Empire Builders
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Nov 1922, p. 285-293
Bentham, Effie, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
In talking about Empire building, first thinking about the causes of Empire destruction. The character of settlers for Canada. The percentage (80) of the 27,000 settlers who have come from the Barnardo Home who own their farms. Some background of Dr. Barnardo, pioneer of children's homes. Why Dr. Barnardo instituted the policy of never refusing a child admission. The number of clergy and ministers and layworkers in Canada's churches from the Barnardo homes. Acknowledging God. How the Barnardo children do in Canada. Legal control of the children. How the Barnardo homes started. The work of the Barnardo homes and the missionaries sent out from them. The formation of a Dominion financial executive. Calling on the Empire Club for support.
Date of Original
9 Nov 1922
Language of Item
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Full Text
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
November 9, 1922.

THE PRESIDENT, Sir William Hearst, introduced Miss Bentham and commented on the fact that ladies had been invited to the meeting as a compliment to the speaker.


Mr. President, My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It appears to one that in talking about empire building we should think a little while about the causes of empire destruction. Recently in Chicago I asked a university professor: "How is your country doing? How is the United States getting on?" After talking to him a little while he gravely shook his head and said, "Well, your turn next." It appears to me that if we are going to settle the right sort of settlers in your vast unpopulated areas it matters a great deal to you what is the character of those settlers. (Applause) I tell you frankly, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would not work as I am doing day and night, were it not for the fact that this wonderful empire building of homes, founded on God and on faith and prayer, to which children are admitted and sent to this country and other parts of the British


Miss Bentham, whose work on behalf of the Barnardo Homes is so favourably known, has devoted her life and her wealth to the welfare of poor children in England. She believes that for them the Dominions are the lands of opportunity and that every effort should be made to bring them over and train them into self-supporting, useful British subjects.


Empire, will furnish the right sort of settlers from the intellectual and moral point of view, so that your railroads may be made to pay, and your farms worked and occupied by the right sort of people.

More than eighty percent of the 27,000 settlers who have come from the Barnardo Home own their farms. That is good enough in itself, but the work is done because from the bottom of my heart I believe, and my friend, Dr. Barnardo believed, that if we wanted to do the greatest amount of good we must win the children for the Lord of all empires; and it is of vast importance to you, as Canadian citizens, that you should thank God for the magnificent contribution that God Himself has given to your Canadian citizenship through that divinely-led student, Dr. Barnardo, who was the pioneer of children's homes of this sort. I know of no other such homes in the wide world from whose door no single destitute child has ever been refused admittance for nearly sixty years. Do you know the reason why? Because Dr. Barnardo did refuse a little lad just after the homes were opened. This lad was so hungry and tired and forlorn, and absolutely homeless, that Dr. Barnardo said: "My little son, I have three and four in a bed, and I will get into trouble for overcrowding; I just can't take you now, but I will give you a meal, and will send for you when I can make room." In a week that little lad was found frozen to death, and Barnardo swore that with God's help never again should a single destitute child be refused admission. In one of our ever-open doors recently we took in sixteen boys, and only four out of the number were English; there was one from Morocco, one from Persia, two from Canada, one from the United States. They came from different parts of the world; and God sent them there, that they might get to know Him well, and go out into the different parts of God's world and live and speak for Him.

I cannot tell you how joyful I am that I can go into the homes in this, country and find boys and girls not only in wonderful positions, mentally, physically and materially, but leaving a mark and a spiritual stamp on your vast country. You do not know the number of clergy and ministers and lay-workers and Church wardens and society stewards and workers there are in your churches from these homes, men and women who are living for God and upholding the banner of the King of kings in different parts of your vast country.

And so, if you do not want your part of the British Empire to see failure, you must acknowledge God. General Allenby, when he was just approaching Jerusalem, and felt it abhorrent to storm the Holy City, cabled to Lloyd George, who replied leaving the matter with General Allenby. The General was dissatisfied and cabled to King George, who made reply, "Take counsel of God in prayer and do as He directs," (applause) and it was while Allenby was on his knees in a tent with his headquarters staff that an envoy approached with a white flag, and immediately in they entered. It shows the same God who delivered the British Army at Mons long before there were plenty' of boys and plenty of guns; the same God who will prevent any empire from falling if He is acknowledged. It was my greatest pleasure to be able to testify that it was the dream and prayer and longing, as well as the firm conviction of Dr. Barnardo that these homes should become schools of the prophets and that from them should go out hundreds of boys and girls to live for God and do work for Him. It was my great pleasure last week to visit the many Canadian homes where men and women have sheltered some of our children and given them inspiration and blessing.

