« PreviousContinue »
Nor till her age-long task is o'er
The Sceptre and the Crown;
In them her old renown.
Now, as Canada is one of those fair daughter lands which drew her life from hers, and as this Dominion is the greatest of all the British possessions and one third in area of her Empire, let us for a few moments look at the peculiar imperialistic features of Canada of the past, the present, and the future.
Canada was born to the French in 1535. She was born to the British in 1759 through that glorious victory of Wolfe's on the Plains of Abraham. In 1791 the then two provinces of Lower and Upper Canada were separated by an Act of Parliament, each province to have its own Parliament. They were re-united in 1841 and as union is strength, so it was with those two provinces; and out of the fogs and mists of those days appear the forms and faces of that noble band of men known as the "Fathers of Confederation." Canada received her baptism of fire on many battle-fields, but she was not christened and did not receive her name until 1867. On the first day of July, 1867, she received her name, the “Dominion of Canada," and from that day to the present time those provinces coming into Confederation have been growing by leaps and bounds and adding to themselves other provinces, until to-day we have, I hope I may say, a united and unrivalled Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Previous to Confederation we had no national spirit. We were then intensely British without realizing that we could be, at the same time, intensely Canadian. After Confederation this was changed, and I believe this great change was caused not only by the lives of those great men, the “Fathers of Confederation,” but especially by the lives of two great men and their great works. Of these two great men, one was the greatest statesman Canada has ever had, and the other was the greatest diplomat of the nineteenth century. The great statesman was the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald and of the great works he performed one was bringing into life that great policy known as the "National Policy, a Policy that aroused our sleeping towns and villages till to-day many of them are veritable hives of manufacturing and commercial industry. Another great work was bringing to completion the building of that great Imperial highway, that transcontinental railway, the Canadian Pacific. You who were living in those days know that those in opposition to the building of that railway were legion, and one of the leaders of the Opposition made the statement, “that that railway would never pay for the grease on the axles.” I have only to draw your attention to the fact that to-day we have two other great companies building their transcontinental railways, and when those roads are finished, finished mark you, they will still be inadequate owing to the great development of this country. I look upon every tie in the Canadian Pacific, not as an ordinary, common, dusty, railway tie, but a tie and a bond between province and province, till we, as Canadians stand, figuratively speaking, on the shores of the Atlantic and the Pacific with our hands outstretched to welcome and encourage our brethren from all parts of the British Empire.
The great diplomat of the nineteenth century was that grand Irishman who came out to Canada in the year 1872 as our Governor-general, Lord Dufferin. Most of the time he was in Canada he spent in going about from one section of the country to another breathing into Canadians, as it were, a new national spirit. Filled with an optimistic spirit himself, and realizing the great future of this country, he endeavoured to awaken in Canadians a sense of their responsibilities and inspire them with his own confidence in their future. He was the first Governor-general who ever visited our great North-west. He went to Winnipeg in 1875, and while there he gave an address under the auspices of the Manitoba Club. I would like to give you part of that address for the purpose of showing you the optimistic manner in which he spoke of this great country. Winnipeg, at that time, had
a population of about five thousand. Speaking of Canada in general and Manitoba in particular, he said:
On account of your geographical position and your peculiar characteristics, Manitoba may be regarded as the keystone of that mighty arch of sister Provinces which spans the Continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is here where Canada, emerging from her woods and forests first gazed upon her rolling prairies and her unexplored North-west and learned as by a sudden inspiration that her historical territories of Canadas, her eastern seaboard of New Brunswick, Labrador, and Nova Scotia, her Laurentian lakes, hills and valleys, corn-fields and pastures, though in themselves more extensive than half-a-dozen European Kingdoms, were but the vestibule and the ante-chamber for that great undreamt-of North-west, whose unlimited resources alike confound the arithmetic of the surveyor and the verification of the explorer. It was hence that, counting her past achievements as but the preface and prelude to future exertions and expanding destinies, she took upon herself a new departure, received the afflatus of a more Imperial inspiration, and felt herself no longer a mere settler on the banks of a single river, but the owner of half a continent, and in the magnitude of her possessions, in the wealth of her resources, in the sinews of her maternal might, the peer of any power on this
earth. Now that is the manner in which Lord Dufferin breathed into Canadians that new spirit which exhibited itself with wonderful force in the battle-fields of the second North-West Rebellion of 1885, and I think I can say that the back-bone of that Rebellion was broken when the western prairie sun shone on the bayonets of those loyal Canadians in their final charge at the Battle of Batoche, and that spirit exhibited itself with even greater force on the veldts of South Africa. I think the great Imperial feature of that war has been somewhat overlooked, and if I may be allowed to illustrate my own words, I would put it this way. Previous to the Battle of Paardeberg, there was a very old, a very well-known, and a very reliable firm doing business under the name and style of “John Bull and Co., Limited.” After the Battle of Paardeberg that old sign was taken down. It has been replaced by a new sign, very much painted in red, and that new sign to-day reads, "John Bull, Sons & Company, Consolidated.” The stock of that company went up out of sight, but we, as Canadians, did not require to purchase any. Why? Because it had already been bought, purchased, and paid for with the blood of those loyal Canadians in the trenches of South Africa.
In 1903, I heard a very eloquent Canadian in a very eloquent speech make this statement: "That when the history of the Nineteenth Century would be written, there would be one great nation and one great power particularly mentioned.” He said the nation would be the United States, and the power would be steam. He went on to say that when the history of the Twentieth Century would be written, there would also be one great nation and one great power particularly mentioned; the nation would be Canada, the power electricity. Remember the year 1903. In 1905 a new Government came into power in the Province of Ontario. It seems to me that his new Government has been endeavouring not only to electrify but to enlighten the cities, towns, and villages of this Province. Within four years you saw the Niagara harnessed, and the cities, towns, and villages for 150 miles west of Niagara Falls, not only electrified but enlightened by that wonderful power, by, and through, the medium of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission. To-day, that Commission is conserving other water-ways, and it seems to me that if the people of this Province are loyal to this Government and this Government is loyal to the people, the time is coming when this Province of Ontario will become, not only the manufacturing centre of this Dominion, but of this Continent, and even to-day I think we can say and realize the beautiful words written by a Canadian poet:
Four nations welded into one,
With long historic past,
A common life at last,
Through the young giant's mighty limbs,
That stretch from sea to sea,
Of waking energy.
To far Columbia's shore,
And colonies no more,
Full beating in her breast,
The Britain of the West.
The "Britain of the West," that sounds all right. Let us see if we can improve on that. Many of you may have noticed on taking up your daily papers the last few years, the increasing number of titled people from the old lands who have been visiting our Dominion. Later on, you have noticed by the same papers that these people have been returning home, that they have purchased large tracts of land in some one of our fair Provinces, and that they are going to return.
Now, let us see what it means to the Old Country, to Canada, and to these people themselves. We all know that one of the great troubles and curses of the old lands in the past has been that too many broad acres are owned by too few landlords. Now, these people coming to Canada and purchasing large tracts of land will, no doubt, go home. They will place thousands of acres of their own land in the Old Country on the market. They will, no doubt, keep their ancestral homes and a few acres about them, but by placing this land on the market, they will be helping to solve one of the great troubles in the past; and by coming to Canada and bringing their ancestral trees with them, their wealth, their education, and their intelligence, they will be the best class of people we can possibly get hold of. By coming to Canada—a young, growing, expanding, and developing country—they themselves will both expand and develop. So in a few years this Canada of ours will not be known as the "Empire of the West,” so depicted by the poet, but will become, on account of our geographical position in the Empire, on account of our peculiar, loyal instincts