Special Luncheon Meeting in Honour of His Excellency, Viscount Willingdon, Governor-General
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 28 Mar 1930, p. 124-137
Willingdon, His Excellency, Viscount, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Sir William Mulock spoke first about His Excellency, Viscount Willingdon, Governor-General of Canada and presented him with a certificate of life membership in The Empire Club of Canada. His Excellency accepted the certificate, and then addressed the audience.
Some remarks on the Naval Conference which is being held in London at the present time and other subjects. Impressions of the British Empire after the speaker's experience in outside parts of the Empire of some 20 years. The enormous developments within the British Empire in recent years. Some words on the countries that have become Dominions. A description of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India. Some words on the current situation in India. The West Indies, which the speaker visited just a few weeks ago. Development towards the creation of the great Commonwealth of Nations. The future of the British Empire. The speaker's belief that Canada is going to have an enormous influence in the future.
Date of Original
28 Mar 1930
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Full Text
28th March, 1930

H. G. STAPELLS (in the Chair): We have seen many changes in this country since in 1903 a small group of loyal citizens banded themselves together into the Empire Club of Canada, and among its first important acts conferred upon the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain its first life membership. Many and great as those changes have been, for the Empire Club there has been no changing or wavering from that straight and narrow road of loyalty to Canada and the Empire, which became its motto. (Applause.) We have seen since that time several imperial influences become stronger and stronger. We have seen the personal influence of the King surrounding the throne with an ever-widening prestige, commanding the loyalty of every worthy citizen. (Applause.) We have seen patriotic enthusiasm sweeping this country upon the successive visits of that Prince of men and of Wales--(Applause)--and we have learned the value of the connecting link of the Governor-General when that office has been graced by such a man, such a personality, as His Excellency Viscount Willingdon. (Applause.) His Excellency has an irresistible appeal to the whole Dominion because in him are combined all that is best in aristocracy with all that is worthy in democracy. (Hear, hear, and applause.) His services, not only in Canada, but throughout the Empire, have placed him among that sterling body of leaders and statesmen in whose hands the course of Empire has always been safely left. May he long be spared to accomplish even greater achievements in imperial affairs. (Hear, hear, and applause.) The love of Empire is, therefore, a definite bond between His Excellency and this club, and it is because of that bond that we have asked him to become an honorary life member of this club. Accordingly, before he addresses you upon Impressions of The British Empire, I am privileged to call upon Sir William Mulock to confer some further mark of your esteem upon His Excellency. (Applause.)

SIR WILLIAM MULOCK was received with applause and cheers, and said: First let me thank you for the welcome you have given to me; it overwhelms me. Coming to my duty here, the pleasant task has been assigned to me of conferring upon His Excellency the status of life membership in this club. He is today our distinguished and most welcome guest. (Applause.) A few years ago he came to Canada personally a stranger to us. We thought not the less of him because he did not have the good fortune to be a Canadian by birth. (Laughter.) If any objection on that score existed, he has entirely overcome it. Today we realize how effectively he has identified himself with the people of Canada, with their sentiments and their aims, and he now is a Canadian by adoption. (Applause.) British born, Canadian by adoption--a powerful combination for the successful working out of Canada's national ambition to ever remain a kingdom within an Empire resting upon the enduring foundation of constitutional government. (Hear, hear, and applause.) During the few years he has been with us we have observed with the utmost satisfaction His Excellency's zealous efforts to acquaint himself with the Canadian people, Canadian ambitions, Canadian potentialities, Canadian Institutions, Canadian internal and external relations, and we have come to realize that the guiding aim of his labours throughout these years has been that of encouraging the joint co-operation of Canada with the remaining portions of the British Empire, and to promote its continuance as a united organization under the inspiration of the red crossed flag of Old England. (Applause.) And so it is today that I have the honour and the unspeakable pleasure of presenting to His Excellency this certificate of his membership, and I trust it will ever remind him of the place which he enjoys in the hearts and in the minds of all the people of Canada, who, like the members of this club, consider that the British Empire is the most effective instrument for the promotion of human welfare that this world has ever known. (Applause.) Your Excellency, would you be good enough to accept from the Empire Club this certificate of your life membership?

