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Title: The Struggle for Imperial Unity

Date of first publication: 1909

Author: Colonel George T. Denison (1839-1925)

Date first posted: Aug. 26, 2014

Date last updated: Aug. 26, 2014

Faded Page eBook #20140893

This eBook was produced by: David T. Jones, Al Haines, Ron Tolkien & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net














President of the British Empire League in Canada
Author of
“Modern Cavalry,” “A History of Cavalry,” “Soldiering in Canada,” &c.




Richard Clay and Sons, Limited,



Some fifteen years ago the late Dr. James Bain, Librarian of the Toronto Public Library, urged me to write my reminiscences. He knew that, as one of the founders of the Canada First party, as Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Imperial Federation League in Canada, then President of it, and after its reorganisation, under the name of the British Empire League in Canada, still President, I had much private information, in connection with the struggle for Imperial Unity, that would be of interest to the public. He was therefore continually urging me to put down my recollections in order that they should be preserved.

I put the matter off until the year 1899, when I was retired from the command of my regiment on reaching the age limit. I then wrote my military recollections under the title Soldiering in Canada. This was so well received by the Press and by the public that, being still urged to prepare my political reminiscences, I began some years ago to write them, [vi]and soon had them finished. In the early part of 1908 Dr. Bain read the manuscript, and then asked me not to delay, as I had intended, but to publish at once. Shortly before his death last spring, he again expressed this wish. I have consulted several of my friends, and in view of their advice now publish this book.

I have not attempted to write a history of the Imperial Unity movement, but only my personal recollections of the work which I have been doing in connection with it for so many years. I still feel, as I did when I was writing my military recollections, that I should follow the view laid down by the critic who said that reminiscences should be written just in the style in which a man would relate them to an old friend while smoking a pipe in front of a fire. I have tried to write the following pages in that spirit, and if the personal pronoun appears too often, it will be because, being recollections of work done, it can hardly be avoided.


Heydon Villa, Toronto,
January, 1909.



Introductory Chapter 1
Condition of Affairs in Canada before Confederation 7
Canada First Party and Hudson’s Bay Territory 10
The Red River Rebellion 17
The Red River Expedition 33
National Sentiment 49
Abortive Political Movement 56
The Independence Flurry 62
The O’Brien Episode 69
The Imperial Federation League 77
Commercial Union 81
Imperial Federation League in Canada 85
Commercial Union a Treasonable Conspiracy 98
The Years 1888 and 1889, Work of the Imperial
      Federation League 117
The Year 1890 130
Visit to England, 1890 138
The Great Election of 1891 155
Contest with Goldwin Smith 168
Dissolution of the Imperial Federation League in
     England 194
Organisation of the British Empire League 206
Mission to England, 1897 225
The West Indian Preference 242
1899: Establishment of Empire Day 248
The South African War 258
1900: British Empire League Banquet in London 271
Work in Canada in 1901 285
Mission to England in 1902 291
Correspondence with Mr. Chamberlain 338
Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, 1906 356
Speech in Reply to Sir C. Dilke 371
Lecture on “National Spirit” 377
Index 405
Colonel George T. Denison Frontispiece
Facsimile Letters facing p. 114




The idea of a great United British Empire seems to have originated on the North American Continent. When Canada was conquered and the power of France disappeared from North America, Great Britain then possessed the thirteen States or Colonies, as well as the Provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia.

The thirteen colonies had increased in population and wealth, and the British statesmen burdened with the heavy expenses of the French wars, which had been waged mainly for the protection of the American States, felt it only just that these Colonies should contribute something towards defraying the cost incurred in defending them. This raised the whole question of taxation without representation, and for ten years the discussion was waged vigorously between the Mother Country and the Colonists.

A large number of the Colonists felt the justice of the claim of the Mother Country for some assistance, but foresaw the danger of violent and arbitrary action [2]in enforcing taxation without the taxed having any voice in the matter. These men, the Loyalists, were afterwards known by the name United Empire Loyalists, because they advocated and struggled for the organisation of a consolidated Empire banded together for the common interest. Thomas Hutchinson, the last loyalist Governor of Massachusetts, and one of the ablest of the loyalist leaders, believed in the magnificent dream of a great Empire, to be realised by the process of natural and legal development, in full peace and amity with the Motherland, in short, by evolution.

Joseph Galloway, who shared with Thomas Hutchinson the supreme place among the American statesmen opposed to the Revolution, worked incessantly in the cause of a United Empire, and has been characterised as “The giant corypheus of the pamphleteers.” He was a member of the first continental Congress and introduced into that body, on the 28th September, 1774, his famous “Plan of a proposed union between Great Britain and the Colonies.”

In introducing this plan Galloway made some most interesting remarks, which bear their lesson through all the years to the present day. He said:

I am as much a friend of liberty as exists. We want the aid and assistance and protection of the arm of our Mother Country. Protection and allegiance are reciprocal duties. Can we lay claim to the money and protection of Great Britain upon any principles of honour and conscience? Can we wish to become aliens to the Mother State? We must come upon terms with Great Britain. Is it not necessary that the trade of the Empire should be regulated by some power or other? Can the Empire hold together without it? No. Who shall regulate it?


Galloway’s scheme was very nearly adopted. In the final trial it was lost by a vote of only six colonies to five. This rejection led Galloway to decline an election to the second Congress, and to appeal to the higher tribunal of public opinion. The Loyalists followed this lead, and the struggle went on for seven years, between those who fought for separation and independence and those who fought for the unity of the Empire.

The Revolution succeeded through the mismanagement of the British forces by the general in command, followed by the intervention of three great European nations, who were able to secure temporary command of the sea.

The United Empire Loyalists were driven out of the old colonies, and many found new homes in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada; some also went to England and the West Indies, carrying with them the cherished ideas of maintaining their allegiance to their Sovereign, of preserving their heritage as British subjects, and still endeavouring to realise the dream of a United British Empire.

For this cause they had made great sacrifices, and, despoiled of all their possessions, had been driven into exile, in what was then a wilderness. Men do not make such extraordinary sacrifices except under the influence of some overpowering sentiment, and in their case the moving sentiment was the Unity of the Empire. The greater the hardships they encountered, the greater the privations and sufferings they endured for the cause, the dearer it grew to their hearts, for men value those things most that have been obtained at the highest cost.

In the war of 1812-’14 the intense spirit of loyalty in the old exiles and their sons caused the Canadian [4]Provinces to be retained under the British flag, and when afterwards, in 1837, rebellion broke out, fomented by strangers and new settlers, the United Empire Loyalist element put it down with a promptitude and vigour that forms one of the brightest pages in our history. In Nova Scotia the agitation for responsible government was headed by Joseph Howe, a son of one of the exiled Loyalists. Suggestions of rebellion to him were impossible of consideration, and he held his province true to the Empire, and succeeded by peaceful and loyal measures in securing all he wanted.

Then Great Britain repealed her corn laws instead of amending them, and introduced free trade instead of rearranging and reducing her tariff. She deprived Canada of a small advantage which her products up to that time enjoyed in the British markets, and which was rapidly assisting in the development of what was then a poor and weak colony. This act was a severe blow to Canada, because it meant that Great Britain had embarked on the unwise and dangerous policy of treating foreign and even hostile countries as favourably as her own peoples and her own possessions.

This caused a great deal of dissatisfaction in some quarters, and in the year 1849 some hundreds of the leading business men in Montreal signed a manifesto advocating annexation to the United States. This aroused strong opposition among the United Empire Loyalist element in Upper Canada; the feeling soon manifested itself in a way which proved that no pecuniary losses could shake the deep-seated loyalty of the Canadian people. The annexation movement withered at once.

Seeing how severely the action of the Mother Country had borne upon Canada, Lord Elgin, then [5]Governor-General of Canada, was instructed to endeavour to arrange for a reciprocity treaty with the United States, or in other words to ask a foreign country to give Canada trade advantages which would recompense her for what Great Britain had taken away from her. The United States Government, either influenced by the blandishments of Lord Elgin, or by a politic desire of turning Canada’s trade in their own direction, and making her dependent for her business and the prosperity of her people upon a treaty which the United States would have the power of terminating in twelve years, consented to make the treaty.

It was concluded in 1854, and for twelve years during a most critical period, when railways and railway systems were beginning to be established, the great bulk of the trade of Canada was diverted to the United States, the lines of transportation naturally developed mainly from north to south, and the foreign handling of our products was left very much to the United States. The Crimean war broke out in 1854 and lasted till 1856, raising the price of farm produce two-fold, and adding largely to the prosperity of the Canadian people. The large railway expenditure during the same period also aided to produce an era of inflation, while during the last five years of the existence of the treaty the Civil War in the United States created an extraordinary demand, at war prices, for almost everything the Canadian people had to sell. The result was that, from reasons quite disconnected from the reciprocity treaty, during a great part of its existence the Canadian people enjoyed a most remarkable development and prosperity.

The United States Government, although the treaty is said to have been of more real value to them than [6]to Canada, at the earliest possible moment gave the two years’ notice to abrogate it, and they did so evidently in the hope that the financial distress and loss that its discontinuance would bring upon the people of Canada would create at once a demand for annexation. In a sense they were right; talk in favour of annexation was soon heard from a few, but the old sentiment of loyalty to the Empire was too strong, and the people turned to the idea of the confederation of the Provinces and the opening up of trade with the West Indies and other countries. The Confederation of Canada was the result, and the Dominion was established on the 1st of July, 1867.

My object in writing the following pages is to describe more particularly from my own recollection, and my own knowledge of the facts, the movement in favour of the Unity of the Empire which has been going on during the last forty years.




The extraordinary change that has taken place in Canada, in every way, in the last fifty years cannot be appreciated except by those who are old enough to remember the condition of affairs about the middle of last century. The ideas, sentiments, aspirations, and hopes of the people have since then been revolutionised. At that time the North American Provinces were poor, sparsely settled, scattered communities, with no large towns, no wealthy classes, without a literature, with scarcely any manufactures, and with a population almost entirely composed of struggling farmers and the few traders depending upon them. The population was less than 3,500,000. The total exports and imports in 1868 were $131,027,532. The small Provincial Governments found their duties confined to narrow local limits. All the important questions were entirely in the hands of the Home Government. The defence was paid for by them. British troops occupied all the important points, and foreign affairs were left without question entirely in the hands of the British statesmen. The Provinces had no power whatever in diplomacy, and were interested only in a few disputes with the United States in reference to boundary difficulties, which were [8]generally settled without consultation with the Colonial Governments, and with very little thought for the interests or the future needs of the little British communities scattered about in North America.

The settlements were comparatively so recent that men called themselves either English, Irish, or Scotch, according to the nationality of their parents or grandparents. The national societies, St. George’s, St. Andrew’s and St. Patrick’s, may have helped to continue this feeling, so that in reference to the various Provinces there was not, and could not be, any national spirit. Another cause that led to the absence of national spirit or self-confidence was that Great Britain not only held the power of peace and war in her own hands, but, as a consequence, took upon herself the responsibility for the defence of the Provinces. British troops, as has been said, garrisoned all the important points, and all the expenses were borne by the Imperial Government. Canada had no militia except upon paper, no arms, no uniforms, no military stores or equipment of any kind. She depended solely upon the Mother Country; even the Post Office System was a branch of the English Post Office Service. One can readily imagine the lack of local national spirit. Of course the loyalty to the Mother Country and the Sovereign and the Empire was always strong, but it was not closely allied to the spirit of nationality as attached to the soil.

When the Crimean war broke out, the British troops were required for it, and Canada was called upon to raise a militia force for her own needs. This she did. Ten thousand men were organised, armed, uniformed, and equipped at her expense. They were called the Active Militia, and were drilled ten days in each year. [9]The assumption of responsibility had an effect upon the country, and when the Trent difficulty arose the force was increased by the spontaneous action of the people to about thirty-eight thousand men. Four years later the Fenian raids took place upon our frontier, and were repulsed, largely by the efforts of the Canadian Militia. All this appealed to the imagination of our youth, and as confederation was proclaimed the following year the ground was fallow for sowing seeds of a national spirit.

The effect of confederation on the Canadians was very remarkable. The small Provinces were all merged into a great Dominion. The Provincial idea was gone. Canada was now a country with immense resources and great possibilities. The idea of expansion had seized upon the people, and at once steps were taken looking to the absorption of the Hudson’s Bay Territory and union with British Columbia.

With this came visions of a great and powerful country stretching from ocean to ocean, and destined to be one of the dominant powers of the world.




It was at the period when these conditions existed that business took me to Ottawa from the 15th April until the 20th May, 1868. Wm. A. Foster of Toronto, a barrister, afterwards a leading Queen’s Counsel, was there at the same time, and through our friend, Henry J. Morgan, we were introduced to Charles Mair, of Lanark, Ontario, and Robert J. Haliburton, of Halifax, eldest son of the celebrated author of “Sam Slick.” We were five young men of about twenty-eight years of age, except Haliburton, who was four or five years older. We very soon became warm friends, and spent most of our evenings together in Morgan’s quarters. We must have been congenial spirits, for our friendship has been close and firm all our lives. Foster and Haliburton have passed away, but their work lives.

The seed they sowed has sprung at last,
And grows and blossoms through the land.[1]

Those meetings were the origin of the “Canada First” party. Nothing could show more clearly the hold that confederation had taken of the imagination of young Canadians than the fact that, night after [11]night, five young men should give up their time and their thoughts to discussing the higher interests of their country, and it ended in our making a solemn pledge to each other that we would do all we could to advance the interests of our native land; that we would put our country first, before all personal, or political, or party considerations; that we would change our party affiliations as often as the true interests of Canada required it. Some years afterwards we adopted, as I will explain, the name “Canada First,” meaning that the true interest of Canada was to be first in our minds on every occasion. Forty years have elapsed and I feel that every one of the five held true to the promise we then made to each other.

One point that we discussed constantly was the necessity, now that we had a great country, of encouraging in every possible way the growth of a strong national spirit. Ontario knew little of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and they knew little of us. The name Canadian was at first bitterly objected to by the Nova Scotians, while the New Brunswickers were indifferent. This was natural, for old Canada had been an almost unknown Province to the men who lived by the sea, and whose trade relations had been mainly with the United States, the West Indies, and foreign countries.

It was apparent that until there should grow, not only a feeling of unity, but also a national pride and devotion to Canada as a Dominion, no real progress could be made towards building up a strong and powerful community. We therefore considered it to be our first duty to work in that direction and do everything possible to encourage national sentiment. History had taught us that every nation that had [12]become great, and had exercised an important influence upon the world, had invariably been noted for a strong patriotic spirit, and we believed in the sentiment of putting the country above all other considerations—the same feeling that existed in Rome

When none was for a party
When all were for the State.

This idea we were to preach in season and out of season whenever opportunity offered. The next point that attracted our attention was the necessity of securing for the new Dominion the Hudson’s Bay Territory and the adhesion of British Columbia. At this time the Maritime Provinces were not keenly interested in either of these projects, while the province of Quebec was secretly opposed to the acquisition of the Territory, fearing that it would cost money to acquire and govern it, but principally because many of the French Canadians dreaded the growing strength in the Dominion of English speaking people, and the consequent relative diminution of their proportionate influence on the administration of affairs. The Hudson’s Bay Company were also dissatisfied at the prospect of the loss of the great monopoly they had enjoyed for nearly two hundred years. They continued the policy they had early adopted, of doing all possible to create the belief that the territory was a barren, inhospitable, frozen region, unfit for habitation, and only suitable to form a great preserve for fur-bearing animals. This general belief as to the uselessness of the country, and its remoteness and inaccessibility, which prevented any full information being gained as to its real capabilities, also had the effect of making many people doubtful as to its value and careless as to its acquisition. As [13]an illustration of the ignorance and false impressions of the value of the country, it is interesting to recall that when, in 1857, an agitation was set on foot looking to the absorption of the North-West Territories, very strong opposition came from a large portion of the Canadian Press. Some wrote simply in the interests of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Some wrote what they really believed to be true. Now that Manitoba No. 1 hard wheat has a fame all over the world, as the best and most valuable wheat that is grown, it is interesting to read the opinion of the Montreal Transcript in 1857 that the climate of the North-West “is altogether unfavourable to the growth of grain” and that the summer is so short as to make it difficult to “mature even a small potato or a cabbage.”

The Government, under the far-seeing leadership of Sir John Macdonald, were negotiating in 1868 for the purchase of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s rights, and they sent Sir George Cartier and the Hon. Wm. Macdougall to England to carry on the negotiations. Mr. Macdougall was a man of great force of character, an able debater and a keen Canadian. We knew he would do all that man could do to secure the territory for Canada, and as far as the arrangements in the old country were concerned he was successful.

In anticipation of the incorporation of the territory in the Dominion, and partly to assist the Red River Settlement by giving employment to the people, the Canadian Government sent up some officials and began building a road from Fort Garry, now Winnipeg, to the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods. This was in the autumn of 1868. Mr. Macdougall appointed Charles Mair to the position of paymaster of this party, and at once we saw the opportunity of doing some [14]good work towards helping on the acquisition of the territory. We felt that the country was misunderstood, and it was arranged, through the Hon. George Brown, the proprietor and editor of the Toronto Globe, who had for many years been strongly in favour of securing the North-West, that Mair was to write letters to the Globe on every available opportunity, giving a true account of the capabilities of the territory as to the soil, products, climate, and suitability for settlement.

Mair soon formed a most favourable opinion, and became convinced that a populous agricultural community could be maintained, and that in time to come a large and productive addition would be made to the farming resources of Canada. He pictured the country in glowing terms, and practically preached that a crusade of Ontario men should move out and open up and cultivate its magnificent prairies. His letters attracted a great deal of attention, and were copied very extensively in the Press of Upper Canada and the Maritime Provinces. They were filled with the Canadian national spirit, and had a great effect in awakening the minds of the people to the importance of the acquisition of the country. Reports of his letters got back to Fort Garry, and caused much hostile feeling in the minds of the Hudson’s Bay officials, and the French half-breeds and their clergy. The feeling on one occasion almost led to actual violence.

Six years before this, in 1862, John C. Schultz (afterwards Sir John Schultz, K.C.M.G., Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba) had arrived in Fort Garry. He was then a young doctor only twenty-two years of age. He at once engaged in the practice of his profession, as well as in the business of buying and selling furs, and trading with the Indians and inhabitants. He was [15]born at Amherstburg, and had grown up and been educated in the country where Brock and Tecumseh had performed their greatest exploit in defence of Canada. He was a loyal and patriotic Canadian. He had been persecuted by Hudson’s Bay officials. Once he was put in prison by them, but was soon taken out by a mob of the inhabitants. Mair soon became attached to Schultz. They were about the same age, and possessed in common a keen love for the land of their birth. Mair told him of the work of our little party, and he expressed his sympathy and desire to assist. In March, 1869, Schultz came down to Montreal on business, and when passing through Toronto brought me a letter of introduction from Mair, who had written to me once or twice before, speaking in the highest terms of Schultz, and predicting (truthfully) that in the future he would be the leading man in the North-West, and he advised that he should be enrolled in our little organisation. Haliburton happened to be in Toronto at the time and I introduced Schultz to him and to W. A. Foster, and we warmly welcomed him into our ranks. He was the sixth member. Soon afterwards we began quietly making recruits, considering very carefully each name as suggested.

Schultz went back to Fort Garry. The negotiations for the acquisition of the Hudson’s Bay Territory were brought to a successful termination, and it was arranged that it should be taken over on the 1st December, 1869. Mr. Macdougall was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Territory, and with a small staff of officials he started for Fort Garry.

During this time Haliburton had been lecturing in Ontario and Quebec on the question of “interprovincial trade,” showing that it should be strongly [16]encouraged, and would be a most efficient means for creating a feeling of unity among the various provinces. He also delivered a very able lecture on “The Men of the North,” showing their power and influence on history, and pointing out that the Canadians would be the “Northmen of the New World,” and in this way he endeavoured to arouse the pride of Canadians in their country, and to create a feeling of confidence in its future. This was all in the line of our common desire to foster a national spirit, which formerly, in the Canadian sense, had not existed.




During this year, 1869, when the negotiations in England had been agreed upon, the Canadian Government had sent out a surveying expedition under Lieut.-Colonel Dennis. This officer had taken a prominent part in the affair of the Fenian Raid at Fort Erie three years before, with no advantage to the country and considerable discredit to himself. His party began surveying the land where a hardy population of half-breeds had their farms and homes, and where they had been settled for generations. Naturally great alarm and indignation were aroused. The road that was being built from Winnipeg to the Lake of the Woods also added considerably to their anxiety.

The Hudson’s Bay officials were mainly covertly hostile. The French priests also viewed an irruption of strangers with strong aversion, and everything tended to incite an uprising against the establishment of the new Government. When Lieut.-Governor Macdougall arrived at Pembina and crossed the boundary line, he was stopped by an armed force of French half breeds, and turned back out of the country. He waited till the 1st December, when his commission was to have come into force, and then appointed Lieut.-Colonel Dennis as Lieutenant and Conservator of [18]the Peace, and sent him to Fort Garry to endeavour to organise a sufficient force among the loyal population to put down the rebellion, and re-establish the Queen’s authority.

When Lieut.-Colonel Dennis reached Fort Garry, he went straight to Dr. Schultz’ house where Mair was staying at the time, and showed them his commission. Schultz, who was an able man of great courage and strength of character, as well as sound judgment, said at once that the commission was all that was wanted, and that he would organise a force of the surveyors, Canadian roadmen, etc., who were principally Ontario men, and that they could easily seize the Fort that night by surprise, as there were only a few of the insurgents in it, and those not anticipating the slightest difficulty. This was the wisest and best course, for had the Fort been seized, it would have dominated the settlement and established a rallying point for the loyal, who formed fifty per cent. of the population.

Colonel Dennis would not agree to this. On the contrary he advised Dr. Schultz to organise all the men he could at the Fort Garry Settlement, while he himself would go down to the Stone Fort, and raise the loyal Scotch half breeds of the lower Settlements. This decision at once shut off all possibility of success. Riel, the rebel leader, had ample opportunity not only to fill Fort Garry with French half breeds, but it enabled him to cut off and besiege Dr. Schultz and the Canadians who had gathered at his house for protection.

When matters had got to this point Colonel Dennis lost heart, abandoned his levies at the Stone Fort in the night, leaving an order for them to disperse and return to their homes. He escaped to the United [19]States by making a wide détour. Schultz and his party had to surrender and were put into prison. Mair, Dr. Lynch, and Thomas Scott were among these prisoners.

When the news of these doings came to Ontario there was a good deal of dissatisfaction, but the distance was so great, and the news so scanty, and so lacking in details, that the public generally were not at first much interested. The Canada First group were of course keenly aroused by the imprisonment and dangerous position of Mair and Schultz, and at that time matters looked very serious to those of us who were so keenly anxious for the acquisition of the Hudson’s Bay Territory. Lieut.-Governor Macdougall had been driven out, his deputy had disappeared after his futile and ill-managed attempt to put down the insurrection, Mair and Schultz and the loyal men were in prison, Riel had established his government firmly, and had a large armed force and the possession of the most important stronghold in the country. An unbroken wilderness of hundreds of miles separated the district from Canada, and made a military expedition a difficult and tedious operation. These difficulties, however, we knew were not the most dangerous. There were many influences working against the true interests of Canada, and it is hard for the present generation to appreciate the gravity of the situation.

In the first place the people of Ontario were indifferent, they did not at first seem to feel or understand the great importance of the question, and this indifference was the greatest source of anxiety to us in the councils of our party. By this time Foster and I had gained a number of recruits. Dr. Canniff, J. D. Edgar, Richard Grahame, Hugh Scott, Thomas [20]Walmsley, George Kingsmill, Joseph E. McDougall, and George M. Rae had all joined the executive committee, and we had a number of other adherents ready and willing to assist. Foster and I were constantly conferring and discussing the difficulties, and meetings of the committee were often called to decide upon the best action to adopt.

Governor Macdougall had returned humiliated and baffled, blaming the Hon. Joseph Howe for having fed the dissatisfaction at Fort Garry. This charge has not been supported by any evidence, and such evidence as there is conveys a very different impression.

Governor McTavish of the Hudson’s Bay Company was believed to be in collusion with Riel, and willing to thwart the aims of Canada. Mr. Macdougall states in his pamphlet of Letters to Joseph Howe, that in September 1868 every member of the Government, except Mr. Tilley and himself, was either indifferent or hostile to the acquisition of the Territories. He also charges the French Catholic priests as being very hostile to Canada, and says that from the moment he was met with armed resistance, until his return to Canada, the policy of the Government was consistent in one direction, namely, to abandon the country.

Dr. George Bryce in his Remarkable History of the Hudson’s Bay Company points out the serious condition of affairs at this time. The Company’s Governor, McTavish, was ill, the government by the Company moribund, and the action of the Canadian authorities in sending up an irritating expedition of surveyors and roadmakers was most impolitic. The influence of mercantile interests in St. Paul was also keenly against Canada, and a number of settlers from the United States helped to foment trouble and [21]encourage a change of allegiance. Dr. Bryce states that there was a large sum of money “available in St. Paul for the purpose of securing a hold by the Americans on the fertile plains of Rupert’s Land.” Dr. Bryce sums up the dangers as follows: “Can a more terrible combination be imagined than this? A decrepit Government with the executive officer sick; a rebellious and chronically dissatisfied Metis element; a government at Ottawa far removed by distance, committing with unvarying regularity blunder after blunder; a greedy and foreign cabal planning to seize the country; and a secret Jesuitical plot to keep the Governor from action and to incite the fiery Metis to revolt.”

The Canada First organisation was at this time a strictly secret one, its strength, its aims, even its existence being unknown outside of the ranks of the members. The committee were fully aware of all these difficulties, and felt that the people generally were not impressed with the importance of the issues and were ignorant of the facts. The idea had been quietly circulated through the Government organs that the troubles had been caused mainly through the indiscreet and aggressive spirit shown by the Canadians at Fort Garry, and much aggravated through the ill-advised and hasty conduct of Lieut.-Governor Macdougall.

The result was that there was little or no sympathy with any of those who had been cast into prison, except among the ranks of the little Canada First group, who understood the question better, and had been directly affected through the imprisonment of two of their leading members.

The news came down in the early spring of 1870 that Schultz and Mair had escaped, and soon afterwards [22]came the information that Thomas Scott, a loyal Ontario man, an Orangeman, had been cruelly put to death by the Rebel Government. Up to this time it had been found difficult to excite any interest in Ontario in the fact that a number of Canadians had been thrown into prison. Foster and I, who had been consulting almost daily, were much depressed at the apathy of the public, but when we heard that Schultz and Mair, as well as Dr. Lynch, were all on the way to Ontario, and that Scott had been murdered, it was seen at once that there was an opportunity, by giving a public reception to the loyal refugees, to draw attention to the matter, and by denouncing the murder of Scott, to arouse the indignation of the people, and foment a public opinion that would force the Government to send up an armed expedition to restore order.

George Kingsmill, the editor of the Toronto Daily Telegraph, at that time was one of our committee, and on Foster’s suggestion the paper was printed in mourning with “turned rules” as a mark of respect to the memory of the murdered Scott, and Foster, who had already contributed able articles to the Westminster Review in April and October 1865, began a series of articles which were published by Kingsmill as editorials, which at once attracted attention. It was like putting a match to tinder. Foster was accustomed to discuss these articles with me, and to read them to me in manuscript, and I was delighted with the vigour and intense national spirit which breathed in them all. He met the arguments of the official Press with vehement appeals to the patriotism of his fellow countrymen. The Government organs were endeavouring to quiet public opinion, and [23]suggestions were freely made that the loyal Canadians who had taken up arms on behalf of the Queen’s authority in obedience to Governor Macdougall’s proclamation had been indiscreet, and had brought upon themselves the imprisonment and hardships they had suffered.

Mair and Schultz had escaped from prison about the same time. Schultz went to the Lower Red River which was settled by loyal English-speaking half breeds, and Mair to Portage la Prairie, where there was also a loyal settlement. They each began to organise an armed force to attack Fort Garry and release their comrades, who were still in prison there. They made a junction at Headingly, and had scaling ladders and other preparations for attacking Fort Garry. Schultz brought up about six hundred men, and Mair with the Portage la Prairie contingent, under command of Major Charles Boulton, had about sixty men. Riel became alarmed, opened a parley with the loyalists, and agreed to deliver up the prisoners, and pledge himself to leave the loyalist settlements alone if he was not attacked. The prisoners were released and Mair went back to Portage la Prairie, and Schultz to the Selkirk settlement. Almost immediately Schultz left for Canada with Joseph Monkman, by way of Rainy River to Duluth, while Mair, accompanied by J. J. Setter, started on the long march on snow shoes with dog sleighs over four hundred miles of the then uninhabited waste of Minnesota to St. Paul. This was in the winter, and the journey in both cases was made on snow shoes and with dog sleighs. Mair arrived in St. Paul a few days before Schultz.

We heard of their arrival at St. Paul by telegraph, and our committee called a meeting to consider the [24]question of a reception to the refugees. This meeting was not called by advertisement, so much did we dread the indifference of the public and the danger of our efforts being a failure. It was decided that we should invite a number to come privately, being careful to choose only those whom we considered would be sympathetic. This private meeting took place on the 2nd April, 1870. I was delayed, and did not arrive at the meeting until two or three speeches had been made. The late John Macnab, the County Attorney, was speaking when I came in; to my astonishment he was averse to taking any action whatever until further information had been obtained. His argument was that very little information had been received from Fort Garry, and that it would be wiser to wait until the refugees had gone to Ottawa, and had laid their case before the Government, and the Government had expressed their views on the matter, that these men might have been indiscreet, &c. Not knowing that previous speakers had spoken on the same line I sat listening to this, getting more angry every minute. When he sat down I was thoroughly aroused. I knew such a policy as that meant handing over the loyal men to the mercies of a hostile element. I jumped up at once, and in vehement tones denounced the speaker. I said that these refugees had risked their lives in obedience to a proclamation in the Queen’s name, calling upon them to take up arms on her behalf; that there were only a few Ontario men, seventy in number, in that remote and inaccessible region, surrounded by half savages, besieged until supplies gave out. When abandoned by the officer who had appealed to them to take up arms, they were obliged to surrender, and suffered for long months in prison. I said these Cana[25]dians did this for Canada, and were we at home to be critical as to their method of proving their devotion to our country? I went on to say that they had escaped and were coming to their own province to tell of their wrongs, to ask assistance to relieve the intolerable condition of their comrades in the Red River Settlement, and I asked, Is there any Ontario man who will not hold out a hand of welcome to these men? Any man who hesitates is no true Canadian. I repudiate him as a countryman of mine. Are we to talk about indiscretion when men have risked their lives? We have too little of that indiscretion nowadays and should hail it with enthusiasm. I soon had the whole meeting with me.

When I sat down James D. Edgar, afterwards Sir J. D. Edgar, moved that we should ask the Mayor to call a public meeting. This was at once agreed to, and a requisition made out and signed, and the Mayor was waited upon, and asked to call a meeting for the 6th. This was agreed to, Mr. Macnab coming to me and saying I was right, and that he would do all he could to help, which he loyally did.

From the 2nd until the 6th we were busily engaged in asking our friends to attend the meeting. The Mayor and Corporation were requested to make the refugees the guests of the City during their stay in Toronto, and quarters were taken for them at the Queen’s Hotel. Foster’s articles in the Telegraph were beginning to have their influence, and when Schultz, Lynch, Monkman, and Dreever arrived at the station on the evening of the 6th April, a crowd of about one thousand people met them and escorted them to the Queen’s. The meeting was to be held in the St. Lawrence Hall that evening, but when we arrived there with the party, we found the hall crowded [26]and nearly ten thousand people outside. The meeting was therefore adjourned to the Market Square, and the speakers stood on the roof of the porch of the old City Hall.

The resolutions carried covered three points. Firstly, a welcome to the refugees, and an endorsation of their action in fearlessly, and at the sacrifice of their liberty and property, resisting the usurpation of power by the murderer Riel; secondly, advocating the adoption of decisive measures to suppress the revolt, and to afford speedy protection to the loyal subjects in the North-West, and thirdly, declaring that “It would be a gross injustice to the loyal inhabitants of Red River, humiliating to our national honour, and contrary to all British traditions for our Government to receive, negotiate, or treat with the emissaries of those who have robbed, imprisoned, and murdered loyal Canadians, whose only fault was zeal for British institutions, whose only crime was devotion to the old flag.” This last resolution, which was carried with great enthusiasm, was moved by Capt. James Bennett and seconded by myself.

Foster and I had long conferences with Schultz, Mair, and Lynch that evening and next day, and it was decided that I should go to Ottawa with the party, to assist them in furthering their views before the Government. In the meantime Dr. Canniff and other members of the party had sent word to friends at Cobourg, Belleville, Prescott, etc., to organise demonstrations of welcome to the loyalists at the different points.

A large number of our friends and sympathisers gathered at the Union Station to see the party off to Ottawa, and received them with loud cheers. Mr. [27]Andrew Fleming then moved, seconded by Mr. T. H. O’Neil, the following resolution, written by Foster, which was unanimously carried:

That we, the citizens of Toronto, in parting with our Red River guests, beg to reiterate our full recognition of their devotion to, and sufferings in, the cause of Canada, to emphatically endorse their manly conduct through troubles sufficient to try the stoutest heart, and to assure the loyal people of Canada that no minion of the murderer Riel, no representative of a conspiracy which concentrates in itself everything a Briton detests, shall be allowed to pass this platform (should he get so far) to lay insulting proposals at the foot of a throne which knows how to protect its subjects, and has the means and never lacks for will to do it.

At Cobourg, where the train stopped for twenty minutes, we were met by the municipal authorities of the town, and a great crowd of citizens, who received the party with warm enthusiasm, and with the heartiest expressions of approval. This occurred about one o’clock in the morning. The same thing was repeated at Belleville about three or four a.m., and it was considered advisable for Mr. Mair and Mr. Setter to stay over there to address a great public meeting to be held the next day. At Prescott, also, the warmest welcome was given by the citizens. Public feeling was aroused, and we then knew that we would have Ontario at our backs.

On our arrival in Ottawa we found that the Government were not at all friendly to the loyal men, and were not desirous of doing anything that we had been advocating. The first urgent matter was the expected arrival of Richot and Scott, the rebel emissaries, who were on the way down from St. Paul. I went to see [28]Sir John A. Macdonald at the earliest moment. I had been one of his supporters, and had worked hard for him and the party for the previous eight or nine years—in fact since I had been old enough to take an active part in politics; and he knew me well. I asked him at once if he intended to receive Richot and Scott, in view of the fact that since Sir John had invited Riel to send down representatives, Thomas Scott had been murdered. To my astonishment he said he would have to receive them. I urged him vehemently not to do so, to send someone to meet them and to advise them to return. I told him he had a copy of their Bill of Rights and knew exactly what they wanted, and I said he could make a most liberal settlement of the difficulties and give them everything that was reasonable, and so weaken Riel by taking away the grievances that gave him his strength. That then a relief expedition could be sent up, and the leading rebels finding their followers leaving them, would decamp, and the trouble would be over. I pointed out to him that the meetings being held all over Ontario should strengthen his hands, and those of the British section of the Cabinet, and that the French Canadians should be satisfied if full justice was done to the half-breeds, and should not humiliate our national honour. Sir John did not seem able to answer my arguments, and only repeated that he could not help himself, and that the British Government were favourable to their reception. I think Sir Stafford Northcote was at the time in Ottawa representing the Home Government, or the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Finding that Sir John was determined to receive them I said, “Well, Sir John, I have always supported you, but from the day that you receive Richot and Scott, [29]you must look upon me as a strong and vigorous opponent.” He patted me on the shoulder and said, “Oh, no, you will not oppose me, you must never do that.” I replied, “I am very sorry, Sir John. I never thought for a moment that you would humiliate us. I thought when I helped to get up that great meeting in Toronto, and carefully arranged that no hostile resolutions should be brought up against you, that I was doing the best possible work for you; but I seconded a very strong resolution and made a very decided speech before ten thousand of my fellow citizens, and now I am committed, and will have to take my stand.” Feeling much disheartened I left him, and worked against him, and did not support him again, until many years afterwards, when the leaders of the party I had been attached to foolishly began to coquette with commercial union, and some even with veiled treason, while Sir John came out boldly for the Empire, and on the side of loyalty, under the well-known cry, “A British subject I was born, a British subject I will die.”

After reporting to Schultz and Lynch we considered carefully the situation, and as Lynch had been especially requested by his fellow prisoners in Fort Garry to represent their views in Ontario, it was decided that he, on behalf of the loyal element of Fort Garry, should put their case before his Excellency the Governor-General himself, and ask for redress and protection. After careful discussion, I drafted a formal protest, which Lynch wrote out and signed, and we went together to the Government House and delivered it there to one of his Excellency’s staff. Copies of this were given to the Press, and attracted considerable attention. This protest was as follows:


Russell’s Hotel, Ottawa
12th April, 1870.

May it Please Your Excellency,

Representing the loyal inhabitants of Red River both natives and Canadians, and having heard with feelings of profound regret that your Excellency’s Government have it in consideration to receive and hear the so-called delegates from Red River, I beg most humbly to approach Your Excellency in order to lay before Your Excellency a statement of the circumstances under which these men were appointed in order that they may not be received or recognised as the true representatives of the people of Red River.

These so-called delegates, Father Richot and Mr. Scott, were both among the first organisers and promoters of the outbreak, and have been supporters and associates of Mr. Riel and his faction from that time to the present.

When the delegates were appointed at the convention the undersigned, as well as some fifty others of the loyal people, were in prison on account of having obeyed the Queen’s proclamation issued by Governor Macdougall. Riel had possession of the Fort, and most of the arms, and a reign of terror existed throughout the whole settlement.

When the question came up in the convention, Riel took upon himself to nominate Father Richot and Mr. Scott, and the convention, unable to resist, overawed by an armed force, tacitly acquiesced.

Some time after their nomination a rising took place to release the prisoners, and seven hundred men gathered in opposition to Riel’s government, and, having obtained the release of their prisoners, and declared that they would not recognise Riel’s authority, they separated.

In the name and on behalf of the loyal people of Red River, comprising about two-thirds of the whole population, I most humbly but firmly enter the strongest [31]protest against the reception of Father Richot and Mr. Scott, as representing the inhabitants of Red River, as they are simply the delegates of an armed minority.

I have also the honour to request that Your Excellency will be pleased to direct that, in the event of an audience being granted to these so-called delegates, that I may be confronted with them and given an opportunity of refuting any false representations, and of expressing at the same time the views and wishes of the loyal portion of the inhabitants.

I have also the honour of informing Your Excellency that Thomas Scott, one of our loyal subjects, has been cruelly murdered by Mr. Riel and his associates, and that these so-called delegates were present at the time of the murder, and are now here as the representatives before Your Excellency of the council which confirmed the sentence.

I have also the honour to inform Your Excellency, that should Your Excellency deem it advisable, I am prepared to provide the most ample evidence to confirm the accuracy and truth of all the statements I have here made.

I have the honour to be

Your Excellency’s most humble and obedient servant,

James Lynch.

I believe this was cabled by his Excellency to the Home Government. In the meantime Foster and our friends in Toronto were active in the endeavour to prevent the reception of Richot and Scott. A brother of the murdered Scott happened to be in Toronto, and on his application a warrant was issued by Alexander Macnabb, the Police Magistrate of Toronto, for the arrest of the two delegates, on the charge of aiding and abetting in the murder. This warrant was sent to the Chief of Police of Ottawa, with a request to have it [32]executed, and the prisoners sent to Toronto. Foster wrote to me and asked me to see the Chief of Police and press the matter. When I saw the Chief he denied having received it. I took him with me to the Post Office, and we asked for the letter containing it. The officials denied having it. I said at once that there was some underhand work, and that we would give the information to the Press, and that it would arouse great indignation. I was requested to be patient until further search could be made. It was soon found, and I went before the Ottawa Police Magistrate, and proved the warrant, as I knew Mr. Macnabb’s signature. Then the men were arrested. We discovered afterwards that the warrant had been taken immediately on its arrival to Sir John A. Macdonald, and by him handed to John Hillyard Cameron, Q.C., then a member of the House of Commons, and a very prominent barrister, in order that he should devise some method of meeting it. This was the cause of the Chief of Police denying that he had received it. Mr. Scott, the complainant, came down to Ottawa, and as we feared Mr. McNabb had no jurisdiction in the case, a new information was sworn out in Ottawa before the Police Magistrate of that City.

Richot and Scott were discharged on the Toronto warrant, and then arrested on the new warrant. The case was adjourned for some days, but it was impossible to get any definite evidence, as the loyal refugees had been in prison, and knew nothing of what had happened except from the popular report. Richot and Scott were therefore discharged, and were received by the Government, and many concessions granted to the rebels.




During the spring of 1870 there had been an agitation in favour of sending an expedition of troops to the Red River Settlement, to restore the Queen’s authority, to protect the loyal people still there, and to give security to the exiles who desired to return to their homes. The Canada First group had taken an active part in this agitation, and had urged strongly that Colonel Wolseley (now Field-Marshal Viscount Wolseley) should be sent in command. We knew that under his directions the expedition would be successfully conducted, and that not only would he have no sympathy with the enemy, but that he would not be a party to any dishonest methods or underhand plotting. He had commanded the camp of cadets at La Prairie in 1865, and had gained the confidence of them all; afterwards at the camp at Thorold in August and September, 1866, he had nearly all the Ontario battalions of militia pass under his command, so that there was no man in Canada who stood out more prominently in the eyes of the people.

Popular opinion fixed upon Colonel Wolseley with unanimity for the command, and the Government, although very anxious to send Colonel Robertson Ross, Adjutant-General, could not stem the tide, particularly [34]as the Mother Country was sending a third of the expedition and paying a share of the cost, and General Lindsay, who commanded the Imperial forces in Canada, was fully aware of Colonel Wolseley’s high qualifications and fitness for the position.

The expedition was soon organised under Colonel Wolseley’s skilful leadership, and he started for Port Arthur from Toronto on the 21st May, 1870. The Hon. George Brown had asked me to go up with the expedition as correspondent for the Globe, and Colonel Wolseley had urged me strongly to accept the offer and go with him. I should have liked immensely to have taken part in the expedition, but we were doubtful of the good faith of the Government, on account of the great influence of Sir George Cartier and the French Canadian party, and the decided feeling which they had shown in favour of the rebels. We feared very much that there would be intrigues to betray or delay the expedition. I was confident that Colonel Wolseley’s real difficulty would be in his rear, and not in front of him, and therefore I was determined to remain at home to guard the rear.

From Port Arthur, the first stage of the journey was to Lake Shebandowan, some forty odd miles. This was the most difficult part of the work. The Government Road was not finished as had been expected, and Colonel Wolseley was delayed from the end of May until the 16th July, before he was able to despatch any of the troops from McNeill’s Bay on Lake Shebandowan.

It will be seen that the expedition was delayed nearly two months in getting over the first fifty miles of the six hundred and fifty by water which lay between Prince Arthur’s Landing and Fort Garry. [35]This was caused by the fact that the first fifty miles was uphill all the way, while the remainder of the journey was mainly downhill. Sir John A. Macdonald was taken with a very severe and dangerous illness, so that during this important period the control of affairs passed into the hands of Sir George Cartier and the French Canadian party. This caused great anxiety in Ontario, for we could not tell what might happen. Our committee were very watchful, and from rumours we heard, we thought it well to be prepared, and on the 13th July, Foster, Grahame and I prepared a requisition to the Mayor to call a public meeting, to protest against any amnesty being granted to the rebels; and getting it well signed by a number of the foremost men in the city, we held it over, to be ready to have the meeting called on the first sign of treachery.

About the 18th July, 1870, Haliburton was at Niagara Falls and by chance saw Lord Lisgar, the Governor-General, and in conversation with him he learned that Sir George Cartier, Bishop Taché, and Mr. Archibald (who had been chosen as Lieutenant-Governor of the new province) were to meet him there in a few days. Haliburton suspected some plot and telegraphed warning Dr. Schultz at London, Ontario, who sent word to me, and on the 19th we had a meeting of our committee, and arranged at once for the public meeting to be held on the 22nd. In the Government organ, the Leader, of the 19th July was a despatch from Ottawa dated the 18th in the following words:

Bishop Taché will arrive here this evening from Montreal. The Privy Council held a special meeting on Saturday.


It is stated on good authority that Sir George Cartier will proceed with Lieutenant-Governor Archibald to Niagara Falls next Wednesday to induce His Excellency to go to the North-West via Pembina with Lieutenant-Governor Archibald and Bishop Taché. On their arrival, Riel is to deliver up the Government to them, and the expeditionary troops will be withdrawn.

On the next day the same paper had an article which, appearing in the official organ of the Government, was most significant. It concluded in the following words:

So far as the expedition is concerned we have no knowledge that there is any intention to recall it, but we would not be in the least surprised if the physical difficulties to be encountered should of itself make its withdrawal a necessity. How much better than incurring any expense in this way would it be for Sir John Young (Lord Lisgar) to pay a visit to the new Province, there to assume the reins of the Government on behalf of the Queen, see it passed over properly to Mr. Archibald, who is so much respected there, and then establish a local force, instead of endeavouring to forward foot and artillery through the almost impassable swamps of the long stretch of country lying between Fort William and Fort Garry. Should the Government entertain such an idea as this and successfully carry it out, the time would be short indeed within which the public would learn to be grateful for the adoption of so wise a policy.

This gave us the opportunity to take decisive action. We had already been dreading some such plot which, if successful, would have been disastrous to our hopes of opening up the North-West. If the expedition had been withdrawn, what security would the loyalist leaders have had as to their safety, after the murder of Scott, [37]and the recognition and endorsation of the murderers? It was essential that the expedition should go on. On the first suspicion of difficulty, I had written to Colonel Wolseley and warned him of the danger, and urged him to push on, and not encourage any messages from the rear. Letters were written to officers on the expedition to impede and delay any messengers who might be sent up, and in case the troops were ordered home, the idea was conveyed to the Ontario men to let the regulars go back, but for them to take their boats and provisions and go on at all hazards.

Hearing on the 19th that Cartier and Taché were coming through Toronto the next night on their way to Niagara, our committee planned a hostile demonstration and were arranging to burn Cartier’s effigy at the station. Something of this leaked out and Lieutenant-Colonel Durie, District Adjutant-General commanding in Toronto, attempted to arrange for a guard of honour to meet Cartier, who was Minister of Militia, in order to protect him. Lt.-Colonel Boxall, of the 10th Royals, who was spoken to on the subject, said he had an engagement for that evening near the station, of a nature that would make it impossible for him to appear in uniform. The information was brought to me. I was at that time out of the force, but I went to Lt.-Colonel Durie, who was the Deputy-Adjutant-General, and told him I had heard of the guard of honour business, and asked him if he thought he could intimidate us and I told him if we heard any more of it, we would take possession of the armoury that night, and that we would have ten men to his one, and if anyone in Toronto wanted to fight it out, we were ready to fight it out on the streets. He told me I was threatening revolution. I said, “Yes, I [38]know I am, and we can make it one. A half continent is at stake, and it is a stake worth fighting for.”

Lt.-Colonel Durie telegraphed to Sir George Cartier not to come to Toronto by railway, and he and Bishop Taché got off the train at Kingston. Taché went to the Falls by way of the States. Cartier took the steamer for Toronto, arrived at the wharf in the morning, transferred to the Niagara boat, and crossed to the Falls. This secrecy was all we wanted.

About the same time another formal protest was prepared and Dr. Lynch presented it to his Excellency the Governor-General:—

To His Excellency Sir John Young, Bart., K.C.B., &c., &c.,
Governor-General, &c., &c.

May it Please Your Excellency

I have on several occasions had the honour of addressing Your Excellency on behalf of the loyal portion of the inhabitants of the Red River Settlement, and having heard that there is a possibility of the Government favouring the granting of an amnesty for all offences to the rebels of Red River, including Louis Riel, O’Donohue, Lepine and others of their leaders, I feel it to be my duty on behalf of the loyal people of the territory to protest most strongly against an act that would be unjust to them, and at the same time to place on record the reasons which we consider render such clemency not only unfair and cruel, but also injudicious, impolitic, and dangerous.

I therefore beg most humbly and respectfully to lay before Your Excellency, on behalf of those whom I represent, the reasons which lead us to protest against the leaders of the rebellion being included in an amnesty and for which we claim that they should be excluded from its effects.

(1) A general amnesty would be a serious reflection on the loyal people of the Red River Settlement who throughout this whole affair have shown a true spirit [39]of loyalty and devotion to their Sovereign and to British institutions. Months before Mr. Macdougall left Canada it was announced that he had been appointed Governor. He had resigned his seat in the Cabinet, and had addressed his constituents prior to his departure. The people of the Settlement had read these announcements, and on the publication of his proclamation in the Queen’s name with the royal arms at its head, they had every reason to consider that the Queen herself called for their services. Those services were cheerfully given, they were enrolled in the Queen’s name to put down a rising that was a rebellion—that was trampling under foot all law and order, and preventing British subjects from entering or passing through British territory. For this they were imprisoned for months; for this they were robbed of all they possessed; and for this, the crime of obeying the call of his Sovereign, one true-hearted loyal Canadian was cruelly and foully murdered. An amnesty to the perpetrators of these outrages by our Government we hold to be a serious reflection on the conduct of the loyal inhabitants and a condemnation of their loyalty.

(2) It is an encouragement of rebellion. Riel was guilty of treason. When he refused permission to Mr. Macdougall, a British subject, to enter a British territory, and drove him away by force of arms, he set law at defiance and committed an open act of rebellion. He also knew that Mr. Macdougall had been nominated Governor, knew that he had resigned his seat in the Cabinet, knew he had bid farewell to his constituents; yet he drove him out by force of arms, and when the Queen’s proclamation was issued—for all he knew by the Queen’s authority—he tore it up, scattered the type used in printing it, defied it, and imprisoned, robbed and murdered those whose only crime in his eyes was that they had obeyed it. It may be said that Riel knew that Mr. Macdougall had no authority to issue a proclamation in the Queen’s name; a statement of this kind would lead to the inference that it was the [40]result of secret information and of a conspiracy among some in high positions. This had sometimes been suspected by many, but hitherto has never been believed. An amnesty to Riel and other leaders would be an endorsation of their acts of treason, robbery, and murder, and therefore an encouragement to rebellion.

