navy and Air Force with meat from the Dominions. These services take 34 million pounds of meat a year. We wanted to place that contract for 34 million in the Dominions or the United Kingdom, but what happened? When we came to examining the prices we found that your prices worked out at ten cents per pound, and we were offered meat from the Argentine at seven cents per pound, and the policy that was enforced in the day that contract was made, made it necessary to buy in the cheapest market, and by doing so we saved $1,400,000 in feeding our forces. The question is how can we develop cheaper transport? Can Canada reduce her price by three cents in meat? If you can we will preferentially place the order with Canada for the meat supply of the home forces. And so it comes to this. It behooves us to do what we can to develop trade, and for that idea we are here in this great trade mission.

We have been through financial depression of the worst possible kind, possibly the worst in the world. We believe at home, however, that we have touched rock bottom. We believe that we have seen the worst; we have a kind of hopeful theory now in regard to the future. We believe that the time is ripe to try and lay the foundation for building up a new trade, a new business. That is why we are here in Canada today. We are determined to make an effort to cultivate this new market. You have lately, through your Chamber of Commerce, sent out a questionnaire to all the other chambers of commerce asking them to make suggestions for improving import and export trade for the United Kingdom. This was a valuable step to take, and if you will be kind enough to give us the result of that questionnaire, we Scots will follow out any advice you choose to give us, which I have no doubt will be of great material help to us in developing our trade. (Applause.)

Only one thing more, gentlemen, I need say to you. Some people say to me, "What is the good of you asking Canada to try and develop your trade, to try and develop trade with you? Canada does not want to do that. She wants to develop her own manufactures, her own industries, and she is afraid of the competition from the United Kingdom." We know that Canada has her own industries and manufactures that she wishes to develop, and we have no desire to interfere with the Canadian forms of industry. After all, we people in Scotland are not lunatics. (Laughter.) You know Canada is one of our best customers. You are taking £5 a head in trade from us, and the foreign people are only taking 12 shillings. Do you think that we shall be so silly as to try to kill our best customers? As I said, we are not lunatics. We are anxious that you should prosper, and we believe that when you prosper, your prosperity will be ours. It will help us to develop our trade. One of the most hopeful signs of the times is in the conference that is going to take place in Ottawa within the next few weeks, and we look forward with interest to the results of that conference. Our Labour representatives are now beginning to realize that it was wrong to take cognizance of the labour conditions in the United Kingdom alone. They are beginning to realize that, looking to the social welfare of the people as a whole, they must take cognizance of world labour conditions. They are beginning to realize that to go on protecting their own industries by trade union regulations alone, and paying not the slightest heed to what is going on in foreign countries, without making recognition of the conditions of labour which makes things cheap, they are, doing the worst thing for social welfare; they are putting a premium on sweated goods. (Applause.) For this reason the foreign nations which have low wages, sweated labour, say that it is only by maintaining these low conditions of labour, these sweated conditions, that they can maintain their position in the British market, and therefore, if they are going to continue their hold an the British markets, they must preserve low conditions of labour which results in cheap goods. Our Labour party is recognizing this more and more. They are beginning to recognize that the preservation of this system of low wages and the manufacture of sweated goods is an injury to our own people, and rather than pull down the United Kingdom conditions, our idea is to bring them up. Our aim is to get rid of sweated goods made in foreign countries, and bring conditions in those foreign countries up to the same standard as exists in the United Kingdom. We have had too much cheap food and cheap manufacture of all descriptions, so cheap that they were below the cost of production. The result of all this was that we had two and a half millions of our people unemployed. Do you realize that we are spending $535,000,000 a year on unemployment, that this huge sum is being paid to young men and young women and heads of families, simply to walk the streets doing nothing. We could not go on like that. We cannot have these millions of people walking our streets in idleness. We cannot have our young men and women being demoralized in this way. For what is the position, today? The first question that a young man or woman asks himself or herself is not how and where can I work? Their first idea is, how can I get on the dole, how can I get money for doing nothing? It is such a condition as this that is sapping and lowering the moral standards of our nation and taking away that spirit of independence which has built our nation, and we have now determined, with the help of our own working people, to put an end to that system and bring our markets against unfair labour sweated conditions. (Applause.)

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The Scottish Trade Mission

A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club.
The history of the Order of the Knights of Nova Scotia. The Clearance of the Highlands, some 100 years ago. The journey of the Scottish Trade Mission on the ship "Letitia." The concept of trade cruising. The purpose of the trade mission. A description of some of the goods offered. Canadian goods of interest to the Scottish. Preference for trading with Canada over the United States, and reasons for that preference. The question of developing cheaper transport. Advantages of developing trade. Employment conditions in the United Kingdom.