His EXCELLENCY accepted the certificate amid applause and cheers, then said: Mr. Chairman, Your Honour, Sir William Mulock, Gentlemen, I want, if I may, at once in my few preliminary remarks to take you into my complete confidence and to ask for your indulgence this afternoon, the reason being that I have been for the last four or five days suffering from an ailment, which, if I may judge from the number of cures that a number of my friends have suggested to me, must be a very fashionable ailment in Canada at this particular time, (Laughter) but which, although I shall not tell you what it is, makes it rather difficult for one to stand for very long on one's legs; and therefore I trust that you will spare me and give me that indulgence which I am sure you will, if my remarks are not of any considerable length this afternoon.

May I thank you very sincerely and gratefully for the charming reference you made to such humble services as I may have given the Empire in past years in your introductory remarks to this great audience, and, Sir, may I say that I am glad I did not forego the pleasure of meeting this great gathering of members of the Empire Club; and particularly may I say that I am delighted that I did not forego the pleasure of receiving this high honour which you have given me this afternoon at the hands of my old friend Sir William Mulock. (Applause.)

I am particularly glad to get it from Sir William Mulock, because he has, as we all know, done long, splendid, distinguished service for his King, his country, and the British Empire. (Hear, hear, and applause.) Long may he be spared to continue the great service that he has always performed. (Applause.)

But now, Gentlemen, as Governor-General, my first thought is always when I meet a great gathering of this sort, what I am to talk to you all about. I have said that I am going to talk to you about my impressions of the British Empire, but as a very human being there are many other matters that I should dearly wish to discuss with you this afternoon if I could; because I think that there are matters of enormous interest, not only in this country, not only to the Empire as a whole, but also in international affairs. I might wish to say something about that great Naval Conference which is being held in London at the present time, and I am sure you will all agree with me when I say that I hoped profoundly, and still hope profoundly that some successful results may come from that Conference. (Applause.) And I might wish to give you my impressions as to the manner in which the leader of the Conservative Party in England stemmed the outpourings, or the overflowings, of the Beaver-brook and the Rother-mere. (Laughter.) I might wish to talk to you about China, as to which I know something. I might like to talk to you about India, about which I know something more. I might talk to you about a good many things that are happening in Canada at the present time, and if I were a private individual, and not Governor-General, I might give you a straight tip as to when the General Election is going to be. (Laughter.) But, Gentlemen, Governors-General have their limitations, and after having considered all these matters it would be wiser for this Governor-General to deal with a thing of which he has some knowledge, his impressions of the British Empire after an experience in outside parts of the Empire of some twenty years.

Now the first thing I should like to say to you is this: it has always struck me how enormous have been the developments within the British Empire in recent years. Not long ago the great British Empire was a series of countries all under British colonial authority. Now a great many of these great countries have arrived at what is called dominion status. They exercise entire independence in their administration, as far as their internal affairs are concerned. They are equal partners in working out the destiny of the British Empire. I do not know if there are any here who doubt whether that partnership is a sound and satisfactory one, whether it may lead, as some, I fear, think, towards a breaking away of any part of the Dominions from the Motherland. All I would say to you, from my own knowledge and experience of a good many countries within the Empire, is this: that I believe from my heart that trust begets trust, and confidence begets confidence, that this partnership as years go on, loose as it is, is established mainly on the sentimental feelings that we all hold of extreme and perfect loyalty to our Sovereign King George. I believe that that partnership will grow closer and the co-operation will grow firmer as years go by between all the partners in the Commonwealth of Nations which form the British Empire. (Hear, hear.)

Now let me take you to some of these countries and say a few words on each of them. Canada I need say little about; we all know it pretty well, and I am glad Sir William told you that I am a Canadian, as I think I am, at least by adoption at the present time. (Hear, hear, and applause.) We all know that the loyalty of Canada is sound and sure. We all know that her resources, her natural resources, are almost illimitable; we all know that her development has been of the most astonishing character, that she has achieved the position of being the fifth trading nation of the world, with a population of barely ten million people. We all know that her people are strong, virile, energetic, and I am certain that Canada in future years is going to have an enormous influence in shaping the destinies and the future of the British Empire.

Let me take you for a moment to Australia, where I lived many years ago for three happy years. That great country of pastoral and agricultural wealth, and a good deal of mineral wealth, too, those great cities of Melbourne and Sydney with their great harbours and all the industrial development that has occurred since the British first went there! There you have a population of British citizens absolutely loyal to the British crown.