(3) An amnesty is injudicious, impolitic and dangerous, if it includes the leaders. Some of those who have been robbed and imprisoned, who have seen their comrade and fellow prisoner led out and butchered in cold blood, seeing the law powerless to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, might in that wild spirit of justice, called vengeance, take the life of Riel or some other of the leaders. Should this unfortunately happen the attempt by means of law to punish the avenger would be attended with serious difficulty, and would not receive the support of the loyal people of the Territory, of the Canadian emigrants who will be pouring in, or of the people of the older Provinces. Trouble would arise and further disturbance break out in the Settlement. It would be argued with much force that Riel had murdered a loyal man for no crime but his loyalty and that he was pardoned, and that when a loyal man taking the law into his own hands executed a rebel and a murderer in vengeance for a murder, he would be still more entitled to a pardon, and the result would be that the law could not be carried out. When the enforcement of the law would be an outrage to the sense of justice of the community, the law would be treated with contempt. A full amnesty will produce this result, and bitter feuds and a legacy of internal dissension entailed upon that country for years to come.

(4) It will destroy all confidence in the administration of law and maintenance of order. There could be no feeling of security for life, liberty, or property in a country where treason, murder, robbery and other crimes had been openly perpetrated, and afterwards [41]condoned and pardoned sweepingly by the higher authorities.

(5) The proceedings of the insurgent leaders, previous to the attempt of Mr. Macdougall to enter the Territory, as well as afterwards, led many to suspect that Riel and his associates were in collusion with certain persons holding high official positions. Although suspected, it could not be believed. An amnesty granted now, including everyone, would confirm these suspicions, preclude the possibility of dissipating them, and leave a lasting distrust in the honour and good faith of the Canadian Government.

In respectfully submitting these arguments for Your Excellency’s most favourable consideration, I wish Your Excellency to understand that it is not the object of this protest to stand in the way of an amnesty to the great mass of the rebels, but to provide against the pardon of the ringleaders, those designing men who have inaugurated and kept alive the difficulties and disturbances in the Red River Settlement, and who have led on their innocent dupes from one step to another in the commission of crime by false statements and by appealing to their prejudices and passions.

I have the honour to be,

Your Excellency’s most obe’t humble Serv’t,

James Lynch.

Queen’s Hotel, Toronto,
29th June.

This was also given to the Press and widely published.

The meeting for which, as has been said, a requisition had been prepared, was called for the 22nd July, and in addition to the formal posters issued by the acting Mayor on our requisition, Foster and I had prepared a series of inflammatory placards in big type on large sheets, which were posted on the fences and bill boards all over the city. There were a large number of these [42]placards; some of them read, “Is Manitoba to be reached through British Territory? Then let our volunteers find a road or make one.” “Shall French rebels rule our Dominion?” “Orangemen! is Brother Scott forgotten already?” “Shall our Queen’s Representative go a thousand miles through a foreign country, to demean himself to a thief and a murderer?” “Will the volunteers accept defeat at the hands of the Minister of Militia?” “Men of Ontario! Shall Scott’s blood cry in vain for vengeance?”

The public meeting was most enthusiastic, and St. Lawrence Hall was crowded to its utmost limit. The Hon. Wm. Macdougall moved the first resolution in a vigorous and eloquent speech; it was as follows:

Resolved, that the proposal to recall at the request of the Rebel Government the military expedition, now on its way to Fort Garry to establish law and order, would be an act of supreme folly, an abdication of authority, destructive of all confidence in the protection afforded to loyal subjects by a constitutional Government—a death-blow to our national honour, and calls for a prompt and indignant condemnation by the people of this Dominion.

Mr. Macdougall in supporting this said that:

There were many of our own countrymen there who had been ill-treated and robbed of their property, and whose lives had been endangered. Were we to leave these persons—Whites and Indians—without support? Was this the way that our Government was to maintain its respect? How could we expect in that or any other part of the Dominion, that men would expose themselves to loss of property, imperil their lives, or incur any hazard whatever, to support a Government that makes peace with those assailing its authority, and deserts those who have defended it.


Ex-Mayor F. H. Medcalf seconded this resolution which was unanimously carried.

The second resolution called for the prompt punishment of the rebels. It was moved by James D. Edgar (afterwards Sir James D. Edgar, K.C.M.G.) and seconded by Capt. James Bennett, both members of the Canada First group.

The third resolution read:

Resolved, in view of the proposed amnesty to Riel and withdrawal of the expedition, this meeting declares: That the Dominion must and shall have the North-West Territory in fact as well as in name, and if our Government, through weakness or treachery, cannot or will not protect our citizens in it, and recalls our Volunteers, it will then become the duty of the people of Ontario to organise a scheme of armed emigration in order that those Canadians who have been driven from their homes may be reinstated, and that, with the many who desire to settle in new fields, they may have a sure guarantee against the repetition of such outrages as have disgraced our country in the past; that the majesty of the law may be vindicated against all criminals, no matter by whom instigated or by whom protected; and that we may never again see the flag of our ancestors trampled in the dust or a foreign emblem flaunting itself in any part of our broad Dominion.

In moving this resolution, I said, as reported in the Toronto Telegraph:

The indignation meeting held three months since has shown the Government the sentiments of Ontario. The expedition has been sent because of these grand and patriotic outbreaks of indignation. Bishop Taché had offered to place the Governor-General in possession of British territory. Was our Governor-General to [44]receive possession of the North-West Territory from him? No! there were young men from Ontario under that splendid officer Colonel Wolseley who would place the Queen’s Representative in power in that country in spite of Bishop Taché and without his assistance (loud cheers). We will have that territory in spite of traitors in the Cabinet, and in spite of a rebel Minister of Militia (applause). He had said there were traitors in the Cabinet. Cartier was a traitor in 1837. He was often called a loyal man, but we could buy all their loyalty at the same price of putting our necks under their heels and petting them continually. Why when he was offered only a C.B. his rebel spirit showed out again; he whined, and protested, and threatened and talked of the slight to a million Frenchmen, and the Government yielded to the threat, gave him a baronetcy, patted him on the back, and now he is loyal again for a spell (laughter and cheers).

I also pointed out how, if the expedition were recalled, we could, by grants from municipalities, &c., and by public subscription, easily organise a body of armed emigrants who could soon put down the rebels. This resolution was seconded by Mr. Andrew Fleming and carried with enthusiasm.

Mr. Kenneth McKenzie, Q.C., afterwards Judge of the County Court, moved, and W. A. Foster seconded, the last resolution:

Resolved that it is the duty of our Government to recognise the importance of the obligation cast upon us as a people; to strive in the infancy of our confederation to build up by every possible means a national sentiment such as will give a common end and aim to our actions; to make Canadians feel that they have a country which can avenge those of her sons who suffer and die for her, and to let our fellow Britons know that a Canadian shall not without protest be branded [45]before the world as the only subject whose allegiance brings with it no protection, whose patriotism wins no praise.

The result of this meeting, with the comments of the Ontario Press, had their influence, and Sir George Cartier was obliged to change his policy. The Governor-General, it was said, took the ground that the expedition was composed partly of Imperial troops, and was under the command of an Imperial officer, and could not be withdrawn without the consent of the Home Government. Sir George Cartier then planned another scheme by which he hoped to condone the crime which Riel had committed, and protect him and his accomplices from the punishment they deserved.

This plan, of course, we knew nothing of at the time, but it was arranged that Mr. Archibald was to follow the Red River expedition over the route they had taken, for the purpose apparently of going to Fort Garry along with the troops. It was also planned that, when Mr. Archibald arrived opposite the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods, he was to turn aside, and land at the point where the Snow Road (so called after Mr. Snow, the engineer in charge of the work) was to strike the lake, and proceed by land to Fort Garry. Riel was to send men and horses to meet Mr. Archibald at that point, and he was to be brought into Fort Garry under the auspices of the Rebel Government, and take over the control from them before the expedition could arrive.

This is all clearly shown by two letters from Bishop Taché to Riel, which were found among Riel’s papers in Fort Garry after his hurried flight. They are as follows:


Letter No. 1.Bishop Taché to President Riel.

Monsieur L. Riel, President,

I had an interview yesterday with the Governor-General at Niagara: he told me the Council could not revoke its settled decision to send Mr. Archibald by way of the British Possessions, and for the best of reasons, which he explained to me, and which I shall communicate to you later. We cannot therefore arrive together, as I had expected. I shall not be alone, because I shall have with me people who come to aid us. Mr. Archibald regrets he cannot come by way of Pembina; he wishes, notwithstanding, to arrive among us, and before the troops. Therefore he will be glad to have a road found for him either by the Point des Chenes or the Lac de Roseaux. I pray you to make enquiry in this respect, in order to obtain the result that we have proposed. It is necessary that he should arrive among and through our people. I am well content with this Mr. Archibald. I have observed that he is really the man that is needed by us. Already he seems to understand the situation and the condition of our dear Red River, and he seems to love our people. Have faith then that the good God has blessed us, notwithstanding our unworthiness. Be not uneasy; time and faith will bring us all we desire, and more, which it is impossible to mention, notwithstanding the expectations of certain Ontarians. We have some sincere, devoted and powerful friends.

I think of leaving Montreal on the 8th of August, in which case it is probable I shall arrive towards the 22nd of the same month.

The letter which I brought has been sent to England, as well as those which I have written myself, and which I have read to you.

The people of Toronto wished to make a demonstration against me, and, in spite of the exaggerated statements of the newspapers, they have never dared to give the number of the persons present (?). Some [47]persons here at Hamilton wished to speak, but the newspapers discouraged their zealous efforts.

I am here by chance, and remain, as this is Sunday. Salute for me Mr. O. [O’Donohue?] and others at the Fort. Pray much for me. I do not forget you.

Your Bishop, who signs himself your best friend,

A. G. de St. Boniface.

Letter No. 2.Bishop Taché to President Riel.

Bourville, 5th August.

M. Le Président,

I well know how important it is for you to have positive news—I have something good and cheering to tell you. I had already something wherewith to console us when the papers published news dear and precious to all our friends, and they are many. I shall leave on Monday, and with the companions whom I mentioned to Rev. P. Lestang. Governor Archibald leaves at the same time, but by another road. He will arrive before the troops, and I have promised him a good reception if he comes by the Snow Road. Governor McTavish’s house will suit him, and we will try to get it for him. Mother salutes you affectionately, as also my uncle. Mlle. Masson and a crowd of others send kind remembrances to your good mother and sisters. Forget not Mr. O. and others at the Fort. We have to congratulate you on the happy result. The Globe and others are furious at it. Let them howl leisurely—they excite but the pity and contempt of some of their friends. Excuse me—it is late, and I am fatigued, and to-morrow I have to do a hard day’s work.

Yours devotedly,

A. G. de St. Boniface.

These letters prove the plot and the object of it. There was also a most compromising letter from Sir [48]George Cartier, which was taken away while Colonel Wolseley was a few minutes out of his room, attending to some urgent business. The suspicion was that it was taken by John H. McTavish, of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

It is possible that the word that had been sent to keep back any messages from the rear may have delayed and impeded Mr. Archibald’s progress, but whether that be so or not the fact remains that Mr. Archibald lost two days trying to find the point where he was to meet Riel’s emissaries, and failing to make the junction he was obliged to follow the circuitous route taken by the troops down the Winnipeg River to Lake Winnipeg, and therefore he did not arrive “among and through the people” of Bishop Taché. When he reached Fort Garry the Rebels had been driven out, Colonel Wolseley was established in possession, the British flag had been raised over the Fort, and Colonel Wolseley was able to hand over the government of the country to the Queen’s representative without the assistance of Riel or his accomplices.

The successful arrival of the expedition, the flight of the rebel leaders, and the confidence that further disorders could not be successfully started, caused numbers of new settlers from Ontario to move into the country, and the progress and development of the whole Territory have since been most remarkable. Looking at the condition of affairs now, it is hard to realise that a little indifference and carelessness thirty-eight years ago might have delayed the opening up of that great country for two or three generations, and it might easily have happened that it would have been absorbed by the United States.




Sir John A. Macdonald was very ill during this crisis, and was unable to take any part in public affairs, but the action of Sir George Cartier injured the Government, and in the general election of 1872 Sir George himself was beaten by a large majority in Montreal and the Government much weakened. The discovery of the Pacific Scandal followed in the summer of 1873. This gave the public the information that the Government had promised to Sir Hugh Allan and a few capitalists the contract for building the Pacific Railway, in consideration of a large contribution of between $300,000 and $400,000 towards the campaign expenses of the Conservative or Government party in the late election.

After a bitter fight over it in the House of Commons, Sir John A. Macdonald, seeing that his Government would be defeated, resigned his position, and Mr. Alexander McKenzie and the Liberals came into power. At the general election which took place in February, 1874, Mr. McKenzie secured a large majority in the House of Commons.

During the stirring times in the summer of 1870, while the expedition was on its way to Fort Garry, our committee were constantly meeting to discuss matters and often met in my office. At one meeting it was suggested that we should have a name for our party—the committee had for some time been called jocularly the “Twelve Apostles.” Several names were mentioned, [50]and someone said that Edgar had made a suggestion. I walked across the hall into Edgar’s office, and asked him what he had suggested. He seemed to have forgotten the exact words, but said, “Canada before all, or Canada First of all.” I said, “That will do: Canada First,” and went back to my room and proposed it to the others, and after some discussion it was unanimously decided that we should call ourselves the “Canada First” Party, meaning that we should put Canada first, before every other consideration.

To keep our party free from politics, and to cover our work, we decided to have an organisation, called the North-West Emigration Aid Society, which we could use to give out statements to the public, and to arrange for meetings, &c., to push on our work.

In the autumn of 1870, following the lead given by Haliburton in his lectures, I prepared a lecture on “The Duty of Canadians to Canada,” and in 1871 I delivered it at Weston, Belleville, Orillia, Bradford, New Market, Strathroy, Richmond Hill, London, Toronto, Brampton, Halifax (Nova Scotia), Niagara, Wellandport, Dunnville, Chippawa, and in 1872 at Niagara again.

This lecture was a direct appeal in favour of a Canadian National Spirit. It began by showing that the history of the world was the chronicle of the rise and fall of great nations and empires, of the wars and invasions in which the lust of conquest on the part of rising Powers, and the expiring struggles of waning empires, had been left to the arbitrament of the sword, the nations rising and falling with the changeability of a kaleidoscope. I pointed out that all the great nations possessed a strong national spirit, and lost their position and power as soon as that spirit left them, and [51]urged all Canadians to think first of their country—to put it before party or personal considerations—pointing out that this sentiment, in all dominant races, exhibited itself in the same way, in the patriotic feeling in the individual, causing him to put the interest of the country above all selfish considerations, and “to be willing to undergo hardships, privations, and want, and to risk life and even to lay down life on behalf of the State.”

After showing a number of ways in which Canadians in ordinary life could help Canada, I went on to say:

If our young men habituate themselves to thinking of the country and its interests in everyday life, it will become in time part of their nature, and when great trials come upon us, the individual citizens will more readily be inclined to make the greatest sacrifices for the State.

Haliburton, in his lecture on “The Men of the North,” made use of a paragraph which I quoted. It shows the spirit which animated the Canada First Party:

Whenever we lower those we love into the grave, we entrust them to the bosom of our country as sacred pledges that the soil that is thus consecrated by their dust shall never be violated by a foreign flag or the foot of a foe, and whenever the voice of disloyalty whispers in our ear, or passing discontent tempts us to forget those who are to come after us, or those who have gone before us, the leal, the true, and the good, who cleared our forests, and made the land they loved a heritage of plenty and peace to us and to our children, a stern voice comes echoing on through thirty centuries; a voice from the old sleepers of the pyramids; a voice from a mighty nation of the past that long ages has slumbered on the banks of the Nile: “Accursed be he who holds not the ashes of his fathers sacred, and forgets what is due from the living to the dead.”


I urged a confidence in our future as another great necessity:

We have everything in a material point of view to make Canada a great country—unlimited territory fertile and rich, an increasing hardy and intelligent population, immense fisheries, minerals of every description, ships and sailors; all we further require is a moral power, pride in our country and confidence in its future, confidence in ourselves and in each other.

It has been sometimes said by those who knew little of the aspirations of our party that there was a feeling in favour of independence among us. The extract quoted from Haliburton’s lecture shows how true he was to the cause of a United Empire. I shall quote the concluding paragraphs of my lecture, which are very definite upon the point:

It must not be supposed that the growth of a national sentiment will have any tendency to weaken the connection between this country and Great Britain. On the other hand, it will strengthen and confirm the bond of union. Unfortunately England has reached that phase when her manufacturing and commercial community have attained such wealth and affluence, have become so wrapped up in the success of their business, and have acquired such a pounds, shillings, and pence basis in considering everything, that national sentiment is much weakened, in fact sentiment of any kind is sneered at and scoffed at as being behind the age. This school of politicians, fearing the expense of maintaining a war to defend Canada, calculating that in a monetary point of view we are not a source of revenue to them, speak slightingly of us, and treat the sentiment of affection that we bear to the Mother land with contempt.

Nothing could be more irritating to a high-spirited [53]people. We have the gratifying reflection, however, that the more we rise in the scale of nations, the more will this class desire to keep us, until at length every effort will be made to retain our affection and secure our fealty. It is our duty therefore to push our way onwards and upwards, to show England that soon the benefits of the connection in a material as well as a moral point of view will be all in her favour.

I hope the day will come when the British Empire will be united into one great power or confederation of great nations, a confederation for the purpose of consolidating power as to foreign countries, and on all international questions; and rest assured, if we Canadians are only true to ourselves, the day will come when Canada will be not only the largest, but the most populous, the most warlike, and the most powerful of all the members of that confederation, if not the most powerful nation in the world.

I delivered this lecture, with a few slight changes, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the 29th April, 1871, and the feeling then in that Province against Canada and the name Canadian was so strong, that I changed the title to that of “The Duty of our Young Men to the State.” Haliburton was then living in Halifax, and he had interested the late Principal George M. Grant, of Queen’s University, in our movement. Grant was then a young minister in charge of a Presbyterian Church in Halifax. He took an active part in getting up the meeting, which was largely attended, and my lecture was favourably received. That was my first meeting with Grant, and afterwards we were often closely associated in the movement in favour of Imperial Unity, and were warm friends as long as he lived. I shall often have to refer to him in the following pages.

Mair had been doing good work, delivering a splendid [54]lecture in Belleville in 1870. Haliburton had been delivering his lectures, and I mine; but I felt that Foster, who had done such splendid work in the editorial columns of the Telegraph, should also prepare a lecture. I kept urging him until at last he began to write one. He used to bring two or three pages at a time down and read them to me in my office. By this time we had got thirty or forty members together and had formed, as I have said, the North-West Emigration Aid Society, of which Joseph Macdougall, son of the Hon. Wm. Macdougall, was secretary. The Hon. Wm. Macdougall was then one of our members. On one occasion, when the Society had issued a paper for publication, Mr. Macdougall had induced his son to put in additional matter that had not come before the Society. This did not please Foster, who asked six members of the Society to sign a requisition calling a general meeting to consider the matter. It was then decided that any publications issued by the Society were to be brought before them first for approval.

It was not many weeks after this incident that Foster brought in the concluding pages of his lecture and read them to me. I do not believe any of the others knew anything about it. When he had read it all to me, I said to him, “What are you going to call it?” He said, “I think our motto, ‘Canada First.’”

I thought that a good idea, and he wrote “Canada First” at the head of it. I then asked him where he was going to deliver it. He was a very shy fellow and he replied, “I am not going to deliver it.” I said, “Oh yes, you must. We will call a meeting.” I knew we could get up a large public meeting, and I wanted him to agree to read it, but he positively refused. I then [55]said, “You can read it here before our Society, and then we can have it published in the papers”; and I wrote on the top of it in pencil the words “Delivered before the North-West Emigration Aid Society by Mr. W. A. Foster,” and I showed it to him and said, “That will look very well, and I am sure Mr. Brown will publish it.” Foster hesitated, but at last said, “Will you go and show it to Mr. Brown, and ask him, if I read it before the Society, whether he will publish it?” I agreed to do this.

I went to see the Hon. George Brown and explained the matter thoroughly, and told him we were to get the MS. back, and have it read before our Society, and then it would be given to him to be published. Whether Mr. Brown forgot, or whether he thought he had some good matter for his paper and wished to publish it before any other paper got wind of it or not, or whether he thought the chronological order of events was a matter of no moment, I cannot say. The result was, however, that the second or third morning after, Foster came into my office early, in a great state of excitement, and told me that the lecture was published in full in the Globe that morning, and that it had copied in large type the pencil memo, which I had written at the top, “Delivered before the North-West Emigration Aid Society by Mr. W. A. Foster.” Foster was very much troubled about it after his action about Macdougall, but our friends were so pleased with it that no one complained.

This lecture was soon after published in pamphlet form and had a very wide circulation throughout Canada. It was printed in the Memorial Volume to W. A. Foster which was published soon after his death.




Shortly after these events some of our committee were anxious to make a forward movement, to organise a political party to carry out our views, and to start openly a propaganda to advocate them. I opposed this strenuously, saying that the instant we did so the newspapers on both sides of politics would attack us, and that they would have something tangible to attack. The late Daniel Spry urged me very strongly that we should come out openly. I opposed the idea and refused to take any part in it, fearing that it would at the time injure the influence we were beginning to exert.

Foster and I discussed the matter at great length, and my suggestion was that we should go on as we had been going, and that if we ever wished to hold public meetings Dr. Canniff, one of the “Twelve Apostles,” and the oldest of them, the author of “The Early Settlement of Upper Canada,” would always make an excellent chairman, and not being a party man would not arouse hostility. I said, “If we organise a party and appoint a particular man to lead, we shall be responsible for everything he says,” and repeated that the party Press would attack him bitterly and injure the cause, which was all we cared for. Foster supported my views, and during 1872 and 1873 we kept quiet, [57]watching for any good opportunities of doing service to the country.

In the general election of 1872 I was requested by the Hon. George Brown and Alexander McKenzie to go up to Algoma, and either get some candidate to run or run myself in the Reform interest against Lt.-Col. Fred C. Cumberland, the sitting member for the House of Commons. I arrived at Bruce Mines on the same steamer with Col. Cumberland, and he called a meeting of the electors the same evening and asked me to attend. I did not know anyone in the place, but Mr. Brown had given me a letter to Mr. Peter Nicholson, which I presented to him and told him I was going to the meeting. He urged me not to go, but I insisted. He then said he would get a few friends, so that I would not be alone. Col. Cumberland spoke for about an hour, and then called upon me to speak, he well knowing I had come up to work against him. I asked him to introduce me to the meeting, as I did not know anyone; this he did in a very satirical manner. I then spoke for an hour, and attacked the Government very vehemently for their Red River policy and on other points. Very soon the whole meeting was with me, and after it was over the people nearly all came over to Mr. Nicholson’s store and insisted that I should contest the constituency, and, finding I could not get anyone else to run, I consented. Col. Cumberland withdrew the next day from the contest, and the Hon. John B. Robinson was brought out in his place. After a hard struggle I was defeated by a majority of eighty votes. I fully expected to be beaten; in fact, I was surprised the majority was not much greater. There was a very large amount of money spent against me; so large that there was an inquiry in the House [58]afterwards, and something like $6,000, spent by the Northern Railway Company against me, was, I believe, refunded to the company by the directors or the Conservative party. This was my only attempt to enter Parliament.

In November, 1873, I left for England and did not return until the 2nd February, 1874. Shortly after leaving an election came on, and the late Chief Justice Thomas Moss was contesting West Toronto for the House of Commons. Foster thought it would be good policy, as Moss was sympathetic with our views, to organise the “Canada First” party as a political organisation and as such to support Moss. He at once took steps to organise it, and with the old organisation and a large number of others the National Association was established. This was on the 6th January, 1874. Of our old group there were W. A. Foster, Dr. Canniff, Hugh Scott, Joseph E. Macdougall, C. E. English, G. M. Rae, Richard Grahame, James R. Roaf, Thomas Walmsley, George R. Kingsmill; and besides these a number of new associates—W. H. Howland, R. W. Elliott, J. M. Trout, Wm. Badenach, W. G. McWilliams, James Michie, Nicol Kingsmill, Hugh Blain, Jos. A. Donovan, W. B. McMurrich, G. W. Badgerow, C. W. R. Biggar, W. H. Fraser, J. G. Ridout, W. E. Cornell, W. G. Mutton, C. W. Dedrickson, J. Crickmore, Wm. Hessin, J. Ritchie, Jr., R. G. Trotter, A. S. Irving, A. Howell, R. H. Gray, and Dr. Roseburgh.

Foster did most of the work, and I have no doubt drafted the constitution and the platform. He remembered what I had said, and provided that the movement should be guided by an Executive Committee of twelve, without any president or vice-president. The platform was adopted as follows:


(1) British Connection, Consolidation of the Empire, and in the meantime a voice in treaties affecting Canada.

(2) Closer trade relations with the British West India Islands, with a view to ultimate political connection.

(3) Income Franchise.

(4) The Ballot, with the addition of compulsory voting.

(5) A Scheme for the Representation of Minorities.

(6) Encouragement of Immigration, and Free Homesteads in the Public Domain.

(7) The imposition of duties for Revenue, so adjusted as to afford every possible encouragement to Native Industry.

(8) An improved Militia System, under the command of trained Dominion Officers.

(9) No Property Qualifications in Members of the House of Commons.

(10) The Reorganisation of the Senate.

(11) Pure and Economic Administration of Public Affairs.

It will be noticed that the very first plank in the platform was “British Connection, Consolidation of the Empire, and in the meantime a voice in treaties affecting Canada.” This certainly was not favouring either Independence or Annexation, and of the other ten items nearly every point has since been carried into practice.

At the first public meeting, held on 6th December, 1873, Mr. W. H. Howland was in the chair. He knew very little of our objects or aspirations. He was the son of Sir Wm. P. Howland, who had been a citizen of the United States, and had only settled in Canada [60]some fourteen years before W. H. Howland was born. Sir Wm. Howland was a most useful and patriotic citizen, and during a very long life did great service to Canada in various capacities, but neither he nor his son had the inherited traditions of loyalty to the Empire which animated the older Canadians, and the result was that at this first meeting the chairman’s remarks struck a discordant note in the minds of the majority of the members of the National Association. “He held that there was too much toadyism to English aristocratic usages in this country. There was too much toadyism to titles. We would have no aristocracy in this country but the aristocracy of merit, no order but the order of merit, and the sooner the English Government recognised the fact that the adornment of a man in this country with the feelings they entertained was rather an insult than an honour to our people, the sooner would they appreciate our real sentiment. Many Canadians who had gone home had, he held, brought us into contempt by their toadying.”

The result of this speech was most unfortunate. I believe he did not speak for more than fifteen or twenty minutes, but in that time he had practically killed the movement as a political organisation. The committee were dissatisfied and disheartened; the political Press seized at once on the weak points, and attacked the organisation for advocating Independence, and charged it with being disloyal in its objects. Mr. Goldwin Smith then joined it and hoped to use it for the purpose of advocating the disruption of the tie which bound Canada to the Empire. The National Club was founded by this organisation at this time.

I returned to Canada shortly after the movement [61]had been launched and was at once appealed to by my old comrades to join and help to redeem the party from the taint of Independence which it had acquired through the unfortunate speech of W. H. Howland in introducing it to public notice. I declined positively, telling them that it was too late, and it would have to die a natural death. As a political party it lost strength and soon died, its demise being hastened by the fact that it gave encouragement to a few young men to come out openly in favour of Canadian Independence, supported as they were by the great social and literary status of Mr. Goldwin Smith, who has always been willing to assist any movement likely to injure the unity of the British Empire.




The National Club soon ceased to be a political club and the National Association gradually disappeared from public view. I joined it about a year after its foundation, and was President of it in the years 1883 and 1884, and during the existence of the Club it has been the centre of the sentiment “Canada First within the Empire,” which has been the dominant sentiment of the Canadian people for the last twenty years.

Mr. Goldwin Smith in the early years of the Club inaugurated a series of dinners among the members where fifteen or twenty of us would dine together and then discuss some public question of interest. These dinners were popular, and Foster and I were generally present. On one occasion Mr. Goldwin Smith gave out as the subject for discussion the question as to whether “Annexation or Independence would be the best future for Canada.”

Mr. Smith was in the chair at one end of the long table, at which about twenty or perhaps more were seated, and he opened the discussion by pointing out some arguments for and against each alternative, leaving it for the members to discuss as to which would [63]be the best. I was in the vice-chair at the other end of the table, and the speaking began on one side of Mr. Smith, and came down that side of the table one after the other to me. I was struck with the bad effect such a discussion would have, in encouraging Canadians to argue in favour of either Independence or Annexation, and when it came to my turn I simply said that I could not argue in favour of either Independence or Annexation, that I was vehemently opposed to both, and that if ever the time came that either should have to be seriously discussed, I would only argue it in one way, and that was on horseback with my sword. As I then commanded the cavalry in Toronto and had sworn to bear true allegiance to her Majesty, it was the natural way for me to put it. I sat down the moment I had made this statement and the discussion went on. My remarks were received as if I had spoken jocularly, but I think many of those present sympathised with my way of looking at it. Mr. Goldwin Smith saw that I had punctured the scheme, and referred to my remarks in the next issue of his Bystander for October, 1880, in the following terms, which are in his best style:

In Canada we have some curious remnants of the idea, dominant everywhere in days gone by, and still dominant in Islam, that intolerance on certain questions is a duty and virtue. The good St. Louis of France used to say that he would never argue with a heretic who doubted Papal doctrine, but give him six inches of cold steel; and we have lately been told that among ourselves there are questions which are to be debated only sword in hand. There are some special factors in our political composition, such as United Empire Loyalism, Orangeism, and the surviving sentiment of Anglican Establishmentarianism, which may explain the pheno[64]menon without disparagement to our intellectual civilisation.

In a speech at a dinner of my regiment not long after, I spoke clearly to them on the subject—and on the same lines. My views were received with great enthusiasm.

For several years matters progressed slowly, a few young men advocating Independence, among whom were E. E. Sheppard and Charles G. D. Roberts. Mr. Norris and others were writing on the same line. Sheppard, who then edited the Evening News in Toronto, was the ablest of these advocates, and carried on his campaign with great vigour and ability. He designed a new flag and hoisted it over the News office. In 1884 the Independence agitation was probably more in evidence than at any period before or since. That year was the centennial of the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in Upper Canada, and it was decided to hold a series of celebrations at Adolphustown, Toronto, and Niagara in commemoration of the foundation of the Province. 1884 was also the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of Toronto as a city, and the celebration of the two events was combined in meetings and festivities which lasted several days. On Dominion Day there was a great review of the Active Militia with regiments from various parts of the Province, and one from Montreal. This large force paraded through the principal streets to the Queen’s Park, where they were reviewed, and then they marched to the Exhibition Buildings, where the officers and men were entertained at dinner. At the officers’ dinner, Mayor Boswell, Lieut.-Governor John B. Robinson, and I made the principal speeches. The Toronto Mail of the 3rd July, 1884, contained the following article:


Nuts for the Independence Monkey.

We offer the Cartwright party and their organ the following nuts to crack, taken from the report of the military banquet on Tuesday, to which we referred in our last issue.

Mayor Boswell was next honoured. In responding, his Worship referred to the attempt which was being made in some quarters to introduce the question of independence or annexation into Canadian politics. He regretted this very much, but he was certain that no member of the Militia force would ever entertain such a proposal.

Lieut.-Colonel G. T. Denison, in proposing the toast of the visiting corps, also referred to the same matter. He said that the Militia of Canada would remain true to its Queen and country. Before independence or annexation could be brought about, he said, “Many of us will have to be placed under the sod.” His remarks were received with enthusiastic cheers, again and again renewed.

The Lieutenant-Governor, in proposing the toast of Lieut.-Colonel Robert B. Denison, Deputy-Adjutant-General, also touched on the absurdity of the independence or annexation question. He felt satisfied that if it became a political issue, there would not be a constituency in Canada that would return a man in favour of it.

The United Empire Loyalist Centennial celebration took place in the Pavilion, Toronto, on the 3rd July—the same day that the above article appeared. It was a very successful meeting, there being representative loyalists from all over Ontario. “Dr. Wm. Canniff was in the chair. The speakers were the Hon. Senator G. W. Allan, Chief Green (a Mohawk Indian, of Tyendinaga), Lieut.-Colonel George T. Denison, and Bishop Fuller, of Niagara.”


My speech was mainly directed against the Independence movement. I showed how Canadians had always stood by British connection, and went on to say:

From whom comes this cry for independence? Not from the real Canadians, but from a few hangers-on of the newspaper Press—a few wanderers and Bohemians—men who have lived indifferently in Canada and the States, and have never been satisfied anywhere—men without an atom of stake in the country. And do you think that the people of Canada are going to submit themselves to the guidance of such men? Never. The Independence party in Canada can almost be counted on one’s fingers and toes. The movement did not amount to anything, and the moment it did the real feeling of the country would manifest itself.

I was attacked very bitterly by the few Independence papers on account of this speech, and the attacks continued for nearly six weeks. I was invited to address the United Empire Loyalist Centennial celebration at Niagara, which took place on the 14th August, 1884, and then replied to some of the arguments used by them. On the question of national sentiment I said:

Sometimes it is said by strangers and aliens amongst us that we Canadians have no national sentiment, that if we were independent we would have more of it, and it is the fashion to speak loudly of the national spirit of the citizens of the United States. I take issue on this point, and on behalf of our people I say that the pride of the native Canadian in his country is quite equal to the pride of the Yankee in his, while the willingness to defend it in case of need is far greater in the Canadian.

The strongest national sentiment that has yet been exhibited in the States was shown by the Southern people in their gallant struggle to destroy the Union. The national spirit shown by the Northerners where the [67]bounties rose to about $1,800 a man, where patriotism consisted in hiring a man to go and fight while the citizen took a contract to supply the soldiers, as has been well said by their celebrated divine, Dr. Talmage, “With rice that was worm-eaten, with biscuits that were mouldy, with garments that were shoddy, with meat that was rank, with horses that stumbled in the charge, and with tents that sifted the rain into the faces of the exhausted.” The patriotism shown by three thousand Yankee Militia almost in sight of this spot in 1812, when they refused to cross at Queenston to aid their comrades, whom our volunteers shortly afterwards cut to pieces under their eyes, was very different from the patriotism of the Canadians who crossed the river and captured Detroit, or those who fought at Chrysler’s Farm, or those who drove back Hampton at Chateauguay.

Can we call to mind the Canadians who came back to Canada from every State in the Union to aid in defending her from the Fenians without feeling that we have in our people a strong national sentiment?

Wanderers and Bohemians, strangers and tramps may, because we are not traitors to our Government and our country, say that we have no national sentiment; they may not see or feel or appreciate the patriotic feeling of the Canadians, but we Canadians know that it is there. The Militia force is one proof of it, a finger-post to point out to all, that we intend to be a free people on this continent, and that, our liberties can only be taken from us after a desperate struggle.

These wanderers and Bohemians, with the charming impudence of the three tailors of Tooley Street, speak of themselves as the people of Canada. It is the fashion of men of their type always to talk loudly of the people, as if they were the people. But who are the people? The people of this country are the farmers who own the soil, who have cleared the fields, who till them, and who produce the food that feeds us. The people of Canada are the workers who work in her [68]factories, who carry on her trade, who sail her ships and spread her commerce, the citizens who build her cities and work in them. These are the people of Canada, not the few agitators who serve no good purpose, and whose absence would be a relief if they went back to the neighbouring Republic from which many of them have drifted in to us.

The result of these demonstrations so directly appealing to the sentiments and feelings of the loyal element, which formed the vast majority of the people, discouraged the disloyal element, and for a year matters were rather quiet.

In March, 1885, the whole country was aroused over the outbreak of the North-West Rebellion, and troops from all over Canada were sent to aid in putting down the rebellion and re-establishing the Queen’s authority. One regiment came from Nova Scotia. The result of the affair was to consolidate the Provinces into a Dominion, in a way that was never felt before. This put the Independence movement quite out of sight, and during 1886, and until May, 1887, matters remained dormant. Particulars of the causes of this outbreak and some of the details of the operations will be found in my “Soldiering in Canada,” chapters xx. to xxv. [69]



In the early part of 1887 the Irish party in Ireland had been endeavouring to secure sympathy and assistance in the United States and Canada, in favour of their demand for Home Rule. There was a very large Irish population in Canada, and through their representatives in our House of Commons and in the local legislatures they pressed for resolutions in favour of the policy of Home Rule. The people of Canada were not generally favourable to the movement, but the politicians on both sides, who were anxious to obtain the Irish vote, did not hesitate to support the Home Rule resolutions; little caring for the interests of the Mother Country or the Empire, so long as their political opponents did not obtain any advantage in the matter. The resolutions were carried with remarkable unanimity. I was much annoyed, and wrote to Lord Salisbury telling him to pay no attention to the addresses of our politicians. I assured him that the silent masses of the Canadian people were on his side on that subject, but unfortunately there was no way in which the silent masses could make their views known.

The apparent unanimity of feeling in Canada, as shown by the action of Governments and Parliaments, deceived the Irish Nationalists, and to emphasise their [70]power in Canada, Mr. Wm. O’Brien, M.P., announced that he was going to Canada to drive Lord Lansdowne, our Governor-General, out of Canada, amid the hoots and execrations of the Canadian people. This was because he was an Irish landlord and had evicted some of his tenants.

This was cabled across, and a day or two after I met Colonel Gzowski (afterwards Sir Casimir Gzowski) on the street, and he told me that Lord Lansdowne was coming to Toronto in a few days, and as O’Brien was coming out, he thought we in Toronto should see that Lord Lansdowne got a friendly reception. I saw the opportunity at once. I felt the silent masses might have a chance to speak out, and said, “Leave that to me: we will give him a great reception.” Among other things it was feared that the few disaffected might resort to violence against the Governor-General.

A few days later, on the 26th April, 1887, I attended the St. George’s Society Annual Banquet, where I responded to the toast of the Army, Navy, and Volunteers. The presidents of most of the benevolent and patriotic societies of the city were guests at the dinner. The Premier, Sir Oliver Mowat, sat next to me; the Mayor was present also, and a very large number of prominent citizens. I saw what an opening there was to start a movement in favour of the Governor-General, and spoke in short as follows: I was speaking on behalf of the Army, Navy and Volunteers, and drew attention to the fact that a great deal depended upon the Volunteers—that only a few years before we had to turn out, and go to the Niagara frontier to defend our country against an invasion of Fenians from the United States. I said that the Irish of that country had subscribed large sums of money, [71]Irish servant girls giving liberally out of their savings, to provide funds to organise armed forces, to buy rifles and bayonets and swords and ammunition, to be used in attacking a peaceful and inoffensive country in order to devastate our fields, to shoot down our people, and rob us of our property. I pointed out that I and my command had been sent to Fort Erie, and that some of my comrades in the Queen’s Own and other Volunteer corps had been shot down, and many wounded, before we drove the enemy out of the country. I thanked them for proposing the toast of the “Volunteers,” but went on to say, there was one thing, however, that was very annoying and humiliating to us. The Fenians, having failed to defeat us, were still carrying on their campaign against our Empire. Money was being collected as usual in the United States in large quantities, but instead of being used in the purchase of arms and munitions of war, it was being expended in sending traitors into the British House of Commons, and in maintaining them there to destroy the Union, and make the first rift in our Empire. “Fancy, gentlemen, the feelings of those of us who went to the front, who risked our lives, who had our comrades killed in opposing these men, when we see our politicians in our Houses of Parliament, for wretched party purposes, clasping hands with the enemies of our Empire, and passing resolutions of sympathy and support to them in their efforts to injure our nation. These resolutions are an insult to our Volunteers, and a shame and disgrace to our country,” and I sat down.

This was received with uproarious applause. The people jumped to their feet and cheered and waved their table napkins, many even got upon their chairs, and shouted themselves hoarse. Sir Oliver Mowat [72](then Mr. Mowat), who had supported one of these resolutions in the local House shortly before, and was Premier, said to me when the cheering subsided and I could hear him, “That was a very powerful speech you made.” I replied, “Do you think so?” He said, “It was a very strong speech.” I answered, “Was it? I tried so hard to be moderate.” He laughed and said, “You did, did you?” He never had any more such resolutions in his House.

When the dinner was over and the guests were leaving, I stood near the door and was surrounded by men approving of my speech. I picked out the men I wanted—the Mayor, the presidents of societies, colonels of regiments, &c.—and asked them to wait as I wished to speak to them. When the group had gathered I said to them, “I did not speak as I did for nothing. Lord Lansdowne is coming here very soon. Wm. O’Brien is coming from Ireland to drive him out of Canada. We must arrange for such a reception to Lord Lansdowne as no Governor-General ever had in Toronto, and I want you all to agree to serve on a committee to organise it; and I hope the Mayor will take the chair, and send out notices for the meeting.” All at once agreed heartily.

When the meeting was held to arrange the plan for the reception, a number of those present wished a great procession to be organised of societies and the city regiments in uniform, &c. I knew that the object of the Irish Nationalists was to create the belief that the people of Canada, with the exception of the official classes, &c., were not on the side of the Governor-General, and that he would have to be guarded by police and soldiers, and insisted that not one man in uniform should be seen—that the people, as the people, [73]should take the matter into their own hands, and escort the Governor-General. It was a most difficult task to carry the committee with me, but I was determinedly persistent and at last carried my point.

A small committee was appointed to arrange details, and the reception was organised with the greatest care. The Volunteer regiments were pledged to turn out in plain clothes, with walking-sticks; the societies also agreed to be out, the Orangemen did their part, the lawyers were canvassed to be in the streets, and all were asked to act as private detectives, and watch carefully any attempt to throw stones by any disaffected parties if there were any. The citizens illuminated their houses and shops on the route from North Toronto Station through Yonge and King Streets to Government House. Members of the Toronto Hunt Club, mounted and in plain clothes, formed an escort; but, what was not known to the public, twenty-five picked men of my corps, the Governor-General’s Body Guard, in plain clothes, with Lieut.-Colonel Merritt, my adjutant, in charge, rode as members of the Hunt Club, along with them, and guarded the carriage of his Excellency. About four hundred men of the Queen’s Own, all in plain clothes, marched along the street alongside the carriage. The Orange body arranged for a torchlight procession with about a thousand torches, and the police were entirely withdrawn from the streets on which the procession marched. I do not believe anyone was ever more carefully guarded, for the people as a mass took it in hand themselves.

On the morning of the day on which his Excellency was to arrive, I learned that the General commanding had ordered a guard of honour to meet him at the [74]station. I went at once to the Mayor, and we went together to see the Governor’s military secretary, and urged him to ask his Excellency to countermand the order and dispense with the guard. This was done, and no man in uniform was to be seen. The reception was a remarkable success. The streets were filled with most enthusiastic crowds, and no Governor-General ever made such an entry into Toronto. The people took him to Government House, and the whole neighbourhood and the carriage drive were packed with cheering crowds. Lord Lansdowne stood up in his carriage at the door, and made a speech thanking the people, and he must have felt that he was among friends.

A few days later a great meeting was held in the Queen’s Park, when a number of prominent citizens made speeches condemning Mr. O’Brien’s proposed visit to Toronto and resolutions were passed in that sense. The Mayor, on behalf of the citizens, sent a telegram to O’Brien requesting him not to come to Toronto.

O’Brien and his people persisted, however, and called a public meeting in the Queen’s Park for the 17th May. There was a very large gathering, probably ten or twelve thousand people, and O’Brien and his companion, Mr. Kilbride (one of Lord Lansdowne’s evicted tenants), were carefully guarded by the police. The Irish party, who comprised probably one-tenth of the crowd, organised the meeting, and Mr. O’Brien, with several Yankee reporters around him, began to speak. The University students had planned to start singing, and the moment he began, the crowd broke out with “God Save the Queen.” Cheers were then called for Lord Lansdowne, Lord Salisbury, Lord Hartington, and [75]Joseph Chamberlain. Then the singing began again; “Rule, Britannia” was sung by the great masses. Again cheers for the four statesmen already mentioned, then alternately “God Save the Queen,” cheers, and “Rule, Britannia.” No one could hear a word of O’Brien’s speech. This went on until he ceased to attempt to speak. Mr. Kilbride then stood up. The students led the crowd in a refrain, “Pay your rint, pay your rint, pay your rint, you thief,” and the people shouted this over and over again, and he, unable to be heard, had to cease, and the meeting ended by some local man trying to say a few words.

While moving through the crowd studying the temper of the people, I saw two or three incidents which showed me that there was a very dangerous and ugly spirit among the loyalists, and I become anxious lest the mob should get beyond all control. I went to the Chief of Police, who had a large force of policemen and an escort of mounted police, to guard the carriage of the visitors, and told him he would have a difficulty in getting O’Brien away without injury. Being a Police Commissioner, I advised him to get those in charge of the meeting to put up someone to speak as soon as Kilbride finished, and to take O’Brien and Kilbride quietly off the platform to the back, hurry them into the carriage, and drive off before the crowd should discover it. This was done, and they had barely got clear when the crowd, seeing they were going, chased them and endeavoured to stone them. Fortunately they had a start, and driving rapidly escaped without injury.

I had told the Chief of Police not to allow O’Brien to go anywhere on the streets without a strong police guard, for, as I told him, “I do not want him hurt for [76]one thing, and, on the other hand, I should be very sorry that the idea should get abroad that he could walk the streets of Toronto (under the circumstances) without protection.” The following evening, O’Brien and his party of three or four friends, including one Yankee reporter, started from the hotel in the dusk to walk round a block, and would not wait for the police escort for which the police sergeant was sending. The party had not gone two hundred yards when the crowds began to gather and follow them. They were pelted with stones and eggs, the New York reporter being badly cut by a stone. They escaped with difficulty back to the hotel. In Hamilton, Kingston, and other places O’Brien was also mobbed and chased and was obliged to hide. He then left the country, while Lord Lansdowne, who remained, received a few days later a remarkable ovation on his return to Ottawa.

I left for England the day after O’Brien’s meeting (on my vacation) and a day or two after my arrival in London I was dining at Lord Salisbury’s, where I met Mr. Balfour, then Chief Secretary for Ireland. They were interested in hearing the particulars. I told Lord Salisbury that the “silent masses” had spoken out, and with no uncertain sound. Both he and Mr. Balfour said that O’Brien’s reception in Canada had helped the passage of the Coercion Bill through the House of Commons, for it proved that the statement of the Nationalists that every country in the world was on their side was not quite accurate.




In 1884 a movement was begun in England, and the Imperial Federation League was formed, for the purpose of securing the Federation of the whole Empire, on somewhat the same lines as the Confederation of Canada. The Right Hon. W. E. Forster was the moving spirit, and the first President of the organisation. The objects of the League are clearly laid down in the following resolutions defining its nature and objects, which were passed at an adjourned conference held in London on the 18th November, 1884:

That a Society be now formed to be called “The Imperial Federation League.”

That the object of the League be to secure by Federation the permanent Unity of the Empire.

That no scheme of Federation should interfere with the existing rights of local Parliaments as regards local affairs.

That any scheme of Imperial Federation should combine, on an equitable basis, the resources of the Empire for the maintenance of common interests and adequately provide for an organised defence of common rights.

That the League use every constitutional means to bring about the object for which it is formed and invite the support of men of all political parties.


That the membership of the League be open to any British subject who accepts the principles of the League, and pays a yearly registration fee of not less than one shilling.

That donations and subscriptions be invited for providing means for conducting the business of the League.

That British subjects throughout the Empire be invited to become members, and to form and organise Branches of the League which may place their representatives on the General Committee.

It will be seen that the main object of this League was to secure by Federation the permanent Unity of the Empire. The existing rights of local Parliaments as to local affairs were to be preserved, but the resources of the Empire were to be combined to maintain common interests, and to provide for an organised defence of common rights. That was the whole scheme in a nutshell, to form a Federated Parliament, which would not interfere with local affairs, but would have power to use the resources of the Empire for common defence. No other object was given to the public. It was really formed to secure colonial contributions to Imperial Defence.

The Imperial Federation League in Canada was inaugurated at a meeting held in Montreal under the leadership of the late Mr. D’Alton McCarthy, M.P., on the 9th day of May, 1885. A large number of prominent men were present, and speeches were made by Jehu Matthews, Benjamin Allen, M.P., D’Alton McCarthy, Senator Plumb, G. R. R. Cockburn, Edgar Baker, M.P., Hector Cameron, M.P., A. W. Ross, M.P., Hugh McLennan, Senator Macfarlane, Alexander McNeill, M.P., Dr. Potts, Hon. George E. Foster, M.P., and Principal G. M. Grant. The first branch of the [79]Canadian League was organised at the small town of Ingersoll in Ontario in May, 1886, principally through the exertions of Mr. J. Castell Hopkins, then a young man twenty-two years of age, and a junior clerk in the agency of the Imperial Bank of that place. Mr. M. Walsh was elected President, and Mr. Hopkins Secretary. Mr. Hopkins has ever since been an active and industrious supporter of the movement. An influential branch was inaugurated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in December, 1886, of which his Grace Archbishop O’Brien was one of the foremost members. The next branch was established at Peterborough on the 28th April, 1887, mainly through the exertions of Mr. J. M. Long. A small branch was also started in Victoria, but in 1888 had not been affiliated to the Canadian organisation.