God has been wonderfully good to Canada in regard to the children sent out here from the Barnardo Homes; only one and a half per cent. of them do not do well, and that is plainly not the fault always of the children, but of the Canadian citizens who have sheltered them. Our staff has carefully investigated matters during the last fourteen months, and they found ninety-eight and one-half percent of the boys and girls from our homes had turned out well. We have legal control of the children up to the age of twenty-one, because we know that it is no use winning the children for Jesus and then leaving them unguarded during their critical years.

Dr. Barnardo, a young Irishman, when he was nineteen went to London, England, to study medicine, intending to prepare as a medical missionary. Sixty years ago there were no ragged schools, no free education, no children's homes. There was a very bad outbreak of cholera in the East End of London, and it was discovered that quite a number of little boys and girls had very poor squalid homes. Dr. Barnardo did not discover boys and girls actually homeless in the first case. He was told by Lord Shaftesbury of the boys and girls actually sleeping out, and when he discovered that they had poor homes he went to his student friends, asked them what money they had, and arranged to put their money together so as to do something to bring sunshine into the lives of those children. They rented an old broken-down stable with poor walls, with no lighting and heating, and they had a wooden floor put in and the walls whitewashed, and opened that little club for boys and girls in difficulties. In going his rounds he found one little boy shivering over a little fire, and when he asked him why he did not go home the boy replied, "I ain't got no home." On further questioning the boy said he had no mother, no father, no relatives, and that he had slept the previous night in a hay-cart with some other boys. Young Barnardo said, "I am only in rooms, I am away from my home here in London, but I will take you home and give you a real good meal if you will promise me that you will take me and show me boys sleeping out."

The boy promised to do so, and he kept his word. Barnardo took little Jim, and found the little fellow tired, forlorn, even worn out, he took him on his knee and told him the story of the Cross, as the only thing that mattered. When he had got to the Crown of Thorns, tears trickled down those little blackened cheeks that looked as though they had not been washed for a week; the little shivering form shivered convulsively, and the boy appealing gasped out, "0, Lord, Sir, why, that was worse than when Dick's dog caught me;" and the nineteen-year-old student had the joy and privilege of winning, for the Lord of all empires, that first little homeless waif that came to him sixty years ago. When that little boy took him to the roof of the building in London that night, and he stood there in the moonlight, and the moon crept from under the clouds where it was hiding, and shone down on the pallid faces of eleven homeless boys sound asleep in the snow on that roof, Barnardo stood there and fought with his conscience. In telling me the story Dr. Barnardo said: "Miss Bentham, I stood there ten minutes, and I fought with my conscience, because I did say, 'I want to go to China as a medical missionary,' and yet God was surely speaking to me and said, 'No, stay at home and provide a home for homeless children."' Dr. Barnardo added, in telling me the story, "I am so glad that God persuaded me to allow Him to decide my life work, because you see I have been able to send missionaxies out to every part of the world-clergymen, and ministers, and thousands of unofficial missionaries-to tell the story that I would only have been able to tell myself."

It is for that reason, Ladies and Gentlemen, that I have left my home, and it is because it is God's work that He has given me strength for the last seventeen years to work practically day and night in this great wonderful miracle of feeding 13,000 children three meals a day, not a family of 5,000 for one meal, 6,000 of those 13,000 children are in Canada, and in the name of God I call you to earnest prayer and co-operation with Him in that miracle. Friends in every part of this far-flung empire are praying, working and subscribing, and are putting their lives and their efficiency into the hands of the Master joyfully and gladly. (The speaker here read extracts from several letters showing interest in the work for the children.)

It is through the kindness of Mr. Howard Williams, with the money subscribed in connection with the work, that the tour of Mr. Stevens and myself was undertaken to help this wonderful cause that requires $10,000 a day. Since the war these homes have spent on their Canadian work $910,000 in addition to the cost of fitting out 2,251 children, and the passage money has amounted to $270,000, making a grand total of $1,180,000. Towards this amount the Canadian authorities have contributed less than $8,000.

Now I call you to co-operation, first, on the important spiritual lines, the only things that matter. I call you to the joy and privilege of co-operating with the King of kings and the Lord of all Empires in this great work. But as Canadian citizens I also would like you to know that one in every seventeen of your immigrants is Japanese, as I am informed. You want to have a British population. Don't you think it is time to get to business in connection with this work? God knows that both Mr. Stevens and myself are doing our best in your midst. We addressed ten meetings last Sunday between us, and twelve the Sunday before. I only sent a little appeal to Africa and New Zealand, and it brought in towards the end of last year, £797 from South Africa and £687 from New Zealand, while the campaign work of my sister and Mr. Stevens up to the end of last year only brought £543 in Canada. Our last annual report shows that we have received legacies during the last two years as follows:--From Australia, twenty; from New Zealand, nineteen; from South Africa, eight; from Canada, six; from Jersey, four; from India, four, as well as others from France, Italy, and from some islands of the sea whose names I dare not try to pronounce in public. So that, you see there is plenty of room for you Canadians to stir up some enthusiasm for this wonderful empire-building work, and I feel quite sure that you will rise to the occasion and do it.