Let me take you off to New Zealand, a country of the most wonderful scenery, the North Island with its strange volcanic formations, the South Island with its mountains and its glaciers and its lakes; a country which has magnificently fertile agricultural land; and I think if you read your debates in the House of Commons at Ottawa during recent days, you will discover that it is quite true, what I say about its agricultural fertility, for it seems to export to Canada a considerable amount of butter. (Laughter.) And, Gentlemen, it is peopled by generations of British who have long been the most loyal citizens, as loyal as any other branch of citizens in the British Empire, and also by those indigenous people: the Maori tribes, who by British development are becoming useful loyal citizens of the country too.

Let me take you over to South Africa, where not very long ago British and Dutch were struggling and striving for the supremacy in the country. What do we see there now? A great country, full of mineral, agricultural and pastoral wealth, a country which is administered by Dutch and British combined, a country which has enormous difficulties, owing to the fact that it has a large coloured population, but a country in which during the war they showed the greatest loyalty, for both Dutch and British fought on the British side.

Now for a moment let me take you into India. I am always a little anxious in talking about India, for, having lived there eleven years, I happen to know something about it, but if ever I say anything about it, let me tell you, I generally get into trouble. (Laughter.) But I want today to say a few words on the present situation in India. I am not going to discuss in any way the political situation out there, but I do want to say these words, for the reason that I have seen and heard so much ill-informed and unnecessary sentimental matter about Mr. Gandhi and his new adventure in this continent, that I think it is well that someone who is personally acquainted with Mr. Gandhi and has been, while he was in India for a good many years, should tell you what he feels about this particular situation. Let me say in the first place to all my fellow-members of the Empire Club that I do not think we need have any anxiety with regard to this adventure of Mr. Gandhi. If I may say so, it is merely a matter of history repeating itself, for Mr. Gandhi tried very much the same sort of adventure when I was Governor of Madras, only a few years ago. Further than that, I would say that I believe and trust in the sincerity of the determination of the British Government to hand over the entire control of the administration of India into the hands of Indians when they are fitted and ready to receive that control. (Applause.) And I would further add this, that I believe the princes of India--and, after all, remember that the princes of India are rulers of one fifth of the whole of the country--the princes of India, the moderate people, the thoughtful people of India (and there are a large number, I am glad to say), the business men of India, and at the other end of the social scale, the depressed classes of India who number between sixty and seventy million souls, thoroughly disapprove of Mr. Gandhi's new adventure, which, as far as I can see, has for its purpose the effort to try and make his fellow-citizens break the law of their country; that they are in large measure entirely out of favour with this effort of Mr. Gandhi's to create all this disturbance, and that they are and will be in the future, as they have been in the past, loyal to the British Raj. (Applause.)

Now may I take you for a few minutes to a part of the British Empire which I visited only a few weeks ago, which I had never visited before, and which was to me one of the most interesting trips that I have ever undertaken. I refer of course to the West Indies. We went first to Bermuda--you must not call Bermuda in the West Indies, we must all remember that--and then from Bermuda we went to Antigua and the Leeward Islands, and through the Leeward Islands to the Windward Islands, to Barbadoes and Trinidad, and across to Jamaica. I found there wonderful historical records of the old days of the 18th century and the 19th century, remains of old forts, remains of old barracks, monuments in old churches which give the most historical record of the doings of great men, great pioneers-Nelson, Drake, and many others-in those seas in those early days. I found another thing; I found that the West Indian Islanders had rather an idea in their minds-I think this was rather general-that they were the Cinderella of the whole British Empire, indeed that they had been rather neglected in the past; and I am bound to say that I think there was a good deal of truth in what they said. I found too-and this, I am sure, will be of immense satisfaction to you all-a feeling of enormous gratification, a feeling of enormous gratitude, to the Canadian Government for passing that treaty a few years ago, and for giving them an excellent fortnightly service of ships, which has brought them back into the world again, and has given them hope for the future. (Applause.) I could keep you for a long time, talking about the West Indies, because I got many ideas on the matter, but the West Indies, to my mind, is likely to be an extremely profitable and helpful part of the British Empire. They have lived too individual lives in the past. They want to have co-operation in the future. I hope very much that something may occur in the near future which will bring this co-operation with Canada closer than ever before. I think it would be a fine thing if Canada could take over the responsibility of assisting the West Indies from the many heavy responsibilities that now fall upon the British Government. (Applause.) I may tell you this--that the West Indies at the present time certainly look to Canada and not to my old homeland for encouragement and support--encouragement, support and co-operation, which, I am sure, in future years will be given by Canada. (Hear, hear, and applause.) I should like to add one word with regard to the West Indies, and that is this--an incident which occurred to me on my way back from the Bahamas to Bermuda, which made me delighted that I was a citizen of the British Empire. We had a very heavy sea, coming from the Bahamas to Bermuda, and when we arrived at Bermuda we could not get inside the bar and we had to remain outside the harbour for thirty-six hours. As a matter of fact, the Lady Rodney, which was coming out of the harbour, came out with great difficulty with the pilot on board, and the question was how we were going to get the pilot from the Lady Rodney to our ship, the Lady Simmons, with, that very, very heavy sea running. Finally our captain decided to launch the lifeboat and ask for volunteers. Ten men got into that boat, and it was one of the finest exhibitions of sheer courage that I ever saw, to see them take that boat half a mile over the most tremendous seas to the Lady Rodney, pick up the pilot, and bring the pilot back to our ship. I asked the Captain, after it was all over-and I was very delighted when it was over--(Laughter)--if I could have a talk to the men. I had that talk, and I found that they were Canadians, Newfoundlanders, Englishmen and Irishmen--(Applause)--the finest mixture of the British Empire you could possibly get. (Laughter.)