In 1886, Lt.-Colonel Wm. Hamilton Merritt, one of the officers of my regiment, came to me and endeavoured to enlist my sympathies in the new movement. I discussed the whole subject fully with him. He had hoped to get me to accept the presidency of the branch to be formed in Toronto. I refused to take any part in the matter, feeling that Canada was getting along very well, but that she had only just expended nearly $150,000,000 in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and that she required some years of steady development before she could undertake any further expenditures on a large scale for Imperial defence, for I saw this was the main object of the League in England. I did not think the time had come, nor the necessity, for pressing this point, and that public opinion would not be in favour of any such movement.

It will be seen that Imperial Federation made very [80]little progress for the first two or three years. In 1885, 1886, and 1887, only three branches, and, with the exception of Halifax, very small and uninfluential ones, had been established in all Canada.

There was no branch in Toronto, the most Imperialistic and most loyal of all the cities of Canada, and up to the fall of 1887 the movement had made but little headway.

In the year 1887, however, a movement arose which changed the whole features of the case, which altered all the conditions, and made it necessary for all loyal men in Canada to consider seriously the future of their country. This movement, known as Commercial Union will be dealt with in the next chapter.




The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed at the end of 1885, and it began to prove a competitor with the railways in the United States for the through traffic across the continent. This competition affected the great financial interests of New York, for the United States railroads were subject to regulations as to the long and the short haul, while the Canadian Pacific Railway was free from them, and thereby had a very great advantage in the struggle for business. This direct present pecuniary interest, added to the belief that Canada was likely to prove a much greater factor on this continent than had ever been anticipated by the people of the United States, was the cause of the inception of the Commercial Union Movement, which attracted so much attention at the time, and has had such far-reaching influence on the affairs of the British Empire ever since.

The originator of this movement, Erastus Wiman of New York, was born at Churchville, near Toronto, and was educated and lived in Toronto for a number of years in his early life. He was connected with the Press and for a time kept a small book shop on King Street. He served a year in the Toronto City Council. He became Toronto manager of R. G. Dun and Com[82]pany’s Commercial Agency in 1860, and afterwards went to New York and became manager of it there, and a member of the firm. He was also president of the Great North Western Telegraph Company, which controlled almost all the telegraph lines in Canada. He had not taken the oath of allegiance to the United States, and he was suited in every way to lead the insidious scheme which was started under the name of Commercial Union, but was intended to bring about peacefully the annexation of Canada to the United States.

The movement was planned and launched with remarkable skill. Mr. Wiman, who was posing as a true-hearted Canadian, was, I believe, working for great financial interests in the States, headed by Jay Gould. Of course, of this there is no proof, but only the deduction that can be drawn from a close study of all the information that can be had. The first step was to establish the Canadian Club of New York, to be a home for welcoming Canadians visiting that city. The next was still more ingenious. A number of the most prominent Canadians, principally literary men, orators, &c., were invited to New York as guests of the Club, to address the members. These visitors were treated with the warmest hospitality, and no indication given that Mr. Wiman had any ulterior motives. About the same time, in 1886, Mr. Wiman gave some public baths to the citizens of Toronto, at a cost of about $6,000, as a proof of his warm feeling towards the city in which his early life had been spent.

After all this preparation he came to Canada in the spring of 1887, and aided by Goldwin Smith, Valancy Fuller, Henry W. Darling, President of the Toronto Board of Trade, and a few others, he proposed in the [83]interests of Canada a scheme of Commercial Union between Canada and the United States which he claimed would be a great boon and lasting advantage to Canada. During the whole summer of 1887 an active campaign was being conducted, meetings were held in many places, and addressed by Mr. Goldwin Smith, Mr. Wiman, Congressman Butterworth, of Ohio, and others. The members of the Canadian Parliament were furnished with circulars, articles, and reports of speeches in profusion. Mr. Wiman, as a member of the firm of Dun, Wiman and Company, had an influence over the business men of Canada that could hardly be overestimated. It would have been a serious thing for any ordinary business man in any city, town, or village in Canada, if dependent upon his credit for the profitable conduct of his business, to incur the hostility of the mercantile agency, on whose reports his credit would largely depend.

The result was that at first the plausible speeches of its advocates, and the friendly assistance of some newspapers, caused the movement to acquire a considerable amount of success. It was not thoroughly understood. It had been inaugurated as in the direct interest of Canada by a friendly and successful Canadian, and was being discussed in a friendly way, and many good men at first supported the idea, not suspecting any evil, and not fearing that it might result in annexation. I was away on a visit to England from the 19th May until the 21st August, 1887, and heard very little of what was going on, and not enough to understand the details or real facts of the scheme. After my return to Canada I asked my brother, the late Lt.-Colonel Fred C. Denison, then a member of the House of Commons for West Toronto, what it all meant. He was not at all [84]favourably impressed. He had been supplied with copies of the literature that was distributed, and I read it over, and we discussed the question very fully during some weeks. We both agreed that it was a very dangerous movement, likely to bring about the annexation of Canada to the United States, and designed for that purpose by its originators, and we considered very carefully how it could be met and defeated. I felt that, in view of the way in which it was being taken up at the time by the people, it would be hopeless to attack the scheme and endeavour to check its movement by standing in front of it and fighting it. I was afraid we might be overrun and probably beaten. I felt that the only way to defeat it was to get in front, and lead the movement in another direction. My brother agreed with me in this, and we decided to take a course of action based on those lines.




The progress the Commercial Union movement was making, and the great danger arising from it, led my brother and me to discuss it with a number of loyal men, and on all sides the opinion seemed to be that active steps should be taken at once to work against it. The principal active workers at first were officers of my regiment and a few other personal friends, and small meetings were held in my brother’s office to discuss the matter, and it was decided that the best policy was to advocate a Commercial Union of the British Empire as the alternative to the proposition of a Commercial Union with the United States, and that a scheme of Imperial Federation based upon a Commercial Union of the various parts of the Empire would be the best method of advocating our views. By advocating Imperial Federation it enabled us to appeal to the old dream of the United Empire Loyalists of the Revolution. It gave the opportunity of appealing to our history, to the sacrifices of our fathers, to all the traditions of race, and the ties of blood and kindred, to the sacrifices and the victories of the war of 1812, and to the national spirit of our people, to preserve our status as a part of the British Empire. G. R. R. Cockburn, J. M. Clark, D’Alton McCarthy, [86]John Beverley Robinson, Wm. Hamilton Merritt, Lt.-Colonel Fred C. Denison, Casimir Dickson, Commander Law, John T. Small, D. R. Wilkie, John A. Worrell, Henry Wickham, and James L. Hughes were the moving spirits in organising the Toronto Branch of the Imperial Federation League, and it was accomplished during the last two or three months of 1887 and the beginning of 1888.

In October, 1887, Erastus Wiman sent a circular to the Members of the House of Commons, asking them for their views upon his scheme. Lt.-Col. F. C. Denison sent the following reply, and forwarded a copy to the newspapers:

Toronto, 12th Oct., 1887.


I have received your circular of Sept. 17th sent to me as a member of the House of Commons, enclosing a copy of a speech delivered by you on Commercial Union and asking an opinion upon it.

I must tell you that I am utterly opposed to it, as in my mind Commercial Union simply means annexation, a result to be deplored by every true Canadian, and unlikely to happen without the shedding of a lot of Canadian blood. We are now, despite what the advocates of Commercial Union say, a happy, prosperous, and contented people. I am positive no pecuniary advantage would accrue to Canada from Commercial Union, but even granting all that you say as to the increased prosperity it would bring to us, I would still be opposed to it. We do not in Canada place so high a value upon the “Almighty Dollar” as do the Yankees, and we hope always to be Canadians. Why should we sever our connection with the Mother Country, which has in the past done so much for us, for the sake of throwing in our lot with a people who produce more bank thieves and embezzlers than any other country in the world; who care so little for the sanctity of [87]the marriage tie that one hundred divorces a day have been granted in one city? To do so would be national suicide. No pecuniary advantage can ever outweigh our national life, or our national honour. The appeals made in favour of Commercial Union are all addressed to the pocket, but I have confidence in my fellow countrymen that they will place our national honour and our independence above all pecuniary considerations. A man worthy of the name will not sell his own honour, or his wife’s or his daughter’s, for money. Such a proposal could not for a moment be considered from a financial standpoint, and no people worthy of the name would ever sacrifice their national honour for material advantages. There is no sentiment that produces such sacrifices as national sentiment, and you gentlemen who advocate Commercial Union, argue as if my countrymen would sell everything dear to them for money. You entirely misunderstand our people.

Believe me,

Yours truly,

Fred C. Denison.

Erastus Wiman, Esq.,
New York, U.S.A.

The late Mrs. S. A. Curzon paraphrased this letter in the following lines, which appeared in the Toronto World of the 18th October, 1887:

Well spoken, Denison! a heart beats there
Loyal to more than selfish minds can grasp;
Not gold our nation’s wealth, or lavish ease,
Nor sordid aim her rod of destiny.
No! Canada hath ends beyond a life
Fed by loose license, luxury, and pelf.
She hath inherited through noble sires
Of ancient blood, and lineage straight and clean,
Great riches. A renown unequalled yet;
A liberty hard won on many a field;
A country wide and large, and fair and full;
A loyalty as self-denying as a vow;
[88] An honour high as heaven and pure as light;
A heroism that bleeds, but blenches not;
An industry of muscle true as steel;
A self-restraint that binds a world in bonds;
An honesty contented with its own.
Shall she sell these for gold? “What can gold give
Better than she hath?—a nation’s life
A nation’s liberty, a nation’s self-respect.”
Brave words—my Denison—brave words and true!
Take thou this tribute from a patriot heart.
As thee our legislators ever be;
Men whose whole aim is for the nation’s weal
And for safekeeping of her name intact.

On the 30th December, 1887, the Toronto Board of Trade gave a banquet in honour of the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain. It was a very large and influential gathering. I then fired my first public shot against Commercial Union. Colonel Otter was put down to respond to the toast of the Army, Navy, and Active Militia, but the Chairman in proposing the toast, added my name also, without having given me any intimation whatever that I would be called upon to speak. I quote the report which appeared in the World the next morning of my three minutes’ speech:

As belonging to the active militia of the country, I am very glad to be here to-night to do honour to so distinguished a statesman as the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, because that gentleman, above all gentlemen in the Empire, has shown that he places the interests of a United Empire above all others (applause). There is no part of the British Empire where these words, “United Empire,” convey a greater meaning to the hearts of the people than to the people of Canada (applause), and I am certain there is no part of the whole Empire where the Rt. Hon. Mr. Chamberlain is more heartily appreciated than in Toronto, the capital of the Province of Ontario [89]—a Province which owes its origin to the desire on the part of men who, like Mr. Chamberlain, desired a United Empire, and made great sacrifices for it. There is a subject upon which I wish to say a word or two before I sit down, and that is Commercial Union. And in the presence of Mr. Chamberlain I wish to say that the active militia of this country have all been sworn to be faithful, and bear true allegiance to her Majesty, and they intend that Canada shall not be laid at the feet of any foreign country (great applause). I am a Canadian, born in this city, and I hope to live and die a Canadian, to live and die in a country where our people will govern their own affairs, where we will be able to establish our own tariff, and where it will not be fixed and established to suit a foreign people against our Mother Country. I can assure Mr. Chamberlain that when I speak in behalf of the volunteers of the country in this way, I am also voicing the feeling of all the fighting men in this country.

My remarks were received with great applause, and created somewhat of a sensation, for it appeared that there had been an understanding that the subject of Commercial Union was not to be referred to, and all the speakers had been warned except myself. I have had a suspicion since that I was called upon suddenly in the belief that I would speak out plainly.

The Toronto World commenting on the dinner said:

The main result of Mr. Chamberlain’s visit to Toronto and the speeches made at the dinner on Friday night must be a heavy blow and a great discouragement to the Commercial Unionists. On Friday afternoon it was stated to the reporters, on good authority, we believe, that the management of the Board of Trade had arranged to exclude the much disputed [90]question of Commercial Union from among the subjects of the speeches. . . . But as Burns wrote—

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Gang aft agley.

Colonel Denison’s remarks so heavily charged with the electricity of British connection, “brought down the house,” and after that all other subjects were lame and uninteresting to the company in comparison. Our distinguished visitor soon made it evident that he thought it the question of the day. . . .

The event on Friday night, we repeat, must prove the worst blow that the Commercial Unionists have got since they forced their “fad” before the public. After this we fancy there will be a stampede among them to get out from a most unpleasant and ridiculous position.

As early as October, 1887, the late Thomas Macfarlane, one of the ablest and most active members of the Imperial Federation League, wrote to the journal of the League in England a strong article pointing out that Commercial Union would mean annexation, and advocating a uniform rate of duty on all foreign imports in every country of the Empire over and above the ordinary tariff in force then. This was Mr. Hoffmeyer’s suggestion at the Colonial Conference of 1884, one made mainly as a commercial measure which would encourage trade and give a tie of interest to the various parts of the Empire. Mr. Macfarlane had supported this view from the first.

During November and December, 1887, the matter was being considered, and on the 22nd December a preliminary meeting was held in Shaftesbury Hall, and after speeches by D’Alton McCarthy, G. R. R. Cockburn and others, resolutions were passed in favour of forming a Toronto branch, and a number gave in [91]their names for membership. Mr. McNeill’s magnificent speech at Paris on the 19th January, 1888, was a most eloquent appeal in favour of Imperial Federation, and was printed and widely circulated in Ontario. He argued strongly in favour of discriminating tariffs around the Empire.

On the 1st February the Toronto branch was formally organised, with the Hon. John Beverley Robinson as President, George R. R. Cockburn, M.P., John M. Clark and Col. George T. Denison as Vice-Presidents, and Wm. Hamilton Merritt as Secretary.

It was then arranged that the Annual General Meeting of the Imperial Federation League in Canada should be held on the afternoon of the 24th March, 1888, for the transaction of business, and that in the evening there should be a large public meeting to inaugurate the Toronto branch, and to bring it prominently before the public.

It will be remembered that with those who took the most active part in the organisation of the Toronto branch the moving idea was to agitate for a commercial union of the Empire. There was nothing in the original constitution of the Imperial Federation League that would justify such a policy being advocated. It was therefore necessary to amend or alter the constitution to that extent. Consequently, at the Annual General Meeting our Secretary, Wm. Hamilton Merritt, moved, and D. R. Wilkie seconded, the following resolution:

That the Imperial Federation League in Canada make it one of the objects of their organisation to advocate a trade policy between Great Britain and her Colonies by means of which a discrimination in the exchange of natural and manufactured products will be [92]made in favour of one another, and against foreign nations; and that our friends in Parliament are hereby called upon to move in support of the policy of this resolution at the earliest possible moment.

This was unanimously carried. In the evening the public meeting was held at the Association Hall, which was crowded to its limit. Mr. Cockburn was in the chair. I moved the first resolution, which was as follows:

Resolved, that this meeting hails with pleasure the establishment of a branch of the Imperial Federation League in this city, and confidently hopes that through its instrumentality the objects of the League may be advanced, and the ties which bind Canada to the Motherland be strengthened and maintained.

In moving this resolution I outlined my reasons for advocating the cause, and pointed out the necessity of doing something to counteract the scheme of Commercial Union with the United States, calling on the patriotic sons of Canada in that crisis in the affairs of the country “to rally round the old flag and frustrate the evil designs of traitors.” I stated that the Commercial Union movement was designed by traitors, that I wished “to be fair to those who believed that the movement would not destroy the national life and sentiment of Canada,” but adhered to the position that the movement originated in treason. “There was no use mincing words in the matter. Commercial Union could only be carried out by severing the ties which bound the Canadian people to the Motherland. Not only that, but it aimed at the destruction of the national life of the country, by subjecting the people to the power and dictation of a foreign country.” The report in the Empire went on to say:


He desired to draw the attention of the audience to a few facts in the history of the continent. Canada was a country with a comparatively small population, but an immense territory, rich in every department of mine and forest, lying alongside a country of immense population and great resources. If that country was not an aggressive country the difficulty would be minimised. He held, however, that it was an aggressive and grasping country. They wanted Florida, and they took it; Louisiana and Alaska they annexed; California and Mexico they conquered; and Texas they stole. They wanted half of the State of Maine that belonged to Canada, and they swindled the Canadian people out of it by means of a false map. The war between the North and South was as much for tariff as slavery. It was only after three years that the North decided to emancipate the slaves. They conquered the South and put them under their feet. He asked them to remember their treatment of the Canadian people in dealing with the question of Imperial Federation. In 1775 they attempted to conquer Canada, and again in 1812, but they were beaten ignominiously both times. They left no stone unturned in 1812 to conquer Canada, and gave it up as a hopeless task after a three years’ effort. The population of Ontario at that time was only 100,000, as against their ten millions. They fomented discord which led to the Fenian Raid in 1866. Those benighted warriors came armed with United States muskets. They had never evinced a friendly feeling towards Canada. They sent the British Minister home during the Crimean War when they thought England had her hands full. . . . They gave a reciprocity treaty to Canada a few years ago, and allowed it to remain in force long enough to open up a volume of trade between the two countries, and then they suddenly cut it off in the hope that it would produce annexation. The Commercial Union fad had its birth in treason, he reiterated, and was designed in the hope [94]of inducing the people of Canada to believe in the fallacy that, by tying themselves hand and foot to a foreign and hostile Power, they would get richer by it. They wanted to make Canadians believe that an extended market would benefit them. Their real desire, however, was to make Canada a slaughter market for their goods, and by crippling Canadian industries eventually drive the people of the Dominion into such a condition that they would be glad to accept annexation as an alternative of absolute ruin. They had conquered and stolen States in the South, and now they desired to betray Canada in the North. The scheme of Imperial Federation was designed to build up Canada and her industries, and absolutely to demolish the delusive theory propounded by the authors of that nefarious scheme Commercial Union. Unrestricted Reciprocity and Commercial Union were one and the same. The prime object of Imperial Federation was to complete an arrangement with the Mother Country, whereby our goods would be admitted free with a discriminating tariff against the importations of all foreign Powers. Such an arrangement he believed would not only benefit the agricultural community, but also the whole population of the Dominion. It would consolidate the Empire, and give the Canadian people greater influence amongst the nations of the world.

Mr. J. M. Clark seconded the resolution in an eloquent speech and it was carried. Mr. Alex McNeill moved the next resolution. He said he had felt a great deal of doubt coming down from Ottawa that day, but when he was face to face with such a glorious meeting all his doubts passed away like mists before the light of the sun. The news of that meeting would be tidings of great joy all over the Empire, for it would proclaim in trumpet tones that the great British City [95]of Toronto was up and doing in the glorious work of Imperial Federation.

Mr. R. C. Weldon, M.P., from Nova Scotia, made an eloquent speech.

The meeting was most enthusiastic and spirited. At its conclusion Mr. D’Alton McCarthy invited about fifteen or twenty of the Committee and speakers to his house to supper. I remember walking over with Mr. R. C. Weldon, whose speech had been very warmly received. He was very much astonished at the enthusiasm and vigour of the audience. He told me he had never seen such a meeting before, and asked how I could account for it. I replied, “Toronto is the most loyal and imperialistic city in the Empire.” It was partly founded, as was St. John, N.B., by United Empire Loyalists, but the difference was that loyalty had come more closely home to Toronto, that since its foundation every generation of the Toronto people had seen the dead bodies of citizens who had died fighting for the cause of the Empire or the Sovereign carried through her streets for burial; that the battle of York had been fought in 1813 within the present limits of the city, the skirmish at Gallows Hill three miles north of the city in 1837; that Toronto men had fought at Detroit, Queenston Heights, and other fields in 1813-14, and at Navy Island in 1837, also in 1866 at Fort Erie; that Toronto men were the first sent from the older Provinces to the North-West Rebellion, and that all this had kept the flame of loyalty brightly burning on her altars.

Four days after this meeting, on the 28th March, 1888, Mr. D’Alton McCarthy, President of the League in Canada, placed on the order paper at Ottawa the following important notice of motion:


That it would be in the best interests of the Dominion that such changes should be sought for in the trade relations between the United Kingdom and Canada as would give to Canada advantages in the markets of the Mother Country not allowed to foreign States, Canada being willing for such privileges to discriminate in her markets in favour of Great Britain and Ireland, due regard being had to the policy adopted in 1879 for the purpose of fostering the various interests and industries of the Dominion, and to the financial necessities of the Dominion.

This was the beginning of the great scheme of preferential tariffs around the Empire, which has since attracted so much attention throughout the British possessions. Mr. McCarthy’s resolution did not carry at that time; it was not intended that it should. It was adjourned after some discussion. It was a new idea in Canadian politics, and the members had not had time to study the question in all its bearings.

The Imperial Federation Journal, representing the League in England, was not favourable to the action of the Canadian branch, and advised the Canadians to approach the other Colonies, and not disturb the Mother Country with the proposal. Within five years this cause of difference had, I believe, much to do with the disruption of the League in Great Britain.

Mr. McNeill’s reference to the importance of Toronto’s accession to the cause was well founded, for after that meeting the movement went on with increased impetus, and subsequent events proved the far-reaching effect upon the affairs of the Empire.

During the next three years a most vigorous campaign was carried on in Ontario. Toronto became [97]the headquarters of the League, a large branch was kept up, and efforts were made to educate the public mind and organise branches of the League in other places. An organising committee was appointed, of which I was elected chairman. The movement, which had been started in Montreal three years before, had languished, and it was not until the Commercial Union movement alarmed the people and proved the necessity for prompt action that the cause of Imperial Federation became a strong and effective influence upon the public opinion of Canada.




At the first public meeting of the Imperial Federation League in Toronto I made the charge that the Commercial Union movement was a treasonable conspiracy on the part of a few men in Canada in connection with a number of leading politicians in the United States to entrap the Canadian people into annexation with that country. It will be of interest to trace this phase of the question and its development during the three or four years in which the great struggle took place.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in conversation with William Allingham in November, 1872, said, “Americans will not take any definite step; they feel that Canada must come into the Confederation, and will of herself. American party in Canada always at work.”—Allingham’s Diary, p. 217 (Macmillan).

It will be remembered that I said that the United States “were an aggressive and grasping people.” “They wanted Florida and they took it, Louisiana and Alaska they acquired, California and Mexico they conquered, and Texas they stole.” I went on to say that “they had conquered and stolen States in the South, and now they desired to betray Canada in the [99]North.” This speech was made on the 24th March, 1888. I was criticised by some on the ground that my remarks were extreme in their character, and was caricatured and ridiculed in the comic papers.

Six months later I was vindicated in a remarkable manner.

Senator Sherman, at that time one of the foremost statesmen of the United States, and chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs, made a very significant speech before the Senate on the 18th September, 1888. He said:

And now, Mr. President, taking a broader view of the question, I submit if the time has not come when the people of the United States and Canada should take a broader view of their relations to each other than has heretofore seemed practicable. Our whole history since the conquest of Canada by Great Britain in 1763 has been a continuous warning that we cannot be at peace with each other except by political as well as commercial union. The fate of Canada should have followed the fortunes of the Colonies in the American Revolution. It would have been better for all, for the Mother Country as well, if all this continent north of Mexico had participated in the formation, and shared in common the blessings and prosperity, of the American Union.

So evidently our fathers thought, for among the earliest military movements by the Continental Congress was the expedition for the occupation of Canada and the capture of the British forces in Montreal and Quebec. The story of the failure of the expedition—the heroism of Arnold and Burr, the death of Montgomery, and the fearful sufferings borne by the Continental forces in the march and retreat—is familiar to every student of American history. . . .

Without going into the details so familiar to the [100]Senate, it is sufficient to say that Spain held Florida, France held all west of the Mississippi, Mexico held Texas west to the Pacific, and England held Canada. The United States held, subject to the Indian title, only the region between the Mississippi and the Atlantic. The statesmen of this Government early discerned the fact that it was impossible that Spain, France, and Mexico should hold the territory then held by them without serious detriment to the interests and prosperity of the United States, and without the danger that was always present of conflicts with the European Powers maintaining Governments in contiguous territory. It was a wise policy and a necessity to acquire these vast regions and add them to this country. They were acquired and are now held.

Precisely the same considerations apply to Canada, with greater force. The commercial conditions have vastly changed within twenty-five years. Railroads have been built across the continent in our own country and in Canada. The seaboard is of such a character, and its geographical situation is such on both oceans, that perfect freedom as to transportation is absolutely essential, not only to the prosperity of the two countries, but to the entire commerce of the world: and as far as the interests of the two people are concerned, they are divided by a mere imaginary line. They live next-door neighbours to each other, and there should be a perfect freedom of intercourse between them.

A denial of that intercourse, or the withholding of it from them, rests simply and wholly upon the accident that a European Power one hundred years ago was able to hold that territory against us; but her interest has practically passed away and Canada has become an independent Government to all intents and purposes, as much so as Texas was after she separated herself from Mexico. So that all the considerations that entered into the acquisition of Florida, Louisiana, and the Pacific coast, and Texas, apply to Canada, greatly [101]strengthened by the changed condition of commercial relations and matters of transportation. These intensify, not only the propriety, but the absolute necessity of both a commercial and a political union between Canada and the United States. . . .

The way to union with Canada is not by hostile legislation; not by acts of retaliation, but by friendly overtures. This union is one of the events that must inevitably come in the future; it will come by the logic of the situation, and no politician or combination of politicians can prevent it. The true policy of this Government is to tender freedom in trade and intercourse, and to make this tender in such a fraternal way that it shall be an overture to the Canadian people to become a part of this Republic. . . .

The settlement of the North-West Territory, the Louisiana and Florida purchases, the annexation of Texas, and the acquisition from Mexico are examples of the adaptation of our form of government for expansion, to absorb and unite, to enrich and build up, to ingraft in our body politic adjacent countries, and while strengthening the older States, confer prosperity and development to the new States admitted into this brotherhood of Republican States. . . .

With a firm conviction that this consummation most devoutly to be wished is within the womb of destiny, and believing that it is our duty to hasten its coming, I am not willing, for one, to vote for any measure not demanded by national honour that will tend to postpone the good time coming, when the American flag will be the signal and sign of the union of all the English-speaking peoples of the continent from the Rio Grande to the Arctic Ocean.

I ask that the resolution be referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

I drew attention to this speech in a letter to the Toronto Globe on the 26th September, 1888. After quoting a number of extracts from it, I went on to say,


“This man is honest and outspoken. He is trying to entice us by kindly methods to annexation, which would be the annihilation of Canada as a nation; but does not his whole argument prove the absolute correctness of the view I took of Commercial Union at the Imperial Federation meeting, and does it not prove that his co-worker Wiman, being a Canadian, was acting the part of a traitor, in trying to betray his native country into a course which could only end in placing it absolutely in the hands of a foreign and hostile Power?”

A few days later another incident occurred showing the active interest that was being taken in the annexation movement. Senator Sherman’s speech was delivered on the 18th September, 1888; on the 29th of the same month, Erastus Wiman sent the following telegram to a number of the Canadian newspapers:

New York, 29th Sept.

I deem it my duty to say that information from Washington reaches me of a reliable character to the effect that the Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs has, during the past few days, in furtherance of the views of its Chairman, Senator Sherman, been discussing the question of inviting the Dominion of Canada to join the United States. So far have matters progressed that it is not at all unlikely that a resolution will be reported for concurrent action of both Houses, declaring it to be the duty of the President to open negotiations with Great Britain, looking to a political union between the English-speaking nations on this continent.

The condition attending the invitation of Canada is understood to be that the United States would assume the entire public debt of the Dominion, estimated at $300,000,000.


Commercial Union was urged as the basis of the proposed negotiation, on the ground that while a large majority might be secured for it, only a small minority favoured political union, but the sentiment of the Committee was so strong in favour of proposing at first Political Union, that it was impossible to contend with it.

Erastus Wiman.

An attempt was made by Mr. Wiman to withdraw this message, but it failed, and it was published in two or three papers.

The United States papers were for a year or two filled with articles discussing annexation, sometimes in friendly strains, sometimes in a most hostile spirit. President Cleveland’s retaliation proclamation following closely the refusal of the United States Senate to confirm a treaty which had been agreed upon between Great Britain and the United States, was a direct threat against Canada, issued to the people of the Republic at a time likely to influence the result of the approaching Presidential election.

On the 26th September, 1888, the Chicago Tribune concluded a very aggressive article with these words:

There are two ways in which Canada can protect herself from all possibility of a quarrel with this country about fish. One of these is by commercial union with the United States. The other is political union. If she is not ready for either, then her safety lies in not provoking the United States by unfair or unfriendly dealing, for when the provocation comes, Uncle Sam will reach out and take her in, in order to ensure quiet, and neither she nor her venerable old mother can prevent it.

This paper about the same time had a cartoon [104]depicting “The United States in 1900,” showing Uncle Sam bestriding the whole North American continent.

The New York World, in December, 1888, also published a map of North America to show what the United States would look like after Canada came in, and depicted our country divided up into twenty-eight new States and territories, and named to suit the Yankee taste. In connection with this map the World published an interview with Senator Sherman, in which he advocated strenuously the annexation of Canada to the United States, saying that “the fisheries dispute and the question of the right of free transit of American goods over Canadian railroads are a type of the disputes that have vexed the two nations for a century, and will continue to disturb them as long as the present conditions exist. To get rid of these questions we must get rid of the frontier.”

In the descriptive article on the map everything that could help to excite the cupidity of the people of the United States was said and with great ability, and Professor Goldwin Smith was cited as declaring:

It is my avowed conviction that the union of the English-speaking race upon this continent will some day come to pass. For twenty years I have watched the action of the social and economical forces which are all, as it seems to me, drawing powerfully and steadily in that direction.

The map and the articles accompanying it were evidently published to accustom the minds of the people of the United States to the idea of expansion and aggression:

What a majestic empire the accompanying map suggests; one unbroken line from the Arctic Ocean to [105]the Torrid Zone. The United States is here shown as embracing nearly the whole of the North American continent. Having conquered the Western wilderness the star of Empire northward points its way. . . . There would be no more trouble about fishing treaties or retaliation measures, and peace with all nations would be assured, by making the United States absolute master of the vast Western continent. The Empire that this nation would embrace under such circumstances is so vast in extent that none other furnishes a parallel.

This is only an illustration of the feeling all over the United States at this period from 1888 to 1890. The newspapers and magazines were filled with articles and cartoons all pointing in the same direction. Mr. Whitney, a member of the United States Cabinet, even went so far as to say that four armies of 25,000 men each could easily conquer Canada, indicating that the question of attacking Canada had been thought of. General Benjamin F. Butler, in the North American Review, one of their most respectable magazines, speaking of annexation, said, “Is not this the fate of Canada? Peacefully, we hope; forcefully, if we must,” and in the truculent spirit of a freebooter he suggested that the invading army should be paid by dividing up our land among them. General J. H. Wilson, a prominent railway manager, presented a petition to the United States Senate in which he said:

The best and most thoughtful citizens were coming to look upon the existence of Canada, and the allied British possessions in North America, as a continuous and growing menace to our peace and prosperity, and that they should be brought under the constitution and laws of our country as soon as possible, peacefully if it can be so arranged, but forcibly if it must.


Then came the McKinley Bill especially bearing upon the articles where Canada’s trade could be most seriously injured. It was believed that traitors in our own country assisted in arranging this part of the tariff so as to strike Canada as severely as possible. As another instance of the unprincipled manner in which these conspirators carried on their work, the following Press dispatch was sent to some of the United States papers:

At a meeting called in Stimpson, Ontario, to hear a debate on annexation v. independence or continued dependence, a vote taken after the speakers had finished showed 418 for the annexation to 21 for the status quo. It seems almost incredible, but this meeting is a good indication of the rapid strides the annexation sentiment is making among the Canadian people. The Tories cannot keep Canada out of the Union much longer.

As I have never been able to discover any place of that name in Ontario, and as there is no such post office in the official list, it is evident that the dispatch was a pure invention for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.

Another important indication of the feeling is shown in an article in the New York Daily Commercial Bulletin in November, 1888, referring to certain political considerations as between Canada and the States. It states:

What these are may be inferred from the recent utterances of prominent American statesmen like Senator Sherman and Mr. Whitney, Secretary of the Navy, just previous to the recent election, with reference to which the Bulletin has recently had something to say. Both are inimical to commercial union unless [107]it be also complemented by political union; or, to phrase it more plainly, they insist that annexation of Canada to the United States can afford the only effective guarantee of satisfactory relations between the two countries, if these are to be permanent. These prominent public men, representing each of the great parties that have alternately the administration of this Government in their hands, we are persuaded, did not put forth these views at random, but that they voiced the views of other political leaders, their associates, who are aiming at making Canadian annexation the leading issue at the next Presidential election. As if speaking for the Republicans, Senator Sherman, as has already been shown, thinks the country is now ready for the question; while Secretary Whitney, as if speaking for the other political party, is not less eager to bring the country face to face with it, even at the risk of a war with England, though it is but justice to him to say that he is of the opinion that the Mother Country, if really persuaded that the Canadians themselves were in favour of separating from her, would not fire a gun nor spend a pound sterling to prevent it. . . . The whole drift is unquestionably in that direction (political union), and in the meantime we do not look for positive action on the part of Congress, on either commercial reciprocity or the fisheries, at this session or the next. These questions, in all human probability, will be purposely left open by the party managers in order to force the greater issue, which, as it seems to me, none but a blind man can fail to see is already looming up with unmistakable distinctness in the future.

The New York World in the early part of 1890 “instructed its correspondents in Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec to describe impartially the political situation in Canada in regard to annexation to the United States.” The report charges Premier Mercier with being “a firm believer in annexation as the ultimate [108]destiny of the Dominion of Canada,” but he “is too shrewd a politician to openly preach annexation to his fellow countrymen under existing circumstances.” The report also quotes the Toronto Globe as saying that the Canadian people “find the Colonial yoke a galling one,” and that “the time when Canadian patriotism was synonymous with loyalty to the British connection has long since gone by.”

The concluding paragraph of the World’s article is the most suggestive and insolent:

Nobody who has studied the peculiar methods by which elections are won in Canada will deny the fact, that five or six million dollars, judiciously expended in this country, would secure the return to Parliament of a majority pledged to the annexation of Canada to the United States.

The leading men in this conspiracy in Canada were Edward Farrer, Solomon White, Elgin Myers, E. A. Macdonald, Goldwin Smith, and John Charlton, the two latter being the only men of any prominent status or position in the movement, and after a time Charlton left it. These men were avowed annexationists, while there were a great many in favour of commercial union who did not believe that it would result in annexation, or did not care, and there were numbers who were ready to float with the stream, and quite willing to advocate annexation if they thought the movement was likely to succeed. When the Continental Union Association was formed in 1892, Goldwin Smith accepted the Honorary Presidency in Canada, for the organisation had its principal strength in New York, where a large number of prominent and wealthy men joined its ranks, Francis Wayland Glen [109]being the Secretary. Glen became angry at the defection of some Liberal leaders after they obtained office, and gave the names of the organisers in a letter to the Ottawa Evening Journal of the 13th September, 1904, as follows:

Charles A. Dana, Andrew Carnegie, John Jacob Astor, Ethan Allen, Warner Miller, Edward Lauterbach, Wm. C. Whitney, Orlando B. Potter, Horace Porter, John Hay, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Oswald Ottendorfer, Cornelius N. Bliss, John D. Long, Jno. B. Foraker, Knute Nelson, Jacob Gallinger, Roswell P. Flower, Joseph Jno. O’Donohue, Chauncey M. Depew, John P. Jones, Wm. Walter Phelps, General Butterfield, General Henry W. Slocum, General James H. Wilson, General Granville W. Dodge, Charles Francis Adams, Oliver Ames, Seth Low, Bourke Cochrane, John C. McGuire, Dennis O’Brien, Charles L. Tiffany, John Clafflin, Nathan Straus, and Samuel Spencer.

In the list we received in addition to these there were others, nearly 500 in all.

Afterwards, in 1893, I was able to get some further information as to the treasonable nature of the movement as far as the Canadian side of it was concerned. The intention of those interested in the United States was to endeavour to extend the power of that country to the Arctic Ocean, as it had been extended to Mexico and the Pacific.

The Continental Union League in New York was in close connection with the Continental Union Association of Ontario. Mr. Goldwin Smith, as I have said, accepted the position of Honorary President, John Morrison was the President, and T. M. White Secretary. The headquarters were in Toronto. We had information at the time that Mr. Goldwin Smith subscribed [110]$500 to the funds, and that this was intended to be an annual subscription.

There were two members of our League with whom I was constantly conferring on the private matters connected with our work. Upon them, more than on any others, did I depend for advice, for consultation, and for assistance, and I can never forget the obligations I am under to them. We three accidentally saw an opportunity of getting some knowledge of the working of the Continental Union League in New York. By great good fortune we were able to perfect arrangements by which one who was in the confidence of the movement in New York was induced to send us any information that could be obtained. For a considerable time we were in receipt of most interesting information, much of which was verified by independent evidence. We often heard from our agent beforehand of what was going to take place, and every time matters came to pass just as we had been forewarned. In many instances we had independent corroborative evidence that the statements were reliable.

We were informed of a written agreement, signed by a Canadian Liberal leader, to have legislation carried to handicap the Canadian Pacific Railway if the Liberal party came into power. Our agent even obtained knowledge of where and by whom it was signed, and who at the time had custody of it. We received copies of many of Glen’s letters to Mercier, Fairer, Bourke Cochrane, and others. One letter to Colonel John Hay at Washington informed him that the New York League was working in conjunction with the Ontario League. A letter to Farrer told him of a meeting held in November, 1893, in the New York [111]Sun office, at which Honore Mercier, John Morrison, Tarte, and Robidoux were present, that money was asked to aid the Liberals, but Glen objected. This information we received some months after this meeting had been held. Eleven years later, in the letter already referred to, which Glen in his anger wrote to the Ottawa Journal of the 13th September, 1904, I find the following paragraph:

Upon the 4th November, 1893, Wilfrid Laurier held a meeting of his friends in Montreal, and that meeting sent a deputation to New York to ask funds of the National Continental Union League for the elections, which it was supposed would take place in the spring of 1894. Israel Tarte, Honore Mercier, J. E. Robidoux, Louis Joseph Papineau and Mr. Langelier, and Sir Oliver Mowat was represented by John Morison, of Toronto. These gentlemen met Mr. Dana, Mr. Carnegie, and myself in the office of The Sun on November 6th. Mr. Tarte asked as a beginning for $50,000, with which to purchase Le Monde newspaper, and Mr. Morison desired $50,000 to purchase a labour paper in Toronto. Mr. Carnegie asked Mr. Tarte if he was prepared to pledge the Liberal party to advocate the independence of Canada as a prelude to continental union.

He replied that if we furnished them with money for the elections they would do so if they were successful in the elections. Mr. Morison agreed with Mr. Tarte. Mr. Carnegie then asked Hon. Honore Mercier if he would contest the province of Quebec in favour of the independence of Canada as a prelude to continental union. He replied, Yes.

This statement cannot be taken as reliable. Glen himself was not reliable, and it is not at all probable that Sir Wilfrid Laurier had anything to do with sending these men to New York, and yet some of them may have told Glen that he had, or Glen may have assumed [112]it. Certainly Sir Oliver Mowat never asked Mr. Morison to make any application of any kind. I do not believe he would have entrusted him with any mission, and I am sure Sir Oliver Mowat was as much opposed to these intrigues as I was. It is quite possible that Morison posed in New York as representing Sir Oliver Mowat, but it was an absurdity.

The letter of Glen, however, proves that there was some foundation for the information our agent sent to us.

In a letter to Mercier in February, 1894, Glen stated that John Charlton, an Ontario Liberal, had called on Dana the day before for money, and I have another letter signed by Francis W. Glen which corroborates this statement of our informant.

Mr. Goldwin Smith’s name appeared often in the correspondence, so did Erastus Wiman’s. Myers is mentioned as going over to New York to see Dana. Glen writes to Mercier on the 3rd April, 1894, to write to Farrer in reference to Goldwin Smith. On the same day he wrote to Bourke Cochrane telling him that Goldwin Smith was anxious for a resolution in Congress. A copy of the draft of the resolution referred to, which was sent to us, reads as follows:


That we believe that the political union of the two great English-speaking communities who now occupy and control North America will deliver the continent from the scourge of war, and securely dedicate it to peaceful industry and progress, lessen the per capita cost of government and defence, ensure the rapid development of its boundless natural resources, enlarge its domestic and foreign commerce, unite all interests in creating a systematic development of its means of [113]internal communication with the sea-board by rail and water, protect and preserve its wealth, resources, privileges, and opportunities as the undisputed heritage of all, immensely add to its influence, prestige, and power, promote, extend, and perpetuate government by the people, and remove for ever the causes most likely to seriously disturb cordial relations and kindly intercourse with the Motherland. We therefore invite the Canadian people to cast in their lot with their own continent, and assure them that they shall have all the continent can give them. We will respect their freedom of action, and welcome them when they desire it into an equal and honourable union.

I do not know whether this was introduced into Congress or not.

We also had information of meetings at Carnegie’s house and The Sun office, and what took place at them. All our information was conveyed to Sir John Thompson, and at a meeting in Halifax he made some reference to movements that were going on in the States, which apparently attracted attention.

Not long after this we heard from our informant that at a meeting where Carnegie, Dana, and Goldwin Smith were present, Goldwin Smith said they would have to be very careful, as he believed there was a leak somewhere.

Among other information we obtained was a copy of the subscriptions to the fund. Some of the more important were Andrew Carnegie, $600; R. P. Flower, $500; Charles A. Dana, $460; J. J. Astor, $200; O. B. Potter, $150; W. C. Whitney, $100, &c.

Outside and apart from all this information, I was shown a letter from Honore Mercier to Charles A. Dana, and a letter enclosing it to the President of the Continental Union Association of Ontario. I was able [114]to secure photographs of these letters. I forwarded one copy of these photographs to Lord Salisbury, but kept copies from which the facsimiles here published are taken.

Mercier, Gouin, & Lemieux, Avocats.

9th August, 1893.

Hon. Honore Mercier, C.R.
Lomer Gouin, L.L.B.
Rodolphe Lemieux, L.L.L.

[Private and Confidential.]

To the Honorable Mr. Dana, Editor of The Sun, New York.

Dear Sir,—

I have met General Kirwin Sunday last, and am satisfied with the general result of the interview.

I asked him to see you without delay, and to tell you what took place.

As the matter he placed before me concerns chiefly the American side of our common cause, I thought better to have your view first and be guided by you.

General Kirwin seems to be a reliable man, as you stated in your letter, and to be much devoted to our cause.

My trip in the East has been a success and will bring out a strong and very important move in favour of Canadian Independence.

I will be in Chicago on the 22nd inst. to take part in the French Canadian Convention and hope to obtain there a good result.

Allow me to bring your attention to my state of poverty and to ask you if our New York friends could not come to my rescue, in order that I might continue the work, in providing me with at least my travelling expenses.

I make that suggestion very reluctantly but by necessity.

Believe me, dear Sir,

Yours very truly,

Honore Mercier.


P.S.—I would advise you to seal and register every letter you will send me. I intend to leave for Chicago on Sunday, the 13th inst., and stop at Detroit and Buffalo.

H. M.



The Sun,”

New York, Aug. 12, 1893.

Dear Mr. Morison,

I have just received the enclosed letter. Its demands are moderate. You know the sum which is in my hands. How much should I send him? Please return the letter with your answer.

Yours faithfully,

C. A. Dana.

James Morison, Esq.,
Toronto, Canada.

This letter of Mercier’s is very significant. I do not understand the allusion to General Kirwin. His name was Michael Kirwin, and he is not to be confused with Capt. Michael Kirwan who served in the North-West Rebellion. I knew the latter well, he was an Irish gentleman. The General Kirwin was a Fenian, and from what I heard of him at the time I gathered that he was somewhat of a soldier of fortune. Whether Mercier was intriguing for a Fenian rising or for Fenian influence in the United States in favour of annexation I do not know, but the association with such a man had a sinister look, to my mind. The letter, however, shows Mercier’s strong support of Canadian Independence, and his desire to obtain money from foreign enemies of his country to enable him to carry out his intrigues.

The transmission of this letter to the President of the Continental Union Association of Ontario for advice as to how much money should be paid out to [116]Mercier shows how closely the two organisations were working together.

The foregoing pages show clearly the object and aim of the Commercial Union Conspiracy, the widespread influence of the movement among the foremost men of the United States, the dangers Canada had to face, with the power of a great country active and unscrupulous against her, and embarrassed by the internal treachery of disloyal men in her own borders. My main object in the following chapters will be to describe the efforts and exertions made to warn our people, and to frustrate the designs and intrigues of our enemies at home and abroad.




After the inauguration of the Imperial Federation branch in Toronto on the 24th March, 1888, the members were much encouraged by the result of the debate in the Dominion House of Commons on Sir Richard Cartwright’s motion in favour of unrestricted reciprocity with the United States. The vote was taken at half-past four on the morning of the 7th April after a discussion lasting for many days. The resolution was defeated by a majority of 57 in a house of 181 members. The Commons of Canada then sang “God Save the Queen.”

The Mail attacked me on the 26th April, 1888, on account of my statement that the originators of commercial union were traitors, and threatened that if I did not desist from acting in that way I should be removed from the position of police magistrate. Replying the next day in a letter to the editor I repeated:

. . . that Commercial Union originated in treason, and that it emanated from a traitor in New York. This view I still hold and will express whenever and wherever I feel disposed. . . .


I went on to say:

I do not look upon this question as a political or party question. It is one affecting our national life. It is a foreign intrigue to betray us into the hands of a foreign people, and it behoves every Canadian who loves his country to do his utmost to save it from annihilation.

I did not ask for the position of police magistrate; it was offered to me by cable when I was in England. I accepted it at Mr. Mowat’s request. I feel under no obligation whatever to the country for the office. I feel I am giving good service for every dollar I receive. I did not want the office at the time I was appointed, and can live without it whenever I choose to do so, and all the traitors in the United States and Canada combined cannot make me cease to speak for my country when occasion requires . . . on questions affecting the national life, I shall always try to be in the front rank of those who stand up for Canada.

On the 7th May, 1888, the Toronto branch sent a deputation to Lord Lansdowne, Governor-General, to present a memorial praying his Excellency to invite the Australian Governments, and the Government of New Zealand to join the Canadian Government in a conference to devise means for the development of reciprocal trade and commerce.

The Imperial Federation Journal published this memorial and Lord Lansdowne’s reply, and spoke of the energy and élan which the Canadian branches were displaying, and then added prophetically, “They have, if we mistake not, set a ball a-rolling that will be found ere long too big to be described in the half dozen lines of print that is all the great English newspapers have so far seen fit to devote to the subject.”

The organisation of new branches of the League followed rapidly the successful meeting in Toronto. [119]On the 2nd April, 1888, a strong branch was formed at Brantford, Ontario. On the 16th April another was formed at St. Thomas, another about the same time at Port Arthur, on the 4th May another at Orillia, while a very successful meeting of the Ottawa Branch was held on the 22nd April, to carry a resolution in favour of discriminating tariffs between the Colonies and the Mother Country.

On the 4th June there was a rousing meeting of the branch of the League at Halifax, Nova Scotia, at which a resolution was unanimously carried in favour of reciprocal trade between the colonies and Great Britain. At this meeting the late Archbishop O’Brien, one of the ablest and most patriotic men that Canada has produced, made a most eloquent and powerful speech against commercial union or annexation, and, speaking of the men advocating these ideas, he said:

There are, however, others of this section less worthy of respect. They are men who have not courage to face great national problems, but think it wisdom to become the Cassandra of every noble undertaking. These men have for leader and mouthpiece Goldwin Smith, the peripatetic prophet of pessimism. Because, forsooth, his own life has been a dismal failure, because his overweening vanity was badly injured in its collision with Canadian common sense, because we would not take phrases void of sense for apophthegms of wisdom, he, the fossilised enemy of local autonomy and the last defender of worn-out bigotry, has put his feeble curse on Canadian nationality and assumed the leadership of the gruesome crowd of Missis Gummidges, who see no future for Canada but vassalage to the United States. Let them, if it so pleases, wring their hands in cowardly despair; but are we, the descendants of mighty races, the inheritors of a vast patrimony, the [120]heirs of noble traditions, so poor in resources or so degenerate as to know no form of action save the tears and hand-wringings of dismal forebodings? It is an insult, and should be resented as such, to be told that annexation is our destiny. The promoters of Imperial Federation are called dreamers. Well, their dream is at least an ennobling one, one that appeals to all the noble sentiments of manhood. But what are we to say to the dreary prophets of evil, the decriers of their country, the traitors of their magnificent inheritance? They are not dreamers: they are the dazed victims of a hideous nightmare, to be kindly reasoned with when sincere, to be remorselessly thrust aside when acting the demagogue. The principle of Canadian nationality has taken too firm a hold on our people to permit them to merge their distinct life in that of a nation whose institutions give no warrant of permanency, as they afford no guarantee of real individual and religious liberty.

This extract from the speech of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Halifax indicates clearly how the Canadian feeling was being aroused by the attempts upon the national life of Canada.

In the summer of this year the United States Senate refused to endorse the Fisheries Treaty which had been agreed upon by President Cleveland and the British authorities. This was followed by a Retaliation proclamation, or at least by a message to Congress, asking for powers to retaliate upon Canada, by cancelling the bonding privileges which we have been using for very many years. The Retaliation Act was passed after a most hostile discussion against Canada. This threat was received by our people in the most unflinching spirit, and the matter was soon dropped by the United States Government.


In October, 1888, the Toronto Globe, evidently with the object of accustoming the minds of the Canadian people to the idea that the question of Annexation or Independence was a live issue, and one to be discussed and considered with as much freedom and propriety as tariff reform or temperance legislation or manhood suffrage, called for letters discussing the advantages or disadvantages of annexation or independence. It was the same scheme that Goldwin Smith had endeavoured to work in the National Club.

