Christmas Luncheon
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 14 Dec 1995, p. 302-306
Jackman, The Hon. Henry N.R., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Seasons Greetings from the Lieutenant-Governor and Special Performance by the Toronto Mass Choir.
Date of Original
14 Dec 1995
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.
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Full Text
The Hon. Henry N. R. Jackman, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario
Seasons Greetings from the Lieutenant-Governor and Special Performance by the Toronto Mass Choir
Chairman: David Edmison
President, The Empire Club of Canada

Head Table Guests

Denise Cole, Special Assistant, External Relations, Office of the Premier and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Huyen Vu, OAC student, Central Commerce Collegiate Institute; Phil Fraser, President, Vision TV-Canada's Inter-Faith Network; David Broadfoot, comedian, actor, and founding member of the Royal Canadian Air Farce; John Latimer, known as chief to the campers of Camp Kilcoo and Head Master, Royal St. George's College; Frank Mahovlich, hockey player, winner of six Stanley Cups, four for the Toronto Maple Leafs, two for the Montreal Canadiens, and Member of the Order of Canada and the Hockey Hall of Fame; Colonel David Rive, Commander, Armed Forces, Toronto District; Michael Burgess, actor and singer and star of the musical production "Les Miserables"; Larry Stout, Broadcaster, CTV Television Network and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada; Jane Craig, former board member and Assistant Conductor, The Oriana Singers of Toronto, former member of the Mendelssohn Choir and General Manager, The Kiwanis Music Festival of Toronto; Anne Tannenbaum, philanthropist and recent generous donor to the University of Toronto medical research facility; The Rev. Canon Harold Roberts, Rector, St. Timothy's Church, Agincourt, Honorary Chaplain and a distinguished Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; David Johnston, Professor of Law and author, former principal, McGill University, Chairman, The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Chairman, Montreal "No" Campaign in the recent Quebec referendum and an Officer of the Order of Canada; and Allan Beattie, Q.C., Vice-Chair, Eaton's of Canada, Chairman, Baton Broadcasting, Honorary Chairperson, The Hospital for Sick Children and a Member of the Order of Canada.

Introduction by David Edmison

We have a head table today of very distinguished and accomplished Canadians--individuals who clearly have made a difference. It is my pleasure to welcome one of those individuals now, our honoured guest, Colonel, The Honourable Henry N. R. Jackman, LieutenantGovernor of our province.

His Honour is Ontario's 25th Lieutenant-Governor and the 39th since the first Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe came to Upper Canada over 200 years ago. He has served in his present capacity for just over four years, having been sworn into office on December 11, 1991.

When one thinks of philanthropy, giving and commitment to public service, the name Jackman invariably comes to mind. His Honour and his family have been active in a host of charitable endeavours in this province and country for many years. The Empire Club of Canada has been a direct beneficiary of the leadership his family has shown. His Honour was a distinguished Past President in 1971, his brother Eric was recent Past President and his son Duncan is an active and supportive Director of the Club.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to ask you to welcome, a man who has served both our Club and our province with distinction, His Honour Henry N. R. Jackman.

Lieutenant-Governor Jackman

Thank you very much David. You are right. It was December 11, 1991, that I became Lieutenant-Governor and the very first event that I went to as Lieutenant-Governor was to The Empire Club's annual Christmas dinner. This is my fourth dinner as Lieutenant-Governor. It's probably about my 34th as a private citizen going back to that very first Christmas dinner, when I was brought by my father and my brother Eric many years ago. But I'm delighted to be here again. The Empire Club has a very special significance not only for me personally but for all those who believe in our system of government, who believe in the Queen and what she stands for and who believe in Canada.

The magnificent speeches of the people who come to address The Empire Club are recorded for history in that magnificent book that comes out every year. If you have copies of them all, and I have a copy I think of almost every one of them, you'll see a history of our country. You'll see how this country evolved. Read them. You'll become a better Canadian. I'm delighted to be here today and wish you the very best for the Christmas season on behalf of Her Majesty and myself. I'm looking straight ahead and I see this magnificent choir in front of me and I know you'd rather hear them than listen to me talk any longer. So God bless you all. Merry Christmas.

Thank you very much.

David Edmison

Thank you Your Honour for those sentiments. This luncheon is one of the highlights of our Empire Club season and your presence here makes it ever more special. On behalf of all of us I thank you for your participation and support.

Almost 100 years ago a little girl by the name of Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, a leading newspaper of the day. She wrote: "Dear Editor, I am eight years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, 'If you see it in the Sun, it's so.' Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?"

The letter was turned over to a Francis Pharcelles Church, a relatively unknown former civil war correspondent. Mr. Church's reply to Virginia's letter was published as an editorial in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897. This was one of the most famous editorials ever written, translated into at least 20 languages and published in thousands of newspapers around the world.

Mr. Church wrote: "Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant in his intellect, as compared to the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in friends! You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle to see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love and romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus? Thank God, he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

What a truly inspiring, ageless message and one that stands firm today. At this holiday season, may we all be moved by the words of Francis Church in his letter to Virginia O'Hanlon, and let the spirit of generosity towards others less fortunate shine through.

It is now my pleasure to welcome our guest choir. Formed in 1988 by the Association of Gospel Ministries they are now known as the Toronto Mass choir. The group is 45 members strong, including a five-piece band. They have performed at many church services and festivals and have appeared at Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall. Their choirmaster is Karen Burke, a graduate of McMaster University and the Royal Conservatory of Music and Director of Music at Banfield Memorial Church. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to welcome Karen Burke and the Toronto Mass Choir.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Larry Stout, Broadcaster, CTV Television Network and a Director, The Empire Club of Canada.

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Christmas Luncheon

Seasons Greetings from the Lieutenant-Governor and Special Performance by the Toronto Mass Choir.