Well, Gentlemen, I could keep you here a long time telling you of many other parts of the British Empire which I have visited and which are developing towards the creation of this great Commonwealth of Nations. But I have, I think, told you sufficient, to show that we citizens of the British Empire own vast territories in all parts of the world, vast territories which are peopled by people of all races, all creeds, all denominations, who have complete religious freedom, and claim citizenship within our Empire. It is, as has often been said, the greatest Empire the world has ever known. It is the greatest development, the most astonishing development of modern history. I think we should never forget that the four years of the Great War gave the British Empire a great deal more responsibility in the way of Empire administration than it has ever had before.

I have only one word to add in conclusion, and it is this: What is to be the future of the British Empire? We all of us dream dreams; I suppose some of us see visions; but I have got a perfectly clear vision of what I believe the future of the British Empire will be. I can see in all parts of the world great countries grown up to their full strength, co-operating together closely, all loyal to our crown and King, co-operating in all matters of business and public life, administering their countries on the highest principles of justice, freedom and fair play, living in friendship with their neighbours, exercising an enormous influence to procure peace throughout the civilized world. That, to my mind, will be the inevitable future of the British Empire; that is what I in my humble way have worked for during my public life. May I say this to the members of the Empire Club today: that I believe Canada is going to have an enormous influence in this great future. I have often said, and I always feel, that it shows the greatest example of the strength of the League of Nations of any other country in the world. Here you have lived, side by side with a great and powerful nation to your south, with your frontiers undefended, with any difference or disagreement settled on friendly lines, never any troubles between you two. You have, it is true, practically a League of Nations within your own country, for not only have you got those two great communities, the French and the British, the descendants of those people who fought for the control of Canada, living here side by side in perfect equality and friendship; but you have other communities scattered about this country in all its parts, who claim equal citizenship with you all. May I then say to you, Gentlemen, and urge you to work on, to teach and bring up the youth of our country to those principles of peace and friendship and goodwill which will bring about, I believe, in the future, peace among the nations of the world? And if and when that is secured, surely we may be grateful for this--that we may look to the future to a time when we shall get rid of war for all future generations, and we shall be able to feel that all the sorrows, all the sacrifices, all the tragedy that we endured during the Great War, will not have been altogether in vain. (Long applause.)

CHAIRMAN: This club is non-political, and therefore, like his Excellency, we are restricted in what we may utter, but if I were not so restricted I would like to say that the events of the last week have proven that we have in this province the most fearless Prime Minister this province has ever known. (Laughter and applause.) Mr. Ferguson.