On the 6th October I wrote a letter to the Globe on the condition and prospects of Canada, and said:

Events are crowding upon us faster than we are aware. Let us look back over the past few months. First came the Commercial Union movement, apparently originated by a Canadian in the interests of Canada, but which is now shown to have been a Yankee plot worked by a renegade with the object of producing annexation. Then came the repudiation of the Fisheries Treaty by the Republican party, followed by the Retaliation proclamation of the Democratic President; then came the almost unanimous passage of the Retaliation Act in the United States House of Representatives after a long succession of speeches by members of both political parties violently abusive and unreasonably hostile to Canada. Then came the speech of Senator Sherman exposing the hostile policy of a hundred years. Then the discussion of negotiations for annexation in the Committee of Foreign Relations, and to-day Senator Sherman’s interview, in which he says, “Political union is necessary or war is inevitable.” At this moment the Presidential election is being fought out on the question as to which party is most hostile to England and Canada, and unless a marked change comes over the people of the United States, it will not be many [122]years before we shall be fighting for our existence as a free people on this continent. Senator Sherman’s last warning is straight to the point, and cannot be overlooked or misunderstood.

I then went on to urge that we must forget all party differences, that we should unite in the face of the common danger, that a firm and united front might save us all the horrors of war, pointing out that “at the Trent affair if there had been treason in Canada, or the least sign of division in our ranks, we would have had war.”

A number of letters in favour of annexation appeared in the Globe, and I became much alarmed, for the writers signed their names. I felt that if the discussion went on unchecked it would in time have a certain effect upon the wobblers and the unreliable. I had studied carefully the American Revolution, and was of the opinion that the whole success of that movement was due to the fact that the loyal men, and the law-abiding men, did nothing themselves, but relied upon the constituted authorities to check a movement that in the end robbed them of their property, deprived them of all their civil rights, and drove them penniless into exile. I felt that as far as I was concerned I would leave no stone unturned to prevent such a fate befalling Canada through supineness or indifference.

At the annual dinner of the Caledonian Society of Toronto, on the 30th October, 1888, I responded to the toast of “The Army, Navy, and Volunteers.” The Empire of the 31st October reported my speech as follows:

Colonel Denison launched forth a few hundred words which made the Scots fairly jump with enthusiasm, [123]He referred in the first place to the achievements of Scotchmen in the British Army, and then spoke about the Canadian Volunteers. Canada at this moment, he said, is passing through a very critical crisis in her history. She will be called upon to preserve her national life within the next three or four years. (Someone ejaculated “Oh! Oh!”) It’s all very well to say “Oh! Oh!” said the Colonel. I tell you things are crowding upon us very fast. Within the past two months we have seen one thing after another showing a most bitter and hostile feeling towards this country on the part of the United States. Only this very evening came a telegram from Washington, saying that Cleveland is going to issue his retaliation proclamation immediately. Let him do it. (Cheers.) I have every faith in Canada. We have got everything on this northern half of this continent to make this a great country. We have the country and the people, and we can hold our own. All that is necessary is for us to be true to ourselves. (Cheers.) Then let us have confidence in ourselves and in our future. I am sorry to see that a few have not sufficient confidence in our future. I hope our volunteers will mark these traitors in this country, and put them in the rear when trouble comes. I do not like to see letters in our papers advocating annexation. It is nothing but rank treason. (Cheers.) There is one thing about it though, gentlemen, when these men come out, and put their names to annexation papers, they can be marked. We can put “ear marks” on them, and when trouble comes we will know who the traitors are. (Ringing cheers.)

And I went on to say we were putting their names in a list.

The Globe was evidently much put out at my action, and not daring openly to take the opposite view, relieved its feelings in a long article heaping ridicule [124]upon me and upon the Rev. Mr. Milligan, who had spoken sympathetically with me at the same dinner, and intimating that I was anxious for war with the United States. I wrote in reply to this:

I believe the United States to be very hostile to Canada; I believe they always have been. I believe they will endeavour to destroy our national life by force or fraud whenever they can, with the object of absorbing us. This has been my view for years, and I feel that the history of the past is strong evidence of the correctness of my opinion, if the events of the last two months are not absolute proof of it.

I have always warned my fellow-countrymen of this danger. I have always striven to encourage a healthy Canadian national spirit, a confidence in ourselves and in our future. I have endeavoured to give courage to the faint-hearted and the timid, and have always urged that Canadians of all classes should stand shoulder to shoulder ready to make any and every sacrifice for the State. I have felt that doubts and misgivings, the preaching and talking of annexation, were of all things the most likely to induce the Yankees to attack us. In 1812, the belief that we were divided, that the traitors were in the majority among us, and that we were ripe for annexation, had much to do with bringing on a bloody and severe war. The unanimity and courage displayed by our people at the Trent affair, the bold and unbroken front then shown by the Canadians saved us from war at that time.

To-day every word that is said in Canada in favour of annexation, or that shows a want of confidence in ourselves, is being vigorously used in the United States to create a widespread belief in that country that we are ripe for annexation. This dangerous mistake will pave the way to war, and this is why I so strongly resent a line of action that is so fraught with danger to our country.


Talk of my wanting war! The idea is absurd. It is the last thing I want. I hold that we have a free Government, that we have the fullest political, religious, and personal liberty. Our country is one of the most prosperous, if not the most prosperous, country in the world, and we have every hope of a great national future. If we had war it would cost the lives of thousands of our best. It would destroy our property, ruin our business interests, throw back our country twenty years in progress, burden us with an enormous debt, and if completely victorious we could not be freer, or have greater liberty or advantages, than we have to-day. We have no reason to go to war, unless we are driven to defend and preserve all we hold dear. No one appreciates this better than I do, and on that account all my efforts have been in the direction of preserving peace.

If war comes you will probably be still carrying on the newspaper business on King Street, your annexation correspondents will (if at large) still be spreading fears and misgivings in the rear, if not traitorously aiding the enemy, but I will have to be on the outpost line, exposed to all the hardships and trials of war. I know enough of war to hope that the Almighty may give us peace in our time, but rather than my country should be lost, I hope when the day of trial comes that God may give me courage to make any and every sacrifice in the interests of my native land.

I have been abused and attacked, threatened and ridiculed by Canadians for speaking out for Canada, but while I live nothing shall prevent me from doing what I believe to be the duty of every true Canadian.

One member of the Ontario Government met me on the street about this time, and took me to task for speaking so strongly on the question of Commercial Union and Unrestricted Reciprocity. I gave him an emphatic reply that I would follow my own course [126]in the matter. Another prominent gentleman, since a Senator, and now a preferential tariff supporter, also spoke to me on the street, and said, “Certainly people should be allowed to discuss annexation or independence as they liked.” I denied this vehemently, and declared they could not have either without fighting, and I told him plainly that if he meant to secure either he had better hang me on a lamp-post, or otherwise, if it became a live issue, I would hang him. I had made up my mind that if there was to be any of the work that the “Sons of Liberty” resorted to in the United States before the Revolution, we of the loyal party would follow their example and do it ourselves. Sir Oliver Mowat, then Premier and Attorney-General, once spoke to me, advising me not to be so violent in my language. My reply was that if the matter became dangerous I would resign my Police Magistracy one day, and he would find me leading a mob the next. Sir Oliver Mowat was a thorough loyalist, and at heart I think he fully sympathised with me.

Early in November, 1888, there was a large Convention of Dentists held in Syracuse, New York State, which Dr. W. George Beers, of Montreal, attended. At the banquet a toast was proposed, “Professional Annexation.” Dr. Beers replied in an eloquent, loyal, and manly speech, which voiced the Canadian feeling. It was copied into many Canadian papers, and printed in pamphlet form and circulated broadcast throughout the country.

He told them: “Just as you had and have your croakers and cowards we have ours, but Canada is not for sale. . . . Annexation as a serious subject has received its doom, and in spite of the intoxication of [127]senatorial conceit on the one side, and the croaking of malcontents and tramps on the other, Canada is loyal to the Mother Country from whose stout old loins both of us sprang.” And after describing the extent and resources of the British Empire, he said: “Sharers in such a realm, heirs to such vast and varied privileges, Canadians are not for sale.”

During December, 1888, I spoke at a large meeting at Ingersoll on the 6th with Mr. J. M. Clark, on the 11th at Lindsay with Mr. James L. Hughes, and on the 20th at a meeting of the Toronto League.

In 1889 the work went on very vigorously. Dr. George R. Parkin, one of the most eloquent and able of our members, who had been lecturing in England on behalf of the parent League, made a tour through Canada, and the Imperial Federation League arranged a series of meetings which he addressed with great eloquence and power. He was then on the way to Australia, where his energy and enthusiasm helped on the spirit of Imperialism among the people of that colony and New Zealand, and gave the movement an impetus there which has not been lost. This was helped by some speeches delivered in Australia in 1888, by Principal George M. Grant, the greatest of our members, one who never lost an opportunity of doing all he could for the cause.

It was an interesting fact that at one of Dr. Parkin’s meetings at St. Thomas he was accompanied by Mr. E. E. Sheppard, who, it will be remembered, was one of the early advocates of Independence, and who had flown an Independence flag over his office in 1884. Mr. Sheppard had been won over by the arguments of our League to advocate Imperial Federation as a practical means of becoming independent, and had [128]become a member of our Committee and a very powerful advocate of our cause.

In Canada the League was very active this year. On the 11th January, 1889, Mr. D’Alton McCarthy and I addressed a large and enthusiastic meeting at Peterboro. On the 17th January I attended a Sons of England Banquet at St. Thomas, organised as a demonstration against Annexation and in favour of Imperial Unity, where I responded to the principal toast, and made a strong appeal against Commercial Union and in favour of Imperial Consolidation. On the 9th February, A. J. Cattanach, Commander Law, J. T. Small and I went to Hamilton in Imperial Federation interests. On the 18th February, Dr. Parkin spoke at St. Thomas. On the 29th March, 1889, J. Castell Hopkins and I addressed a large meeting at Woodstock. I spoke at the St. George’s Society Banquet, Toronto, 23rd April. On the 11th May, there was a large meeting at Hamilton addressed by Principal George M. Grant. The Annual Meeting of the League took place at Hamilton the same day, and the early difficulties of the movement are well evidenced by the fact that at the Annual Meeting of the League only eleven representatives were present, viz.: D’Alton McCarthy, M.P., President, in the Chair; Thomas Macfarlane, F.R.S.C., representing Ottawa Branch; Principal G. M. Grant, President Kingston Branch; Henry Lyman, President Montreal Branch; H. H. Lyman, Treasurer; J. Castell Hopkins, one of the Hon. Secretaries; Commander Law, Secretary Toronto Branch; D. T. Symons, Lt.-Colonel George T. Denison, J. T. Small, and Senator McInnes. On the 21st May, Principal Grant delivered an address in Toronto, and another on the 16th August at Chatauqua, [129]near Niagara-on-the-Lake, both powerful appeals in support of the cause.

The Commercial Unionists made violent attacks upon the League, ridiculing it and its objects, and caricatures were often published making light of our efforts, while many Liberal newspapers, led by the Globe, attacked us at every available opportunity.




This was the most active and important year of our work for the Empire, and we began to see the result of the efforts we had made. The Commercial Union movement was as active and dangerous as ever, and the contest was carried on with great vigour all the year.

On the 6th February, 1890, I wrote to Sir John Macdonald telling him that the next election would be fought on the straight issue of loyalty. At that time he hardly agreed with me, but before the year was out my forecast was verified.

On the 13th January, 1890, I addressed a dinner of the Sons of England. On the 25th of the same month I had a letter in the Globe pointing out the dangers of the belief obtaining ground that we were divided. I knew that Mr. Mulock proposed moving a resolution in the House of Commons to show how united our people were on the question of loyalty to the Empire, and, to aid him, went on to say:

These conspirators are working now every day to pave the way for trouble. The public mind of the United States is being educated, and those in Canada working for them and with them, some consciously, some unconsciously, are sowing seed of which we will reap [131]the bitter harvest. The Canadians advocating Independence are of two classes, one a class loyal to Canada above all, the other using Independence as a cloak, knowing that Independence just now, while making us no freer, would deprive us of the backing of the Empire, and change our present practical independence, either to an absolute dependence on the United States or to the necessity of a desperate struggle with them.

Mr. Mulock will do good service if he succeeds, as I suppose he will, in getting a unanimous vote of our Parliament in favour of the existing constitution of our country. It will show that we are not a downtrodden people, waiting for our neighbours to aid us in throwing off a galling yoke, and will tend to counteract the plots of those conspirators who are intriguing for our conquest and national extinction.

We must show them that we are a united people on national questions. It is our only safeguard. If we are to be weakened by internal dissensions in the face of foreign aggression, God help our country.

On the 29th January, 1890, Mr. Mulock moved an address to her Majesty in the following terms:

Most Gracious Majesty,

We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Canada in Parliament assembled, desire most earnestly in our own name, and on behalf of the people whom we represent, to renew the expression of our unswerving loyalty and devotion to Your Majesty’s person and Government.

We have learned with feelings of entire disapproval that various public statements have been made, calling in question the loyalty of the people of Canada to the political union now happily existing between this Dominion and the British Empire, and representing it as the desire of the people of Canada to sever such connection.


We desire, therefore, to assure Your Majesty that such statements are wholly incorrect representations of the sentiments and aspirations of the people of Canada, who are among Your Majesty’s most loyal subjects, devotedly attached to the political union existing between Canada and the Mother Country, and earnestly desire its continuance.

We feel assured that Your Majesty will not allow any such statement, emanating from any source whatever, to lessen Your Majesty’s confidence in the loyalty of your Canadian subjects to Your Majesty’s person and Government, and will accept our assurances of the contentment of Your Majesty’s Canadian subjects with the political connection between Canada and the rest of the British Empire, and of their fixed resolve to aid in maintaining the same.

We pray that the blessings of Your Majesty’s reign may, for your people’s sake, be long continued.

Mr. Mulock’s speech clearly explains the reasons for his action. He said:

We are all observers of current events, we are all readers of the literature of the day, and we have had the opportunity of observing the trend of the American Press during the last few months. In that Press you find a doctrine set forth as if it were the expression of one mind, but appearing in the whole of the Press of the United States and being in that way spread far and wide. You find it asserted there that the political institutions in Canada are broken down; that we are a people divided against ourselves or amongst ourselves; that we are torn apart by internal dissensions; that race is set against race, creed against creed, Province against Province, and the Dominion against the Empire; and that this has created a feeling in favour of independence or annexation which is now only awaiting the opportunity to take practical form and shape. These statements have, no doubt, already done injury to our country. A [133]surplus population does not seek countries which are supposed to be bordering on revolution. Capital does not seek investment in countries which are supposed not to be blessed with stable government. Therefore, for the information of the outside world, for the information of those who have not had the advantage of being born or becoming Canadian citizens, for their advantage and for our own advantage ultimately, I have asked the House to adopt this resolution. To give further colour to these statements, we find that the United States Congress appointed a Committee of the Senate, ostensibly to inquire into the relations of Canada with the United States; but if anyone investigated the proceedings of that Committee, he would find that apparently the principal anxiety of the Commission is to discover satisfactory evidence that this country is in a frame of mind to be annexed to the United States. I know of no better way of meeting their curiosity on that subject, and at the same time of settling this question, than for the people of Canada, through their representatives here assembled, to make an authoritative deliverance upon the subject. Such a deliverance will go far, I believe, to settle the question in the minds of the people of the old lands, those of England and of continental Europe, and then I hope it will result in setting once more flowing towards our shores the surplus capital and the surplus population of those old lands which are so much wanted for the development of the resources of this vast Dominion. I make this statement in no feeling of unfriendliness to the United States. We cannot blame them for casting longing eyes towards this favoured land, but we can only attribute that to Canada’s worth, and, therefore, to that extent we can appreciate their advances. But that the American people seriously believe that Canada, a land so full of promise, is now prepared, in her very infancy, to commit political suicide, I cannot for a moment believe. Do the American people believe that this young country, with [134]her illimitable resources, with a population representing the finest strains of human blood, with political institutions based upon a model that has stood the strain for ages, and has ever become stronger—do they believe that this country, possessing within her own limits all the essentials for enduring national greatness, is now prepared to abandon the work of the Confederation fathers, and pull out from the Confederation edifice the cement of British connection which holds the various parts of the edifice together? Do they, I say, believe that the people of Canada are prepared in that way to disappear from the nations of the earth, amidst the universal contempt of the world? No, Mr. Speaker, the American people are too intelligent to believe any such a thing. They have been trying to make themselves believe it, but they cannot do it. But whether they believe it or not—no matter who believes it outside of Canada—I venture to say the Canadian people do not believe it; and whatever be the destiny of Canada, I trust that such as I have indicated is not to be her destiny.

The motion was carried by a vote of 161 yeas and no nays.

This action of the House of Commons was of the greatest possible good, and gave great encouragement to our League.

By this time the meetings of the Executive Committee of the Imperial Federation League were generally held in my office, at the old Police Court. I often occupied the chair in the absence of Mr. D’Alton McCarthy, and later of Sir Leonard Tilley, who succeeded him as President. At a meeting held on the 17th February, 1890, Mr. Henry J. Wickham read a letter which he had received from a friend in the United States, mentioning the custom of flying the Stars and Stripes over the schools in that country, and [135]suggesting that a like custom might be advantageous in Canada. The idea was seized on at once, and it was decided to organise a representative deputation with a view to waiting on the Minister of Education, and getting him to make such a regulation that the national flag would be used in all public schools in Ontario, and hoisted on certain days of the year to commemorate events of national importance. The details of the matter were left in the hands of Mr. H. J. Wickham and myself. Mr. Wickham acted as secretary, and very soon we had organised a very influential and powerful deputation of representative men to wait upon the Hon. G. W. Ross and to ask for Government recognition and authority for the movement.

On the 21st February, 1890, our deputation was received by the Minister of Education, and the objects we desired were explained to the Minister by Mr. Wickham, Mr. Somers (Chairman of the Public School Board), by myself as chairman of the deputation, and we were supported by Mayor Clarke, J. M. Clark and others.

Mr. Ross said that “it was needless to say that he sympathised deeply with the deputation in their request.” He said also that “he considered the display of the national emblem would be a fitting exhibition representing externally what was being done inside the schools. He would have no objection to make such a regulation, if it was not easy enough now, and legal if it was not so now, to display the national emblem in some such way as to impress upon the children the fact that we are a country and have a flag and a place in it.”

This was most satisfactory to us, and the movement [136]soon became general, and now in several Provinces the practice of displaying the flag is followed.

On the same night, the 21st February, I attended the annual dinner of the Sergeants’ Mess of the Queen’s Own Rifles, all of whom were Imperial Federationists. I found there, for the first time at a public dinner to my knowledge, as one of the principal toasts, “Imperial Federation,” to which I responded. Since then, at almost all public dinners in Canada, some patriotic toast of that kind has appeared on the programme—“The United Empire,” “Canada,” “Canada and the Empire” “Our Country,” and many variations of the idea.

On the 4th March, J. M. Clark and I went to Barrie and addressed a large meeting in the interests of Imperial Federation, and received a hearty support.

Our Committee about this time thought it would be well to issue a kind of manifesto that would explain our objects, and put forth the arguments in favour of our views and could be used as a kind of campaign literature to be distributed freely throughout the country. It was therefore arranged that a meeting should be held for the purpose of organising a branch of the League at Guelph, and that I should make a speech there that could be printed in separate form for general circulation. Mr. Creighton, of the Empire, agreed to send a reporter to take a shorthand report which was to be published in that paper. Mr. Alexander McNeill went to the meeting with me and made an excellent speech, one of many great efforts made by him for the cause.

The meeting was held on the 28th March, 1890, and afterwards fully reported in the Empire. The meeting was large, the hall being filled, and was as unanimous [137]and enthusiastic as the warmest advocate of Imperial Federation could have wished. The report of this meeting was reprinted and circulated in great numbers throughout the country.

The following day Dr. W. George Beers delivered an eloquent and powerful lecture in Toronto in the interests of our cause, which was well received.




In December, 1889, the Council of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce passed the following resolution unanimously:

That whilst the Council approve of the objects of the Imperial Federation League as set forth in their circular of November the 13th last, they are of opinion that the primary essential condition of Imperial Federation is a customs union of the Empire.

This adoption of the main point in the policy of the Canadian Branch of the League was very gratifying to us.

The Annual Meeting of the League in Canada took place on the 30th January, 1890, and there was considerable discussion on the question of preferential or discriminating tariffs around the Empire, although no formal resolution was carried, as direct action at that time was thought to be premature.

I moved a resolution: “That this League wishes to urge on the Government the importance of taking immediate steps to secure a universal rate of penny postage for the Empire.” This was seconded by Mr. McNeill, and carried.

A resolution was also carried against the German-[139]Belgian Treaties which prevented preferential tariffs within the Empire.

Lt.-Col. W. Hamilton Merritt suggested that the League should send its organisers to England, as it was there the missionary work would have to be done. Mr. McGoun supported this view, saying that “the policy of the Canadian League should be to send delegates to England to promote the gospel of commercial unity of the Empire.”

It will be seen that at this early period of the movement the Canadian Branch of the League felt that the real work would have to be done in England. We had discovered that there were clauses in two treaties with Germany and Belgium which positively forbade any special advantages in trade being given by Great Britain to any of her colonies, or by the colonies in favour of Great Britain or each other, that should not be given to Germany and Belgium. This as a necessary consequence would take in all nations entitled to the favoured nation clause.

It was essential, as the very first step towards our policy being adopted, that these two treaties made in 1862 and 1865 should be denounced. The earliest period that either of them could be denounced was on the 1st July, 1892, provided that a year’s notice had been given before the 1st July, 1891, in order to secure that result.

After full discussion in our Executive Committee, I agreed to go to England with two objects in view, first to endeavour to prepare the way for the denunciation of the treaties, and, secondly, to urge the policy of preferential tariffs around the Empire. A special resolution was adopted to authorise me to represent the Canadian Branch of the League while in England.


I arrived at Liverpool on the 27th April, 1890, and found a message requesting me to speak at a meeting at the People’s Palace, Whitechapel, the next evening. This meeting was called by the League in order that Dr. George Parkin might deliver an address on Imperial Federation. The Duke of Cambridge was in the chair, and Lord Rosebery, Sir John Colomb, and I were the other speakers. I was requested to say nothing about preferential tariffs, and consequently was obliged to refrain.

On the 13th May I happened to be at a meeting of the Royal Colonial Institute. Col. Owen read a paper on the military forces of the colonies. In the discussion which ensued Sir Charles Dilke, after complimenting other colonies, viz.: Australia, New Zealand, and Cape Colony, then proceeded to comment adversely on Canada.

I answered him in a speech which will be found in the Appendix “A.”

On the 19th May I addressed a meeting at the Mansion House, under the auspices of the London Branch of the Imperial Federation League, in favour of Australian Federation, and once more I was requested not to touch on the question of preferential tariffs.

On the 15th May I had attended the meeting of the Executive Committee of the League, and with some difficulty and considerable persistence had secured the insertion of the following clauses in the draft Annual Report:

10. As anticipated in last year’s Report, a strong feeling continues to exist in Canada against the continuance in commercial treaties with foreign countries of clauses preventing the different portions of the [141]Empire from making such internal fiscal arrangements between themselves as they may think proper. The League in Canada at its Annual Meeting, held in January last, passed a resolution condemning such stipulations. Most of the treaties obnoxious to this view terminate in 1892, and it is expected that strong efforts will be made by the League in Canada to obtain the abrogation of such clauses where they exist, and the provision under all treaties that the favoured nation clause shall not have the effect of extending to foreign countries the advantage of any preferential arrangement between different parts of the Empire. Any action in this direction taken by the Dominion Government will have the hearty support of the Council.

The 13th clause of the Report contained a copy of Mr. Mulock’s loyal address to the Queen from the Dominion House of Commons. The 14th clause was as follows:

The significance of this action of the Dominion Parliament cannot be overrated, and the League in Canada is to be congratulated upon this most satisfactory outcome of its steady and persevering work during the past three years.

When the Council Meeting was held on the 19th May to adopt the Report for presentation to the Annual Meeting, clause after clause was read and passed without question, until the 10th clause quoted above was reached, when at once an elderly gentleman rose and objected strongly to it, and moved to have it struck out. He made a speech strongly Free Trade in its tenor, and urged that nothing should be done to aid or assist in any preferential arrangements. Seeing at once that this reference to their favourite fetish [142]appealed to the sympathies and prejudices of those present, I was sure that if not stopped other speakers would get up and endorse the view. I jumped up at once as he sat down, and made a short speech, saying, I did not know when I had heard a more illogical and inconsistent speech, that I gathered from his remarks that the gentleman was a Free Trader, that his whole speech showed that he was in favour of freedom of trade, and yet at the same time he wished to maintain treaties that were a restriction upon trade; that if we in Canada wished to give preferences to British goods, or lower our duties in her favour, or if we wished to have free trade with Great Britain, these treaties would forbid us doing so, unless Germany and Belgium and all other countries were included; that I felt Canada would give favours to Great Britain, but would positively refuse to give them to Germany, and could anything be more inconsistent than for a man declaring himself a Free Trader on principle, and yet refusing to help us in Canada who wished to move in the direction of freer trade with the Mother Country, and I begged of him to withdraw his opposition? This he did, and my clause was passed.

I found out afterwards that my opponent was Sir Wm. Farrer. Years afterwards when Canada gave the preference to Great Britain in 1897, and the treaties were denounced, the Cobden Club gave to Sir Wilfrid Laurier the Cobden gold medal.

The Annual Meeting of the Imperial Federation League was held three days later, on the 22nd May. I was announced in the cards calling the meeting as one of the principal speakers, and as the representative of the League in Canada, and was to second the adoption of the Annual Report. The day before the meet[143]ing, when in the offices of the League, a number of the Committee and the Secretary were present, I once more said that I wished to advocate preferential tariffs around the Empire. It will be remembered that this was one of the two points that I was commissioned to urge upon the parent League. I had been restrained at the People’s Palace and at the Mansion House, but being a member of the League, a Member of the Council, and of the Executive Committee, and representing the League in Canada by special resolution, I made up my mind to carry out my instructions. The moment I suggested the idea it was at once objected to, everyone present said it would be impossible. I was persistent, and said, “Gentlemen, I have been stopped twice already, but at the Annual Meeting I certainly have the right to speak.” They said that Lord Rosebery would be annoyed. I said, “What difference does that make; the more reason he should know how we feel in Canada; there was no use in my coming from Canada, learning Lord Rosebery’s views, and then repeating them. I thought he could give his own views better himself.” They then said “that it would be unpleasant for me, that the meeting would express disapproval.” I said, “The more reason they should hear my views, and I do not care what they do if they do not throw me out of an upstairs window,” finally saying, “Gentlemen, if I cannot give the message I have undertaken to deliver I shall not speak at all, and will report the whole circumstances to the League in Canada, and let them know that we are not allowed to express our views.” This they would not hear of, and agreed that I could say what I liked.

Lord Rosebery, who presided, made an excellent speech; among other things he said:


You will look in vain in the report for any scheme of Imperial Federation. Those of our critics who say, “Tell me what Imperial Federation is, and I will tell you what I think about it,” will find no scheme to criticise or discuss in any corner of our Annual Report. If there were any such scheme, I should not be here to move it, because I do not believe that it is on the report of any private society that such a scheme will ever be realised. But I will say that as regards the alternative name which Mr. Parkin—and here I cannot help stating from the Presidential Chair the deep obligations under which we lie to Mr. Parkin—has given to Imperial Federation, namely, that of National Unity, that in some respects it is a preferable term. But if I might sum up our purpose in a sentence, it would be that we seek to base our Empire upon a co-operative principle. At present the Empire is carried on, it is administered successfully owing to the energies of the governing race which rules it, but in a haphazard and inconsequential manner; but each day this society has seen pass over its head has shown the way to a better state of things.

Lord Rosebery’s idea of a “co-operative principle” is not very far removed from the idea of a “Kriegsverein and a Zollverein.”

In seconding the adoption of the Report I pointed out the many difficulties we had to face in Canada through the action of the United States, and concluded my speech in the following words:

Now with reference to a scheme of Imperial Federation, I quite agree with the noble lord, our President, that we cannot go into the question of a scheme. At the same time I do not think it would be out of the way to mention here that it would be of the utmost importance to Canada that we should have some arrangement that there should be a discriminating [145]tariff established. (Cheers.) The effect would be to open up a better state of trade than ever between the two countries. I feel that we in Canada would be willing to give for a discriminating tariff very great advantages over foreign manufacturers with whom the trade is now divided. I think if this matter is only carefully considered, it is not impossible for the English people, for the sake of keeping the English nation together, to make this little sacrifice. I have spoken to numbers of people in England, and I find a great many would be willing to have some such arrangement made if England were assured of some corresponding advantage. They seem to think it is a question which ought to be considered; but they think that England has committed herself to another policy to which she must stand. Well, I do not think that that is the case. My opinion is that it is to the interest of the Empire, and to the interest of the Mother Country, that something should be done which would knit the Empire together. I believe the English people are open to reason as much as any people in the world. That policy would be of immense interest to us considering that the United States are our competitors. Then again look at the advantages which might be offered in the way of emigration to a country under your own flag, with your own institutions, and with those law-abiding and God-fearing principles, which we are trying to spread through the northern half of the continent; and at the same time it would be adding strength to you all here at home. I must not detain you too long, but I thought I would like to mention these one or two points to you. I speak on behalf of the great masses of the Canadian people, and I think I have shown you some of the annoyances under which they have been living up to the present, and I am quite sure that if any sacrifice can be made the Canadians will be willing to meet you half-way. But it ought not to be all one way. There ought to be give and take both ways.


During my speech I was loudly applauded, and felt that a large majority of the meeting was with me. When I sat down, I was just behind Lord Rosebery, and to my astonishment he turned around, shook hands with me, and whispered in my ear, “I wish I could speak out as openly.” I knew then that I had neither frightened him nor the meeting. The Report was unanimously adopted.

I felt that I had succeeded in my mission as far as the Imperial Federation League was concerned, but while I was on the spot I was using every effort to urge the views of my colleagues in other directions. Believing that the two strongest men in England at the time were Lord Salisbury and the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Chamberlain, I had been at the same time endeavouring to impress our views upon them.

I had met Mr. Chamberlain in 1887 in Toronto, and had spoken at the same banquet which he there addressed. I wrote and asked him for an interview, and discussed the whole question of preferential trade, and the condition of affairs in Canada with him at great length. Our interview lasted nearly an hour. I then used with him many arguments which he has since used in his contest in England for Tariff Reform. After I had put my case as strongly as I could, I waited for his reply. He said, “I have listened with great interest to all the points you have brought forward, and I shall study the whole question thoroughly for myself, and if, after full consideration, I come to the conclusion that this policy will be in the interests of this country and of the Empire, I shall take it up and advocate it.” I said, “That is all I want; if you look into it and study it for yourself you are sure to come to the same view,” and got up to [147]leave, but he then said to me with the greatest earnestness, “Do not tell a soul that I ever said I would think of such a thing. In the present condition of opinion in England it would never do.”

The result was that, though I was greatly cheered by his action, there was not one word that I could use, or that could be used, to help us in our struggle in Canada. I always felt, however, that it was only a question of time when he would be heartily with us.

Lord Salisbury about this time invited me to an evening reception at 20 Arlington Street. When there I mentioned to him shortly what I had come over for, and told him I wished to have a long talk with him if he could spare the time. He said, “Certainly, we must have a talk,” and he fixed the following Wednesday, the 14th May.

At this time there was an acute difficulty between the United States Government and the British Government over the seizures of Canadian vessels engaged in the Behring’s Sea seal fisheries. A number of Canadian vessels had been seized by United States cruisers, their crews imprisoned, and their property confiscated. The Canadian Government had complained bitterly, and, after much discussion, two Canadian Ministers, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper and Sir John Thompson, were in Washington engaged, with the assistance of the British Ambassador, in negotiations with the Hon. James Blaine, United States Secretary of State, endeavouring to settle the Behring’s Sea question, as well as several other matters which were in dispute.

Having watched matters very closely in the United States, I had come to the conclusion that the Washington authorities had no serious intention to settle anything finally. We had made a treaty with them [148]before in 1888, which had arranged the matters in dispute upon a fair basis, and when everything was agreed upon and settled, waiting only for the ratification by the United States Senate, that body threw it out promptly and left everything as it was. This action was at once followed by the retaliation message delivered by President Cleveland, which was a most unfriendly and insulting menace to Canada. I felt confident that they were determined to keep the disputes open for some future occasion, when Great Britain might be in difficulties, and a casus belli might be convenient.

The New York Daily Commercial Bulletin openly declared in November, 1888, that the questions of the fisheries, etc., “in all human probability will be purposely left open in order to force the greater issue (viz., political union) which, as it seems to us, none but a blind man can fail to see is already looming up with unmistakable distinctness in the future.”

At this reception at Lord Salisbury’s I was discussing the negotiations at Washington with Lord George Hamilton, then First Lord of the Admiralty, expressing my fears that they would come to nothing, and pointing out the dangers before us. He seemed somewhat impressed, and said, “I wish you would talk it over with Sir Philip Currie,” then permanent Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and he took me across the room and introduced me to Sir Philip, to whom I expressed my opinion that the negotiations at Washington would fail and that the United States Government would not agree to anything. While I was talking to him I was watching him closely, and I came to the conclusion, from his expression, that he was positively certain that the matter was either settled or [149]on the very point of being settled, and I stopped suddenly and said, “I believe, Sir Philip, you think this is settled. You know all about it, and I know nothing, but I tell you now, that although you may believe it is all agreed upon, I say that it is not, and that either the Senate or the House of Representatives, or the President, or all of them put together, will at the last moment upset everything.” I do not think he liked my persistence, or felt that the conversation was becoming difficult, but he laughed good-naturedly and said, “Nobody will make me believe that the Americans are not the most friendly people possible, but I must just go and speak to Lord ——” whose name I did not catch, and he left me.

The next week I had my interview with Lord Salisbury and put my arguments from an Imperial point of view as powerfully as I could, told him of the dangers of the Commercial Union movement, of the desperate struggle I could see coming in the general election that was approaching in Canada, told him of our dread of a free expenditure of United States money in our elections, and pointed out to him that the real way to prevent any difficulty was to have a preferential tariff or commercial union arrangement with Great Britain, which would satisfy our people, and entirely checkmate the movement in favour of reciprocity with the States.

Lord Salisbury listened attentively and at last he said, “I am fast coming to the opinion that the real way to consolidate the empire would be by means of a Zollverein and a Kriegsverein.” I was delighted, “That,” I said, “gives me all my case,” and I urged him to say something publicly in that direction that we could use in Canada to inspire our loyal people, [150]and put that hope and confidence in them which would carry our elections. He did not say whether he would or not, but I knew then that at heart he was with us.

As a matter of fact, he did speak in a friendly tone at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Guildhall on the 9th November following, and afterwards followed it up with a much more direct speech at Hastings on the 18th May, 1892.

I then said that nothing could be done until the German-Belgian Treaties of 1862 were denounced. He asked me why, and I told him the effect of the treaties was to bar any such arrangement. He did not know of the particular clauses and could hardly believe they existed. When told he would find I was right, he said, “That is most unfortunate, and they will have to be denounced.” I thanked him for taking that view and felt that I had a strong ally on both points. From subsequent conversations and from many letters received from him during the following ten or twelve years, I always relied upon him as a true friend who would help us at the first possible opportunity.

On this occasion I also spoke to him seriously as to my forebodings as to the failure of the negotiations at Washington and told him I believed he was under the impression that the matter was about settled, but warned him that at the last moment either the Senate or the President, or someone, would upset everything.

I had spoken very plainly at the Canada Club not long before on the Behring’s Sea business, and some of my remarks were published in several papers. On this point I said:

We in Canada are for the British Connection. In years gone by when we thought that the British flag [151]was insulted, though it was not a matter in which we were concerned and happened hundreds of miles from our shores, our blood was up, and we were ready to defend the old emblem. Can you wonder, then, that we in Canada have failed to understand how your powerful British ironclads could be idle in the harbours of our Pacific coasts while British subjects were being outraged in Behring’s Sea and the old British flag insulted? No, that to us has been beyond comprehension.

Before I left England my anticipations were realised, and suddenly, without any apparent reason, President Harrison broke off the negotiations just as Mr. Blaine and our representatives had come to an agreement, and he gave orders to United States vessels to proceed at once to the Behring’s Sea and capture any Canadian vessels found fishing in those waters. This was about the end of May. I sailed for home from Liverpool on the 5th June. On the Parisian I met as a fellow passenger the Rt. Hon. Staveley Hill, M.P., whom I had known before and who had taken a most active part in the House of Commons in favour of the Canadian view of the Behring’s Sea difficulty. After we had got out to sea he said to me, “I will tell you something that you must keep strictly to yourself for the present; when we reach the other side it will probably all be out,” and he went on to say that the British Government had made up their minds to fight the United States on account of President Harrison’s action. I was startled, and asked him if they were going to declare war at once. He replied, “No, not yet, but they have sent a message to the United States Government saying that if they seized another Canadian vessel it would be followed and taken from them by force from any harbour to which it would be taken.” I at once said, “That is all right; if that [152]message is delivered in earnest, so that they will know that it is in earnest, it means peace and no further interference.”

When we arrived at Quebec, to our surprise not a word had come out, and no one seemed to have the slightest suspicion that anything had happened. Some weeks elapsed and yet nothing was said, and I was under the impression that there had been some mistake, although Mr. Staveley Hill told me he had heard it directly from a Cabinet Minister.

I saw in the newspapers that large additions were made to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, the latter being more than doubled in strength. About two months after my return a member of the House of Representatives got up in the United States Congress and drew attention to these extensive preparations, to the increase of the garrison of Bermuda, to the work going on in the fortifications of the West Indies, and asked that the House should be furnished with copies of the despatches between the two Governments. These were brought down, and Lord Salisbury’s ultimatum appeared in the following words:

Her Britannic Majesty’s Government have learned with great concern, from notices which have appeared in the Press, and the general accuracy of which has been confirmed by Mr. Blaine’s statements to the undersigned, that the Government of the United States have issued instructions to their revenue cruisers about to be despatched to Behring’s Sea, under which vessels of British subjects will again be exposed in the prosecution of their legitimate industry on the high seas to unlawful interference at the hands of American officers.

Her Britannic Majesty’s Government are anxious to co-operate to the fullest extent of their power with the Government of the United States in such measures as [153]may be found expedient for the protection of the seal fisheries. They are at the present moment engaged in examining, in concert with the Government of the United States, the best method of arriving at an agreement on this point. But they cannot admit the right of the United States of their own sole motion to restrict for this purpose the freedom of navigation of Behring’s Sea, which the United States have themselves in former years convincingly and successfully vindicated, nor to enforce their municipal legislation against British vessels on the high seas beyond the limits of their territorial jurisdiction.

Her Britannic Majesty’s Government is therefore unable to pass over without notice the public announcement of an intention on the part of the Government of the United States to renew the acts of interference with British vessels navigating outside the territorial waters of the United States, of which they had previously had to complain.

The undersigned is in consequence instructed formally to protest against such interference, and to declare that her Britannic Majesty’s Government must hold the Government of the United States responsible for the consequences that may ensue from acts which are contrary to the established principles of International law.

The undersigned has the honour to renew to Mr. Blaine the assurance of his highest consideration.

Julian Pauncefote.

14th June, 1890.

This correspondence showed me that the information given Mr. Staveley Hill had been based upon a good foundation, but this was followed in Congress a few days later by a demand for a return of a verbal message which was said to have been given by the British Ambassador to the Hon. James Blaine. The answer was that a search in the records of the State Department did not discover any reference to any such [154]verbal message. I have no doubt but that some such message was given.

About a year afterwards I was discussing matters with Sir C. Hibbert Tupper, and I asked him if when they were in Washington they were not at one time quite confident that the matter was practically settled. He said, “Yes, certainly; we had been discussing matters in a most amicable way, and had been coming nearer together, and at last we agreed to what we thought was a final settlement, when President Harrison interfered and broke off the whole negotiations.”

Lord Salisbury’s bold and determined action had the desired effect, and soon an agreement was arrived at for an arbitration, which took place in Paris in 1893. In spite of the false translations and unreliable and false affidavits which appeared among the evidence produced on behalf of the United States claims, the decision on the point of International law was in our favour, and a large sum was awarded to our sealers for damages. Canada therefore came out of the dispute with credit to herself, owing to the firm and courageous stand of the Imperial Government under the leadership of that great Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury. My forecast to him of what he was likely to encounter in the negotiations was fully verified.




I arrived home on the 15th June, and found that in my absence I had been vehemently abused both in a section of the Press and in the City Council, partly because I was not present to defend myself, and partly on account of the active manner in which I had been opposing the disloyal clique.

Our Committee was still working earnestly in stirring up the feeling of loyalty, and from that time until the great election of March, 1891, the struggle was energetically maintained. Arrangements were made for demonstrations in the public schools on the 13th October, 1890, the anniversary of the victory of Queenston Heights, and on that day a number of prominent men visited the schools of Toronto and made patriotic addresses to the boys. I addressed the John Street Public School, and afterwards the boys of Upper Canada College.

The Globe attacked me on account of these celebrations in their issue on 13th October, and followed it up with another article on the 14th October. I answered both articles in a letter which appeared in the Globe of the 16th October, and concluded as follows:


As to your remarks that I should abstain from interfering “in the discussion of questions that have become party property,” I may say that before I was appointed Police Magistrate I was a follower of Mr. Brown, Mr. Mackenzie, Mr. Blake, and Mr. Mowat. Since then I have never voted or taken part in any political meeting. Not that the law prevents it, but from my sense of what I thought right. I may say, however, on behalf of the friends with whom I used to work, that I utterly repudiate the suggestion that loyalty to Canada and her history is not equally the characteristic of both parties. There are a few, I know, who are intriguing to betray this country into annexation, but they are not the men I followed, and when the scheme is fully developed I have every confidence that Canadians of all political parties will be united on the side of Canada and the Empire. No politicians can rule Canada unless they are loyal.

On any question affecting our national life I will speak out openly and fearlessly at all hazards.

About the same time the Empire newspaper, to help on the movement and to advertise it, offered a flag (12 feet by 6 feet in size), the Canadian red ensign with the arms of Canada in the fly, to that school in each county which could produce the finest essay on the patriotic influence of raising the flag over the school houses. Each school was to compete within itself, and the best essay was to be chosen by the headmaster and sent to the Empire office. These essays from each county were carefully compared, and the finest essay secured the flag for the school from which it came. I read the essays and awarded the prizes for about thirty counties, and it was a pleasing and inspiring task. I was astonished at the depth of patriotic feeling shown, and was much impressed with the great influence the contest must have had in [157]stirring up the latent patriotism of the people, spreading as it did into so many houses through the children.

I was so much interested in what I read, and often found so much difficulty in deciding which was the best essay, that I felt that they all deserved prizes. I therefore decided to prepare a little volume of patriotic songs and poems, and to publish a large number and send a copy to the child in each school who had written the best essay, and a copy was also sent to the master of every school that had sent in an essay. I wrote to my friend Mr. E. G. Nelson, Secretary of the Branch of our League at St. John, New Brunswick, and told him what I was doing. I soon received from him a copy of a song, which he said my letter had inspired him to write. It was called “Raise the Flag.” I give the first verse:

Raise the flag, our glorious banner,
O’er this fair Canadian land,
From the stern Atlantic ocean
To the far Pacific strand.


Raise the flag with shouts of gladness,
’Tis the banner of the free!
Brightly beaming, proudly streaming,
’Tis the flag of liberty.

I decided to use this as the first song and I called the little book:

Raise the Flag,
And other Patriotic Canadian Songs and Poems.”

On the front of the stiff cardboard cover a well-executed, brightly-coloured lithograph of a school-house with a fine maple tree beside it was seen, with a large number of children, boys and girls, waving their hats and handkerchiefs and acclaiming the flag which [158]was being run up to the top of the flag-pole, the master apparently giving the signal for cheering. On the back of the cover was a pretty view of Queenston Heights, with Brock’s monument the prominent object, and over this scene a trophy of crossed flags with a medallion containing Queen Victoria’s portrait imposed on one, and a shield with the arms of Canada on the other. Over both was the motto “For Queen and Country.”

On the title page a verse of Lesperance’s beautiful poem was printed just below the title. It contained in a few words all that we were fighting for, the object we were aiming at, and the spirit we wished to inspire in the children of our country:

Shall we break the plight of youth
And pledge us to an alien love?
No! we hold our faith and truth,
Trusting to the God above.
Stand Canadians, firmly stand
Round the flag of Fatherland.

I asked a number of friends to assist me in the expense of getting out this book, and I feel bound to record their names here as loyal men who gave me cheerful assistance and joined me in supplying all the necessary funds at a time when we had many vigorous opponents and had to struggle against indifference and apathy:—George Gooderham, John T. Small, John Hoskin, J. K. Macdonald, J. Herbert Mason, Edward Gurney, Wm. K. McNaught, W. R. Brock, Allan McLean Howard, A. M. Cosby, Walter S. Lee, Hugh Scott, Thomas Walmsley, W. H. Beatty, A. B. Lee, John Leys, Jr., E. B. Osler, John I. Davidson, J. Ross Robertson, Hugh Blain, Hon. G. W. Allan, Henry Cawthra, Fred C. Denison, Oliver Macklem, G. R. R. [159]Cockburn, James Henderson, R. N. Bethune, Sir Casimir Gzowski, C. J. Campbell and W. B. Hamilton.

We published a good many thousand volumes and scattered them freely through the country before the election of 1891.

I gave Lord Derby, then Governor-General of Canada, about a dozen copies, and he sent one to the Queen, and some months after he received a letter from Sir Henry Ponsonby asking him at the request of the Queen to thank me for the book.

When the schools throughout the country received the flags which they had won, in many instances demonstrations were organised to raise the flag for the first time with due ceremony. I was invited to go to Chippawa to speak when their flag was first raised. There was a very large gathering of people from all over the county, and as an illustration of how the opportunity was used to stir up the patriotism of the people, I quote part of my address from the Empire of the 30th December, 1890.

I am pleased to come here to celebrate the raising of the flag, because Chippawa is in the very heart of the historic ground of Canada. Here was fought out in the past the freedom of Canada from foreign aggression. Here was decided the question as to whether we should be a conquered people, or free as we are to-day, with the old flag of our fathers floating over us as a portion of the greatest empire in the world. (Applause.) In sight of this spot was fought the bloody battle which is named after this village, within three miles in the other direction lies the field of Lundy’s Lane, and a few miles beyond the Heights of Queenston. From Fort George to Fort Erie the whole country has been fought over. Under the windows of this room Sir [160]Francis Bond Head in 1837 reviewed about three thousand loyal militia who rallied to drive the enemy from Navy Island. It is no wonder that here in old Chippawa the demonstration of raising the flag should be such a magnificent outburst of loyal feeling. . . . There is nothing more gratifying than the extraordinary development of this feeling in the last year or two. All through the land is shown this love for Queen, flag, and country. From the complaining of some few disgruntled politicians, who have been going about the country whining like a lot of sick cats about the McKinley Bill, some have thought our people were not united; but everywhere, encompassing these men, stands the silent element that doth not change, and if the necessity arise for greater effort, and the display of greater patriotism, and the making of greater sacrifices, the people of this country will rise to the occasion. (Loud applause.) The cause of this outgrowth of patriotic feeling has been the belief that a conspiracy has been on foot to betray this country into annexation. The McKinley Bill was part of the scheme. But are you, the men of Welland, the men whose fathers abandoned everything—their homes, and lands and the graves of their dead—to come here penniless, to live under the flag of their ancestors, are you likely to sell your allegiance, your flag and your country, for a few cents a bushel on grain, or a cent or two a dozen on eggs? (Loud applause.) No! the men of this country are loyal. No leader of either party can lead any important fraction of his party into disloyalty. We may have a still greater strain put upon us. If the conspirators believe that stoppage of the bonding privileges will coerce us, the bonding privileges will be stopped. If so, we must set our teeth and stiffen our sinews to face it (applause), and the more loyal we are, the more prosperous and successful we will be. Our contemptuous treatment of the McKinley Bill had, I believe, a great influence in the defeat of the Republicans, and may cause the repeal of the Bill, and [161]then when we get freer trade we will keep it, because our neighbours will know that we cannot be coerced into being untrue to our traditions. In whatever you do put the interest of Canada first, first before politics and everything. (Loud applause.)

I addressed a number of meetings during the fall of the year and winter, all on patriotic subjects, endeavouring to arouse the people against Reciprocity or Annexation, and urging Imperial Unity as the goal for Canadians to aim at. I spoke on the 11th September, 9th October, 5th December, 29th December, 9th January, 1891, 19th January, 27th February, and the 17th March.

I had written in February, 1890, as already mentioned, to Sir John A. Macdonald expressing my opinion that the next election would be fought on the question of loyalty as against disloyalty. All through the year I became more and more convinced of this, and foresaw that if the elections were postponed until 1892 it would give the Commercial Unionists and Annexationists more time to organise, and, what I dreaded most, give more time to our enemies in the United States to prepare the way for an election favourable to their views. I cannot do better to show the trend of affairs than copy from the Empire of the 7th February, 1890.

After referring to the disloyalty of Premier Mercier of Quebec, and quoting a statement of the Toronto Globe that the Canadian people “find the colonial yoke a galling one” and that “the time when Canadian patriotism was synonymous with loyalty to British connection has long since gone by,” the article copies the extract from the New York World in which it states that “Nobody who has studied the peculiar methods by which elections are won in Canada will [162]deny the fact that five or six million dollars judiciously expended in this country would secure the return to Parliament of a majority pledged to the annexation of Canada to the United States,” and then goes on to say:

This dastardly insult to our country is not only the work to order of a member of the staff of the New York World but is adopted and emphasised by it with all the parade of display headings and of the black letter which we reproduce as in the original. So these plotters are contemplating the wholesale purchase of our country by the corruption of the electors on this gigantic scale, to return members ready to surrender Canada to a foreign Power. And for such insults as these we have mainly to thank the dastardly traitors who from our own land have by their secret information and encouragement to the foreign coveters of our country invited the insulting attack. By such baseness our enemies have been taught to believe that we will fall easy victims to their designs.