I am glad to tell you that we have been able to form a Dominion financial executive in connection with this work, with Lord Byng as patron, and on that executive we have Archbishop Matheson, Dr. Clarke Murray, of the Presbyterians, Dr. Chown, Dr. Carson, Mr. Arthur Meighen, Mr. Crerar; and I am praying that God will put it into the heart of a man in Toronto to act as Chairman of that executive, and when he is approached I hope he will say, as Barnardo said, "Here am I, send me," and will take on that wonderful work in connection with this bit of empire-building, I am also hoping that this Club will get right behind this movement. God calls for a man from this City of Toronto to act as campaign chairman for this Empire Day collection that we are trying to organize. Many individual churches of all denominations have promised collections in their churches on Empire Day, and several bishops have volunteered to send pastoral letters to their clergy at Easter suggesting that they make an Empire collection some time before Empire Day. I am glad to have Mrs. Doolittle, the President of the I.O.D.E. Mr. Stevens went to Vancouver to speak at their Annual Meeting, and he has received encouragement and help through the Daughters of the Empire, and Mrs. Doolittle is about to send out an appeal to that organization. I am showing you how we are trying to reach this matter from the Dominion point of view, and I ask your prayers. We have been fortunate in getting Mr. Cooper to take the Chairmanship of the Niagara Peninsula, and Mr. James Gray to take the Chairmanship for the London District. We want a man for the Windsor District, and we want a man as Campaign Chairman for Toronto, and I would like this Club to stand at the back of that man, whoever he may be, as campaign chairman. I am glad to tell you that the Rotary Club of New York sent a deputation asking me to repeat the story of the early days of the work, and to tell about the little homeless waifs that have been helped and rescued during the last fifty or sixty years.

The children that you get in Canada are what Sir Arthur Conon Doyle calls the "Cream of Great Britain." For that reason he writes against Dr. Barnardo's Homes, saying, "We have no right to send the cream of our children out to Canada." Sir Howard Williams refers to the children as "the flowers of the flock," so I don't want you to go away with the wrong impression.

In the early days one of our larger homes was very heavily mortgaged and the money was called in, and Dr. Barnardo did not know what to do; it was in a time of great depression. He pleaded with God, but it seemed as if God did not hear. He spent the whole night in prayer, and still no money. He went to the solicitor and secured an additional week's time, with no result; a second week and no result; and when he pleaded for a third week, the solicitor said, "Dr. Barnardo, I will do anything in the world to help you, but I dare not give you more than this third week; we must realize, if the money is not forthcoming at the end of the third week."

Dr. Barnardo made earnest prayer, but still the money was not forthcoming. The doctor, feeling very weary and sick at heart about having to lose one of the most important homes, started to the solicitor's to give the property up. He had to pass the steps of one of the London Clubs in Piccadilly, and was not looking where he was going; a man ran down the steps and bumped right into Dr. Barnardo, and he said, "0, I beg your pardon, Sir." As he said this he just glanced into the Doctor's face, and he started, and then said, "Are you Dr. Barnardo?" The Doctor replied, "Yes." The man said, "Why, Doctor, it is most extraordinary, I have just this moment arrived from India, and I would not have known you if my wife had not shown me your photograph. See, I have got something for you." He pulled an envelope out of his pocket, and when he laid open that envelope it contained exactly, to a fraction of a cent, the very large sum that was needed to clear off that mortgage. Dr. Barnardo used this to illustrate that wonderful old proverb, "Before ye call I will answer." Now, it may be that God means someone in this room to be a tool in His hands to answer prayer in that way; and so I call on the Empire Club to do something worth while, something that will really move this vast part of the Empire, this vast Dominion, to get behind whoever is going to be the Toronto campaign chairman for this Empire Day effort; and I am quite sure I will not call to the Empire Club in vain. (Applause)

The thanks of the Club were expressed by Mr. Norman Sommerville.

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Empire Builders

In talking about Empire building, first thinking about the causes of Empire destruction. The character of settlers for Canada. The percentage (80) of the 27,000 settlers who have come from the Barnardo Home who own their farms. Some background of Dr. Barnardo, pioneer of children's homes. Why Dr. Barnardo instituted the policy of never refusing a child admission. The number of clergy and ministers and layworkers in Canada's churches from the Barnardo homes. Acknowledging God. How the Barnardo children do in Canada. Legal control of the children. How the Barnardo homes started. The work of the Barnardo homes and the missionaries sent out from them. The formation of a Dominion financial executive. Calling on the Empire Club for support.