HON. G. HOWARD FERGUSON expressed the thanks of the Club to His Excellency as follows: The fact that you have reminded me that this is a non-political club makes me wonder why I am here (Laughter), because there is another sphere of activity in which I am somewhat interested at the present time that is not of that type. I appreciate very greatly the privilege and the honour your suggestion gives me that I should say a word of appreciation of what we have just heard from His Excellency, the Governor-General. It is eminently fitting that this club should offer to His Excellency an honorary membership in the Empire organization of Canada, and you should feel deeply grateful and highly honoured that His Excellency has been gracious enough to accept membership in your organization. (Applause.) By so doing you have succeeded in identifying with your organization in person one of the practical links of Empire. His Excellency the Governor-General is the direct representative of His Majesty the King. Not only is he the representative of His Majesty the King, but he is one of the great outstanding missionaries of Empire. (Applause.) We all agree, I am quite sure, with what we have heard from his lips today; his impressions of the British Empire, necessarily brief, and almost kaleidoscopic in aspect, have left a great and deep impression upon us. Since we have been fortunate enough to have His Excellency and his charming wife in this country, I think we have all recognized the fact that they have laboured incessantly to keep alive the spirit of Empire and the ideals for which the Empire stands, to constantly educate our people to' the value of British citizenship and its privileges, not only for what it may mean to us in Canada, or to the Empire itself, but what it may mean as a contribution towards the establishment of the very highest purposes in the civilization of the world. No matter what politicians--or statesmen, if you choose to dignify them with that term--(Applause)--may do, this Empire will endure. It depends not upon political expediency or political organization; it has a much more enduring bond than that. It is all built upon a wealth of tradition that has come down to us through the centuries, common ideals and aspirations, our recognition of the value and the privileges that go with British citizenship; these things of themselves are a sufficient guarantee of the permanence of this great Empire. There are other factors that are important, of course, and I am led to mention this fact because of some jocular reference His Excellency made to the circumstances in England at the time. He is an adopted Canadian, and I think we will all agree that he would make a first-rate Canadian if he were entirely and naturally one. But we have another Canadian at the present time who has recently played, in my opinion, a very important part in perpetuating and strengthening our great Empire. In the past fifteen years there has been more rapid and radical change in the world's affairs, and perhaps particularly in the affairs of the Empire, than there ever has been in her history before in the same length of time. There has been a complete upsetting of all former economic laws and arrangements, of all former social and political standards. There must be a re-organization of our attitude and of our movements if we are to take full advantage of this changed situation and profit by it. In other words, Mr. President, in my view, and I speak as a very humble Canadian 3,500 miles away from the centre of activity, there must be some alteration in the whole economic structure of this Empire; if this family desires to maintain the close companionship and co-operation, and maintain its influence and its position in the world's affairs, this family must be close together all the time. And a Canadian, Lord Beaverbrook, has played a very important part in the Empire's affairs within the past twelve or fifteen months. Not that I agree with Lord Beaverbrook in all he says or does, but, whether we agree or not, he has done this, he has focused the attention of every part of the Empire upon this great problem; he has got the interest of the public, and this great problem of consolidation of imperial interests, economic and commercial, is being considered and dealt with in England as it never has before in its history. (Applause.) Whatever may come of it, it is rather a proud thing for us, I think, to feel that a former Canadian, and a man who is a Canadian still, has played an important part, has taken all the risk that comes with launching of new ideas or espousing the leadership of a movement which is somewhat radical in its effects among the people of the Old Country. I am hopeful, I am confident, as time goes on, and the problem is studied, and we overcome the feeling and attitude developed as the result of isolation in different parts of the Empire, when our business men sit down to discuss these problems, we will be able to adjust our whole business life so that we will help one another and help the Empire to a degree we never have before. (Applause.) Again I say I am proud of the fact that the first practical movement comes from Canada; the Canadian Chambers of Commerce not only have taken a stand, but have established a committee of business men from coast to coast representing every type of our interests, to go to London and see if other men representing other portions of the Empire, and the centre of the Empire, are not prepared to sit down and discuss this problem calmly and deliberately and in the best interests of all, not with any spirit of dictation but with the idea of co-operation, with the idea of maintaining the blood relationship, the family tie, upon which the future of our Empire depends.

May I, on behalf of you, Gentlemen, members of the Empire Club, express our great thanks and gratitude to His Excellency, who has been good enough to come here today, as he has said, labouring under an indisposition, to give us such an attractive, interesting picture of his impressions of the Empire. (Applause.)

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Special Luncheon Meeting in Honour of His Excellency, Viscount Willingdon, Governor-General

Sir William Mulock spoke first about His Excellency, Viscount Willingdon, Governor-General of Canada and presented him with a certificate of life membership in The Empire Club of Canada. His Excellency accepted the certificate, and then addressed the audience.
Some remarks on the Naval Conference which is being held in London at the present time and other subjects. Impressions of the British Empire after the speaker's experience in outside parts of the Empire of some 20 years. The enormous developments within the British Empire in recent years. Some words on the countries that have become Dominions. A description of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India. Some words on the current situation in India. The West Indies, which the speaker visited just a few weeks ago. Development towards the creation of the great Commonwealth of Nations. The future of the British Empire. The speaker's belief that Canada is going to have an enormous influence in the future.