Again, as so often before, we find the well deserved tribute to our Conservative statesmen that they are the bulwark of Canada against such assaults. Friends and enemies are fully in accord on this one point; that the opposition are not similarly true to their country is clearly indicated in this outspoken report, and it may also be observed that every individual or journal mentioned as favouring annexation is of the most pronounced grit stripe. It is, however, by no means true that the whole Liberal party is tainted with this treasonable virus. By thousands they are withdrawing from the leaders who are paltering with such a conspiracy, and are uniting themselves with the Conservatives to defend their country. Not the boasted six millions of United States dollars will tempt these loyal Canadians to sell their country. It is well, however, that Canada should thus be forewarned.


Watching all we could learn of these movements, I became very anxious that the election should take place before another session. My brother, the member for West Toronto, agreed strongly with me on this point. Sir John Macdonald was gradually coming around to that view, but most of his colleagues differed from him. My brother happened to be in his office one day when several of the Cabinet were present, and Sir John asked him when he thought the election should come on. He replied, “As soon as possible,” and urged that view strongly. Sir John turned to his colleagues and said, “There, you see, is another.” This showed his difficulty.

There had been some rumours of intrigues between some members of the Liberal party and the United States politicians. Sir Richard Cartwright was known to have gone down secretly to Washington to confer with Mr. Blaine, principally, it was believed, through the influence of Erastus Wiman. Honore Mercier was also believed to have been mixed up in the intrigues. In the month of November I had been able to obtain some private information in connection with these negotiations, and I went down to Ottawa on the 8th December, 1890, and had a private conference with Sir John Macdonald and gave him all the information I had gathered. I told him that Blaine and Sir Richard Cartwright had had a conference in Washington, and that Mr. Blaine had thanked Mr. Wiman for bringing Sir Richard to see him.

During the autumn of 1890, Edward Farrer, then editor of the Globe, and one of the conspirators who were working for annexation, prepared a pamphlet of a most treacherous character, pointing out how best the United States could act to encourage and force on [164]annexation. He had the pamphlet printed secretly with great care, only thirteen copies being printed for use among a few of the leading United States politicians. In Hunter, Rose and Co.’s printing office where it was being printed, there was a compositor who happened to know Mr. Farrer’s handwriting, and who set up part of the type. He was struck with the traitorous character of the production, and gave information about it to Sir C. Hibbert Tupper, then in the Government. He reported it to Sir John Macdonald, and the latter sent Col. Sherwood, the chief of the Dominion police force, to Toronto, and told him to consult with me, and that I could administer the oath to the compositor, who swore to affidavits proving the circumstances connected with the printing of the pamphlet. The printer had proof slips of two or three pages when Col. Sherwood brought him to my office, and it was arranged that any more that he could get he was to bring to me, and I would prepare the affidavits and forward them on to Col. Sherwood.

The proof sheets were watched so closely and taken back so carefully after the corrections were made, that it was impossible to get any of them, but the printer who gave us the information was able at the dinner hour to take a roller, and ink the pages of type after the printing had been finished and before the type had been distributed. The impressions were taken in the most rough and primitive way, and as he had only a few chances of doing the work without detection, he was only able to bring me about two-thirds of the pamphlet.

These portions, however, contained enough to show the drift of the whole work, and gave Sir John Macdonald quite sufficient quotations to use in a public [165]speech at Toronto in the opening of the election to prove the intrigues that were going on. The revelation had a marked influence on the election, not only in Toronto, but from one end of Canada to the other.

It was a mystery to Farrer and the printers how Sir John had obtained a copy, for they assumed he had a complete copy. They were able to trace the thirteen copies, and Mr. Rose was satisfied no more had been printed. He gave me his theory shortly after, and I was amused to see how absolutely wrong he was. He had no idea that I knew anything about it. The secret was well kept. The printer who gave them to us, Col. Sherwood, Sir Hibbert Tupper, David Creighton, Sir John Macdonald, and myself, I have heard, were the only persons in the secret until the day Sir John brought it out at the great meeting in the Princess Theatre.

In January, 1891, Sir John Macdonald came to Toronto. He was anxious to see me without attracting attention, and my brother Fred arranged for him to come to my office at an hour when the officials would be away for lunch, and we had a conference for about three-quarters of an hour. He was very anxious to get a letter to publish the substance of which I had known and which would have thrown much light upon the intrigues between two or three Liberal leaders and some of the United States politicians. I said I would do what I could to get the information, but I did not succeed. Before he left he asked me what I thought of bringing on the elections at once, or of waiting till the following year. I jumped up from my chair at the suggestion that he was in doubt, and said, “What, Sir John; in the face of all you know and all I know, can you hesi[166]tate an instant? You must bring the elections on at once. If you wait till your enemies are ready, and the pipes are laid to distribute the money which will in time be given from the States, you will incur great danger, and no one can tell where the trouble will end.” I spoke very earnestly and Sir John listened with a smile, and got up to leave, saying to me, “Keep all your muscles braced up, and your nerves all prepared, so that if the House is suddenly dissolved in about three weeks you will not receive a nervous shock, but keep absolutely silent.” He said this in a very humorous and quizzical way which was characteristic of him, and went off wagging his head from side to side as was his wont.

I knew about Farrer’s pamphlet and about other things which came out in this election, and I had two very warm friends in the Liberal Government of Ontario, Sir Oliver Mowat and the Hon. G. W. Ross. I did not wish them to be mixed up with any political scandal that might come out, nor did I wish them to commit themselves definitely to the party at Ottawa, who were advocating a policy which I was sure could not succeed, and the real meaning of which they could not support. I told them both I thought there would be unpleasant matters divulged, and begged of them to keep as far away from the election as they could. They both seemed to take what I said in good part, and they adjourned the session of the local Legislature till after the general election.

Mr. Mowat arranged that his son Arthur Mowat was to run in West Toronto, and he spoke for him in his constituency, and also for the Honourable Alexander Mackenzie in East York. He made several speeches, all most loyal and patriotic in their tone. Mr. Ross [167]spoke once in his own constituency. I told him after the election when it went against the Liberal party, that I had given him fair warning. He said, “Yes, but I only made one speech in my own constituency.” Sir Oliver Mowat’s assistance in Ontario saved the Liberal party in that Province from a most disastrous defeat, for the people had confidence in him and in his steadfast loyalty.

When the election was going on, my brother said one day to me, “I think I shall defeat Mowat by four or five hundred.” I replied, “Your majority will be nearer two thousand than one thousand.” He said, “That is absurd; there never was such a majority in the city.” I answered, “I know the feeling in Toronto,” and using a cavalry simile said, “She is up on her hind legs, pawing the air, and you will see you will have nearly two thousand.” The figure was one thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine, the largest majority in Ontario, I believe, in that election.

The election supported the Macdonald Government with a large majority in the House and practically finished the attempt to entrap Canada into annexation through the means of tariff entanglements. Although dangerous intrigues went on for several years, they were neutralised by the loyal work of Sir Oliver Mowat and the Hon. G. W. Ross.




Professor Goldwin Smith was the foremost, and most active, dangerous, and persistent advocate and leader of the movement for annexation to the United States that we have ever had in Canada. After leaving Oxford in 1868 he went to the United States, where he lectured at Cornell University for two or three years. Having taken part in a controversy in the Press over the Alabama question, in which he took the side of Great Britain, he aroused a good deal of hostility and criticism in the United States. In 1871 he removed to Toronto where he has ever since resided.

He had some relatives living in Toronto in the suburb then known as Brockton. My father and I, two uncles, and a cousin then lived in that district, in which my house is situated, and we had a small social circle into which Mr. Goldwin Smith was warmly welcomed. He shortly after bought a house from my father near to his place, and we soon became close friends. In my father’s lifetime Mr. Smith belonged to a small whist club consisting of my father, my uncle Richard, Major Shaw, and himself. After my father’s death I took his place, and we played in each other’s houses for some years, until Mr. Smith married the [169]widow of Wm. Henry Boulton and took up his home in “The Grange.” The distance at which he lived from us was then inconvenient, and in a few months we discontinued the club.

In 1872 Mr. Smith was the prime mover in starting the Canadian Monthly and asked me to contribute an article for the first number, and afterwards I contributed one or two more. At one time we contemplated writing a joint history of the American Civil War, in which I was to write the military part and he was to write the political. I even went to Gettysburg to examine the battlefield, and began to gather material, when we discovered that it would be a long and laborious work, and that under the copyright law at the time there would be no security as to our rights in the United States, as we were not citizens of the republic. So the project was abandoned.

For many years Goldwin Smith and I were close friends, and I formed a very high opinion of him in many ways, and admired him for many estimable qualities. When the Commercial Union movement began, however, I found that I had to take a very decided stand against him, and very soon a keen controversy arose between us and it ended in my becoming one of the leaders in the movement against him and his designs. When he assumed the Honorary Presidency of the Continental Union Association, formed both in Canada and in the United States, and working in unison to bring about the annexation of the two countries, I looked upon that as rank treason, and ceased all association with him, and since then we have never spoken. I regretted much the rupture of the old ties of friendship, but felt that treason could not be handled with kid gloves.


I shall now endeavour to give an account of the contest between us, because I am sure it had a distinct influence upon public opinion, and helped to arouse the latent loyalty of the Canadian people, and for the time at any rate helped to kill the annexation movement in Canada.

I have already mentioned the incident of the dinner at the National Club where I said I would only discuss seriously annexation or independence with my sword. I did not think at that time that Mr. Smith was discussing the question in any other than a purely academic spirit; subsequent developments have satisfied me that even then he cherished designs that from my point of view were treasonable.

In the early spring of 1887, Mr. Goldwin Smith was at Washington and went on to Old Point Comfort and became acquainted with Erastus Wiman, who was staying at the same hotel and who showed Mr. Smith some courtesy. Mr. Smith invited Wiman to pay him a visit in Toronto in the latter part of May, 1887, and shortly after it was found that the strongest supporter that Wiman had for his Commercial Union agitation was Mr. Goldwin Smith.

As I have already said, during 1888-9-90, I was frequently addressing public meetings and speaking at banquets of all sorts of societies and organisations. We had also started the raising of the flags in the schools, the decoration of monuments, the singing of patriotic songs, &c., and generally we were waging a very active campaign against the Commercial Union movement. In 1891, the most dangerous crisis of the struggle, Mr. Smith commenced a series of lectures which were cleverly intended to sap the loyalty of our people and neutralise the effect of our work. The [171]three lectures were delivered before the Young Men’s Liberal Club of Toronto. The first was on “Loyalty” and was delivered on the 2nd February, 1891, and was intended to ridicule and belittle the idea of loyalty.

In reply to this I prepared at once a lecture on the United Empire Loyalists which I delivered at the Normal School to a meeting of school teachers and scholars on the 27th of the same month.

On the 11th May, 1891, Goldwin Smith delivered his second lecture on “Aristocracy.”

I saw now that there was a deliberate and treasonable design in these lectures to undermine the loyal sentiment that held Canada to the Empire, and as there was danger at any time of open trouble, I replied to this in another way. I delivered a lecture on the opening of the war of 1812 to point out clearly how much the loyal men were hampered by traitors at the opening of the war of 1812, and how they dealt with them then, how seven had been hanged at Ancaster, many imprisoned, and many driven out of the country, and I endeavoured to encourage our people with the reflection that the same line of action would help us again in the same kind of danger.

On the 17th April, 1891, this lecture was delivered before the Birmingham Lodge of the Sons of England.

On the 9th of the following November Goldwin Smith delivered his third lecture entitled “Jingoism.” This was a direct attack on me and on what my friends and I were doing.

This lecture aroused great indignation among the loyal people. I was asked by the Supreme Grand Lodge of the Sons of England to deliver a lecture in reply at a meeting to be called under their auspices, which it was intended should be a popular demon[172]stration against Goldwin Smith, and a proof of the repudiation by the Toronto people of his views. The meeting was held in Shaftesbury Hall, then the largest room in the city for such purposes, and it was packed to the doors. My lecture was entitled “National Spirit,” and was delivered on the 17th December, 1891. (See Appendix B.)

Referring to this lecture the Empire of the 18th December, 1891, commented as follows:

The fervour and appreciation of the large audience which assembled in the auditorium last evening to hear Colonel George T. Denison were undoubtedly due in great measure to the well-known ability of the lecturer and to the intrinsic qualities of the lecture—its wide range of fact, its high and patriotic purpose, the eloquence with which great historic truths were imparted—but its enthusiastic reception was due none the less to the fact that the lecturer struck a responsive note in the breasts of his hearers, and that he was expressing views which are the views of the ordinary Canadian, and which at this time are especially deserving of clear and emphatic enunciation.

In marked contrast to the enthusiasm of this immense gathering was the small handful of disgruntled fledglings and annexationists who assembled lately in some obscure meeting place to hear the sentiments of Professor Goldwin Smith, though even there the respectable Liberal element was strong enough to utter a protest against the annexationist views of the Professor.

For several years there has been afoot a determined attempt, promoted on its literary side by the writings and addresses of Professor Goldwin Smith, to undermine the national spirit, to disturb the national unity, and to arouse the latent impatience of an intensely practical people for any displays of the pride, the courage, and the patriotic sentiment of the country. By elaborate [173]sneers at “loyalty,” at “aristocracy,” at “jingoism”; by perverting history, by appealing to the cupidity which always has temptations for a small section of every nation, this propaganda has been kept up persistently and malignantly, and it was not unfitting that Colonel Denison, who has been a foremost figure in stemming the movement by encouraging patriotic displays and honouring the memories of national heroes, should have met the enemy in the literary arena, and vindicated there, too, the righteousness and wisdom of encouraging national spirit. He has boldly met Professor Goldwin Smith’s appeal to history, and triumphantly proved his case, and presents in this lecture to all thoughtful men, to all students of the past, incontrovertible evidence that the efforts being made in Canada to stimulate national patriotism and enthusiasm are in accordance with the experience of every virile and enduring race since the beginning of the world, and in thorough harmony with the experience of every young and developing community.

Goldwin Smith addressed a meeting at Innerkip on the 4th October, 1892. He spoke on the question of freedom of speech, in defence of Elgin Myers, who had been dismissed from his position of Crown Attorney at Orangeville by Sir Oliver Mowat for publicly advocating annexation. I answered him in a speech at the banquet of the Kent Lodge of the Sons of England on the 11th October, 1892.

On the 3rd December, 1892, the Empire published the following correspondence:

Canada Life Building,
Toronto, Nov. 30, 1892.

Dear Sir,

It is the unanimous wish of the members of the Continental Union Association of Toronto that you accept the position of honorary president of the Asso[174]ciation. As you have for many years been an earnest advocate of the reunion of the English-speaking people on this continent, it is considered fitting that you should fill this position. I am desired to add that your acceptance would not necessarily involve your attendance at our meetings nor require you to take an active part.

Yours respectfully,

T. M. White.

Goldwin Smith, Esq., Toronto.


Toronto, Dec. 2, 1892.

The Secretary of the Continental Association of Ontario.

Dear Sir,

As the Continental Association does me the honour to think that my name may be of use to it, I have pleasure in accepting the presidency on the terms on which it is offered, as an honorary appointment. From active participation in any political movement I have found it necessary to retire.

Your object, as I understand it, is to procure by constitutional means, and with the consent of the mother country, the submission of the question of continental union to the free suffrage of the Canadian people, and to furnish the people with the information necessary to prepare them for the vote. In this there can be nothing unlawful or disloyal.

That a change must come, the returns of the census, the condition of our industries, especially of our farming industry, and the exodus of the flower of our population, too clearly show. Sentiment is not to be disregarded, but genuine sentiment is never at variance with the public good. Love of the mother country can be stronger in no heart than it is in mine; but I have satisfied myself that the interest of Great Britain and that of Canada are one.

Let the debate be conducted in a spirit worthy of the subject. Respect the feelings and the traditions of [175]those who differ from us, while you firmly insist on the right of the Canadian people to perfect freedom of thought and speech respecting the question of its own destiny.

Yours faithfully,

Goldwin Smith.

In March, 1893, an interesting episode in the struggle between the loyal people and Goldwin Smith occurred in connection with the St. George’s Society, a most respectable and influential organisation of Englishmen and sons of Englishmen, formed for benevolent purposes. Mr. Goldwin Smith was a life member and a very generous contributor to the charitable funds of the Society. His open and active hostility to the Empire and to Canada’s best interests, however, aroused a very bitter feeling of resentment, and in February, 1893, Mr. J. Castell Hopkins gave notice of motion of a resolution in the following words:

Resolved, that in view of his advocacy of the annexation of the Dominion of Canada to the United States, his position as President of the Continental Union Association of Toronto, and the treason to his Sovereign to England and to Canada involved in these conditions, this body of loyal Englishmen request Mr. Goldwin Smith to tender his resignation as a life member of the St. George’s Society, and hereby instruct the treasurer to return to Mr. Smith the fee previously paid for that privilege.

This notice of motion aroused much heated discussion in the Press, numbers of letters being written strongly supporting Mr. Hopkins’s resolution, one “member of the Society” writing under that name, quoted the object of the Society in its constitution “to unite [176]Englishmen and their descendants in a social compact for the promotion of mutual and friendly intercourse,” and he went on to say that there could be “no mutual and friendly intercourse between a true-hearted, honest, loyal Englishman and a traitor and enemy of England’s power and position. . . . If the St. George’s Society does not speak out with no uncertain sound it will be a disgrace to the Englishmen of Toronto and be a death blow to the Society. Most Englishmen would as soon join a society for friendly intercourse that contained thieves as one that contained traitors. The thief might steal one’s money. The annexationist is striving to steal our birthright, our name, our place in history, and the lives of the thousands who would die in defence of their country and its institutions.”

A number of our Imperialists who belonged to the Society formed a committee to organise a plan of action. This committee met in my office. We were not satisfied with Mr. Hopkins’s resolution, as it asked Goldwin Smith to resign, which he could easily avoid doing and so put the Society in a false position. On the afternoon of the day of the meeting our committee decided on a resolution which it was thought could be carried as a compromise. When the meeting was held after there had been considerable discussion, all upon the proper course of action, a committee was appointed to draft a resolution as a compromise, and the one we had prepared was adopted and carried unanimously. It was in the following terms:

Whereas it has been brought to the attention of this Society that Mr. Goldwin Smith, one of its life members, has openly proclaimed himself in favour of severing Canada from the rest of the British Empire, and has also accepted the office of honorary president [177]of an association having for its object the active promotion of an agitation for the union of Canada with the United States, therefore this Society desires emphatically to place on record its strong disapprobation of any such movement, and hereby expresses its extreme regret that the Society should contain in its ranks a member who is striving for an object which would cause an irreparable injury to the Dominion, would entail a loss to the motherland of a most important part of her Empire, and would deprive Canadians of their birthright as British subjects.

This was soon followed by Mr. Smith’s resignation from the Society.

In spite of Mr. Goldwin Smith’s farewells he had an article in the Contemporary Review for January, 1895, on the Ottawa Conference of 1894. After reflecting on the manner in which the “delegates” were appointed, he went on to say the conference confined itself to discussing trade relations and communications, and that defence “was excluded by omission.” He sneered at the French Militia who served in the North-West Rebellion, and attacked the Canadian-Pacific Railway, insinuating that it would be blocked in case of war, because part of it went through the State of Maine. He made a great deal of snow blocks also, and even said that the prediction made when the Canadian-Pacific Railway “was built, that the road would never pay for the grease on its axle wheels, though then derided as false, has, in fact, proved too true,” and he absolutely stated that “as a wheat-growing speculation, the region has failed.” The whole article was as inimical to Canada and the aspirations of the people as he with his literary ability and indifference as to facts could make it.


This article aroused a good deal of criticism and hostility all over Canada. I received many letters from various parts of Canada, some from friends, some from strangers, asking me to reply to it. Sir Oliver Mowat urged me very strongly to answer it. I therefore prepared an article and sent it to the editor of the Contemporary with a request that he should publish it. I wanted no remuneration, but claimed the right to answer many inaccuracies. I received from the editor the following letter:

11, Old Square, Lincoln’s Inn, W.C.,
8th March, 1895.

Dear Sir,

I am afraid I cannot find a place for your article on Canada.

But I do not think that you need fear misconstruction. We know Mr. Goldwin Smith as a man of great ability and cultivation, but he is not taken as a representative of the bulk of Canadian opinion.

Believe me,

Yours faithfully,

Percy Wm. Bunting.

With this letter came my manuscript returned to me by same mail. I replied as follows:

Heydon Villa, Toronto,
23rd March, 1895.

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for sending me word so promptly about my article and for returning the manuscript which has safely arrived.

I am glad to find that you do not take Goldwin Smith as a representative of the bulk of Canadian opinion, and can only express the regret of Canadians generally [179]that his distorted and incorrect views about our country are so widely circulated in England. This is the more unfortunate when the bulk of Canadian opinion is refused a hearing.

Yours, etc.

I then sent the manuscript back to England to my friend Dr. George R. Parkin, and asked him to get it published in some magazine. After considerable delay, he succeeded in getting it in the Westminster Review for September, 1895. It was received very well in Canada, many notices and copious extracts being printed in many of our papers. The Week published the whole article in pamphlet form as a supplement.

In the following January, the Press Association having invited Mr. Goldwin Smith to their annual banquet to respond with the Hon. G. W. Ross to the toast “Canada,” some objection was raised by Mr. Castell Hopkins to his being endorsed to that extent. Mr. Hopkins was attacked for this in the Globe. I replied in his defence in the following letter, which explains why we of the Imperialist party followed Goldwin Smith so persistently and endeavoured to weaken his influence. It was not from ill-feeling but from an instinct of self-preservation as to our country:


I have read an article in your issue of this morning, in reference to Mr. Goldwin Smith being asked to respond to the toast of “Canada” at the coming Press Association dinner, and censuring Mr. Hopkins for objecting to such a course.

You say Mr. Hopkins’s pursuit of Mr. Smith has become ridiculous, and you refer to the St. George’s Society incident. As one who was present and took part in that affair, I may say that the feeling was that [180]the fact of Mr. Smith being a member of the society gave him a recognition as an Englishman that he was not entitled to, in view of his hostility to the best interests of the empire. . . .

Your editorial admits that Mr. Goldwin Smith “is a sincere advocate of political union.” If so, he is a traitor to our constitution and our country. This political-union idea is no new or merely polemic discussion. It was advocated in 1775, and was crushed out by the strength of the Canadian people. It was advocated again in 1812, and again it brought war and bloodshed and misery upon our people, and by the lavish expenditure of Canadian lives our country and institutions were preserved. Again in 1837 it was advocated, and again produced bloodshed, and once more Canadian lives were lost in preventing it. Mr. Goldwin Smith knows this, or ought to, and he is the most potent element to-day in preparing the Yankee mind to take up the question of annexation. A belief in the States that we were favourable to annexation would do more than any possible cause to bring on an attempt to secure annexation by force. This belief led to the attempts in 1775 and 1812.

In view of this, Goldwin Smith’s conduct is treason of the worst kind. Such persistent hostility to the national life in any other country would not be tolerated for an instant. In Russia, under like circumstances, Goldwin Smith would long since have been consigned to the mines of Siberia. In Germany or Austria he would have been imprisoned. In France he would have been consigned to the same convict settlement as the traitor Dreyfus; while in the United States he would long since have been lynched. In the British Empire alone would he be safe—for he has found here in Canada the freest constitution, and the most tolerant and law-abiding people on earth, and these British institutions, under whose protection he is working against us, our people are determined to uphold at all hazards.


I would not object to Mr. Smith appearing at any public function but that I feel it gives aid to him in misrepresenting and injuring our country. In 1812 we had just such men in Willcocks, Mallory, and Marcle, members of the House of Assembly, whose intrigues did much to bring war upon us. These men, as soon as the war broke out, went over to the enemy and fought against us, and Willcocks was killed in action fighting against Canada. Goldwin Smith will not follow his prototypes so far. On the first sign of danger he will escape, and settling in some comfortable retreat, probably among the orange groves on the Riviera, or perhaps in a villa on one of the Italian lakes, he will watch the struggle from afar, while “the overwhelming majority” of the opponents of political union in this country, or in other words the Canadian people, would be engaged in a fearful struggle in the defence of their native land and all that they hold dear. Those who know Mr. Smith best will readily imagine the sardonic smile with which he would read of our losses in action, of our difficulties, and the untold miseries that war always brings upon a people.

I ask the Press Association if it is fair to their fellow-Canadians to allow our bitterest and most dangerous enemy to speak on behalf of our country? Is it fair to ask a loyal man like the Hon. G. W. Ross, who believes in Canada, to be coupled with a traitor?

Among the other methods of arousing the patriotic feeling of our people was the erection of monuments on our great battlefields in memory of the victories gained in the struggle to preserve the freedom of our country in 1812-’14.

The Lundy’s Lane Historical Society, one of the patriotic organisations which sprang up over the Province, had started a movement for erecting a monument on the field of Lundy’s Lane where the last important and the most hotly contested battle of the war took [182]place in July, 1814. They had collected a number of subscriptions but not sufficient for the purpose, when Goldwin Smith offered through the late Oliver A. Howland to supply the balance required, provided that he might write the inscription so as to include both armies in the commemoration on equal terms. This offer was promptly declined by the Society, which had no desire to honour invaders who had made a most unprovoked attack upon a sparse people, who had nothing whatever to do with the assumed cause of the quarrel.

Shortly after, the Canadian Government took the matter in hand, and provided the balance required for the Lundy’s Lane Monument, and the full amounts required for monuments on the fields of Chateauguay and Chrysler’s Farm.

The Lundy’s Lane Monument was finished and ready to be unveiled on the anniversary of the battle, the 25th July, 1895, and the Secretary of State, the Hon. W. H. Montague, had promised to unveil it and deliver an address. The day before Dr. Montague telegraphed to me that he could not go, and asked me to go on behalf of the Government and unveil the monument. I agreed, and he telegraphed to the President of the Society that I was coming. About two thousand people were assembled. It will be remembered that Mr. Goldwin Smith had commented severely upon the proposal to put up a monument at Lundy’s Lane, in his lecture on “Jingoism” delivered in 1891. He said, “Only let it be like that monument at Quebec, a sign at once of gratitude and of reconciliation, not of the meanness of unslaked hatred.” I replied to this in my lecture on “National Spirit” shortly after, and said that the Professor, “considering how he is always treating a country that has used him [183]far better than he ever deserved, should be a first-class authority on the meanness of unslaked and unfounded hatred.”

At the time of the unveiling of the monument, when speaking in the presence of the officers and members of the Lundy’s Lane Historical Society, I naturally felt it to be my duty to compliment them upon their work, to congratulate them on the success of their efforts, and to defend them from the only hostile criticism that I knew of being directed against them. I spoke as follows in concluding my address, as appears in the newspaper report:

It was well, the speaker said, that they should commemorate the crowning victory, which meant that he could that day wear the maple leaf, could be a Canadian. He was aware of one peripatetic philosopher who had said that the noble gentlemen of Lundy’s Lane Historical Society, in putting up a monument to Canadians alone, were doing nothing but displaying the signs of an unslaked hatred. He would say that to show themselves afraid to honour the memory of their forefathers would be to make an exhibition of contemptible cowardice. Lieut.-Colonel Denison then argued that every great nation which has ever existed has shown itself ready to acknowledge the deeds of those who had fought for it, and he cited Assyria, Egypt, Greece, and Rome in ancient history, and Switzerland in modern times, in proof of this assertion. The erection of such monuments, he said, taught the youth of the land to venerate the memory of the past, and encouraged that sentiment of nationality which was throbbing now so strongly in Canada. (Applause.) The past ten years have witnessed a great improvement in that respect, he said. The flag can be seen flying everywhere, the maple leaf is worn, and Canadian poets celebrate in verse the finest passages of our history. [184]The speaker concluded by expressing the thanks of all to the Government for deciding to erect monuments to commemorate Canadian battlefields. He was glad that the first had been erected on this sacred frontier; that at Chrysler’s Farm would mark the spot of a great victory, and he was glad for the thought of sympathy with their French-Canadian brothers which had led to the commemoration of the brilliant victory of Chateauguay, where, against the greatest odds of the war, 500 French-Canadians had defeated 5,000 Americans.

Where France’s sons on British soil
Fought for their English king.

They should never forget that they owed a sacred duty to the men who fought and died for the independence of their country. (Applause.)

The Historical Society objected strenuously to a proposed inscription for the monument, and stopped its being engraved, and asked me to urge upon the Government to put something different. This was done, and I was asked by the Minister to draft one. It was accepted, and now stands upon the monument as follows:

Erected by the Canadian Parliament in honour of the victory gained by the British and Canadian forces on this field on the 25th July, 1814, and in grateful remembrance of the brave men who died on that day fighting for the unity of the Empire.


My speech was printed in the Toronto papers at some length, and some of Mr. Smith’s friends censured me for having defended the Lundy’s Lane Society from his attacks. A week or two later I was amused at receiving a visit from the Rev. Canon Bull, the [185]President of the Lundy’s Lane Society, who came across the Lake to see me, to lay before me a matter which had come before the Society, and of which after discussion they felt I should be made aware.

I have mentioned above Mr. Goldwin Smith’s offer made through Mr. Howland to subscribe for the monument provided he could write the inscription. This offer and its refusal the Society had kept strictly private, so that I was quite ignorant of it, and made my address in entire innocence of any knowledge in reference to it. Mr. Smith apparently jumped to the conclusion that I had been told of this offer, and that my comments had been caused by it. He wrote to Mr. Howland and asked him to put the matter right, and enclosed him a draft of a memo, which he wished Mr. Howland to send to the Society. Mr. Howland very innocently sent Mr. Smith’s letter, his draft memo., and his own comments to the President of the Society, Rev. Mr. Bull. As soon as the correspondence was read, my old friend Mr. Wm. Kirby, author of Le Chien d’Or, said, “Col. Denison knew nothing of that offer, but Mr. Smith did make an attack in his lecture on ‘Jingoism,’ and Col. Denison had answered him in his lecture on ‘National Spirit’ which was published in the Empire in 1891, and his remarks on that point at the unveiling were on the same lines.” The Society refused to act on Mr. Howland’s and Mr. Smith’s suggestion, but decided that Canon Bull should come over to Toronto and lay the whole matter before me. I thanked Canon Bull and asked him to thank the Society, and the next day wrote to him, and asked him if I might have a copy of the letters. He wrote to me promptly, saying I might as well have the originals and enclosed them. I have them now.


While Mr. Goldwin Smith was working so earnestly against the interests of the Empire, and while many were leaning towards Commercial Union, and some even ready to go farther and favour annexation, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Oliver Mowat, then Premier of Ontario, saw the danger of the way in which matters were drifting. I often discussed the subject with him, and knew that he was a thorough loyalist, and a true Canadian and Imperialist. He often spoke despondingly to me as to what the ultimate outcome might be, for, of course, the majority of the men who at the time favoured Commercial Union were among his supporters, and he would therefore hear more from that side than I would. In spite of his uneasiness, however, he was staunchly loyal. Mr. Biggar, his biographer, relates that just before the Inter-Provincial Conference in October, 1887, an active Liberal politician, referring to his opposition to Commercial Union, said to Mr. Mowat in the drawing-room of his house on St. George Street, “If you take that position, sir, you won’t have four per cent. of the party with you.” To which the reply came with unusual warmth and sharpness, “I cannot help it, if I haven’t one per cent. I won’t support a policy that will allow the Americans to have any—even the smallest—voice in the making of our laws.”

On the evening of the 18th February, 1891, in the election then coming on, Mr. Mowat spoke at a meeting in the Horticultural Pavilion, Toronto, and again his strong loyalty spoke out. He said among other things, “For myself I am a true Briton. I love the old land dearly. I am glad that I was born a British subject; a British subject I have lived for three score years and something more. I hope to live and die a British sub[187]ject. I trust and hope that my children and my grand-children who have also been born British subjects will live their lives as British subjects, and as British subjects die.” Sir Oliver Mowat’s clear and outspoken loyalty prevented the Liberals from being defeated in Ontario by a very much greater majority than they were.

During the summer of 1891, however, the annexation movement assumed a still more active form. Mr. Goldwin Smith was doing his utmost to stir up the feeling. Solomon White, who had been a Conservative, and was a member of the Ontario Legislature, induced a public meeting in Windsor, where he lived, to pass a resolution in favour of annexation. Encouraged by this, Mr. White arranged for a meeting in Woodstock in Mr. Mowat’s own constituency of South Oxford, in the hope of carrying a resolution there to the same effect.

While there was a feeling to treat the meeting with contempt, Mr. Mowat with keener political insight saw that such a course would be dangerous, not only to the country but to the Liberal party as well, and he wrote a letter on the 23rd November, 1891, to Dr. McKay, M.P.P., who represented the other riding of the county of Oxford in the House of Assembly. He wrote:

With reference to our conversation this morning, I desire to reiterate my strong opinion that it would not be good policy for the friends of British connection and the old flag to stay away from Mr. Solomon White’s meeting at Woodstock to-morrow. By doing so and not voting at the meeting they would enable annexationists to carry a resolution in favour of their views, and to trumpet it throughout the Dominion and else[188]where as the sentiment of the community as a whole. If in the loyal town of Woodstock, thriving beyond most if not all the other towns of Ontario, the capital of the banner county of Canadian Liberalism, formerly represented by that great champion of both British connection and Liberal principles, the Hon. George Brown, and noted heretofore for its fidelity at once to the old flag and to the Liberal views, if in such a place a resolution were carried at a public meeting to which all had been invited, no subsequent explanation as to the thinness of the attendance or as to the contemptuous absence of opponents would, outside of Oxford, have any weight.

There are in most counties a few annexationists—in some counties more than in others; but the aggregate number in the Dominion I am sure is very small as compared with the aggregate population. The great majority of our people, I believe and trust, are not prepared to hand over this great Dominion to a foreign nation for any present commercial consideration which may be proposed. We love our Sovereign, and we are proud of our status as British subjects. The Imperial authorities have refused nothing in the way of self-government which our representatives have asked for. Our complaints are against parliaments and governments which acquired their power from our own people. To the United States and its people we are all most friendly. We recognise the advantages which would go to both them and us from extended trade relations, and we are willing to go as far in that direction as shall not involve, now or in the future, political union; but there Canadians of every party have hitherto drawn the line.

The meeting passed by twelve to one the following resolution:

That the people of Oxford of all parties are deeply attached to their beloved Sovereign, the Queen of Great [189]Britain and Ireland; that they proudly recognise the whole British Empire as their country, and rejoice that Canada is part of that Empire; that Canadians have the most friendly feelings toward the people of the United States, and desire the extension of their trade relations with them; that while differing among themselves as to the extent of the reciprocity to be desired or agreed to, we repudiate any suggestion that in order to accomplish this object Canadians should change their allegiance or consent to the surrender of the Dominion to any foreign Power by annexation, political union, or otherwise.

Sir Oliver Mowat’s biographer states that Sir Oliver had determined in case a pro-annexation resolution should be carried at this meeting, to resign his seat for North Oxford, and appeal again to the constituency on the straight issue of British Connection v. Annexation.

The morning Sir Oliver’s letter appeared in the papers and we knew what had happened at Woodstock, I went up to his house and congratulated him warmly, and thanked him earnestly for his wise and patriotic action. I knew that as the leader of the Liberal party in Ontario he had delivered a death-blow to the annexation movement. I told him so. I said to him, “You had control of the switch and you have turned it so that the party will be turned towards loyalty and away from annexation. And when the future historian writes the history of our country, he will not understand his business if he does not point out clearly the far-reaching effect of your action in this matter.”

Sir Oliver seemed to think that I overrated the matter, but he told me that he had sent his secretary, Mr. Bastedo, to Woodstock to see his leading supporters, and to do what he could to help Dr. McKay to secure [190]control of the meeting. Many years have elapsed, and I still hold the opinion I expressed to Sir Oliver that morning, and I feel that Canada should never forget what she owes to Sir Oliver Mowat, and that his name should always be cherished in the memories of our people.

This was followed on the 12th December, 1891, by an open letter to the Hon. A. Mackenzie which was published as a sort of manifesto to the Liberal party, in which he made an exhaustive argument along the same lines.

In the early part of 1892 Mr. Elgin Myers, County Attorney of Dufferin, was writing and speaking openly and strongly in favour of annexation, and on being remonstrated with by the Government, said he had the right of free speech, and would persist. Sir Oliver dismissed him from office. This was another strong lesson, and was heartily approved by the people generally. About the same time and for the same cause E. A. Macdonald was dismissed by the Dominion Government from the Militia, in which he held the rank of Lieutenant in the 12th York Rangers.

On the 16th July, 1892, about two months after Elgin Myers’ dismissal, a great meeting of loyal Canadians was held at Niagara-on-the-Lake, the first capital of the Province, to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Province of Upper Canada by Lt.-Governor Simcoe, who issued his first proclamation on July 16th, 1792, at Kingston.

The Lt.-Governor, Sir George Kirkpatrick, made the first speech, and gave a historical sketch of the history of the Province. Sir Oliver Mowat followed him, and made a very loyal and effective speech.

He commenced by saying:


At this great gathering of Reformers and Conservatives in which both are equally active, I may be permitted to express at the outset a hope that there will be no attempt in any quarter to make party capital out of this historic event, or out of anything which may be said or left unsaid either in my own case or that of any other of the speakers. . . . As the Dominion grows in population and wealth, changes are inevitable and must be faced. What are they to be? Some of you hope for Imperial Federation. Failing that, what then? Shall we give away our great country to the United States as some—I hope not many—are saying just now? (Cries of “Never.”) Or when the time comes for some important change, shall we go for the only other alternative, the creation of Canada into an independent nation? I believe that the great mass of our people would prefer independence to political union with any other people. And so would I. As a Canadian I am not willing that Canada should cease to be. Fellow Canadians, are you? (Cries of “No.”) I am not willing that Canada should commit national suicide. Are you? (Cries of “No.”) I am not willing that Canada should be absorbed into the United States. Are you? (Cries of “No.”) I am not willing that both our British connection and our hope of a Canadian nationality shall be for ever destroyed. (Cheers.) Annexation necessarily means all that. It means, too, the abolition of all that is to us preferable in Canadian character and institutions as contrasted with what in these respects our neighbours prefer. . . . But I don’t want to belong to them. I don’t want to give up my allegiance on their account or for any advantage they may offer. . . . I cannot bring myself to forget the hatred which so many of our neighbours cherish towards the nation we love and to which we are proud to belong. I cannot forget the influence which that hatred exerts in their public affairs. I don’t want to belong to a nation in which both political parties have for party purposes to vie with one another [192]in exhibiting this hatred. I don’t want to belong to a nation in which a suspicion that a politician has a friendly feeling towards the great nation which gave him birth is enough to ensure his defeat at the polls. . . . No, I do not want annexation. I prefer the ills I suffer to the ills that annexation would involve. I love my nation, the nation of our fathers, and shall not willingly join any nation which hates her. I love Canada, and I want to perform my part, whatever it may be, in maintaining her existence as a distinct political or national organisation. I believe this to be on the whole and in the long run the best thing for Canadians and the best thing for the whole American continent. I hope that when another century has been added to the age of Canada, it may still be Canada, and that its second century shall, like its first, be celebrated by Canadians unabsorbed, numerous, prosperous, powerful, and at peace. For myself I should prefer to die in that hope than to die President of the United States. (Cheers and applause.)

Sir Oliver’s biographer, C. R. W. Biggar, says of this speech:

Quoted and discussed by almost every newspaper in Canada from Halifax to Vancouver, and also by the leading journals of Britain and the United States, Sir Oliver Mowat’s speech at the Niagara Centennial Celebration sounded the death-knell of the annexation movement in Ontario.

While Sir Oliver was speaking I was sitting close behind him, next to Mr. Wm. Kirby, who was a staunch loyalist and keen Imperialist. He was delighted and whispered to me, “Mr. Mowat has stolen your thunder,” and again, “He is making your speech.” I replied, “Yes, there will not be any need for me to say much now.” And when I was called upon to speak [193]after him I made a speech strongly supporting him but very brief, feeling, as I did, that he had done all that was necessary in that line.

He was always impressed with the feeling of hostility in the United States. As I had been speaking upon that subject for years in unmistakable language, and was often abused for my outspoken comments, I was delighted on one occasion some years before at a Board of Trade banquet in the Horticultural Pavilion, Toronto, to hear him say positively “that the United States was a hostile nation.” Afterwards in the cloak room I congratulated him warmly upon his speech, and thanked him for speaking so plainly about the hostility of the United States. Sir John A. Macdonald was standing by, and he turned playfully towards Mr. Mowat, and, shaking him by the shoulders, said, “Yes, Denison, did he not do well, the little tyrant?” This was in reference to the opposition papers having sometimes called him “the little tyrant.” Mr. Mowat seemed highly amused, and I was much impressed by the evident kindly, almost affectionate, personal feeling between the two rival statesmen.

The decided position taken by Mr. Mowat certainly had an immense influence upon the Liberal party, and in this he was ably seconded by the Hon. G. W. Ross, who on many occasions sounded a clear note in favour of British connection and Imperial consolidation.




On the 30th January, 1891, Sir Leonard Tilley, of New Brunswick, was appointed President of the League in Canada in place of D’Alton McCarthy, mainly through the instrumentality of Principal Grant, who was of the opinion that the course taken by Mr. McCarthy in opposition to the Jesuit Estates Act and his movement in favour of Equal Rights were so unsatisfactory to the French Canadians that the prospect of the League obtaining their support would be hopeless while he remained President. Sir Leonard Tilley was one of the Fathers of Confederation, and at the time Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick.

A meeting of the Council of the League in Canada was held on the 18th September, 1891, Sir Leonard Tilley, President, in the chair, when after careful discussion they passed a resolution asking the League in England to help the Canadian Government to secure the denunciation of the German and Belgian treaties, and a second one urging once more the importance of a preferential trade arrangement between the Mother Country and the Colonies.

On the 30th of the same month, both Houses of the Canadian Parliament passed unanimously an address to [195]the Imperial Government, asking them to denounce the German and Belgian treaties which prevented preferential trade arrangements between the various parts of the British Empire.

The Seventh Annual General Meeting of the League in Canada was held in the Tower Room, House of Commons, Ottawa, on the 1st March, 1892, Mr. Alexander McNeill in the chair. A still further advance in the policy of the Canadian League was made in a resolution moved by Lt.-Col. W. Hamilton Merritt and carried as follows:

That in the event of preferential inter Imperial trade relations being adopted in the British Empire, it is the opinion of this League that Canada will be found ready and willing to bear her share in a just and reasonable proportion of Imperial responsibilities.

On the 28th April, 1892, Mr. McNeill moved in the House of Commons:

That if and when the Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland admits Canadian products to the markets of the United Kingdom upon more favourable terms than it accords to the products of foreign countries, the Parliament of Canada will be prepared to accord corresponding advantages by a substantial reduction in the duties it imposes upon British manufactured goods.

This was carried by ninety-eight votes to sixty-four.

All this was very gratifying to our League, and proved to us that the campaign we had been waging in Canada for nearly five years had convinced the majority of the people of the soundness of our policy. We had our Parliament with us both on the question of the German and Belgian treaties and preferential [196]tariffs. In Great Britain, however, our progress had been slow; with the exception of Sir Howard Vincent no prominent British politician had accepted the principle of preferential tariffs. Lord Salisbury had spoken tentatively at the Guildhall on the 9th November, 1890, and at Hastings on the 18th May, 1892, but he was, while in a sense favourable, very cautious in his remarks, as he felt public opinion in Great Britain was quite averse to any such policy on account of their obstinate adherence to the principle of Free Trade.

The majority of the Imperial Federation League in England were not at all favourable to the views of the Canadian League, and the Journal of the League showed its bias in all its articles on the subject, while Lord Knutsford on behalf of the Imperial Government in his dispatch on the 2nd April, 1892, in answer to the joint address of the Canadian Houses of Parliament declared, that for reasons given, “Her Majesty’s Government have felt themselves unable to advise Her Majesty to comply with the prayer of the address which you have transmitted for submission to Her Majesty.”

The Eighth Annual General Meeting of the League in Canada was held in Montreal on the 13th February, 1893, Mr. Alexander McNeill, Vice-President, in the chair, and a resolution was carried, asking the Government to request the Imperial Government to summon an Imperial Conference. Sir Leonard Tilley wrote to the meeting asking to be relieved of the duties of President, and advising the election of Mr. Alexander McNeill in his place. In my absence, through Mr. McNeill’s efforts, I was elected President of the League. I accepted the position, and on examination of its affairs I found that from a business point of view it was in a very bad [197]condition. The work of the Secretary was behindhand, the League was without funds and considerably in debt. I soon succeeded in placing it in a much better position. A large amount of arrears of fees was collected, and with the assistance of Mr. Herbert Mason and the late C. J. Campbell we soon secured subscriptions from a number of friends of the cause, whose names I feel should be recorded as they aided the movement for many years. The list of subscribers was as follows: George T. Denison, J. Herbert Mason, George Gooderham, A. R. Creelman, John T. Small, A. B. Lee, D’Alton McCarthy, Sir Sandford Fleming, Sir Frank Smith, Alfred Gooderham, T. G. Blackstock, D. R. Wilkie, Larratt W. Smith, E. B. Osler, A. M. Cosby, George R. R. Cockburn, Hugh Blain, Albert E. Gooderham, W. G. Gooderham, and W. H. Beatty. The debts were paid, and a balance on hand and the future expenses for some years secured. A new secretary was appointed, and everything was in good working order.

I had barely succeeded in this when I received from the secretary of the League in England a communication marked “Strictly private and confidential,” informing me that there was a proposal to dissolve the League, and close its business.

I was much astonished and alarmed at this information, and much embarrassed by the strict secrecy imposed on me, but a day or two afterwards I found by the cable dispatches in the Toronto papers that the matter had come before the Council in England and that the motion had been adjourned for six months. I concluded that the six months’ hoist meant the end of it. So I preserved the strict request for secrecy which had been made to me. I had before written privately in reply to the Secretary, Mr. A. H. Loring, [198]protesting against the proposition to dissolve the League. And I happened to mention that I personally would feel inclined to keep up the struggle. I thought the postponement had settled the matter, but as Mr. John T. Small, the Hon. Treasurer, was going to England that summer, and as he was a member of the Executive Committee of the League in England and entitled to know what was being done, I urged him very particularly to go to the head office in London, and inquire carefully as what was going on. When he returned he told me that he had twice tried to see Mr. Loring but failed, that he had asked for his address, which the clerk said he could not give him as he was away on his holidays, and Mr. Small was assured by the clerk that there was nothing going on, and that there was no information that he knew of to give him.

All this lulled me into a feeling of security. Suddenly on 25th November, 1893, the news came by cable to the Press that on the previous day a meeting had been held in London, and that the League had been dissolved. The meeting was called by a circular dated 17th November, so that there was no possibility for the Canadian members of the Council in England to have attended, even if notices had been sent to them, which was not done.

In the Journal for the 1st December, 1893 (the last issue of that publication), it is stated that discussion had been taking place in the meetings of the Executive Committee during the previous six months, to decide upon the course of action to be adopted by the League in the immediate future; and it shows that a special committee had been appointed to consider the matter. The report of this committee was signed by the Rt. Hon. Edward Stanhope, M.P., President, Lord Brassey, [199]Sir John Colomb, R. Munro-Ferguson, M.P., H. O. Arnold-Forster, M.P., S. Vaughan Morgan, the Lord Reay, and J. G. Rhodes. This committee reported “a recommendation, that the operations of the League should be brought to a close.”

“This report was discussed at several meetings of the Executive Committee, and alternative proposals were carefully considered during the autumn,” and on the 24th November, 1893, the report was adopted by a vote of 18 to 17, Mr. Loring saying he had been assured that the Canadian League would continue as heretofore.

In spite of all these discussions mentioned, Mr. Small was assured there was nothing going on, and the Canadian League were kept in ignorance of the movement until it was accomplished.

This dissolution of the League at a council meeting to which none of the thirty-five Canadian members representing the Canadian Branch were either invited or notified, caused a considerable feeling of dissatisfaction among our members, and was a severe and disheartening blow to all friends of the cause in Canada, the concealment and secrecy of the whole movement being very unsatisfactory to everyone.

I called a meeting of our Executive Committee at once for the 27th November when the matter was considered. A resolution was moved and unanimously carried that the Secretary should notify the Secretary of the Imperial Federation League to stop the paper at the end of this year, and if the journal should be continued that they should communicate direct with the Canadian subscribers.

The following resolution was also, after careful consideration, carried unanimously:


Moved by G. R. R. Cockburn, Esq., M.P., seconded by H. J. Wickham:

1. That the Executive Committee having had brought to its notice telegrams from England published during the past week in the daily papers stating that the Council of the League in England contemplated carrying resolutions tending towards its dissolution, would ask (as it conceives it has the right to do) to be advised at once of any steps proposed to be taken in that direction.

2. The Canadian Branch of the League was formed at a meeting held in Montreal on the 9th May, 1885. At that meeting the resolutions passed at the Conference held in London on the 29th July, 1884, and at the inaugural meeting of the League held on the 18th November, 1884, were accepted, and a resolution was then carried forming a Canadian Branch of the League, to be called the Imperial Federation League in Canada.

3. Among the resolutions of the League in England so accepted were the following:—

(1) That the object of the League be to secure by federation the permanent unity of the Empire.

(2) That British subjects throughout the Empire be invited to become members and to form and organise branches of the League which may place their representatives on the general committee.

4. Canada then was, and is to-day, face to face with momentous questions involving its whole political future. The Earl of Rosebery then and until recently President of the League, in a speech at Edinburgh on the 31st October, 1888, quoted from a speech delivered in the American Senate by Senator Sherman these words:

“I am anxious to bring about a public policy that will make more intimate our relations with the [201]Dominion of Canada. Anything that will tend to the union of Canada with the United States will meet with my most hearty support. I want Canada to be part of the United States. Within ten years from this time (and I ask your particular attention to this), within ten years from this time the Dominion of Canada will, in my judgment, be represented either in the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain, or in the Congress of the United States.” Such language he thought worthy of attention, and then Lord Rosebery went on to say: “My plan is this: to endeavour so to influence public opinion at home and in the Colonies that there shall come an imperious demand from the people of this country, both at home and abroad, that this federation should be brought about.”

5. To bring about a solution of the questions above indicated on the lines laid down by Lord Rosebery has been, since the formation of the Canadian Branch and up to this time, its constant and anxious care, and many of its members have, at great personal sacrifice, devoted themselves to securing the permanent unity of the Empire, with Canada as an integral part.

6. Much work has been done, but much more remains to be done. The most enthusiastic of our members would be unable to say that the objects of the League have been accomplished, or that the question above referred to especially affecting Canada has as yet been solved.

7. The dissolution of the League in England would therefore be nothing less than the desertion of the Canadian Branch at a critical period in its history, and would further appear necessarily to involve the destruction of the Leagues branches both in Canada and elsewhere. To those at least who are unfriendly to our aims, it will seem that the great cause, of which this branch may without exaggeration be said to be [202]the representative in Canada, has received a heavy blow indeed at the hands of its friends.

8. Under these circumstances the Council of the League in England will, this committee is convinced, appreciate the necessity and propriety of consulting the Canadian Branch of the League, and of duly notifying the members resident in Canada, of the Executive Committee and of the Council of the League in England, before taking any such step as that above referred to, a step to which this committee has seen the first and only reference in the public Press.

Not long afterwards we learned that a small faction, principally those who had managed to destroy the League, had formed a new organisation, had taken over the office, appropriated the records, lists of members, subscription list, &c., and adopted the same trade mark or title cover used for pamphlets. They also assumed the name “Imperial Federation (Defence) Committee,” and began circulating literature, pamphlets, fly-sheets, &c., all pointing out the shortcomings of the Colonies, and demanding cash contributions to the Army and Navy. This was done in a spirit that aroused a good deal of hostile feeling in Canada, and did much more harm than good to the cause they seemed to advocate. Had they desired to destroy the movement in Canada, they could not have taken more effective steps to secure that result.

This intrigue has been the most puzzling circumstance connected with the history of the Imperial Federation movement. I have never been able, even after the most careful inquiry, to reach with confidence the real cause of such peculiar conduct. At one time I thought that as Lord Rosebery had become Premier the existence of the League might have become [203]embarrassing to him, and that he had been in favour of doing away with it, but Dr. Parkin assured me that this could not be, as Lord Rosebery referred to the question some years after when Dr. Parkin was his guest at Mentmore, and asked him why the League was dissolved, and Lord Rosebery said that he regretted its dissolution very much and could never understand it.

My own impression, although it is, of course, not capable of proof, has always been that a few free traders on the committee were alarmed at the progress the Canadian members were making in spreading views in favour of preferential tariffs, and in reference to which Sir Charles Tupper had been rather aggressive.

The destruction of the League would have been useless unless steps were taken to prevent its revival, and to destroy, if possible, the League in Canada. Hence the adoption of the name, address, trade mark, etc., under which to flood Canada with publications tending to arouse great hostility among our people. This was the condition in which I found affairs only about ten months after I had been elected President. The outlook was most discouraging, and caused a great deal of anxious discussion among the stalwarts in Toronto. We decided to summon a meeting of our most influential men to consider the situation, and decide whether we also should dissolve, or whether we would continue the struggle.

The meeting was held on the 3rd January, 1894, and after full discussion it was decided to fight on, and with the assistance of Sir John Lubbock, who had sent a communication to us asking us to co-operate with him, to endeavour to resuscitate the League in England.


The ninth annual meeting of the Imperial Federation League in Canada was held in the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, on the 29th May, 1894, and in the notices of motion printed in the circular calling the meeting was one by Lt.-Col. Wm. O’Brien, M.P., as follows:

Resolved, that the first step towards arriving at a system of preferential trade within the Empire should be for the Government of Canada to lower the customs duties now imposed upon goods imported from the United Kingdom.

And another to the same effect by Rev. Principal George M. Grant:

Resolved, that this League is of opinion that as a first step towards arriving at a system of preferential trade within the Empire, the Government of Canada should lower the Customs duties now imposed on goods manufactured in and imported from Great Britain.

These notices exactly foreshadowed the policy adopted by Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s Government in 1897.

Another resolution was carried to the effect that a delegation should be elected by the Executive Committee to confer personally with the City of London Branch and similar organisations, and agree upon a common course of future action. Accordingly on the 6th June, 1894, the Executive Committee appointed “Colonel G. T. Denison President, Larratt W. Smith, Esq., Q.C., LL.D., President Toronto Branch, George E. Evans, Esq., Hon. Secretary of the League in Canada, John T. Small, Esq., Hon. Treasurer, H. J. Wickham, Esq., Chairman of the Organising Committee, J. L. Hughes, Esq., J. M. Clark, Esq., and [205]Professor Weldon, M.P., to be the delegation, with power to add to their number.” Messrs. Clark, Small, and Weldon were unable to act, and Sir Charles Tupper, then High Commissioner, Lord Strathcona, and Lt.-Col. Septimus Denison, Secretary and Treasurer of the London Ontario Branch, were added to the delegation.

This was the turning point of the movement, and led to the organisation of the British Empire League and the continuance of the struggle for Imperial consolidation. The account of this mission, its work in England, and the subsequent proceedings of the new League, and the progress of the movement for Imperial Unity during the succeeding years, will be dealt with in the following chapters.




I left for England on the 27th June 1894, arrived in London on the 9th July, and at once called upon Sir John Lubbock, M.P., now Lord Avebury. I breakfasted with him on the 13th, when we thoroughly discussed the whole question. I pressed upon him the urgent need there was that we should have a head office in England, and how important the movement was in order to spread and maintain the Imperial sentiment in Canada. He was most sympathetic and friendly, and said that if it would be convenient for us he would gather a number of men favourable to the idea to meet us at his house a week later, on the 20th July. I wrote to the members of the delegation, and gathered them the day before at Lord Strathcona’s rooms on Dover Street, and secured the attendance of Sir Charles Tupper, who was then High Commissioner for Canada, and also a member of our League, and we added him to the committee. We discussed our policy at considerable length, and arranged to meet at Sir John Lubbock’s in St. James’s Square the following morning at eleven a.m.

I happened to be breakfasting at the United Service Club that morning with Lord Roberts and General Nicholson, and Lord Roberts hearing that I was going [207]to Sir John Lubbock’s, said that he had been asked to attend the meeting, but had not intended to go. I prevailed upon him to accompany me.

Sir John Lubbock had a number of gentlemen to meet us, among whom were Sir Westby Percival, Agent-General for New Zealand, the Hon. T. A. Brassey, Messrs. C. Freeman Murray, W. Culver James, W. H. Daw, W. Becket Hill, Ralph Young, H. W. Marcus, and others. Sir John Lubbock was in the chair and Mr. Freeman Murray was secretary. As chairman of our deputation, I put our case before the meeting, following the lines agreed upon at the conference at Lord Strathcona’s rooms the day before. I spoke for about forty minutes, and naturally urged very strongly the importance of preferential trading throughout the Empire, as a practical means of securing a permanent unity, and I insisted that we should make the denunciation of the German-Belgian Treaties one of the definite objects of the League.

The City of London Branch had prepared a programme of a suggested constitution, which contained nearly all the clauses afterwards agreed upon as the constitution of the British Empire League. Our Canadian delegation accepted all their suggestions, but we insisted on a clause referring to the German and Belgian Treaties. Our English friends were evidently afraid of the bogey of Free Trade, and seemed to think that any expressed intention of doing away with the German and Belgian Treaties would prevent many free traders from joining the League. I urged our view strongly, and was ably assisted by speeches from Sir Charles Tupper, Lord Strathcona, and Sir Westby Percival. Our English friends still held out against us. At last I said that we had agreed with all they had advo[208]cated, had accepted all their suggestions, but that when we asked what we considered the most important and necessary point of all, the denunciation of the German and Belgian Treaties, we were met with unyielding opposition, that there was no object in continuing the discussion, and we would go home and report to our League that, even among our best friends, we could not get any support towards relieving us of restrictions that should never have been placed upon us. Mr. Becket Hill seeing the possibility of the meeting proving abortive, suggested an adjournment for a week. Mr. Herbert Daw immediately rose, and in a few vigorous sentences changed the tone. He said that the Canadians had agreed with them in everything, and that when they urged a very reasonable request they were not listened to. He said that was an unwise course to take, and urged that an attempt should be made to meet our views.

Sir John Lubbock then said: “Perhaps I can draw up a clause which will meet the wishes of our Canadian friends,” and he wrote out the following clause:

To consider how far it may be possible to modify any laws or treaties which impede freedom of action in the making of reciprocal trade arrangements between the United Kingdom and the colonies, or between any two or more British Colonies or possessions.

I said at once that we would accept that clause, provided it was understood that we of the Canadian Branch should have the right to agitate for that which we thought was the best, and the only way, probably, of unifying the empire. We claimed we [209]were to have the right to work for the denunciation of the treaties with the view of securing preferential tariffs around the Empire, and that in so doing we were not to be considered as violating the constitution of the League, although the central council was not to be responsible for the views of the Canadian Branch. That settled the matter at once, and the League was formed. Difficulty was found in deciding upon a name. We wished to retain the old name, but the arguments in favour of a change were so great that we yielded to the wishes of our English brethren. A number of names were suggested, most of them long and explanatory, when Mr. James L. Hughes suggested that as the object was the maintenance of the British Empire why not call the League simply “The British Empire League.” This appealed to all, and it was at once adopted, so that Mr. Hughes was the godfather of the League.

It was then arranged that a meeting of the old City of London branch of the Imperial Federation League should be called at the London Chamber of Commerce. It was held on the 26th July, when several of us addressed the meeting, and an organising committee was formed for undertaking the work of the reconstruction of the League. It consisted of the Canadian deputation and the following gentlemen: The Earl of Derby, Earl of Jersey, Earl of Onslow, Earl of Dunraven, Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, Lord Brassey, Lord Tennyson, Sir John Lubbock, Bart., M.P., Sir Algernon Borthwick, Bart., M.P., Sir Charles Tupper, Bart., Sir Westby Percival, Sir Fred Young, Major General Ralph Young, Lieut.-Colonel P. R. Innes, Dr. W. Culver James, Messrs. F. Faithful Begg, M.P., W. Herbert Daw, E. M. Headley, W. Becket Hill, [210]Neville Lubbock, Herman W. Marcus, John F. Taylor, and Freeman Murray.

Addressing this meeting at some length, I endeavoured to show the importance of settling the North-West, as well as other portions of Canada, with a population of British people if possible, who would grow grain to supply the wants of the mother country. I stated that a preferential tariff against the United States would keep our people in Canada, and would cause settlers from Great Britain to make their homes in that country; and that in a very little time the North-West Territories would be occupied by a large population of loyal people, who would be devoted to the Empire, and would be able to supply all the bread-stuffs that England would require. In order to impress that upon the audience, I drew their attention to the fact that if England was engaged in a war with continental countries, say, for instance, Russia and France, it would cut off the supply of wheat from the former country; and that if hostilities were also to break out between the United States and England, it would confine the mother country’s wheat supply to India, Australia, and Canada; that the distance was so great that it would take an enormous naval force to keep the sea routes open, and that these would be constantly liable to attack and interruption unless England had absolute command of the sea.

I then went on to say that I was aware that there was a strong feeling in England that there was no possibility of a war with the United States, but warned the meeting that they must not rely upon that belief, and I quoted several facts to prove my view.

Within eighteen months the Venezuelan Message of [211]President Cleveland, followed as it was by the warlike approving messages to Mr. Cleveland from 42 out of the 45 Governors of States, proved how easily trouble might arise.

Mr. James L. Hughes also addressed this meeting, and we were strongly supported by a member of the Fair Trade League, who used some powerful arguments in favour of some steps being taken to improve the position of the “Food Supply.” He was answered by Mr. Harold Cox, Secretary of the Cobden Club, who said that my proposition was one that would abolish Free Trade, and substitute Protection for it. In spite of his appeal to the intense prejudice of the British people, at that time in favour of Free Trade, the idea of an Imperial Preferential tariff seemed to have considerable weight upon those who heard it expounded.

Lord Tennyson was present at the meeting and spoke to me afterwards, approving of much of my speech, but regretting I had spoken so freely about the United States. I replied that the very fact of his criticism was a strong proof of the necessity for my speaking out, and told him I would send him some publications which would enable him the better to appreciate our view. This I did. He has been a strong supporter of the British Empire League and acted on the Executive Committee from the first.

I addressed a large meeting at Hawick, Scotland, on the 17th August, 1894, and for the first time in Scotland advocated our Canadian policy. My friend Charles John Wilson organised the meeting. I spoke in much the same strain as in London. Although my remarks were well received it was evident that free trade opinion was paramount, and that I did not have [212]any direct support in the meeting. One member of the Town Council told me at the close that, while they were all free traders, yet I had given them food for thought for some time. At the Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire held in London in July, 1906, my friend Mr. Charles John Wilson, who spoke at my meeting in Hawick in 1894, was a representative of the South of Scotland Chamber of Commerce, and made a powerful speech in favour of the Canadian resolution which endorsed Mr. Chamberlain’s policy of preferential tariff, and his Chamber of Commerce voted for it.

The organising committee appointed at the London meeting took a considerable time in arranging the details. Lord Avebury told me that he had considerable difficulty in getting a prominent outstanding man as President, and that the negotiations took up a great deal of time. He wished to secure the Duke of Devonshire, and he being very busy, could not give much time, and only agreed at length to take the position on the understanding that Sir Robert Herbert who, for many years had been the Permanent Under Secretary for the Colonies, and was about to be superannuated, should undertake to act as chairman of the Executive Committee and attend to the management of the League.

When all was arranged, a large meeting was held at the Mansion House on the 27th January, 1896, the Lord Mayor in the chair, and then the British Empire League was formally inaugurated, the constitution adopted, and a resolution, moved by Lord Avebury, carried:

That the attention of our fellow-countrymen throughout the Empire is invited to the recent establishment [213]of the British Empire League, and their support by membership and subscription is strongly recommended.

It may be mentioned that when our deputation reported to the League in Canada the arrangements we had agreed to, it was suggested that an addition should be made to the constitution by the insertion of what is now the second clause of it. “It shall be the primary object of the League to secure the permanent unity of the Empire.” This, of course, had been well understood, but the Canadian League desired it to be placed in the constitution in formal terms. The request was made to the committee in England, and it was at once acceded to.

A special general meeting of the Imperial Federation League in Canada was held in the Tower Room, House of Commons, Ottawa, on the 4th March, 1896, to consider the annual report of the Executive Committee, and the recommendation therein contained, that the League should change its name to that of the British Empire League in Canada, and affiliate with the British Empire League.

As President of the League I occupied the chair. Among those present were: Sir Charles Tupper, Bart., G.C.M.G.; Sir Donald Smith, K.C.M.G.; the Hon. Arthur R. Dickey, M.P.; Senators W. J. Almon, C. A. Boulton, John Dobson, Thomas McKay, Clarence Primrose, W. D. Perley, and Josiah Wood. The following members of Parliament: W. H. Bennett, G. F. Baird, T. D. Craig, G. R. R. Cockburn, Henry Cargill, George E. Casey, F. M. Carpenter, G. E. Corbould, Dr. Hugh Cameron, Emerson Coatsworth, D. W. Davis, Eugene A. Dyer, Thomas Earle, Charles Fairburn, W. T. Hodgins, A. Haslam, Major S. Hughes, David [214]Henderson, Charles E. Kaulbach, J. B. Mills, A. C. Macdonald, J. H. Marshall, James Masson, J. A. Mara, W. F. Maclean, D’Alton McCarthy, G. V. McInerney, John McLean, H. F. McDougall, Major R. R. Maclennan, Alex. McNeill, W. B. Northrup, Lt.-Col. O’Brien, H. A. Powell, A. W. Ross, Dr. Thomas Sproule, J. Stevenson, William Smith, Lt.-Col. Tisdale, Thomas Temple, Lt.-Col. Tyrwhitt, Dr. N. W. White, R. C. Weldon, R. D. Wilmot, W. H. Hutchins, Major McGillivray, William Stubbs, J. G. Chesley, A. B. Ingram; and Messrs. S. J. Alexander, Sandford Fleming, C.M.G., N. F. Hagel, Q.C., James Johnston, Thomas Macfarlane, Archibald McGoun, C. C. McCaul, Q.C., Joseph Nelson, J. C. Pope, E. E. Sheppard, J. G. Alexander, J. Coates, Joseph Nelson, McLeod Stewart, R. W. Shannon, Major Sherwood, Major Clark, Dr. Kingsford, Dr. Beattie Nesbitt, Prof. Robertson, Dr. Rholston, Lt.-Col. Scoble, Captain Smith, George E. Evans (Hon. Secretary), and others.

I moved the adoption of the annual report, which contained a copy of the constitution of the British Empire League, and recommended that the Canadian League be affiliated with that body.

As to the question of changing the name of the League, I said:

That the Canadian delegation had urged the retention of the name Imperial Federation League, but the arguments in favour of the change were so great that we felt we had to yield to the wishes of our English brethren. The word Federation was objected to by some, and there is no doubt that to attempt to prepare a fixed and written constitution for a federated Empire, with all its divergent interests, would be a very difficult thing to do. If a dozen of the very ablest [215]men in all the Empire were to devote any amount of time and their greatest energies to prepare a scheme for such a federation, and succeeded in making one practical and workable under existing conditions, might not ten or twenty years so change the conditions as to make a fixed written constitution very embarrassing and unsuitable? Such a method is not in accord with the genius of the British Constitution. The British Constitution is unwritten; it has “broadened down from precedent to precedent,” always elastic, always adapting itself to changing conditions. So should the idea of British unity be carried out. Let us work along the lines of least resistance. The memorial included in the report urges a conference to consider the trade question. A conference might arrange some plan to carry out that one idea; in a year or two another conference could be called to consider some other point of agreement. Soon these conferences would become periodical. Soon a committee would be appointed to carry out the wishes of the conferences in the periods between the meetings; and then you would have an Imperial Council, and Imperial Federation would have become evolved in accordance with the true genius of the Anglo-Saxon race. Let us take one step at a time, and we shall slowly but surely realise our wishes.

These remarks outlined the policy that the Executive Committee had agreed upon, and foreshadowed much that has since occurred.

Mr. Alexander McNeill seconded the adoption of the report, which was carried unanimously.

Sir Charles Tupper then moved the first resolution:

Whereas the British Empire League has been formally inaugurated in London with practically the same objects in view as the Imperial Federation League, this meeting expresses its sympathy and concurrence therewith, and resolves that hereafter the Imperial Federa[216]tion League in Canada shall be a branch of the British Empire League, and shall be known and described as the British Empire League in Canada.

In his speech he gave a short sketch of the progress of the old League, and pointed out that it was an important fact that this organisation had committed itself to the policy of removing the obstruction to preferential trade with Great Britain which existed through the treaties with Belgium and Germany.

Mr. D’Alton McCarthy seconded the resolution. He also spoke of the work of the old League which he had founded in Canada, and of which he was the first President. He said:

That no mistake was made in forming the League, because at that time, twelve years ago, the feeling was towards independence or annexation. The League did very much to divert public opinion in the direction in which it was now running. As to the treaties between Great Britain and other countries, he did not look upon them as an obstruction but as an impediment. For his part he was prepared to do anything to advance Canadian trade relations with England at once, without postponing it until those treaties were terminated by Great Britain.

This last sentence shows that at that time he was contemplating the adoption of the policy of a British Preference, which I believe in the following year, with Principal Grant’s assistance, he succeeded in inducing Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his Government to adopt.

The constitution, by-laws and rules for the governance of branches were then adopted, and the work of the old Imperial Federation League in Canada has since been carried on under the name of “The British Empire League in Canada.”


I have always felt that this success of our mission to England was most important in its result, or at least that its failure would have been very unfortunate. The collapse of the Imperial Federation League had disheartened the leading Imperialists very much, and the deputation to England was an effort to overcome what was a very serious set back. Had we been obliged to come home and report that we could get no one in Great Britain sufficiently interested to work with us, it would necessarily have broken up our organisation in Canada, and the movement in favour of the organisation of the Empire, and a commercial union of its parts, would have been abandoned by the men who had done so much to arouse an Imperial sentiment. The effect of this would have been widespread. Our opponents were still at work, and many of the Liberal party were still very lukewarm on the question of Imperial unity.

Our success, on the other hand, encouraged the loyalists, and led the politicians of both sides to believe that the sentiment in favour of the unity of the Empire was an element to be reckoned with. Sir John Macdonald had made his great appeal to the loyalty of Canada in 1891, and had carried the elections, the ground having been prepared by the work of the League for years before. The general election was coming on in 1896, and it was most important that the Imperial sentiment should not be considered dead.

After Sir John’s death the Conservative party suffered several severe losses in the deaths of Sir John Abbott and Sir John Thompson, and in the revolt of a number of ministers against Sir Mackenzie Bowell, who had been appointed Prime Minister. The [218]party had been in power for about eighteen years, and was moribund, many barnacles were clinging to it. My brother, Lt.-Col. Fred Denison, M.P., was a staunch conservative, and a strong supporter of the Government, but for a year before his death, that is during the last year of the Conservative régime, he privately expressed his opinion to me that, although he could easily carry his own constituency, yet that throughout the country the Government would be defeated, and he also said he hoped they would. He was of the opinion that his party had been in long enough, and that it was time for a change; and he held that the success of the Liberals at that time with their accession to office, and the responsibilities thus created, would at once cause them to drop all their coquetting with the United States, and would naturally lead them to be thoroughly loyal to a country which they themselves were governing.

About the 1st January, 1896, President Cleveland issued his Venezuelan message in reference to a dispute between Great Britain and Venezuela. It was couched in hostile terms, and was almost insolent in its character. Among European nations it would have been accepted almost as a declaration of war. This was approved of by the United States as a whole. Nearly all the Governors of States (forty-two out of forty-five was, I believe, the proportion) telegraphed messages of approval to President Cleveland, and many of them offered the services of the militia of their States, to be used in an invasion of Canada. This aroused the feeling of our people in an extraordinary degree, and in all Canada the newspapers sounded a loyal and determined note. I was anxious about several papers which had opposed us, and had even advocated inde[219]pendence or annexation, but indignant at the absolute injustice of the proposed attack upon Canada they came out more vehemently than any. The Norfolk Reformer struck a loyal, patriotic, and manly note, while Mr. Daniel McGillicuddy of the Huron Signal, who used to attack me whenever he was short of a subject, was perhaps more decided than any. He said in his paper that he had always been friendly to the United States and always written on their behalf, but when they talked of invading the soil of Canada, they would find they would meet a loyal and determined people who would crowd to the frontier to the strains of “The Maple Leaf Forever” and would die in the last ditch, but would never surrender. Mr. McGillicuddy had served in the Fenian raid in the Militia, and all his fighting blood was aroused. This episode of the Venezuela message ended the annexation talk everywhere, and Mr. McGillicuddy has been for years a member of the Council of the British Empire League.

I had but little influence myself in political matters, but I had great confidence in Sir Oliver Mowat and the Hon. George W. Ross, and among my friends I urged that they should be induced to enter Dominion politics, as their presence among the Liberal leaders would give the people of Ontario a confidence which in 1891 had been much shaken in reference to the loyalty of the Liberal opposition. I was much pleased to find that before the election in 1896, arrangements were made that Sir Oliver Mowat was to leave the Ontario Premiership, and support Sir Wilfrid Laurier in the Senate.

In the early spring of 1896, while the Conservative Government were still in power, I wrote to Lord [220]Salisbury and told him what I thought would happen, first that the Conservatives would be defeated, and secondly that the Liberals, when they came into power, would be loyal and true to the Empire, and that he need not be uneasy, from an Imperial point of view, on account of the change of Government. I knew that with Sir Oliver Mowat in the Cabinet everything would be right, and I felt that all the others would stand by the Empire.

In 1897, during the Jubilee celebration in London, I saw Lord Salisbury, and he was much gratified at the action of the Canadian Government in establishing the British Preference, and said that they had been anxious about the attitude of the Liberal party, until Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s first speeches in the House after his accession to office. I laughingly said, “You need not have been anxious, for I wrote telling you it would be all right and not to be uneasy.” His reply was, “Yes, I know you did, but we thought you were too sanguine.”

As soon as the new Government were sworn in, we endeavoured to press our views of preferential tariffs upon them, D’Alton McCarthy and Principal George M. Grant exerting themselves on that behalf, and during the autumn of 1896 a deputation of the Cabinet consisting of the Hon. Wm. Fielding, Hon. Sir Richard Cartwright, and the Hon. Wm. Patterson travelled through the country inquiring of the Boards of Trade and business men as to their views on the question of revision of the tariff.

Our League naturally took advantage of this opportunity to press our views upon the Government, and urged Mr. Fielding and his colleagues very earnestly to take steps to secure a system of preferential tariffs. [221]A curious incident occurred on this occasion that is worth recording. While our deputation were sitting in the Board of Trade room in Toronto waiting our turn to be heard, a manufacturer was pressing the interests of his own business upon the Ministers. It was amusing to hear him explain how he wanted one duty lowered here, and another raised there, and apparently wanted the tariff system arranged solely for his own benefit. There was such a narrow, selfish spirit displayed that we listened in amazement that any man should be so callously selfish. Mr. Fielding thought he had a good subject to use against us, so he said to the man, “Suppose we lower the duty say one-third on these articles you make, how would that affect you?” “It would destroy my business and close my factory.” “Then,” said Mr. Fielding, “here is a deputation from the British Empire League waiting to give their views after you, and I am sure they will want me to give Great Britain a preference.” The man became excited at once, he closed up his papers and in vehement tones said, “If that is what you are going to do, that is right. I am an Imperial Federationist clear through. Do that, and I am satisfied.” “But what will you do?” said Mr. Fielding. “It will ruin your business.” “Never mind me,” he replied, “I can go into something else, preferential tariffs will build up our Empire and strengthen it, and I will be able to find something to do.” “I am an Imperialist,” he said with great emphasis as he went out.

I turned to someone near me and said, “I must find out who that man is, and I will guarantee he has United Empire Loyalist blood in his veins.” He proved to be a Mr. Greey, a grandson of John William Gamble, who was a member of a very distinguished United [222]Empire Loyalist family. I am sure this incident must have had some influence upon Mr. Fielding, as an illustration of the deep-seated loyalty and Imperialism of a large element of the Upper Canadian population.

The members of our League were delighted with the action of the Government in the Session of 1897, in establishing a preference in our markets in favour of British goods. It will be remembered that we had been disappointed in our hope that Lord Salisbury would have denounced the Treaties in 1892, when the thirty years for which they were fixed would expire, but five years more had elapsed and nothing had been done. I believe the plan adopted by our Government had been suggested by Mr. D’Alton McCarthy, our former President, and in order to get over the difficulty about the German and Belgian Treaties, the preference was not nominally given to Great Britain at all, but was a reduction of duty to all countries which allowed Canadian exports access to their markets on free trade terms. This of course applied at once to Great Britain and one of the Australian Colonies (New South Wales). All other nations, including Germany and Belgium, would not get the preference unless they lowered their duties to a level with the duties levied by Great Britain. The preference was first fixed at one-eighth of the duty just to test the principle.

Shortly after this was announced in our Commons, Kipling, who saw at once the force of it, published his striking poem “Our Lady of the Snows,” which emphasised the fact that Canada intended to manage her own affairs:

Daughter am I in my mother’s house,
But mistress in mine own.
[223] The gates are mine to open
As the gates are mine to close,
And I set my house in order
Said Our Lady of the Snows.
.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Another strong point was illustrated in the lines:

Favour to those I favour
But a stumbling block to my foes,
Many there be that hate us,
Said Our Lady of the Snows.
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
Carry the word to my sisters,
To the Queens of the East and the South,
I have proved faith in the heritage
By more than the word of the mouth.
They that are wise may follow
Ere the world’s war trumpet blows,
But I, I am first in the battle,
Said Our Lady of the Snows.

This poem pointed out to Great Britain that Canada had waited long enough for the denunciation of treaties which never should have been made, and which were an absolutely indefensible restriction on the great colonies.

At a meeting of the council of the British Empire League in Canada held in May a week or two after the Annual Meeting in Ottawa, a resolution was passed:

That the President and those members of the Canadian Branch who are members of the Council of the League in England be hereby appointed a deputation (with power to add to their number) from the League in Canada to the League in the United Kingdom; and that they be instructed to lay before the members of the Parent League the views of the Canadian Branch on matters of national moment, such as the organisation of a Royal Naval Reserve in the colonies, and also to express their opinion that, as a guarantee of the general safety of the Empire, vigorous [224]steps should at once be taken to provide that the British food supply should be grown within the Empire.

The deputation consisted of the following: The Hon. R. R. Dobell, M.P., George R. Parkin, J. M. Clark, A. McNeill, M.P., Sir Charles Tupper, Bart., John T. Small, Sir Sandford Fleming, K.C.M.G., Lieut.-Colonel George T. Denison, D’Alton McCarthy, Q.C., M.P., Lord Strathcona, H. H. Lyman and J. Herbert Mason.




I left for England via Montreal on the 31st May, 1897, and expected to arrive in Liverpool a day or two before Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who was to sail some days later from New York on a fast ship. We were delayed for some days by fogs, and did not arrive in Liverpool till after Sir Wilfrid Laurier had left that place. He had arrived in the old world for the first time of his life, and at once fell into the hands of the Liverpool merchants and business men, at that time generally free traders. He had not a colleague with him and naturally was affected by the atmosphere in which he found himself, and in his speech at the great banquet given by the British Empire League with the Duke of Devonshire in the chair, he made a few remarks in reference to preferential tariffs for which he was severely criticised at home. I joined the party at Glasgow two days later, and Sir Wilfrid, who seemed pleased to see me, had a long talk with me between Glasgow and Liverpool on the special train which took the party down. On the following morning the Liverpool papers had cables from Canada giving an account of the discussion in the Canadian House of Commons over the cabled reports of Sir Wilfrid’s speech. He was attacked vehemently by Alexander [226]McNeill, our champion in the House, on one point of his speech at Liverpool, and Sir Richard Cartwright and his colleagues, in defending Sir Wilfrid, did so on the ground that the reports of what he said could not be taken as correct, and asking the House to withhold comment until the full reports should be received. This was a desirable course to adopt, for cable despatches have so often conveyed inaccurate impressions.

The real secret of the trouble was that in the busy rush of his work as leader of the opposition, and then as Premier, Sir Wilfrid had not been able really to master the question, but he soon grasped the subject, and his later speeches were very effective. His reception by the British people was wonderfully favourable, and the impression he made upon them was remarkable. He stood out from all the other Premiers—and there were eleven in all—and he was everywhere the central and striking figure.

On the 5th July, 1897, a meeting of the British Empire League was held in the Merchant Taylors Hall. The Duke of Devonshire was in the chair and made an able speech welcoming the Premiers from the colonies. He was followed by Rt. Hon. R. J. Seddon, Premier of New Zealand, Sir William Whiteway, Premier of Newfoundland, Mr. G. H. Reid, Premier of New South Wales, and Sir Edward Braddon, Premier of Tasmania. Sir Wilfred Laurier had not been able to attend, and as President of the League in Canada I was called upon to speak. As to the treaties, I said:

I have come here from Canada to make one or two suggestions. In the first place in reference to preferential tariffs, we have shown you that we wish to [227]give you a preference in our markets. (Cheers). But treaties interfere with us in the management of our own tariff, and I wish to emphasise the fact that some steps should be taken to place us in absolute freedom to give every advantage we wish to our fellow-countrymen all over the world. (Cheers.) We wish to give that advantage to our own people, and we do not wish to be forced to give it to the foreigner. (Hear, hear.) . . .

Now my last point is this. In Canada we have viewed with considerable alarm the fact that the wealthiest and most powerful nation in all history is at this moment dependent for her daily food for three out of every four of her population upon two foreign nations, who are, I am thankful to say, friendly to her, and who, I hope, will always be friendly, but who, it cannot be denied, might by some possibility be engaged in war with us at some future time. These two nations might then stop your food supply, and that harm to you would spread great distress among the people of our country. I have been deputed by the League in Canada to ask you to look carefully into this question. If there is no real danger, relieve our fears; but if you find there is any danger let me urge upon you as strongly as I can to take some steps to meet that danger. Let the method be what it may, great national granaries, a duty on food, a bounty or what not, but let something be done.

A special meeting of the Council of the League was held on the 7th July, 1897, to meet the deputation of our League. In my address I once more dealt with the question of the German and Belgian treaties. I said, “The Canadian people have now offered, in connection with their desire regarding these treaties, to give what they propose to all nations, but with the express intention of giving an advantage to our own people. I [228]am deputed to ask you to use what influence you can on the Government and people of this country to give us that full control of our own tariff to which we contend we are entitled.”

Lord Salisbury in 1890, although favourable to the idea, was not able to secure the denunciation of the German and Belgian treaties, although I knew from his conversation with me that personally he felt that they should be denounced. In 1892 Lord Knutsford peremptorily refused a request by Canada to denounce the treaties. Lord Ripon was not quite so peremptory in 1894-’95 after the Ottawa Conference, but he refused permission to Mr. Rhodes to arrange a discriminating tariff in Matabeleland. We had been held off for six years, but the action of the Canadian Government brought matters to a head.

During June and July, 1897, in London the most profuse and large-hearted hospitality was shown on every hand to the colonial visitors, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to all the large functions. I felt the importance of taking every opportunity to press upon the leading men in England the necessity for the denunciation of the treaties, and I knew Sir Wilfrid Laurier could not urge it with the freedom or force that I could. Consequently in private conversations I talked very freely on the subject, whenever and wherever I had an opportunity.

I found that in meeting friends, almost the first remark would be an approving comment on the friendliness of the Canadian Parliament in giving the British people a preference in the markets of Canada. My reply always was that it was no more than was right, considering all that Great Britain had done for us. This was usually followed by the remark that the [229]Government were afraid, from the first impression of the law officers of the Crown, that Great Britain would not be able to accept the favour. My reply was very confidently, “Oh yes! you will accept it.” Then the remark would be made that the German and Belgian treaties would prevent it. “Then denounce the treaties,” I would say. “That would be a very serious thing, and would be hardly possible.” My reply was, “You have not fully considered the question, we have.” Then I would be asked what I meant, and would reply somewhat in these terms:

Consider the situation of affairs as they stand. To-day at every port of entry in Canada from Sydney, Cape Breton, to Victoria in the Island of Vancouver, along 3,500 miles of Canadian frontier, German goods are charged one-eighth more duty than goods from Great Britain, and goods from Great Britain one-eighth less duty than on German goods. This was being done yesterday, is being done to-day, and will be done to-morrow, and it is done by the Government of Canada, backed by a unanimous Parliament, and behind it a determined and united people. We have made up our minds and have thought it out, and have our teeth set, and what are you going to do about it?

This did not usually bring out any indication that any clear decision had been arrived at by them, and then I would go on:

Of course we know that you can send a large fleet to our Atlantic ports, and another to our Pacific ports, and blockade them, paralyse our trade, and stop our commerce, until we yield, or you may go farther and bombard our defenceless cities, and kill our women and children. Well, go on and do it, and we will still hold out, for we know that any British Government that [230]would dare to send her fleets to jamb German goods down our throats when we want to buy British, would be turned out of office before the ships could get across the Atlantic. The thing is absurd, the treaties are an outrage, and the only course out of the difficulty is to denounce them.

These arguments carried weight with all to whom I spoke, and I spoke to Ministers, Privy Councillors on the Government side, M.P.’s, and others. Once only the head of one of the great daily newspapers seemed to be annoyed at my aggressive attitude, and said, “You had better not be too sure. We might send the fleet and be very ugly with you.” My reply was, “Well, go on and send it. You lost the southern half of North America by trying to cram tea down their throats, and you may lose the northern half if you try to cram German goods down our throats. I should have hoped you had learned something from history.”

It will be seen that the plan which was, I understand, originated by D’Alton McCarthy, worked out very successfully. There could only be one result, and within a month the treaties were denounced, and I felt that the first great step of our programme had been made. The amusing feature, however, was, that this object for which we fought so hard three years before at the meeting at Lord Avebury’s, when the British Empire League was founded, and which was opposed by nearly all our English friends, was no sooner announced as accomplished, than men of all parties and views seemed to unite in praising the act, and the Cobden Club even went so far as to present the Cobden Medal to Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier in all his speeches had upheld abstract theories of free trade, and with considerable [231]skill succeeded in allaying the hostility of the free trade element. This, I think, helped to secure the denunciation of the treaties, with the approval of all parties. On my return to Canada I was interviewed in Montreal by the representative of the Toronto Globe. Being asked by the reporter my opinion of the probable effect of the denunciation of the German and Belgian treaties, I said:

The denunciation of these treaties marks an epoch in the history of the British Empire. The power of Canada has made itself felt not only in British but in European diplomacy. It has affected Germany, Belgium, and other countries, and every one of these countries knows that it was Canada’s influence that produced the result. Another point in connection with the denunciation of these treaties is, that it is a tremendous step towards preferential trade within the Empire. Great Britain was going along half asleep. Canada has awakened her, and made her sit up and think. She has been jostled out of the rut she has been following, and is now in a position to proceed in the direction that may be in her own interest and in that of the Empire.

Being then asked if I had any opinions to express in regard to the Premier’s remarks in Great Britain on the question of free trade, I said:

His remarks were general and theoretical. The great point of the whole movement was to secure the denunciation of the treaties. Nothing could be done while these treaties were in existence, and in my opinion it would have been a most indiscreet thing for Sir Wilfrid Laurier to have pursued any line of argument that would have aroused the hostility of the great free trade party in Great Britain. The great point was to secure the united influence of all parties [232]in favouring the denunciation of the treaties, which was an important step in advance.

Being asked to account for the fact that Sir Howard Vincent, of the United Empire Trade League, a strong protectionist, and the Cobden Club both united in applauding the denunciation of the treaties, I replied:

Sir Howard Vincent and his League saw plainly that this action made for a preferential tariff. The Cobden Club are whistling to keep up their courage.

In the Conference of Premiers, held in 1897, it was not possible to secure an arrangement for mutual preferential tariffs. The other colonies were not ready for it, the Imperial Government was not ready for it, nor were the people, but as the German and Belgian Treaties were denounced to take effect the following year, in August, 1898, the path was cleared, and from that date the Canadian Preference came into force, and has since been in operation.

It will be remembered that the deputation of our British Empire League to England, in 1897, was instructed to express the great desire of the Canadian Branch that, as a guarantee of the general safety of the Empire, vigorous steps should at once be taken to provide that the British Food supply should be grown within the Empire. As chairman of the deputation I did all in my power to stir up inquiry on the subject. Being introduced to Principal Ward of Owens College, Manchester, when at that city, I talked freely with him on the point, and he suggested I should discuss it with Mr. Spencer Wilkinson, the well-known author and journalist. He gave me a letter introducing me to Mr. Wilkinson, and we had [233]several interviews. Shortly after reaching London I called to see my friend Lord Wolseley, then Commander-in-Chief. He took me with him to his house to lunch, and as we walked over, I at once broached the subject of the food supply, principally wheat and flour, and he told me that the Government had been urged to look into the matter some two or three years before, and that there had been a careful inquiry by the best experts, and the report was that the command of the sea was a sine quâ non, but if we maintained that, and paid the cost which would be much increased by war prices, the country could get all the grain they would want.

I said suppose a war with Russia and the United States, what would be done if they combined and put an embargo on bread-stuffs? How would it be got then even with full command of the sea? He did not seem himself to have understood the difficulty, or studied the figures, and said, “I cannot explain the matter. All I can say is that the Government obtained the advice of the best men in England on the subject, and that is their report.” My reply was, “I wish you would look into it yourself,” and I dropped the subject.

I met Lord Roberts shortly after and I pressed the matter upon him. He had not known of the Government report, and consequently listened to my arguments attentively and seemed impressed, for I may say that 1897 was the worst year in all our history as to the manner in which the supply of food was distributed among the nations.

Mr. Spencer Wilkinson seemed to be much interested in my talks with him, and one day he said, “I wish you could have a conversation with some great authority on the other side of the question, who would [234]understand the matter and be able to answer you.” I replied, “That is what I should like very much. Tell me the best man you have and I will tackle him. If he throws me over in the gutter in our discussion it will be a good thing, for then I shall learn something.” Mr. Wilkinson laughed at my way of putting it, and said, “If that is what you want, Sir Robert Giffen is the man for you to see.” I said I would try and get a letter of introduction to him. Mr. Wilkinson said he would give me one, and did so.

I called to see Sir Robert Giffen. He received me very kindly, and we had an interesting interview of about an hour. The moment I broached the subject of the food supply he said at once, “That question came up some two or three years ago, and I was called upon to inquire into the whole matter and report upon it, and my report in a few words was, that we must have the command of the sea, and that once that was secured, then, by paying the somewhat enhanced war prices, we could get all the grain required.” My reply was, “Then, as you have fully inquired into the question, you can tell me what you could do under certain conditions. In case of a war between Great Britain and Russia combined with the United States, followed by an embargo on food products, where and how would you get your supplies?” Sir Robert said, “We do not expect to go to war with the United States and Russia at the same time.” I said, “You were within an ace of war with the United States only a year ago over the Venezuelan difficulty, and Great Britain and Russia have been snarling at each other over the Indian Frontier for years, and if you go to war with either, you must count on having the other on your hands.”


Sir Robert then said, “But I said we must have the command of the sea.” I replied, “I will give you the complete, undoubted, absolute command of the sea, everywhere all the time, although you are not likely to have it; and then in case of an embargo on wheat and foodstuffs where are you to get your supplies?” He said, “We would get some from Canada and other countries.” I pointed out that all they sent was only a fraction. Sir Robert then said, “They could not put on an embargo, for it would ruin their trade.” I told him that I was talking about war and not about peace and trade, and said that no desire for trade induced the Germans to sell wheat to Paris during the siege of 1870. His idea had been that, in case of war with Russia or the United States, or both, holding the command of the sea, Great Britain would allow foodstuffs to be exported to neutral countries such as Belgium or Holland, and then England would import from those countries. My answer to that was, that if England had the command of the sea, the United States or Russia would have only one weapon, an embargo, and they would certainly use it. He seemed cornered in the argument, and said, “Well, if we cannot get bread we can eat meat. I eat very little bread.” I said, “The British people use about 360 lbs. per head of wheat per annum, and about 90 lbs. of meat, and a great deal of meat would be stopped too”; and I said on leaving, “I wish you would investigate this thoroughly again, and let the Government know, for I know they are depending upon your report at the War Office”; and then I left him.

When at Liverpool shortly after on my way back to Canada, I asked the manager of the Bank of Liverpool, to whom I had a letter of introduction, if he would [236]introduce me to the highest authority on the corn trade in Liverpool. He introduced me to the late Mr. Paul, ex-President of the Corn Exchange, and I had a long conversation with him on the question of the food supply. As soon as I mentioned the subject he told me that the corn trade people in Liverpool had been asked from London to make a report on the possibility of supplying grain in case of war. Mr. Paul told me that they had considered the matter (I suppose he meant the leading corn merchants), and that their report was practically that they must have the command of the sea, that was essential; but that secured, and the enhanced war prices paid, they could supply all the corn required in any contingency. I questioned him as I had Sir Robert Giffen and found the same underlying belief. The law of supply and demand would settle the question. The corn would be allowed to go in neutral ships to neutral ports, and then be transhipped to England. An embargo had not been considered or treated seriously as a possibility, and when I cornered him so that he could not answer my arguments, he said, “Well, if we could not get wheat we could live on potatoes.” I told him potatoes could not be kept over a year, that a large quantity was imported which would be stopped. I said he had better make another report. The whole thing was very disheartening to me, for I saw how the Government were depending upon peaceful traders for information how to guard against war dangers.

In 1902 when Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed a small tax on wheat and flour, I was pleased to see that Sir Robert Giffen was the first prominent man to write to the Press endorsing and approving of the bread tax, as it was [237]called. It showed me that Sir Robert had carefully considered the question, and was manly enough to advocate what was not altogether a popular idea.

After my return to Canada I prepared an article for the Nineteenth Century on the “Situation in England,” and it appeared in the December number, 1897. In this I pointed out the danger of the condition of the food supply, and the article attracted a considerable amount of attention in the British Press, in comments, notices, letters, etc. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach in a speech at Bristol, in January, 1898, referred to the question, and in a way contradicted the points I had brought out in the Nineteenth Century article. My conversations the summer before with Lord Wolseley, Sir Robert Giffen, and Mr. Paul had so alarmed me at the false security in which the Government were resting, that when I saw Sir Michael Hicks-Beach relying on the same official reports, I determined, although I had never met him, to write him direct, and on the 20th January, 1898, I wrote, drawing his attention to a remark which he was reported to have made that “in any war England would have many friends ready to supply corn,” and I said, “Our League sent a deputation to England last summer to draw attention to the danger of the food supply. I was chairman of it. Since my return I published an article in the Nineteenth Century giving our views. I enclose a reprint which I wish you could read. If you have not time please give me one minute to examine the enclosed diagram (cut out of the Chicago Tribune) showing the corn export of the world. This shows that Russia and the United States control, not including the Danubian ports, nearly 95 per cent. of the world’s needs, and if they were to put an embargo on the export of food of [238]all kinds, where would be the ‘many friends ready to supply England with corn?’”

Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, now Lord St. Aldwyn, with great courtesy wrote me a personal letter, in which he thanked me for my letter, and went on to say:

I do not think that the sentence you quote “that in any war England would have many friends ready to supply corn” quite accurately represents what I said on that subject. The report was necessarily much condensed. But it would be true if (say) we were at war with the United States alone: or if we were at war with one or more of the European Powers and the United States were neutral. In either of such cases the interests of the neutral Powers in access to our market would be so strong, that our enemy would not venture to close it to them, in the only possible way, viz.: by declaring corn contraband of war. And I think that if the United States were the neutral party, self-interest would weigh more with them than their ill feeling towards us, whatever the amount of that feeling may be.

It is possible, though most improbable, that the two great corn-producing countries might be allied against us. If they were, I believe that our navy would still keep the seas open for our supply from other sources, though no doubt there would be comparative scarcity and suffering. I am no believer in the enclosed diagram, the production of corn is constantly increasing in new countries such as the Argentine, and better communication is also increasing the total amount available for export. Bad harvests in the United States and Russia, and good ones in India and the Argentine, would show quite another result to that shown in the enclosed, though, as I have said, I do not believe it is true, even of the year which it professes to represent.


On receipt of this letter I wrote to Mr. Geo. J. S. Broomhall, of Liverpool, editor of the Corn Trade News, and author of the Corn Trade Year Book, and received from him a certificate of the correct figures of corn exports. I forwarded it to Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, showing that in 1897 India and the Argentine only exported 200,000 qrs. and 740,000 qrs. respectively, and that the diagram I sent could not have been a very great way out. In 1902 Sir Michael Hicks-Beach put a tax of one shilling a quarter on imported wheat, and as I have already said, Sir Robert Giffen wrote to the Times approving of it. I was very glad to see this action on the part of both of them.

On the 4th December, 1897, the Hon. George W. Ross gave an address before the British Empire League in St George’s Hall, Toronto, in which he strongly favoured preferential tariffs and came out squarely against reciprocity with the United States. This action was a great encouragement to our cause and attracted considerable attention all over Canada.

On the 8th December, 1897, the National Club gave a complimentary banquet to his Excellency the Earl of Aberdeen, Governor-General. I attended the banquet and sat second to the left of the president of the club, Mr. McNaught. I was under the impression that Mr. Blake, who had been a few years away from Canada, and who had joined the Irish Nationalist party, would be sure to speak in a strain not acceptable to our club. I mentioned this to Dr. Parkin who sat next to me. When Mr. Blake began to speak he very soon uttered sentiments strongly opposed to all that the Canadians had been working for in the Imperial interest. I said to Parkin that as an ex-president of the club, and president of the British Empire League, [240]I would not allow his remarks to pass without comment. I leaned over and told the chairman I intended to speak a few minutes when Mr. Blake finished. He raised some objection, but I told him I must speak. He mentioned it to the Governor-General, who said he would wait for fifteen minutes. I told Dr. Parkin I would divide the time with him.

After Mr. Blake sat down, I said:

I have been a member of this club almost from its foundation. I was for many years on the Board of Directors, and for some years its President, and I feel that I should state that the speech of my friend Mr. Blake does not represent the views nor the national aspirations which have always been characteristic of the National Club. . . .

I agree with what Mr. Blake has said as to the importance of preserving friendly relations with the United States. We hope to live at peace with them, but because we do not wish to beg for reciprocity or make humiliating concessions for the sake of greater trade, it is no reason why we should be charged with wanting war. We want peace, and no one can point to any instance where the Canadian people or Government have been responsible for the irritation. Mr. G. W. Ross pointed this out clearly in his admirable speech of Saturday night. The great causes of irritation have come from the United States. The invasion of 1775, the war of 1812, the Trent affair, and the Venezuelan business were all matters in which we were absolutely free from blame. Nor were we to blame some thirty years ago when I had to turn out with my corps to help defend the frontier of this province from the attacks of bands of Fenians, organised, armed, and equipped, in the United States, who invaded our country, and shot down some of my comrades, who died defending Canada. These raids were maintained by contributions from our worst enemies in the United [241]States, but we drove them out, and now I am glad to say that, while the contributions still go on, the proceeds are devoted to troubling the Empire elsewhere, and I hope they will continue to be expended in that direction rather than against us.

I approve of Mr. Blake’s remarks about the defence of Canada, and the expenditure of money to make our country safer, but I object strongly to the hopeless view he takes. We are 6,000,000 of northern men, and, fighting on our own soil for our rights and freedom, I believe we could hold our own in spite of the odds against us, as our fathers did in days gone by, when the outlook was much more gloomy.

Dr. George R. Parkin followed with an eloquent and powerful speech pointing out the various arguments which showed the growth of the movement for Imperial unity.

It was thought at that time that Mr. Blake had some idea of returning to Canadian politics, but the result of this meeting and the Press comments must have put an end to any such idea if it ever existed.




In the autumn of 1897 the report of a Royal Commission on the condition of affairs in the West Indian Islands was published. Field-Marshal Sir Henry Norman disagreed with the other two members of the Commission, and put in a minority report, showing in effect that the real way to relieve the distress in the sugar industry of the West Indies, was for Great Britain to put countervailing duties on bounty favoured sugar coming into her markets. I was much impressed with Sir Henry Norman’s report as to the condition of the West Indies, and came to the conclusion that we in Canada might do something to aid on Imperial grounds.

I wrote, therefore, to Principal George M. Grant, one of our most energetic and brilliant colleagues, asking him to let me know when he would be in Toronto, as I wished to have a long conference with him. On the 29th December, 1897, we met, and I discussed the whole question with him and asked him to go to Ottawa, and urge Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Mr. Fielding to increase the sugar duty in order that Canada might be able to give a preference to West Indian Sugar. I pointed out that such action would be popular, and that I was satisfied both parties would support it. I [243]had been pressing Sir Wilfrid and the Government on many points, and thought that in this matter they had better be approached from a different angle. Grant took up the idea eagerly, and promised to go to Ottawa and do his best. On the 3rd January, 1898, he wrote me “(Private and confidential)”:

A Happy New Year to you! I have just returned from Ottawa. Had an hour with Fielding discussing the West Indian question, which he understands thoroughly. I think that something will be done, though perhaps not all that we might wish at first.

Had an hour also with Laurier. First, the preference hereafter is to be confined to Britain. That is settled, but this is of course strictly confidential.

Secondly, he seemed at first to think that we had gone far enough with our twenty-five per cent. reduction, till we could see its workings, but when I argued for going steadily along that line he said, “I do not say yea, but I do not say nay.” I intend to push the matter.

He is in favour of the cable, but thinks that we cannot take it up this session.

He impresses me favourably the more I study him. He has a truer understanding of the forces in Britain than Tupper in my opinion.

Of course I told Fielding that the West Indian suggestion was yours, and that I cordially endorsed it. He is anxious to do something, but thinks that we must ask in dealing with them a quid pro quo.

Shortly before it was announced Sir Wilfrid Laurier told me the Government were likely to give West Indian sugar a preference. And on the 5th April, 1898, Mr. Fielding introduced his Budget, and in a most eloquent and statesmanlike speech declared that Canada had her Imperial responsibilities, and that she [244]would lend “a helping hand to our sister colonies in the south.” This was received with great applause from both sides of the House, and Grant and I were not only much pleased at the success of our efforts, but still more gratified to find the universal feeling in Canada in favour of Mr. Fielding’s action. A few days after, on the 9th April, Grant wrote to me:

I am sure that my thorough discussion on the West India matter with Mr. Fielding did good, but the suggestion came from you. We may be well satisfied with the action of the Government, but it will be bad if the public gets the idea that the British Empire League is pressing them. It is our task rather to educate public opinion. Things are moving steadily in the right direction.

P.S.—Mulock is evidently aiming at Imperial penny postage. Good!

Some time after this the German Government put the maximum tariff against all Canadian goods, and Mr. Fielding met this by a surtax of ten per cent. on all German goods entering Canada. This changed the whole supply of sugar for Canada from Germany to the West Indies to their great advantage.

On the 10th March, 1898, the Annual Meeting of the British Empire League was held in the Private Bills Committee Room in the House of Commons. It was a most successful meeting. Four Cabinet Ministers were present, Sir Louis Davies, Sir Wm. Mulock, Hon. J. Israel Tarte, and Hon. Charles Fitzpatrick. Sir Charles Tupper and Sir Mackenzie Bowell ex Prime Ministers, and many members of the Senate and the House. Those named above addressed the meeting as well as Principal Grant and Colonel Sam Hughes.

Sir Wm. Mulock succeeded this year in securing [245]Imperial Penny Postage, which was one of the objects for which the British Empire League had been working. It was managed with great boldness and skill by Mr. Mulock. His first step was to announce that on and after a certain date some three or four months in advance, all letters stamped with the ordinary three cent domestic rate would be carried to Great Britain without further charge. He knew that objection would be raised to his action, but that it would bring the question to the forefront. The Imperial Government objected to deliver the letters, and said the matter would have to be considered at a conference. Mr. Mulock then answered that a conference should be held, which was agreed to, but he insisted it should not be a departmental affair, that he should only be asked to discuss it with men of his own rank, that is with Cabinet Ministers. This also was agreed to, and it was not long before the matter was settled. Mr. Mulock sent me a cable telling me of his success as soon as he came out of the meeting where the resolution was passed.

On the 28th August, 1898, a large deputation of the Executive Committee of the British Empire League met Mr. Mulock at the Toronto railway station on his arrival from England, to welcome him home, to congratulate him upon his success, and to invite him to a complimentary banquet to be given in his honour.

The banquet took place on the 15th September, at the National Club. Principal Grant, Alexander McNeill, and Sir Sandford Fleming all came to Toronto to attend it. It was a most successful affair.

The Lieut.-Governor Sir Oliver Mowat, who was one of our vice-presidents, attended, also Lord Herschel, Hon. Richard Herschel, Hon. Charles Russell, Sir [246]Frank Smith, Mayor Shaw, and a large and distinguished company.

I was in the chair and proposed the health of Mr. Mulock. The World of the following day, the 16th September, 1898, reported me as follows:

Colonel Denison, inspired by the nobility of the dominant idea of the evening, looked like a general standing on the ramparts just won by his troops. He spoke of the double aim of the League, to preserve the permanency of the British Empire, and secondly to procure closer intercourse between the parts. He dwelt on the wonderful advance made by the idea of federation and the disappearance of the “Little Englander.” It was not enough to denounce the German and Belgian treaties, or to have a preferential tariff. There should be no rest until a mutual preferential tariff had been secured.

Lord Herschel, Sir Oliver Mowat, Mr. Mulock, Principal Grant, Alexander McNeill, Sir Sandford Fleming, Mr. George Hague of Montreal, Geo. E. Casey, and W. F. Maclean all made loyal and patriotic speeches, Alexander McNeill’s being especially eloquent and powerful.

Our League was much gratified not long afterwards at an article which appeared in the London Daily Mail of the 21st November, 1898, under the heading “Where Imperialism comes from.” After referring to many things Canada had done, preferential tariffs and preferences to the West Indies, penny postage, &c., it concluded as follows:

By their works ye shall know them, and by the record of Canada’s works is her magnificent, constructive, peaceful Imperialism made known to the world. Yet its full strength can only be measured by going among Canadians in their homes and noting—and becoming [247]affected by—the palpitating Imperialist life of the people, which even the coldness of the mother country cannot damp. When future historians come to write the history of the Empire’s later development they will have much to say of Canada’s Imperialist lead. At present we don’t make half enough of this rich and beautiful Dominion—an Empire in itself—and its enthusiastically loyal sons.




The Fourth Annual Meeting of the League in Canada was held in Ottawa on the 6th April, 1899. In moving the adoption of the Annual Report, I made an address which clearly outlined the policy of the League at that time, and may therefore be worth quoting. It appears in the report printed by order of the annual meeting as follows:

The year that has passed since we last met has been a most important year in reference to the work of the British Empire League, and many striking events have happened which teach us lessons that we should carefully consider in framing our policy for the future. We have many things upon which we can look with great satisfaction. Since we last met the preference in our markets, which under certain conditions had previously been open to all countries, has been restricted to our empire. A preference has also been given to our sister colonies in the West Indies, and this example, we are gratified to find, has in a way been imitated by the Government of India, with the approval of the British Government, which is another move in the direction of the aims of our league. Almost simultaneously we see the London Times discussing a duty on wheat and sugar as a means of raising revenue. As this would not only raise revenue [249]but help to raise wheat in Britain as well, it would aid to that extent in strengthening the empire. In reference to the preference to West Indian sugar, I wish to point out that I am informed that cane sugar in the United States has a preference through duties on beet root sugar, which, at present, is an advantage to West Indian sugar to the extent of 27 cents per hundred pounds, while the preference we have given in our market is only about 18 cents per hundred pounds. I may suggest that we in Canada should increase our preference to, say, 40 per cent. of the duty, which would give our fellow-colonists a slightly greater preference than they now receive under the United States tariff. I need not say much about the fast Atlantic service, for all parties are united in favour of it, and we can only hope that it will be established at the earliest moment, for nothing would help more to show our position as a separate community upon this continent. We have been too backward in the past, and we should endeavour more and more to assert ourselves among the countries of the world.

There is one point I wish to press upon this meeting: there has been in the last twenty-five or thirty years a revolution in the affairs of the world in reference to national relations and methods of defence. Germany has united, and we remember that it was accomplished under the stress and trial of war. The German Empire was inaugurated in the greatest palace of France, to the sound of the German cannon firing upon the capital city of their enemy. Italy, as the result of three wars, has been united and consolidated. The United States during the last year have launched out into the politics of the world, have adopted expansion as their policy, and are pressing their views on the Filipinos with rifles, maxims, and field guns. We have discovered this year once more by hard facts what history in all ages has shown—that nations cannot expect to exist upon the security of their natural moral rights, unless those rights are supported by physical strength. [250]Spain has been taught that might prevails, and she has been crushed and humiliated for doing what the United States are now obliged to do themselves in the Philippine Islands. The greatest lesson of all, however, which this last year has taught us is that which we learn from the impending fate of China. There is a nation of three hundred to four hundred millions of people, honest traders, I am told, certainly most inoffensive and unaggressive; a nation which, from its peaceful character, industrious habits, and natural reserve, should have been the last to have aroused hostility. It has neglected its defences and has taken no effective steps to protect itself from wrong, and what do we see now as the result? The nations in the possession of navies and armies are commencing to tear it to pieces and divide the spoils.

Do we hear of any of these nations being worried by conscientious scruples, or complaining of the moral wrong of this partition? No; the whole disputing is concentrated over the division of the spoils. Now what is the lesson this thing teaches us? It is this; that nations can only enjoy their freedom by being able to defend it, and that the true policy for nations under present conditions is to be closely united within themselves, to be thoroughly organised and equipped, and to be able in case of necessity to use their whole strength to the greatest advantage for the common safety—and to do this nations must be self-sustaining. (Applause.)

In trade, also, we see the selfish war going on and increasing. While England is talking about the “open door,” which is a fine phrase for theorists, she is finding other nations busily engaged in shutting their own doors. Each nation year by year is being forced to protect its industries by tariff regulations. France is following this policy; Germany and Russia also, and the most prosperous of them all, the United States, is carrying the principle to the greatest extent. One can see that this principle is growing and will grow, [251]for the selfishness of nations seems, if possible, to be increasing every day. Now, how is the British nation placed? It has the best chances of all if it sees how to take advantage of them.

It has the largest territory, with every variety of climate and products, with the greatest possibilities of development, with prospects of an internal trade far beyond all other countries. It has the best coaling stations scattered everywhere, but to secure and retain her advantages the empire must be consolidated, both for trade and defence, and this can be fully accomplished without the slightest aggression. (Hear, hear.)

If we Canadians desire to be free and safe it must be in that empire to which we are attached by every tie, and to which we must be ready to give our strength for the common defence, if we expect the enormous reserve force of that empire to be at our back if our life as a free people should ever be threatened. (Applause.)

It is necessary, therefore, for the prosperity and safety of all the parts, that the United Kingdom, India, Australasia, South Africa, and Canada should all be firmly united so as to show a square front to any enemies that may attack us. This is the object of our league; to secure the permanent unity of the empire; and with the extraordinary development of nations and of military progress in them, our empire must also, if it desires security, be ready in every part to pay for that security and be ready to defend it.

In past ages the wars between nations have been carried on by moderate sized armies, while the great bulk of the people attended to their usual business, except where interrupted in the actual theatre of war. For a thousand years wars had been conducted upon that principle, until the French Revolution, when in 1793, being threatened with invasion by combined Europe, 1,300,000 men were conscripted in France to defend her frontier. This was the first example of a nation almost taking up arms to defend herself. It changed the organisation of armies; but later, under [252]Napoleon, the nation returned more nearly to the old system of regular armies. In 1870 and since, however, the revolution in military defence in most civilised countries except our own has been completed. Now in France, Germany, and Russia the whole people practically are trained for war. The war footing of the army in France is about 4,000,000 and some thousands of field guns; in Germany just about the same; in Russia the army on a war footing is said to be 3,400,000; Austria has a war strength of 2,750,000. As these forces in these countries are all organised, and arms, equipment, and field guns ready, it will be seen that never before in history were such enormous military preparations made. The navies have increased almost in the same ratio, our navy fortunately being more than equal to any two navies combined. With this outlook, with this condition of affairs outside, it is only wisdom for the wealthiest of all nations to consolidate its power in order to preserve its wealth, possessions, and liberty.

And what are we in Canada doing? We are following the example of the Chinese, and trusting to the forbearance and sense of honesty of other nations, instead of relying upon our own strength and the strength of the empire, to which we could better appeal if we did our own share properly.

Thirty-eight thousand militia, drilled spasmodically, without the necessary equipment and departments, without reserves, or even rifles to arm them, is no contribution to the strength of the empire. This should be changed at once. We should establish depots for training our fishermen and sailors to supplement the royal naval reserve, and the guns with which to train them, the barracks in which to house them, and the permanent instructional staff necessary to drill them, if judiciously placed in batteries in front of St. John, N.B., Charlottetown, Quebec, and other seaports, would be aiding the British navy, which protects our mercantile marine, while matters could be arranged to [253]make them a defence for those seaports, which at present would be at the mercy of any swift cruiser that, evading pursuit, might approach their wharves. (Hear, hear.)

Our militia should be largely increased, and supplies of all kinds provided, and in agreeing to do our share in developing and strengthening the military resources of the empire, in our own borders, we could fairly ask the mother country to remedy a danger which at present menaces the safety of our race.

I spoke very plainly on this point of the food supply last year, but the intervening months have produced such strong evidence in support of my arguments that I wish to draw attention to the subject again. I said last year that an embargo on foodstuffs in Russia and the United States, rigidly carried out, would force the surrender of the mother country in a very few months. I have been told by trade theorists in England that the demand would create the supply, and that England could purchase food through neutral countries. I argued that an embargo by the two countries mentioned would necessarily be followed by an embargo in all important countries at once, and in all other countries as soon as their surplus was exported. This last year has seen this view triumphantly vindicated. Mr. Leiter effected a corner in wheat in Chicago, purchasers became alarmed, prices increased, and wheat began to be picked up in other countries. What was the result? Spain, a country which about feeds itself, put on an embargo. I believe Italy did the same, or was on the point of doing so, while an embargo was being discussed in France and Germany. If this could be the result of the cornering operations of one dealer in one town in one exporting country, what would have happened if those two countries which control nearly nine-tenths of the wheat exports of the world were to withhold that amount?

I have been told that no country could put on an embargo, that the people would rebel against being [254]prevented from selling their produce, but I have one example which conclusively proves my argument. The southern States had the bulk of the cotton supply of the world when the Civil war broke out in 1860. Their main industry was growing cotton, their capital, labour, and business were mainly involved in the production and sale of it. To force Great Britain to recognise and assist them, in other words, to bring pressure to bear upon a neutral power, the southern Government placed an embargo on the export of cotton. At Great Britain’s request the northern Government agreed to give permits to let it go to England. So that it was not the blockade alone which prevented its export. The southern Government maintained a strict embargo. When their troops were forced back the stores of cotton were seized and paid for by the Confederate Government by receipts and Government bonds, and the cotton was burned. Mrs. Jefferson Davis, in her memoirs, says that her husband grudged every pound that got out. Now let us see what was the result of this embargo, and how far it was possible to enforce it. In 1860, England imported from the United States 1,115,890,608 pounds; in 1861, England imported from the United States, 819,500,528 pounds; in 1862, England imported from the United States 13,524,224 pounds; in 1863, England imported from the United States 6,394,080 pounds; in 1864, England imported from the United States 14,198,688 pounds. The drop from 1,115,890,608 to 6,394,080 pounds, about one-half of one per cent, shows how complete this embargo was. The cotton famine has not been forgotten. The loss to the English people has been computed at £65,000,000, and yet this only affected one industry in one section of one kingdom. (Hear, hear.)

Nine-tenths of the population were able to help; the tenth affected, and there was abundance of food for all. But extend that pressure, and let it be in food, which no one can do without, and let it extend over the whole ten-tenths (as would be the case in the event of a [255]stoppage of food) and try to imagine the misery that would follow. Food would have to be rationed to rich and poor alike, for the starving masses would not allow all there was to be monopolised by the wealthy. Under such conditions, what heart could the Government be expected to display in the conduct of the struggle? Russia and the United States could control the export of 40,000,000 quarters out of 45,375,000 quarters exported by all nations in 1897. The late war between the United States and Spain is said to have cost the States nearly $500,000,000. If the Government of Russia and the United States bought the full surplus from their people of 320,000,000 bushels at the present market price, it would only cost them about $225,000,000, while even at $1 a bushel it would only be $320,000,000—the cheapest and most effective war measure that could be adopted. And this could be done by these countries without their having one war vessel. I repeat, therefore, that this is the weak point of our empire; our food should be grown under our own flag, or there should be large stores in England, and a preference which would increase the growth of wheat to the extent of 10,000,000 quarters additional in the British Isles would be the best spent money for defence that could be expended, and a preference to the colonies would soon produce the balance within the Empire. (Hear, hear.)

We should urge this upon the mother country, not because it would help us enormously, though that is no reason why we should not urge it, but because danger to the mother country is danger to us all.

These are the two points for us to look forward to, a thorough organisation of our own forces in Canada, with a liberal assistance from us toward the royal naval reserve and other defences of the empire, and a provision, for the food supply of the empire being made safe. These should go together, for there is not much use in our sending our sailors, well trained, to man war vessels, to defend our empire, unless it is understood that [256]a ship without food is as useless as one without guns, or powder or coal or men. A number of requisites are absolutely necessary to make an effective navy, or an effective defence, and the want of one makes all the others useless, and food is one of these indispensable requisites. We cannot press this too earnestly upon the mother country, but we cannot talk to them about their duties or necessities until we first attend to ours, and show our willingness to take up our share of the common burden. The answer to my argument from the English point of view is that my suggestion to secure a safe supply of food might be a great material advantage to Canada. This should not be considered. A preference to the British farmer would increase the growth of wheat to sixteen or seventeen million quarters in the United Kingdom. This would do us no good financially, but would be a great service to us, because it would make our empire more secure.

If large stores of grain were accumulated in England, it would be no advantage to us pecuniarily, but it would strengthen the whole empire, and I for one would be delighted to see either plan adopted, for at present none of us are safe. No nation or power can be independent that is not self-dependent. The lesson taught us by the course of events is to consolidate and unite our empire, both for trade and defence. (Applause.)

Another movement which has spread over the Empire was started this year to help Imperial sentiment. Mrs. Clementine Fessenden of Hamilton wrote to the Hon. G. W. Ross suggesting the establishment of an Empire Day to be celebrated in the schools by patriotic exercises, readings, and addresses. Mr. Ross was favourably impressed with the idea and inaugurated the movement at a large meeting held in the Theatre of the Normal School, Toronto, on the 23rd May 1899, which was [257]attended by most of the school teachers of the City and many others. I was asked by Mr. Ross to address the meeting, which I did. Mr. Ross himself, Mr. N. F. Rowell and Mr. Sanford Evans were the other speakers. This idea has been taken up by Lord Meath in England, and has spread throughout the empire, but that meeting in the Normal School was the beginning of the movement.




During the summer of 1899 the relations between the British and the Boers in the Transvaal became very strained. As early as the 26th April, 1899, Mr. George Evans, Secretary of the British Empire League received the following cablegram from Kimberley, South Africa. “Twenty-one thousand British subjects, Transvaal, have petitioned Imperial Government obtain redress grievances and secure them status which their numbers, industry, stake in country, entitle them. We strongly sympathise, if you do too, would you as kindred Societies cable Imperial Government sympathetic resolution.” “Signed, South African League Congress, Kimberley, representing 10,000 enrolled members.”

At this time we knew very little of the state of affairs in South Africa, or of the merits of the dispute, and there was a hazy idea that the Boers had opened up the country and should not be disturbed, and after a conference of the principal members of the Executive Committee it was decided to forward the cable to the Head Office of the League in England leaving the matter in their hands. A cable was sent to Kimberley telling them that we had asked the Head Office to decide what to do. Principal Grant at the [259]beginning of the difficulties in South Africa, in the early summer of 1899, was in sympathy with the Boers as against the gold seeking speculators of Johannesburg, and publicly expressed his views in that way. I sympathised somewhat with his view, but advised him to keep quiet, saying we could not tell how events might shape, and we might have to take a strong stand on the other side. I felt I did not understand the question.

In the following July, Mr. J. Davis Allen, representing the South African Association, came from England to Ottawa, and explained to the Canadian authorities the situation in South Africa and urged the passing of a resolution that would strengthen the hands of the British Government, in its negotiations with Mr. Kruger and the Transvaal Government. Mr. Alexander McNeill naturally took up the cause and wrote to me asking me to go to Ottawa to help Mr. Davis Allen in his efforts. I declined to go, saying I did not sufficiently understand the question, but a few days later, on the 31st July, 1899, Sir Wilfrid Laurier introduced and Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution which concluded as follows:

That the House of Commons desires to express its sympathy with the efforts of Her Majesty’s Imperial authorities, to obtain for the subjects of Her Majesty who have taken up their abode in the Transvaal such measures of justice and political recognition as may be found necessary to secure them in the full possession of equal rights and liberties.

This resolution, seconded by the Hon. George E. Foster, was carried unanimously, and the House rose and sang “God Save the Queen.”


Mr. Allen came to Toronto on the 10th August. Mr. McNeill had written to me saying that Mr. Allen was coming to see me, and we had several long interviews. He explained to me the whole situation, and read me some of Lord Milner’s despatches in which he pointed out clearly the dangers that were looming up. He explained that the whole trouble was a conspiracy on the part of the Boers to drive the British out of South Africa altogether. He insisted that the Orange Free State was deeply engaged in it, and that the Dutch in the Cape Colony were also involved. All that Mr. Allen told me was absolutely verified before six months had elapsed. After these explanations, and reading the despatches of Lord Milner, I took up a very decided stand against the Boers.

Colonel Sam Hughes, M.P., had as early as the 13th July called the attention of the Government to the fact that Queensland had offered a contingent, and he urged them to make an offer of one on behalf of Canada. He also offered to raise a regiment, or brigade, for service in case war should break out. Other officers in various parts of the country made similar offers. Sir Charles Tupper, about the end of September, came out boldly in favour of offering a contingent, and agreed to help the Government in Parliament in any action they might take in that direction. On the 25th September there was a small meeting of senior officers in Toronto, Lieut.-Colonel James Mason being the moving spirit. At that meeting we decided to call a meeting of the members of the Canadian Military Institute for Saturday, the 30th September, to consider the question of what Canada should do. The Globe of the 2nd October, 1899, reported me in part as follows:


Lieut.-Colonel Denison followed. In his opening remarks he expressed the belief that there was no difference of opinion among British peoples, except those in South Africa, in regard to the question. The opinion had prevailed to a certain extent that the question was simply one as to the rights of the Uitlanders in the Transvaal. He was bound to admit that up to a certain period that had been his impression, and that being the case he had not been convinced that the matter was one which necessitated the Empire’s going to war. Some time ago, however, he had been in the position of learning a good deal about the inside working of affairs in South Africa from one who was thoroughly posted in all the details. He had then discovered that it had got altogether beyond any question of interest or rights of the Uitlanders, and that for the last few years there had been a widespread conspiracy among the Dutch-speaking settlers over the whole of South Africa for the purpose of ousting the British. Ample proof was constantly being furnished as to the continuity of this conspiracy. Sir Alfred Milner’s despatch of 14th May stated in the plainest possible language that such was the case, and it was a question whether Britain was to hold the balance of power in that part of the world or be driven out of it altogether. The conspiracy extended further back than the Jameson raid, and was one of the hidden causes leading to that affair. It was because of it that the English people and Government had become so angry over the famous telegram sent by the German Emperor to President Kruger.

Continuing, Colonel Denison said it could not be gainsaid that the question was one of vital importance to the whole empire, and Canadians were as much interested as any of Her Majesty’s subjects. The Dominion had not fully and properly appreciated her responsibilities as part of a great empire. If Canada was an independent nation of six millions of people it would have to support a standing army of 40,000 men, [262]besides reserves of 200,000 or 300,000. “Is it right,” he asked, “that we should all the time be dependent upon the home Government and the British fleet for protection? Is it fair that we should not give any proper assistance? What kind of treatment would we have received from Washington in the Behring’s Sea business or in reference to this Alaskan question if we had not had behind us the power of the Empire?”

Such a course was not only selfish but impolitic and foolish. In his opinion not only should one contingent of 1,500 men be offered in the present crisis, but another 1,500 should be immediately got together and drilled so as to be ready in case of emergency. No one could tell where the thing was going to end, and reverses might be expected in the beginning. Other great nations envied the power of Britain and would be ready to seize the opportunity if the Empire was in a tight hole. Therefore they should be prepared, not only to send one contingent and have another on hand ready for the call, but should be in a position to relieve the garrisons at Halifax and Esquimalt, allowing the regulars to be added to the forces in the field. “We have been children long enough,” he concluded; “let us show the Empire that we have grown to manhood.”

He then moved “That the members of the Canadian Military Institute, feeling that it is a clear and definite duty for all British possessions to show their willingness to contribute to the common defence in case of need, express the hope that in view of impending hostilities in South Africa the Government of Canada will promptly offer a contingent of Canadian militia to assist in supporting the interests of our Empire in that country.”

This was carried unanimously.

This meeting started a strong movement of public opinion in favour of the Government making an offer. [263]On the 3rd October an article appeared in the Canadian Military Gazette which began in these words: “If war should be commenced in the Transvaal—which seems most probable—the offer of a force from the Canadian Militia for service will be made by the Canadian Government,” and it went on to give details of the composition and methods of organising the force. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, on behalf of the Government, at once disavowed it, and on the same day gave an interview to the Globe, which appeared in that paper on the 4th October. He said:

There exists a great deal of misconception in the country regarding the powers of the Government in the present case. As I understand the Militia Act—and I may say that I have given it some study of late—our volunteers are enrolled to be used in defence of the Dominion. They are Canadian troops to be used to fight for Canada’s defence. Perhaps the most widespread misapprehension is that they cannot be sent out of Canada. To my mind they might be sent to a foreign land to fight. To postulate a case: Suppose that Spain should declare war upon Great Britain. Spain has or had a navy, but that navy might be being got ready to assail Canada as part of the empire. Sometimes the best method of defending one’s self is to attack, and in that case Canadian soldiers might certainly be sent to Spain, and it is quite certain that they legally might be so despatched to the Iberian Peninsula. The case of the South African Republic is not analogous. There is no menace to Canada, and although we may be willing to contribute troops, I do not see how we can do so. Then, again, how could we do so without Parliament’s granting us the money? We simply could not do anything. In other words, we should have to summon Parliament. The Government of Canada is restricted in its powers. It is responsible [264]to Parliament, and it can do very little without the permission of Parliament. There is no doubt as to the attitude of the Government on all questions that mean menace to British interests, but in this present case our limitations are very clearly defined. And so it is that we have not offered a Canadian contingent to the Home authorities. The Militia Department duly transmitted individual offers to the Imperial Government and the reply from the War Office, as published in Saturday’s Globe, shows their attitude on the question. As to Canada’s furnishing a contingent the Government has not discussed the question for the reasons which I have stated, reasons which, I think, must easily be understood by everyone who understands the constitutional law on the question. The statement in the Military Gazette published this morning is a pure invention.

This interview proves that Sir Wilfrid Laurier at that time had no intention of sending a contingent.

On the 7th October Sir Wilfrid Laurier left for Chicago, and returned to Ottawa on the 12th. The Boer ultimatum had been given on the 9th October, was refused by Lord Milner on the 10th, and war opened on the 11th. This turned Sir Wilfrid back. He travelled on the train from Chicago with Mr. J. S. Willison, editor of the Globe, who urged him strongly to send a contingent at once. I called to see Sir Wilfrid on his way through Toronto in order to press the matter upon him. He had evidently made up his mind, for he told me he would send a contingent no matter whether it broke up his Government or not, that it was the right thing to do and he would do it. He was anxious, however, about how his own people would take it, and told me that Mr. Bourassa would resign as a protest, and he seemed very sorry [265]that it should be so. I was very much pleased at the decision and firmness he evinced, and have always been very grateful to him for his action in this matter, as in many other things in the interest of the Empire.

On the next day, the 13th October, the Order in Council was passed. It provided that a certain number of volunteers in units of 125 men each with a few officers, would be accepted to serve in the British army operating in South Africa, the moment they reached the coast, provided the expense of their equipment and transportation to South Africa was defrayed, either by themselves or by the Canadian Government, and the Government undertook to provide the equipment and transportation for 1,000 men.

I knew that it was the intention to send these eight units of 125 men each, as distinct units to be attached to eight different British regular infantry regiments, and that no officer of higher rank than a captain was to be sent. I felt that our men would be swallowed up and lost, and could gain no credit under such conditions. I therefore published in the Globe of the 14th October the following letter:

The Globe on Wednesday morning published in its Ottawa correspondence a proposed scheme for a Canadian contingent for the war in South Africa.

If the Imperial Government proposes, as the report indicates, to enlist a number of units of one hundred and twenty-five men each, to be attached to the British Infantry Regiments, and to be paid and maintained at imperial expense, there can be no objection raised to their doing it, in any way they like, and under any conditions that may be agreed upon between the imperial authorities and the Canadians who enlist in what will practically be British regiments. Of course, these units will not [266]be a Canadian contingent, any more than were the 40,000 Canadians who fought in the northern army during the civil war, or the large numbers who fought in the ranks of the United States army and navy in the late Spanish war. A thousand Canadians may go and fight for the Empire in the British army, but it will not be a Canadian contingent, nor will it represent Canadian sentiment, or a Canadian desire to aid the Empire. For what part will the six millions who stay at home contribute to that contingent?

If Canada sends a contingent as her share in helping the common cause, she should send a force commanded by our own officers, and paid and maintained by our own people. They should feel that they represent our country, and that the honour of all who stay at home is in their keeping. Men would go in such a corps for such a purpose who would never dream of enlisting as the ordinary Tommy Atkins, in regiments they did not know, among comrades unfamiliar, and under strange officers. A Canadian contingent sent to represent our militia and country in an imperial quarrel would attract the very best of our young men, but every officer should be a Canadian.

The slurs that have been thrown out in some quarters, that our officers are not qualified, are not based upon fact, and are grossly insulting to our people. We have had over 35,000 militia for over thirty years, we have had a Military College of the highest class for over twenty years, a permanent corps for over fifteen years, a number of our officers have been sent for long courses of instruction at Aldershot, and not long since 6,000 of our militia were engaged in a campaign of some four months’ duration. If Canada with all that experience has not produced one man fit to command a battalion of infantry, we are too inferior a type of fellaheen to offer assistance to anyone. I repudiate, however, any such idea of inferiority. It does not exist, and even if it did, our own Government should not admit it until it has been clearly proven.


It has been said that our men have not had war service, and that a lieutenant-colonel in command of a battalion in war must have war experience. I examined the list of imperial battalions published in this evening’s Telegram, as being in South Africa, or told off to be sent there, and I find, after consulting Hart’s army list, that out of these thirty-four battalions seventeen are commanded by lieutenant-colonels who have had war service, and the same number by lieutenant-colonels who have never had experience of any kind in active operations. An examination of our militia list of the 1st April last shows that in the seniority lists of lieutenant-colonels there are no less than seventy-six who have the crossed swords before their names, indicating that they have had active service. It seems strange that out of the seventy-six one could not be found sufficiently qualified. Let us send a Canadian contingent entirely our own, and at our own cost. Let us send the best we have, and then let us stand or fall with what they can do on our behalf. I think we can await the result with confidence.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier read this letter the same evening, and wrote me at once, asking me to do nothing further on that line, but to meet him at Sir Wm. Mulock’s at ten p.m. on Monday evening, the 16th, on his arrival from Bowmanville, and he asked me to get Mr. Willison to come also.

On the Monday afternoon the evening papers published a despatch from Ottawa, saying that the British Government had agreed to change their order, and allow the contingent to go as a unit under a Canadian officer. When I met Sir Wilfrid he told me he had received a telegram at Bowmanville to that effect, but was surprised to hear that it had got into the newspapers. He then told me that he had cabled to England on the Saturday evening, the 14th, and had [268]urged strongly that our men should be sent as one corps, and that it had been agreed to. Once more I was under obligations as a Canadian to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in his efforts to maintain the dignity of Canada. The feeling here was that the dividing up our force into companies attached to British regiments was the idea of General Hutton, who had the regular officer’s view as to the lack of capacity of colonial militia. The three years’ war which followed, with colonial forces side by side with imperial troops, pretty effectually settled the question whether the colonial levies were inferior or not to any of their comrades.

I was very much criticised by the more timid of my friends in Toronto for the action I had taken in favour of having a Canadian officer in command. The opinion was that Colonel Otter would, as senior permanent officer, get the position, and some of the militia officers did not have a high opinion of his capacity. The only regrettable incident connected with the Canadian contingents was the coming home of the bulk of Colonel Otter’s regiment (when their term of service had expired) in spite of Lord Roberts’ express request. The other contingents stood by their colonels, notably the Canadian Mounted Rifles under Col. Lessard, who three times, at his request, postponed their return after their term of service had expired, and only went home when there were very few men left to represent the corps.

The Canadians who represented Canada, on the whole, did exceedingly well, and brought great credit to our country. There were no Canadian surrenders, in a war where Arnold White says that there were 226 surrenders of British troops. At the skirmish of Lilliefontein, Capt. Cockburn, whom I had [269]recommended to represent my old regiment, and his troop of about thirty-five men, fought and would neither retreat nor surrender until all but four were either killed or wounded. Capt. Cockburn received the Victoria Cross for this affair. At the last battle of the war, Hart’s River, Lieut. Bruce Carruthers and about thirty-five Canadian mounted riflemen fought until the last man was killed or wounded. Lord Kitchener cabled to England that the battle was won principally through the brilliant gallantry of Lieut. Bruce Carruthers and his party.

There was one circumstance in connection with this fight that was very gratifying to me. It will be remembered that in 1890 I had been chairman of the deputation that had started the movement for raising the flag over the schools, and for holding patriotic exercises of various kinds. This movement had spread, and during the years 1890 to 1899 there had been a wave of Imperialism moving through the country. The boys at school in 1890 were in 1899 men of twenty to twenty-five years of age, the very men who formed our contingents. The proof of this spirit of Imperialism which animated these men was strikingly illustrated by an incident of this fight at Hart’s River. I will quote from the Globe of 19th April, 1902:

Standing alone in the face of the onrushing Boers at the battle of Hart’s River on the 31st March, every comrade dead or disabled, and himself wounded to the death, Charles Napier Evans fired his last cartridge and then broke his rifle over a boulder.

In the last letter thus far received by his father, Mr. James Evans, of Port Hope, Charlie looked not without foreboding into the future. “Before this reaches you we will probably be after De Wet. We can only hope [270]for a safe and victorious trip. Many a good man has died for the old flag, and why should not I? If parents had not given up their sons, and sons had not given up themselves to the British Empire, it would not be to-day the proud dictator of the world. So if one or both of us (he had a brother with him) should die, there will be no vain regrets, for we will have done what thousands have done before us, given our lives for a good cause.”

There could not be a better sermon on Imperialism than that young man’s letter to his father.




The fifth Annual Meeting of the British Empire League in Canada was held at Ottawa on the 14th March, 1900. It was a very successful gathering, no less than six Cabinet Ministers and five ex-Cabinet Ministers being present besides a large number of senators and members of the House of Commons.

About the middle of April I received a cablegram from Mr. Freeman Murray, Secretary of the League in London, by order of the Council, inviting me to go to England to attend a banquet which the League was giving in London on the 30th April, and I left New York by the Campania on the 19th April. (The cablegram was urgent and I felt it a duty to go over.) I arrived in London on Saturday evening, the 28th. All offices were closed on Sunday, so I could see no one until Monday morning, the day of the banquet. I went down to the offices of the League early and saw Mr. Murray, and found that there was to be a great demonstration. There were to be three toasts besides that of the Queen. The first the “Prince of Wales and the Royal Family,” which was to be responded to by the Prince himself, now the King; the second was to [272]“Her Majesty’s Imperial Forces,” to be proposed by Lord Salisbury and responded to by me; the third “The Australian Delegates,” to be proposed by Mr. Chamberlain and responded to by Sir Edmund Barton, of Australia. I saw the diagram of the tables and found that nearly six hundred of the foremost men of the Empire were to be present, including Lord Wolseley, Commander-in-Chief, Lord Lansdowne, Secretary of State for War, and several Field Marshals and Admirals of the Fleet. Sir Robert Herbert, the chairman of the executive, was with Mr. Murray, and I demurred at once to responding to the toast of “Her Majesty’s Imperial Forces” in the presence of Lord Wolseley and the other Field Marshals and Admirals. I asked if Lord Wolseley had been spoken to about it, and the reply was that he had not, but that Lord Lansdowne had arranged that I was to do it, and it was all right, and no one would object. I decided I would go at once and see Lord Wolseley.

Before I left, Sir Robert Herbert and Mr. Murray consulted me about the Hon. Mr. Tarte, who was in Paris and had telegraphed that he was coming to the dinner, and wished to speak in order to make an important statement. They were both averse to changing their arrangements, on account of pressure of time. I urged them, however, to arrange for Mr. Tarte to speak, and the toast list was changed and an additional toast to the British Empire League was put on at the end of it, which Mr. Tarte was to propose, and to which the Duke of Devonshire, our chairman, was to respond.

I drove then at once to the War Office and saw Lord Wolseley, and told him what the arrangements were, and the instant he heard I was to reply for [273]the Imperial Forces, he said, “Oh, that is capital, I did not know whether I might not have to reply and I was thinking it over in the train on my way to town. I am so glad you are to do it.” I said, “Was there nothing said to you about it? I will not be a party to anything that does not show proper respect for you.” His answer was, “There is no one I would rather see reply than you.” I asked him if I could say I had his consent and approval. “Certainly,” he replied.

When I arrived at the Hotel Cecil that evening I was warmly greeted by many old friends. Shortly after the Prince of Wales came in, and just afterwards Lord Salisbury, who spoke to the Duke of Devonshire and the Prince of Wales, and then looking about the room he saw me and crossed over at once and shook hands with me, and chatted for a few minutes in his usual friendly manner. As soon as he moved away several of my friends came to me and expressed surprise at the very cordial greeting he had given me. I said, “Why should he not?” and then they told me that he hardly ever knew or remembered anyone, and was very exclusive. I had never thought that of him, as he had always been so kind and friendly to me.

At the table I was third to the left of the chairman, the present Prince of Wales and the Duke of Fife between us. I had a good deal of conversation with the Prince and the Duke of Fife during the dinner. Among other things, the Prince said to me, “Do you not feel nervous when you have to address a gathering like this?” I said, “Not generally, sir, but I must confess I never had to tackle an outfit like this before.” He seemed much amused at my western way of putting it.

I had not known anything of what I was wanted for [274]till that morning, so I had little time to think over what I should say. I had during the afternoon thought out the general line of a short after-dinner speech, but when I sat down at the table and looked around the room I was impressed with the fact that I had been thrust into what was a great Imperial function, and I had to vary my plan and pitch my speech in a different key.

The King, then Prince of Wales, in responding to his health, made a very fine speech, and referred to the attempt to assassinate him, which had occurred not long before in Belgium. Lord Salisbury then proposed “Her Majesty’s Imperial Forces” and in doing so paid me a compliment that I appreciated more than any that has ever been paid me. He ended his speech in these words: “I beg to couple with the toast the name of my friend, Colonel Denison, who has been one of the most earnest and industrious, as well as most successful supporters of the Empire for many years, as I have well and personally known.”

I spoke as follows:

May it please your Royal Highness, your Grace, my Lords and Gentlemen, and Ladies—I arrived at the offices of the League this morning, and found to my astonishment that I was put down to respond to the toast of the Imperial Forces. I am, I suppose, the junior officer in this room, but I have the consent and approval of my old commander, the Commander-in-Chief, so that I have very great pleasure in responding to this toast. I am glad to be here to-night, and I thank the Council of this League for their kindness in cabling an invitation across the Atlantic to me to come. I have come 3,500 miles to be with you to-night, to show my sympathy with the cause, and to bring to you a message from the British Empire League in Canada. [275]I need not refer to what our League has done in our country, and is still doing, in educating public opinion in favour of the great idea of the unity of the Empire. We have been doing many things in that cause lately. You know what we have done in regard to preferential trade. What we have done in giving advantages to the West Indian Colonies is another proof that we are willing to put our hands in our pockets for the benefit of our fellow-countrymen. We Canadians are to-day paying a cent a pound more for our sugar to help labour in the markets of the West Indies. We have also had a great deal to do in helping to carry out the scheme of Mr. Henniker-Heaton for Imperial Penny Postage and in this sense we have done all we could. Now I want to say a few words to-night on behalf of our League on the question of Imperial Defence. We have thought over this thing seriously, and we see at this moment, in looking around the world, a great many things that we cannot help viewing with anxiety. We see every other great nation armed to the teeth; we see a feverish anxiety on the part of these other great nations to increase their navies to a very considerable extent. All that is something which should cause us to reflect very seriously as to our position, and do all that we can as an Empire to combine all our forces, so that, if at any future time the blow comes, the full force of the British Empire can strike in the swiftest and most powerful manner possible. We know that the Navy is the main defence of us all, and we know what great strides are being made abroad in regard to the navies of the different Powers, and it is our desire—and we have educated public opinion in Canada to that point—that there shall be a Royal Naval Reserve formed among our 70,000 hardy and vigorous sailors. We have got the people, Parliament, and the Government with us, and it will only take a little time and departmental work to have this matter carried out. That is one point. There is another. We are exceedingly [276]anxious about your food supply. I know a candid friend is not always a pleasant companion, and this may be to some an unpleasant subject, but I have come to speak to you about it. Your food supply depends on your Navy, and if anything should happen to prevent for a few months the English Navy having the control of the sea, where would you people be? Now, we know that if the Mother Country goes down, the Colonies might hold together, but still what could we do if the heart of the Empire were struck? It would be like stabbing a man to the heart, and therefore we are anxious about your food supply because we, as a part of this Empire, are interested in it. Now, then, you are putting all your eggs in one basket. You are putting everything on the control of the Navy, and I want to say this to you to-night—I am again the candid friend—that you might have the absolute control of the sea and yet, by a combination of two Powers, with an embargo on food, you could be brought to your knees. I ask if it is right that things should be left like that? Should the greatest, the wealthiest, and the most powerful Empire in history be dependent on foreigners for its food supply? I shall not make any suggestions as to what should be done, but I have been asked to urge you to give earnest consideration to the point. So much for that. Now, with reference to the contingents. We sent our contingents to this war willingly. We not only did it willingly, but before the war came on our Parliament by a unanimous vote expressed its sympathy with and approval of the conduct of the Imperial Government, and therefore we had to stand by it. We have sent our men willingly—some 3,000 of them. We would have sent a great many more if it had been a great war, and I may tell you that at the opening of the war we all misunderstood it. One of our prominent statesmen said to me, “Denison, this is only a small war,” and Mr. Alexander McNeill, of the Canadian House of Commons, one of the staunchest friends of the Empire said: “This is a small war, and it is not necessary to use [277]a steam hammer to break a nut.” Another prominent statesman said to me after the ultimatum was issued: “If this were a great war and the Empire in danger we should have to send our men by the 50,000 and vote war credits by the hundred million.”

When that man said that he voiced, I believe, the feelings of the Canadian people. We sent the contingents, and the men, as I said, turned out willingly. Officers resigned their commissions all over the country and went into the ranks. In fact in one regiment there was only one private. (Laughter.) I am going to let you have that joke; if I had finished my sentence you would not have had it. There was one regiment in which only one private was able to get in to the ranks of the contingent. The others were all officers and non-commissioned officers. That sort of thing went on all over the country, and although they were only militia men, although they were only raw troops, I am proud to be able to say to-night, on the authority of Lord Roberts’ despatches, that our men have been able to hold their own with the others. There is one more remark I wish to make. The people of Canada have been struck by the extraordinary way in which the Mother Country has entered into this war. The manner in which it has been done has thrilled our people with admiration. We have seen the best blood in England spilt in this campaign. What for? In order to uphold the rights of one or two hundred thousand of our fellow-colonists in one small part of the Empire. That has been a great object-lesson to us all. We have seen men of wealth, of birth, and position leave their comfortable homes by hundreds; we have seen them leave all the luxury and ease of the greatest and finest and highest civilisation that this world has ever seen, to undergo dangers, trials, wounds, and in many cases death, all for this cause. Now, this has been an object-lesson to us all in Canada. If your people will do that for one colony we feel you would be likely to do it for another. Whether you would or not [278]I say it is a fine thing to have an Empire to fight for that can produce such men, and it is a proud thing for our contingents to be able to fight alongside such comrades. With reference still to this point about Imperial defence, I wish to say that we Canadians are very anxious about the establishment of all-British cables round the world, and we have tried to do our share in regard to the Pacific cable. We who are connected with the League in Canada have written and spoken and done everything we could to stir up public opinion, so that the Canadian people might have their share in that cable, and we have been alarmed lest anything should occur to affect adversely that project; and here let me say that I am glad to see present to-night my fellow-countrymen from Australia. I congratulate them on the possibility of the federation of their country, for we Canadians know by experience what a good thing it has been for us, and we believe that it will be equally good for them. But I wish to say to them, while here to-night, that while the establishment of the Pacific cable might have the effect of benefiting us in a pecuniary way by cheapening rates, that has not been the motive which has influenced people in our country. I for one may say that I never in my life sent a cable to Australia, I never received one, I never saw one, and I never met a friend who had, and on the committee of which I was one of the members I believe that that was pretty generally the experience. Allow me to say in explanation of this that I live in Toronto, well inland, where there is not any great communication with Australia, and therefore the question of cheap rates had nothing to do with our action. We wanted to see an all-British cable, so that if there should be a war the man in charge of the Navy should have the opportunity of handling that Navy to the best advantage. It is for that reason we Canadians want an all-British Pacific cable, and I am called upon to ask you here to use what influence you can, that, in any arrangements for [279]new cables anywhere, there shall be a provision that the Empire may buy them at a fair price whenever it may wish, and I hope that the Empire, with the assistance of the Colonies, may some day unite and have their cables all over the world. Now, with reference to the Imperial forces, the Marquess of Salisbury did not say a great deal about the Imperial army. I think that I should like to say a word or two for them to-night. I think they have shown that in pluck and daring, and in the courage which has carried the British people through so much, they have been fully equal to the traditions of the past. With reference to the future I want to say one word. When this war is over I hope there will be an Imperial Conference called. I think the moment would be most opportune for leading men from the leading Colonies to meet together and see on how many points they could agree. I quite agree with the noble Marquess in saying that we must move slowly and along the lines of the least resistance; that we must move step by step, slowly and carefully, as we have been doing, and not be in too great a hurry for a written Constitution. That is the policy we have been advocating in our country, and it is the right one. I am afraid I have kept you too long. I am glad indeed to have been here to meet you to-night, and I am glad to see with us my friend, the Hon. J. I. Tarte, the first French Canadian who joined our League, now long years ago; and if there is anything more to be said on behalf of Canada I am sure that he will be willing to say it for me.

It will be noticed that when I said that there was one regiment in which there was only one private, the audience laughed loudly and interrupted me before I finished my sentence. I turned the laugh on them to the evident delight of the present Prince of Wales, who turned to me beaming with amusement when [280]I sat down and said, “You nervous! you—why you could speak anywhere about anything.” He was evidently pleased, for when my brother, Admiral John Denison, who commanded the Niobe, which escorted him as far as Gibraltar when he left for Australia, met him at Gibraltar, he spoke to him at once about my speech at that dinner.

Lord Wolseley, who was sitting on my left, Lord Avebury and Sir Edmund Barton being between us, tore off a piece of a menu card and wrote on it, “My dear friend, Bravo! Bravo! Wolseley,” and passed it up to me. Everyone was very kind. The King came and spoke to me for a few minutes as he was going out, and said he was pleased with my speech. The Duke of Cambridge, Lord Salisbury, Lord Lansdowne, and many others spoke in friendly terms, and altogether I was well pleased that I had crossed the Atlantic to do that one piece of work for Canada and the Empire.

The accounts in the Press were very full of the idea of the importance and success of the function.

The British Empire Review said:

It is unnecessary to dilate here upon the imposing features of the great assembly which congregated in the Grand Hall of the Hotel Cecil on 30th April. By common consent, as our principal contemporaries bear witness in the extracts from their leading columns, which are appended to the full report of the speeches at the banquet printed at the end of the present issue of the Review, no more memorable Imperial Demonstration has ever been held in London. Certainly the Executive Committee was justified in taking the exceptional course of inviting Colonel Denison to travel 3,500 miles in order to be present, and he in turn can have no reason to regret his acceptance of the invitation. Many of those present, from the highest [281]downwards, have expressed the opinion that, taking into consideration the occasion of the banquet, the attendance of persons of note, the speeches, the general excellence of all the arrangements, and the dinner itself, the event stands unrivalled within living memory.

On the 17th May, 1900, a meeting of the Council of the League was held, principally to hear an address from me on behalf of the Canadian Branch. The late Earl of Derby, K.G., occupied the chair. I brought before the Council the resolution with which our Executive Committee had entrusted me when I was leaving:

Resolved, that the Executive Committee of the British Empire League in Canada wishes, in view of the President’s coming visit to England, to reiterate its well-defined opinions upon certain matters of Imperial unity. It strongly feels the desirability of the Pacific cable project, the importance to the Empire of some mutual tariff preference between its various parts, the advisability of holding another Imperial Conference to discuss matters of defence, trade, and other interests of the Empire, and the vital necessity of encouraging the production of a sufficient national food supply under the British flag.

I pressed all these points upon the Council in a speech which is reported in the British Empire Review for June, 1900.

I had been discussing these questions and particularly the food supply with many people and found an undercurrent of feeling much stronger in that direction than on my previous visits to England, and I felt sure that if any political leader would come out and boldly advocate our policy he would get a strong support. I knew Lord Salisbury was in full sympathy with my [282]views, but the cold reception given to him in 1890 and 1892, when he tried to lead public opinion in that direction, had thoroughly discouraged him, and he refrained from further efforts, not because he did not feel the importance of the question, but he felt it was hopeless. He wrote me on 1st March, 1901:

I am old enough to remember the rise of Free Trade and the contempt with which the apprehensions of the protectionists of that day were received, but a generation must pass before the fallacies then proclaimed will be unlearnt. There are too many people whose minds were formed under their influence, and until those men have died out, no change of policy can be expected.

Mr. Chamberlain still held back, but I felt that he would come to our policy as soon as he could see any hope of a successful movement. I was anxious to test the public feeling, but did not see any opportunity, until I met Sir Howard Vincent about the middle of May, and he told me he was going down to Chelmsford, to deliver a lecture on “South Africa.” The meeting was organised by Major Sir Carne Rasch, who was nursing the constituency, and intending to be a candidate in the Conservative interest at the general elections, which were to come off that autumn. Sir Howard Vincent said he would arrange that I should have half an hour to say something about Canada. I agreed to go, and decided that I would feel the pulse of the masses on the subject of food supply, but I said nothing of this to anyone, for I felt that neither Sir Howard nor Sir Carne Rasch would wish to run any risks. I began very cautiously but soon had the audience with me. I was continually cheered, and went on farther and farther, until I advocated a duty on corn, or a bounty on wheat, or a bonus to farmers to [283]keep wheat in ricks. I had been astonished at the friendliness of the audience, but when I got to that point, Sir Carne Rasch and Sir Howard Vincent evidently became nervous, and Sir Howard whispered to me that we would have to get off in order to catch the train, and I stopped instantly. On driving to the station I saw that both my friends were uneasy, and I said, “I hope I did not make any bad breaks”; Sir Carne said, “Oh, I think not.” I replied, “You can easily say that I am an ignorant colonial and did not know any better.” He laughed at this, but I could see he was a little nervous as to the result.

About four or five days after this I was in the lobby of the House of Commons, when Sir Carne Rasch came out of the House, and as soon as he saw me he came across to me at once, and said he was glad to see me, and that he was going to get my address from Sir Howard Vincent. He went on to say that the people at Chelmsford had been delighted with my speech, that letters had been written to him, and he had been asked to get me to go down to Chelmsford and repeat my speech and enlarge upon it. He said he was astonished, that the people had been discussing it ever since, and he offered to secure the largest hall in Chelmsford if I would go down, and that he would guarantee it would not hold all that would wish to come. I was leaving in three or four days for home, and had no opportunity, and so had to decline.

A day or two afterwards, in the Mafeking demonstration, I was looking at the crowds near the Piccadilly Circus, when I heard a man say to another, “Is not that Colonel Denison?” I knew I had seen him before, and I said, “Yes, it is; do you come from Toronto?” “No,” he replied, “I am from Chelmsford, and heard [284]you speak there last week,” and he introduced me to three friends from Chelmsford. One was the Mayor, another the editor of the Essex County Chronicle. They at once asked me if I was going down to Chelmsford again, and whether Major Rasch had seen me, and they urged me to go, telling me that the people were very anxious that I should speak there again, and that they were busily discussing the various points which I had raised.

I naturally watched for the return of the election in the following October, for I was very anxious that my friend Sir Carne Rasch should be elected. The return for Chelmsford was Major Rasch, 4,978, H. C. S. Henry, Lib., 1,849, a majority of 3,129. I felt then that my speech had not hurt him, or that if it had it did not matter. This incident had an important influence upon the subsequent work of our League in Canada for several years.




I reported to the Executive Committee the details of my work in England, and in the Annual Report for 1901 the Executive Committee strongly supported the suggestion, which I had made at the banquet, that an Imperial Conference should be held during 1901, to consider many important matters affecting the safety and welfare of the Empire. The Report went on to say:

The time was never so opportune. The public mind is full of these Imperial questions. Australia is now in a position to act as a unit. Canada has long been ready. The people of England have at last awakened to the vastness, the importance, and future possibilities of their great outside Empire, and posterity would never forgive the statesmen of to-day if so favourable a chance to carry out a great work was lost. Your Committee consider that an Imperial Consultative Council should be established, and that immediate steps should be taken to thoroughly organise and combine the military and naval power of the Empire.

During the year 1901 I was consulting with the Executive Committee, and with individual members of it from time to time, and expressed the view that we had accomplished our work in Canada, that [286]Commercial Union had been killed, the desire for reciprocity with the States had died out, that both political parties had become alive to the importance of mutual Imperial preferential trade, and that the Canadian Government had given a preference to Great Britain and the West Indies, that penny postage had been established, Canadian contingents had been sent to fight in an Imperial quarrel, that the Pacific cable was being constructed principally through the determined action of Canada, and that I felt the whole movement in favour of Imperial Unification in the future would have to be fought out in Great Britain.

My experience in Chelmsford had convinced me that there was a strong undercurrent of feeling in Great Britain in favour of tariff reform, but that nearly everyone seemed afraid to “bell the cat” or to face the tremendous influence of the bogey of Free Trade. I found many people quite willing to admit privately the necessity of some change, but no one ready to come out and boldly advocate tariff reform, or any kind of protection. I said that if a few Canadians, good platform speakers, would go over to England, and make a campaign through the cities and towns, pleading with the people to unite with the colonies to consolidate and strengthen the Empire, the support they would receive would be very great, and might lead to securing the assistance of some prominent political leaders.

I was, and always have been, convinced that so many influences of every kind were working in our direction that in time our policy would necessarily be successful.

This was discussed from time to time, and it was finally decided that a deputation should go to England before the Imperial Conference, which we knew would [287]be held at the time of the coronation in 1902, and that the deputation should advocate a concise and definite policy, easily understood, which would contain the substance of the trade system that we felt to be so necessary for the stability of the Empire. This was crystallised into the following resolution:

That a special duty of five or ten per cent. should be imposed at every port in the British possessions on all foreign goods; the proceeds to be devoted to Imperial defence, by which each part would not only be doing its duty toward the common defence, but at the same time be receiving a preference over the foreigner in the markets of the Empire.

Having decided upon this point, it was considered advisable that before we went to England we should first test feeling in different centres in Canada, to make sure that the policy we were advocating was one that Canadians generally would approve. I decided to go to New Brunswick and lay the question before a public meeting in St. John and discuss the matter with prominent men, and in that way test public opinion. I had a very successful meeting in St. John on the 28th November, 1901, where one senator and four members of the Commons and of the local legislature spoke approvingly of the resolution, which was carried unanimously. The Press in New Brunswick was very favourable. The St. John Sun, in its leading article the next day, said:

We have no hesitation in endorsing the policy propounded by the President of the British Empire League, and supported at last night’s meeting by all the speakers on both sides of politics and the unanimous vote of the audience.


The article concluded in the following words:

Nor is it out of place to say that Colonel Denison’s manner of presenting the proposition was worthy of the great theme. He is himself intensely impressed with the solemn dignity of the subject, which touches the destiny of our Empire, and this grave interest was borne in on the audience, and pervaded the other speeches, even those in which a lighter tone prevailed. For this reason, perhaps because most men speak better when they speak strongly, the speeches following the address of the evening were, like Colonel Denison’s itself, in tone and quality distinctly superior to those which one usually hears on public occasions.

The Morning Post, of London, and the Naval and Military Record both had long articles commenting upon this meeting and approving of the spirit shown, but not speaking hopefully of the possibilities of Great Britain accepting the principle of preferential duties.

From St. John I went to Montreal, where I addressed a successful meeting on the same subject on the 30th November, 1901. On the 24th January, 1902, I addressed a large meeting in London, Ontario, the Bishop of Huron in the chair. The same resolution was carried unanimously, and the three newspapers—the Conservative, the Liberal, and the Independent—all united in warm approval of the policy, as did the other speakers, who were chosen equally from both sides of politics.

Some time later a meeting was organised at Owen Sound, which was addressed by Mr. Alexander McNeill, Vice-President of the League, advocating the same policy, which was unanimously endorsed.

The seventh Annual Meeting of the League at [289]Ottawa, at which this policy was also endorsed, took place on the 20th February, 1902.

By this time the Executive Committee had become confident that they had the mass of the Canadian people behind them in their proposed policy, and steps were taken to have a deputation proceed to England to endeavour, by public meetings and otherwise, to bring the matter before the attention of the people, and if possible to inaugurate public discussion of the policy.

The following resolution was carried by the Executive Committee:

The Executive Committee of the British Empire League in Canada, having regard to the rapid growth of national sentiment in the greater colonies and the strong and vigorous Imperial sentiment throughout the Empire, is of opinion that it is most important that advantage should be taken of the coming Imperial Conference in London to secure some definite and forward action towards the accomplishment of the objects of the British Empire League as a whole.

The Executive Committee, with this view, requests the President of the League in Canada to visit England soon, if possible, and advocate the already expressed opinions of the Canadian branch by addressing public meetings, and otherwise, as he may find expedient and proper, in order to assist in influencing public opinion in favour of these objects.

That he also be empowered and requested to advocate that a special duty of 5 to 10 per cent. should be imposed at every port in the British possessions on all foreign goods, in order to provide a fund for Imperial Defence, which fund should be administered by a Committee or Council in which the colonies should have representation.

The Executive Committee also expresses the hope that the Hon. George E. Foster, the Hon. George W. [290]Ross, and Dr. George R. Parkin, C.M.G., if they may be able to visit England this year, will assist in this work, and give their valuable aid to the cause.

A copy of this resolution was sent to the head office in England, with a request that I should have an opportunity of addressing the Council of the League in April. A favourable reply was received.




I left for England on the 10th April, 1902, and arrived in London on 21st April. The following members of the League and of the Executive Committee, staunch friends and supporters of the cause, came to the station to see me off: W. B. McMurrich, President of the Navy League, H. J. Wickham, J. M. Clark, John T. Small, George E. Evans, Fraser Lefroy, H. M. Mowat, K.C., Colonel Grasett, and J. W. Curry, K.C. I was much impressed with the tone of their conversation; they seemed to feel that I was going upon an almost hopeless errand, but let me know how strongly they sympathised with me. I can never forget the loyal support and assistance I have always received in all circumstances from the spirited and unselfish patriotism of the advocates of Imperialism in Canada. The greatest satisfaction I have is to feel that for so many years I was working in a cause which rallied around it such a splendid galaxy of upright and honourable men.

Mr. Foster was not able to go to England that year, but he went the following year, and did great work in speaking through England, and in Scotland, in support of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy of Tariff Reform, which was what we had been working for for so many years. The [292]Hon. George W. Ross came over late, being delayed by the Ontario General Elections, and he supported me by a powerful and eloquent speech at the annual meeting of the League in London. Dr. Parkin was also delayed, but he had never fully accepted our trade policy, and as negotiations opened at once between him and the Rhodes Trust to secure his services for their work, he was not able to address any meeting, so that for two months the whole burden fell upon me, and I was obliged unaided to endeavour to break the ice, and get the movement started.

To look back now it is hard to call to mind the state of affairs in England at this time. No prominent statesman had said one word, in public, in support of mutual preferential tariffs except Lord Salisbury, and he was discouraged and disheartened by the lack of support, and at that time was in such failing health that no assistance could be expected from him. I felt that I was facing a very hard proposition, and one almost hopeless in its prospects. I was afraid of being ignored or simply sponged out. I was very anxious to be attacked. I knew if I was vehemently assailed it would be a great advantage, for I felt I had the facts and arguments, and could defeat my opponents in discussion. I had been for years studying the question, reading constantly articles pro and con., and had classified, organised, and indexed my material, until I felt every confidence in my cause.

I arrived in London on the 21st April, and on that morning my first stroke of good luck occurred. The papers had just published the announcement of the Morgan combine of the Atlantic Steamship Lines. This had positively startled the British people. It shook them up and alarmed them, and caused them for [293]the first time for many years to be uneasy as to their pre-eminence in mercantile marine. They were in a mood to listen to questions as to their future prospects. I used Morgan’s action in conversation to support my view that Great Britain must follow the advice of the Prince of Wales and “wake up.”

The Daily Express sent a representative to interview me on the Morgan affair, and on the 25th April, 1902, it published an interview of over a column in length. I pointed out the widespread danger of Morgan’s combination if it succeeded, that the Canadian Pacific Railway might be secured, and then no other line of steamships could compete, for if the United States combine controlled the railways, they would control the freights, and so the vessels; and if they dominated the Atlantic and Pacific, the British Empire would be split in twain. I wound up the interview by a plan to checkmate the combine, saying, “The right method is to run a competing line, tax everything the combine vessels bring into this country and let the things that the other line brings come in free.”

On the 1st May the Express had another interview on the same question.

On the 26th April I spoke at the banquet given to the Lacrosse Team at the Hotel Cecil, and touched upon Imperial questions, but the newspapers reported nothing.

On the 28th April Sir Gilbert Parker gave a lunch for me at the Constitutional Club, and invited several editors to meet me. On the 30th April I attended the annual dinner of the Royal Colonial Institute, where I was assigned to respond to the toast of “The United Empire.” This was my first chance of speaking to a large audience, and it was composed [294]of the foremost men in England interested in the Colonial Empire. Sir George Taubman Goldie sat next to me and proposed the toast. It came last. An extra toast to the Houses of Parliament inserted to give Lord Halsbury, the Lord Chancellor, an opportunity to speak, made it very late when my turn came. Sir Taubman Goldie said it was too late and he would not speak. I felt it was too important a chance for me to allow to slip, and I said to him that I must speak for five minutes.

The next morning none of the daily papers had any report of my speech. The Times included it under the words “other toasts followed.” This was the treatment I had been most afraid of. I knew there was no chance of doing anything if I was simply ignored. It was not that my speech was not important, but it was late and I was a stranger. Mr. I. N. Ford, representative of the New York Tribune and the Toronto Globe, was present, and he at one saw the importance of the policy I propounded, and cabled to New York, and all over the States, and to Toronto a report of the dinner. His report, in view of subsequent developments, may be reproduced:

The most interesting episode of the last twenty-four hours has been the breath of fresh air at the Imperial function, the annual banquet of the Royal Colonial Institute in Whitehall Rooms. The speaking began after nine o’clock and was perfunctory for two hours. Lord Grey, as chairman, opened the proceedings quietly, and there was nothing of exceptional interest. The Hon. Henry Copeland, representing New South Wales, suggested that the three sons of the Prince of Wales, should have the titles of Princes of Canada, of Australia and of South Africa, and the daughter Princess of New Zealand. Lieut.-General Leslie Rundle asserted [295]that a good feeling had been brought about between the colonial contingents and the British Army. The Lord Chancellor talked about the utility of Parliament. Lord Grey paid a tribute to the unselfish idealism of Mr. Cecil Rhodes.

It was not until eleven that real interest was created by the response of Colonel Denison to the toast of “The United Empire.” He was only on his feet five minutes, but he carried the representative audience of 240 colonials with him.

He then gave a summary of the speech and concluded:

Colonel Denison’s policy excited murmurs of dissent at first, but was applauded with great vigour at the close as a practical sequel to the tax on grain and flour.

I give the verbatim report of this speech, and it will be seen that it contains the whole principle of the Tariff Reform movement which has since made such headway:

As a member of this Institute, and one who has worked most of his life in the interests of the United Empire, I should have very great pleasure in responding to this toast at some little length, but I must be brief at this late hour. This year is one of the most important years of the history of the Empire. We speak of the United Empire, and although we have an Empire which in one sense is united, still in another sense it is not a United Empire. It is not combined in any way, or organised for defence, and I think it is absolutely necessary that steps should be taken at the earliest possible moment to have it properly combined. The coming conference of Premiers will be one of the most important events in the history of the British race. I am under the impression that when this conference meets it will either do some good work in connection with the unification of the Empire, or it [296]may be that either through sloth, or indolence, or lack of appreciation of the extraordinary importance of the occasion, the critical moment may be allowed to lapse, and we may soon see our career as a great and powerful people approaching a close. (“No.”) I certainly hope not, but speaking as a Canadian watching closely the trend of affairs in that country, and having had a good deal of work in the fight we had some fifteen years ago against Commercial Union with the United States, I tell you this is a most critical period, and that this Empire must combine for defence and for trade. For defence because every great thinker and every man who has studied the subject knows that we may have war upon us at any moment. Take the last words of that great statesman, Lord Dufferin, when he said that nothing, neither a sense of justice, nor the precepts of religion, nor the instincts of humanity, would prevent any of these foreign nations from attacking us at the first favourable opportunity. Why did Lord Salisbury two years ago, at the Primrose League gathering, say that “The whole thing may come as a wave upon us.” Is it not necessary that we should combine the Empire both for trade and defence? Now we have considered this subject carefully in Canada, and held meetings all over the country, and the proposal we wish to see adopted at this conference—a proposal I have been asked by the British Empire League to lay before you—is that at that conference every representative there should agree to a proposal to put from five to ten per cent. duty on all foreign goods at every port in every part of the Empire. What for? Not for Protection or Free Trade, but to form a fund for defence. That is why it has got to be done, and you will require large sums of money to put the thing on a proper footing. We want also to combine for trade. We want some proposal which would help to a certain extent to protect the trade of the Empire in every part, which would tend not only to protect trade in every part, but to stop the merciless attacks made on the trade of this country [297]by foreign nations. We have never had to face such a pitiless commercial war in all our history. The commercial war in the time of Napoleon was a mere incident in actual war, but we are to-day feeling the attacks at every turn. I think this proposal which the Canadian people wish to see adopted would have one other effect. We have 400,000,000 of people in this Empire, but only 50,000,000 of British stock and bound together by ties of kindred, race, and blood. The rest are satisfied to be in our Empire. But why? On account of the just administration of affairs, the freedom and liberties they enjoy under the British flag, and for one other reason also, because of the great prestige we have hitherto held as a great and dominant power. The proposal we suggest would have the effect of giving a direct trade interest to all these alien races under our flag to-day.

I believe our good friend Mr. Seddon, of New Zealand, will soon be in this country and will be with us on this point. I hope our Australian friends will be with us also, and that the people of England will be willing to make some slight sacrifices for the purpose of holding our great and powerful Empire together, and at the same time we also shall be making sacrifices, and doing much more than ever before for the common cause.

This banquet was on the 30th April. As an indication of the interest taken in the matter in the United States, on the 5th May the Chicago Tribune had a portrait of my brother, Lieut.-Colonel Septimus Denison, which they believed was mine. Over the top were the words “Projector of plan for Union of the British Empire against the World”; at the foot of the portrait “Colonel Septimus Denison.”

Several hundred representatives of the British Colonies grew wildly enthusiastic at a banquet in [298]London on Wednesday night, over a plan proposed by Colonel Denison, of Toronto, for a union of Great Britain and all its colonies for commercial defence against the rest of the world. Colonel Denison’s scheme, as outlined in his speech, is to levy a tariff of from five to ten per cent. at all British and colonial ports on all goods not from Great Britain or one of its colonies and establish free trade within the Empire.

On the 4th May I lunched with Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, and discussed with him the policy that I was advocating. He argued the matter with me, bringing forward any number of objections, which I answered as well as I could. I soon came to the conclusion that he was quietly taking my measure, and testing my knowledge of the question. I then warmed up in my arguments and put my views strongly and emphatically, and soon came to the conclusion, from a mischievous expression in his eye, that he was not as much opposed to me as his remarks would lead one to think. When leaving I felt that although he did not say a word in support of my plan, yet he was not altogether unfavourable.

On the 5th May I met Sir Douglas Straight, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, and after some conversation he suggested to Mr. Sydney Low, who was with us, to interview me on behalf of the Pall Mall Gazette, and a long interview appeared on the front pages of that paper on the 12th May, in which I put our views forward clearly and strongly. After pointing out the precarious condition of Great Britain’s food supply I said that we in Canada felt that it would be a sheer waste of money for us to pay for ships, troops, and coaling stations, while taking no precautions to secure adequate supplies of food, and that a preferential tax [299]on food would help greatly to overcome the danger. I concluded with the following words:

I do not wish to enter upon the whole economical and financial question; but everything I have seen and read convinces me that your industrial situation is a perilous one, that you are paying for your imports largely out of capital, and that you are depending far too much on the profits of the carrying trade, of which, as you have been very forcibly reminded during the past few weeks, you cannot expect to have a virtual monopoly much longer. If you do not speedily make arrangements to secure yourselves some markets, where you will be able to deal at an advantage, you will be in a very serious position indeed in the course of the next few years. The opportunity of solving at once the defensive and the industrial problem seems to us to have arrived; and we have great hopes that British statesmen and the British public will take advantage of it.

On the 6th May there was a special meeting of the Council of the League held in a room at the House of Commons, at which Lord Avebury presided. It was called to hear my appeal for assistance in obtaining opportunities for placing the views of the Canadian Branch before the British people. There were a number of prominent men present, among others the Duke of Abercorn, Earl Egerton of Tatton, Sir Walter Butler, Sir Edward Carbutt, Rt. Hon. Sir John Cockburn, Sir Charles Fremantle, W. Herbert Daw, Sir Robert Herbert, W. H. Holland, M.P., Dr. Culver James, Sir Guilford Molesworth, Sir Charles Tupper, and Sir Fred Young. Lord Avebury introduced me and I put my case before them. After I had spoken at some length Sir Charles Tupper followed, supporting me strongly. Mr. W. H. Holland—now Sir William [300]Holland—criticised my views from the Free Trade Manchester standpoint, and was totally opposed to me. Captain Lee, M.P., was critical but not hostile. Mr. Talbot Baines was not favourable to my views, but thought I should have opportunities of putting them before the public. Sir Guilford Molesworth and Sir Fred Young supported me strongly, as did Dr. Culver James and Sir John Cockburn. I wound up the discussion, particularly replying to Sir William Holland’s remarks. Among other things Sir William Holland had said:

I might say that the trade of which I know the most, the cotton trade, would be affected considerably by such a scheme. If an important duty of five or ten per cent. were imposed on all cotton coming into this country from territory outside the limits of the British Empire, we should at once penalise that great industry by enhancing the cost of the raw material by five or ten per cent., and as the cotton trade is largely dependent on markets outside British territory, I am afraid it might have a disastrous effect on our ability to compete in the great neutral markets of the world, if our raw material was penalised to that extent.

When I rose to reply, I said:

Will Mr. Holland kindly wait a few moments? I have just a few words to say in reply to his remarks. He is interested in the cotton trade, and has given us one or two ideas upon it. . . . With regard to cotton, I will give you one fair warning about that. You are engaged at this moment—the British people are engaged—in one of the most pitiless and merciless wars ever waged in commercial history. Napoleon’s war was nothing to it. The United States have made up their mind that they are going to use you up in every quarter. They are taking your ships from you, [301]and they are going to take your boot trade altogether. I came over here with the president of their great combine, and he explained it to me. “We shall destroy the whole shoe trade of England,” is what he said. Now about your cotton trade. I want to warn you. Do not be surprised if before long there will be a heavy export tax put upon cotton in the United States, because I understand that they may likely keep it for manufacturing with themselves. If that is done—and it may be easily done—such a proposition as I have made of putting a ten per cent. duty on imports into the ports of the empire might cause cotton to be grown in Africa, in India, in Egypt, and in other places, and I think for the benefit of having cotton grown inside the Empire it will be a good thing to put on the duty, because you are not safe for a day with the United States. They are waging war upon us now at every turn.

Sir Wm. Holland evidently was impressed with my remarks about the danger of the United States reducing their sale of cotton. It was only about a month after that the public heard of the organisation of the British Cotton Supply Association, with a subscription of £50,000 to make experiments in growing cotton under the British flag. I have always had a very high opinion of Sir Wm. Holland ever since.

It was unanimously resolved at that meeting “to give Colonel Denison every possible facility for stating his views to Chambers of Commerce and other influential bodies without committing the League to an endorsement, and it was referred to the Executive Committee to embody this decision in a formal resolution in the name of the Council.”

At a meeting of the Executive Committee held on [302]the 15th May the resolution was passed in these words:

That while maintaining its traditional policy of neutrality in all matters affecting tariffs and fiscal arrangements, the Council of the League have pleasure in resolving that it will do everything in its power to provide facilities for Colonel Denison, the distinguished President of the League in Canada, to express publicly his views before the Chambers of Commerce and other important bodies in this country.

This resolution was published in the newspapers, and the action of the Council was known to the Liberal leaders.

On the 7th May I dined at the Annual Banquet of the Newspaper Society, and responded to the toast of “The Guests,” where I had an admirable opportunity of bringing my proposition before a large number of editors of newspapers from all over Great Britain.

The Aberdeen Journal commenting upon this dinner said:—

Perhaps the most interesting speech of the evening was the last one. It was delivered by Colonel Denison, a Canadian, and President of the Empire League in Canada. He stated that he had been sent over to this country to do what he could to promote a movement for the defence of the Empire, and indicated that one of the proposals to be discussed at the Colonial Conference at the coronation would be one to impose a duty on foreign imports at every port in the Empire, in order to raise an Imperial Defence Fund common to the whole Empire. He said the duty might be 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 per cent. There was one exclamation of dissent when this proposal was mentioned, but Colonel Denison’s breezy, confident manner, and evidently strong conviction on the subject, excited general sympathy. [303]Lord Tweedmouth’s attitude during the Colonel’s speech, as it may be described, suggesting an Imperial war tax, was rather quizzical than sympathetic.

By this time the newspapers were beginning to notice my work. Fortunately for me about the same time Mr. Seddon had been speaking on similar lines in South Africa, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier also in the Canadian House of Commons. This alarmed the Liberal party, and the Manchester Guardian began to criticise and find fault with me to my great satisfaction, for I knew I could stand anything better than being ignored.

A friend of mine in the Liberal ranks told me about this time that the leading Liberals were in a great state of anxiety at my work. They believed, he said, that Chamberlain, Seddon, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier had all agreed that the scheme was to be put through at the Imperial Conference, and that I had come over as an advance agent, to break the ice, to open the discussion, and prepare the way. I evaded making any definite reply to this suggestion, jokingly saying that I was not surprised to hear that they were anxious.

I had another hint that the Liberal party purposed arranging for a great meeting at Leeds, at which Lord Rosebery was to speak, and a direct effort made to rally the whole Liberal party together, under the banner of Free Trade, as against the proposed corn tax, and the preferential arrangements with the colonies, I thought it desirable that I should have a talk with Lord Rosebery at once, and wrote asking him for an interview. He invited me to lunch the next day, the 8th May. There was no one present but his son and his secretary, and I appealed to him earnestly, appealed [304]to his sympathy with Imperialism, and to his services to Imperial Federation, and urged him to assist me in my work. I pointed out the dangers of the precarious food supply, and the disintegrating influences that might break up the Empire, and put my case as clearly as possible. He seemed to get more and more serious as he saw all the arguments on that side, and when I was leaving I said to him; “It is too bad of me to come and unload all my gloomy forebodings upon you.” His reply was, “I share a great many of them with you.” I knew then, as I knew at the meeting in 1890, that at heart he was a warm Imperialist, but is terribly hampered and embarrassed by his party affiliations. The meeting took place at Leeds on the 30th May. In his speech he made two or three remarks which showed he was not as opposed to my policy as I expected. In reference to the corn tax he said:

Not another acre of wheat, we were told by one Minister, would be planted in consequence of this tax, which removed, to my mind, the sole inducement to vote for it, for if more of our country could be placed under wheat it would solve some of the difficulties connected with the land.

Again he said:

But there is a much graver issue connected with this corn tax—an issue which has, in reality, only recently been imported into the discussion. It is, I think, quite clear from the last speech of the Colonial Secretary, that it is intended as a prelude to a sort of Zollverein or Customs Union throughout the British Empire. Now, speaking for myself, I cannot summarily dismiss any proposal for the closer union of the Empire, because it has been the ideal of more than the last twenty years of my life (hear, hear), an ideal of which I spoke to you [305]at Leeds when I was last here. I do not say that Free Trade is a fetish, a religious dogma, which must be accepted and applied on all occasions without consideration or reservation. . . . I do not know, my mind is open, and I shall wait to hear.

His speech was more friendly than I expected, although some of his party objected to an “open mind.”

Before the Leeds meeting the Liberals held a meeting in Scotland, at Aberdeen, on the 20th May, where the Rt. Hon. James Bryce made a vigorous speech against the corn tax, which it was believed was being put on preparatory for the Imperial Conference.

On the 23rd May I addressed the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce under the chairmanship of its President, Sir Alfred Jones, who treated me with the most unbounded hospitality. The meeting was very large and successful, and although my views aroused criticism and were objected to by some speakers, I had a chance to reply in acknowledging a vote of thanks, and as I had the strongest arguments I had little difficulty in effectively answering objections.

The Westminster Gazette of the 21st May, the day before I went to Liverpool, had the following article:

Mr. Bryce stated the case against the bread tax with admirable point and force in a speech last night at Aberdeen. He dealt with its protective aspect, and the part it seemed destined to play in helping on an Imperial Zollverein, and had an excellent passage as to the effect of the tax on the very poor: he said:

And when you get lower still, when you approach that large section of our people—in many places 30 per cent. of the population—which lives on the verge of want, it becomes a crushing burden, which means reduced subsistence, frequent hunger, weakness of [306]body, and susceptibility to disease. The poor man suffers not merely because his margin is so small that the least addition to price tells, but because he can only afford the simplest and cheapest kinds of food. Bread to him is not only an article of first necessity, but of last necessity, etc.

The comment, “He dealt with its protective aspect and the part it seemed destined to play in helping on an Imperial Zollverein,” shows the alarm in the Liberal ranks. One of the speakers at the Liverpool meeting, who objected to my arguments, spoke of the marvellous prosperity of Great Britain, all due, as he said, to Free Trade. In my reply I used with great effect this extract from Mr. Bryce’s speech, and said that if about 8d. per head for a whole year meant to 30 per cent. of the population “a crushing burden, which means reduced subsistence, frequent hunger, weakness of body, susceptibility to disease,” I could not see that it could be called a prosperous country. I said I do not believe that gentleman ever saw a prosperous country. Let him come to the protectionist United States of America, or to protectionist Canada, and he will see countries where there is hardly a soul who does not spend at least 8d. a week on pleasure or amusement. This was apparently an unanswerable retort. I found this paragraph of Mr. Bryce’s very useful on more occasions than one.

I was told some five months after I had returned home, by one of the newspaper men who visited Canada at that time, that he had heard, on undoubted authority, that Mr. Joseph Chamberlain had privately asked Sir Alfred Jones to get up a meeting, and invite me to go down and address it. The result must have been satisfactory, for the meeting was much more [307]successful than I had any hope for. I think Mr. Chamberlain’s part leaked out and still further alarmed the Liberals, and still more aided me.

The Liverpool papers gave good reports of the meeting, and the editorial comments of two of them were not unfavourable, while one was opposed to me. The Courier of the 24th May said:

Now Canada proposes—and no doubt she will not be alone—that the Empire as a whole accept this challenge. Colonel Denison suggests that a five per cent. tariff should be laid on foreign goods in every part of the Empire, and that the money be ear-marked for the defence. It is, of course, premature to discuss details, but the final words of the Canadian Imperialist deserve the most earnest attention. He shows that Mr. Chamberlain has not misread the signs in saying that an opportunity of closer union is about to be offered, and a chance given, perhaps once for all, of keeping British trade in British hands. If the occasion should be rejected, fair warning is given that the elements of disintegration will inevitably begin to operate among the colonies thus flouted, disappointed, and rebuffed. But we are asked to remember what Mr. Bryce says as to the percentage of the population always on the verge of want, and to whom an important duty would be fatal. They have not this terrible dead-weight in Canada, and neither have they anything of the sort in the United States. Is it not rational to suggest that this vast proportion of the population, ever ready to be submerged, is a result not of dear commodities, but of restricted production. On the score of mere cheapness there is assuredly little to complain of. The biggest and cheapest loaf costs something, and its price has to be earned. The question is, Are we to face this commercial struggle alone and unarmed, or are we to unite with the daughter nations in securing a not dubious victory?


On the 13th May, ten days before the meeting in Liverpool, I was dining at Lord Lansdowne’s at a dinner given to Count Matsugata, formerly Prime Minister of Japan. The Premier and five Cabinet Ministers, Lord Roberts, the Duke of Abercorn, and several others were present. I was seated between Mr. Chamberlain and Lord George Hamilton. I took advantage of the opportunity to discuss our policy with Mr. Chamberlain, and pressed it as earnestly as I could put it, and we had a long conversation. I pleaded with him to help us, that I was still afraid of reciprocity with the United States, and that I felt we were drifting, drifting, and that every year made it worse. Whether my remarks had any weight on him or not I cannot say. I think he had long been privately on our side, but anyway, three days after he made a speech in Birmingham, which was the most hopeful thing that had happened in all our struggle. In that speech he said:

“The position of this country is not one without anxiety to statesmen and careful observers. Political jealousy, commercial rivalry, more serious than anything we have yet had, the pressure of hostile tariffs, the pressure of bounties, the pressure of subsidies, it is all becoming more weighty and more apparent.

What is the object of this system adopted by countries which, at all events, are very prosperous themselves—countries like Germany and other large Continental States? What is the object of all this policy of bounties and subsidies? It is admitted—there is no secret about it—the intention is to shut out this country as far as possible from all profitable trade with those foreign States, and at the same time to enable those foreign States to undersell us in British markets. That is the policy, and we see that it is assuming a [309]great development, that old ideas of trade and free competition have changed. We are face to face with great combinations, with enormous trusts, having behind them gigantic wealth. Even the industries and commerce which we thought to be peculiarly our own, even those are in danger. It is quite impossible that these new methods of competition can be met by adherence to old and antiquated methods which were perfectly right at the time at which they were developed.

At the present moment the Empire is being attacked on all sides, and in our isolation we must look to ourselves. We must draw closer our internal relations, the ties of sentiment, the ties of sympathy—yes, and the ties of interest. If by adherence to economic pedantry, to old shibboleths, we are to lose opportunities of closer union which are offered us by our Colonies; if we are to put aside occasions now within our grasp; if we do not take every chance in our power to keep British trade in British hands, I am certain that we shall deserve the disasters which will infallibly come upon us.

This was the first public utterance of Mr. Chamberlain, in which he endorsed in general terms the policy I was advocating. In the remarks I have quoted, it will be seen that he endorsed the salient points of my five minutes’ speech a fortnight before at the Royal Colonial Institute. Political jealousy, commercial rivalry, the pitiless commercial war, the ties of sentiment, the ties of interest, the keeping of British trade in British hands, etc. Nothing inspirited me so much as this speech. I had preserved as a profound secret Mr. Chamberlain’s promise to me in 1890 that he would study up the question, and, if he came to the conclusion it would be a good thing for our Empire, that he would take it up. I had kept silent waiting for [310]twelve years, until I read that speech on the morning of the 17th May, and I then told my wife the story of the interview in 1890, for I felt he had adopted the policy.

The Daily News, in two articles on the 22nd and 24th May, made an attack on Mr. Chamberlain and me, and found fault also with the British Empire League for giving me any countenance, and strongly criticised our policy. The first article was entitled “The Empire Wreckers.” I was delighted to see these articles, as well as others, in the Westminster Gazette, the Manchester Guardian, and other Liberal papers. I saw that my greatest difficulty had been overcome, and that I was not to be ignored, but that I was likely to succeed in getting the whole matter thrown into the arena for public discussion.

After quoting the proposition I was advocating in full, the Daily News went on to say:

We leave to others the task of finding the appropriate adjectives for this composition, but Colonel Denison will forgive us if we observe that there is a certain inconvenience in conducting a campaign of this kind during the coronation festivities. We have no notion whether he is acting as the advance agent of Mr. Seddon and others, whose views on tariff preferences are of an extreme character, nor do we know how far he speaks as the representative of his fellow-colonists. But he and those who are acting with him must surely see that this is not the time for launching a campaign which is bound to give rise to differences, and possibly to heated differences. Everyone is anxious to give a cordial welcome to the visitors who will be coming to our shores next month, and nothing would be more unfortunate than to find ourselves involved in a dispute about preferences and tariffs with our own people. . . .


There can be no doubt, however, that Mr. Chamberlain is the person primarily responsible for these proceedings, and it is with him that the Chambers of Commerce will have to deal if they wish to call their souls and their trade their own much longer. Ever since he came into office the master motive in Mr. Chamberlain’s mind has been to put the Empire on a cash basis, to run it frankly as a commercial venture, and to occupy the position of managing director of the concern. . . .

From the standpoint of national trade and Imperial security it is the maddest scheme that was ever offered to a country as a policy. It ignores the fact that we do four times as much trade with foreign countries as with our Colonies and Dependencies, and that it ties our hands in our fiscal arrangements, and to all intents and purposes constitutes our Colonies as the predominant partner. Who would have thought that it would be necessary at this time of day to do battle against such midsummer madness? We repeat that if Mr. Chamberlain is allowed his way, and the British Empire comes to stand for starvation, misery, and loss of economic freedom for the mother country, the Empire will soon become a thing of the past.

On the 24th May, two days later, it returned to the attack on similar lines. I saw my opening and promptly seized it. I wrote the following letter to the News, which they were fair enough to publish in full with an editorial note attached. It appeared in the Daily News of the 27th May, 1902:


In two articles in your issues of the 22nd and 24th inst., you have referred to my action in endeavouring to bring the views of the British Empire League in Canada—views which are almost universally shared by [312]Canadians—before the people of this country. Will you kindly allow me to bring one or two points before your readers in defence of my action?

The British Empire League here has not adopted our views, but has maintained a position of neutrality, being only willing to show to the Canadian Branch the courtesy of giving facilities for bringing its views forward. I have spoken already at four large banquets, and to the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, without the British Empire League having had anything to do with the matter, either directly or indirectly.

You speak of all that Free Trade has done for this country, the priceless boons, the carrying trade of the world, increased commercial relations with other nations, etc. I wish in a few words to point out why the Canadians are anxious about the present state of affairs in the interests of the whole Empire, in which our fate as a people is inextricably involved.

1. We see every nation in the world armed to the teeth, the great nations increasing their navies with feverish anxiety. We see that you are alarmed in this country, for your naval expenditure has almost doubled in the last fifteen or twenty years. If war is out of the question this great expenditure is useless.

2. We see that the United Kingdom which once grew 17,000,000 quarters of wheat, now produces about 6,500,000 quarters. We see that a combination of two Powers with an embargo on food would bring you to your knees in a few months, and compel you to surrender, and perhaps pull us down also as a people in the general smash of the Empire which might ensue. We know that our Empire cannot be either a free, independent, or great Power, until it is self-sustaining, and has its food grown on its own soil, and in the hands of its own people.

3. We see a great Empire with great possessions, with resources unparalleled, with possibilities of future strength and prosperity almost beyond imagination; with no organisation, no combination, no complete [313]system of defence: and this in the face of what you admit to be a possibility of the dangers of war.

4. We see a commercial war going on of the most extreme type—many nations seemingly organising all their forces to injure the trade of Great Britain. We see that your export trade for the ten years 1881-1890 amounted to £2,343,000,000, while in the following ten years, 1891-1900, it had only increased to £2,398,000,000, or an increase of £55,000,000 in the ten years. But the exports of coal in the first ten years amounted to £125,000,000, in the last ten years to £210,000,000—an increase of £85,000,000; which makes the exports of manufactured goods less by £30,000,000 during the years 1891-1900 than during the previous ten years, for export of coal is only a sale of national assets or capital.

5. We see that while your trade is stationary at less profits, foreign nations are increasing theirs enormously. German exports in 1895 amounted to £171,203,000, in 1901 to £237,970,000. The United States in 1871 exported about £90,000,000, in 1901 about £300,000,000 (1,487,764,991 dollars). While your trade is in a weak condition, we see also the carrying trade passing into the hands of our rivals. The Morgan combine will control the North Atlantic trade if something is not done. It will fix the rates of freight, and, as a great portion of your food comes from the United States, they can make the British people pay the extra rates which will enable them to carry American manufactures of all kinds at the smallest cost, and so deprive your workmen of their employment and wages at the cost to themselves of dearer food.

6. Canadians have seen the difficulty, and have given this country a preference of one-third the duty in their markets without any return or quid pro quo. We have contributed to an all British cable to Australia for Imperial reasons. I advocated at Liverpool a large tariff on wheat in the United Kingdom against everyone, including Canada. I advocated a tariff of five to [314]ten per cent. on all foreign goods at every port in the Empire to raise a fund for the common defence, and to combine the Empire for trade. We in Canada do not require this change if you do not. We are prosperous; our exports are mounting up by leaps and bounds; the balance of trade is in our favour: but we are in the Empire; we have made up our minds to stand by it. We have spent the lives of our young men, and our money, in that cause in the past. When, therefore, we see your manufactures going down, your export trade barely holding its own in spite of a great increase of population, your carrying trade slipping from your hands, your agricultural interests being destroyed, three quarters of Ireland disloyal, principally because their farming has been ruined by what must seem a false policy to them, is it any wonder that we should wish to appeal to you to do something? Is it not only fair that you should listen to us, and if we can combine in any way to defend our Empire from foreign aggression, either in war or in trade, should we not all endeavour to do so?

Yours, &c.,

George T. Denison.
President British Empire League in Canada.

[The picture which Colonel Denison paints in such gloomy colours is unhappily true in a large degree. But the remedy is not to be found in impoverishing the people, increasing the price of the necessities of life, stopping the current of Free Trade through our markets, and establishing the principle of scarcity and dearness in the place of abundance and cheapness. Such a remedy would simply hasten the catastrophe that Colonel Denison foreshadows.— Ed.D.N.]

Lord Masham, speaking to me afterwards about this letter, laughed most heartily and said, “Just think, to get that letter before the readers of the News. That [315]is capital, how the editor must have grudged printing it.”

I spoke at the Canada Club dinner on the 8th May in response to the toast of “The Dominion of Canada,” and at the Colonial Club dinner on the 28th May in response to the toast of “The Empire.” On the 2nd June I addressed the Chamber of Commerce at Tunbridge Wells. On the 4th June I addressed a large meeting in Glasgow, the Lord Provost in the chair. On the 5th June another in Paisley, and on the 6th June I addressed a joint meeting of the Edinburgh and Leith Chambers of Commerce in Edinburgh.

On the 5th June the Glasgow Herald had an article criticising my speech. It gave me an opportunity which I used by sending them a letter which they published the next day, the 6th. The same issue of the Herald had an article referring to my letter. To my gratification it closed with these words:

The question remains an open one whether, when the Colonies are prepared to accept some of the burdens of the Empire, we should accord them preferential treatment in respect of products in which they compete with foreigners.

I have already referred to the uneasiness and anxiety among the Liberals about my mission, and in addition to Mr. Bryce’s speech in Aberdeen a large meeting was held in Edinburgh on the 8th June, where the Rt. Hon. John Morley spoke in reply to my speeches in Scotland. Among other things he said:

You have got a gentleman now, I observe, perambulating Scotland—I am sure in perfectly good faith—I have not a word to say against it—perambulating Scotland on this subject, and it will be the subject, [316]depend upon it, because it is in the hands of a very powerful and tenacious Statesman. Therefore excuse me if I point out a fifth broad effect. On the chances of some increase in your relatively small colonial trade, you are going to derange, dislodge, and dislocate all your immense foreign trade.

And he also said that it meant the abandonment of Free Trade, and “would overthrow the very system that has placed us in the unexampled position of power and strength and wealth.”

On the 11th June I addressed the Chamber of Commerce of Bristol, and my meeting attracted considerable attention from the local newspapers. The Western Daily Press had on the morning of the meeting a long and quite friendly article, bespeaking earnest attention to my address, even if I laid down “lines of fiscal policy along which the majority may be reluctant to travel.” The Bristol Mercury gave a very full report of the meeting and of the speeches, and had a long article discussing the proposition from a strong Free Trade and hostile point of view.

On the 10th June in the House of Commons my work caused a passing notice. After I had left Canada the Executive Committee of the League in Canada published in pamphlet form a report of the Annual Meeting of the League in Canada containing my Presidential Address in moving the adoption of the Annual Report, and they had an extra quantity printed and sent a copy to every member of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

On the discussion of the Finance Bill in the House of Commons on the 10th June, Sir W. Harcourt, after saying that the Colonies could only join the mother country on the basis of protection, went on to say: [317]“I received the other day the Manifesto of the Canadian Imperial League, which seems to be a very authoritative document, containing, as it does, the principal names in Canada, and which I would ask the committee to examine in relation to the Budget. The first article of the constitution of the League is thus laid down: ‘To advocate a trade policy between Great Britain and her Colonies, by means of which discrimination in the exchange of natural and manufactured products will be made in favour of one another and against foreign countries.’ Of course, that is the only basis on which the Colonies will deal with us. If they give up their preferential duties against us, they will expect us to institute preferential duties against other nations. In the annual report of the Executive Committee of this British Imperial League, dated February 1, 1902—months before the introduction of the present Budget—we learn that at its meeting, which was held at Toronto, the following resolution was adopted: ‘Resolved, that this meeting is of opinion that a special duty of 5 to 10 per cent. should be imposed at every port in the British possessions on all foreign goods’; and we are told, further, that the proceeds are to be devoted to Imperial defence. But I come to the speech made by the president of the League, which bears particularly on the Budget. He said:

“New methods of taxation are absolutely necessary in Great Britain, and there is no difficulty in the way except the over confidence against which Kipling writes, and the strong prejudice in the English mind against taxing wheat. It is a remarkable thing that two months after this declaration was made we have, for the first time, a tax imposed upon wheat. The joint action of the poet and the financier has overcome the [318]prejudice in the English mind against taxing wheat; then we are to have this duty of 10 per cent. on all food introduced into this country against the foreigners, and the whole thing is accomplished. I say that that is a policy of pure and simple protection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday disavowed any intention of adopting this policy of universal duties to be levied upon all foreign goods. He said we are to proceed on the principles of free trade. But he introduced a sentence that something may be done in that direction. A great deal of doubt has been raised in reference to that sentence.

“Mr. Austen Chamberlain said the right hon. gentleman the member for West Monmouth had adopted a remarkable line of argument. He had produced a pamphlet containing the report of an executive committee of a private association in Canada, and had referred to that document as if he could find in it an official explanation of the intentions and policy of His Majesty’s Government.

“Sir W. Harcourt.—I quoted it as the view to be presented by the Canadian Government. I believe I am perfectly justified in that statement.

“Mr. Austen Chamberlain said he thought the right hon. gentleman had gone a good deal further than that. The views of the association were entitled to the respect which they commanded on their merits, and for the ability with which they were put forth; but they were not binding on the Canadian Cabinet, still less on the Government of this country. It was rather a far-fetched suggestion that in such a report as that was to be found the basis of the action which His Majesty’s Government were now proposing. As a matter of fact the report appeared two months before the tax. Allusion had been made to a speech delivered by his right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary at Birmingham. But in that speech the Colonial Secretary was commenting on a speech made by the leader of the Opposition. He was not arguing in [319]favour of preferential relations, but he was refusing to be deterred from proposing a tax which he believed to be good on its merits merely because it might be used, if the people of this country so willed, to draw closer the ties between the Motherland and the Colonies. That was a declaration which was emphasised by his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Monday. The whole question between the Opposition and the Government now was that hon. and right hon. gentlemen opposite wished to extort from the Government at this stage a declaration that in no circumstances and at no time would they consent to preferential arrangements with the Colonies. He thought it would be a strange proceeding if, before learning authoritatively what the Prime Ministers of the great self-governing Colonies intended to propose, before learning the arguments with which those Ministers would support their propositions, the Government were to slam the door in their faces and solemnly declare that they would not listen to any arguments on the subject. That would not be a very friendly act. It would not be courteous in dealing with strangers, and it would not be decent in dealing with our kinsmen.”

The final meeting of my campaign was at the London Chamber of Commerce on the 13th June. Mr. Morley had spoken at Edinburgh on the 8th of June, and had said generally that the policy I was advocating was contrary to the principles of Free Trade under which England had built up her wonderful prosperity, had maintained it for years, and which was the foundation of Great Britain’s present great prosperity. I had been urged very strongly by all my friends to be very cautious not to refer directly to either Free Trade or Protection. I was told that the feeling in favour of Free Trade was so strong, that it would be unwise to refer to it in set terms, and I was [320]advised simply to argue for the war tax of 5 to 10 per cent. to raise a defence fund. Up to this time I had followed this advice, but when Mr. Morley attacked me, and raised the question, I felt that the time had arrived for me to come out boldly and in clear and unmistakable terms. I found in my movement about the country that there was much more feeling in favour of Protection than anyone believed. I therefore made up my mind to take advantage of the meeting of the London Chamber of Commerce to make a direct and vehement attack on Free Trade in order to test feeling in that centre. I carefully prepared as strong a speech as I could arrange, although I kept my own counsel as to my intentions. I decided to make my address a direct reply to the Rt. Hon. John Morley and to use his attack upon me as my excuse for criticising Free Trade in hostile terms.

The room was crowded, with a number of prominent men present. I referred to Mr. Morley’s remarks and said that I took issue with him, and that I denied that Free Trade was the cause of Great Britain’s progress. I said her position was established under a system of protection, that it was maintained by a protection of a different kind for years, and that now she was not prosperous. I gave a great many figures, and traced the trade returns at intervals from 1805 until the year 1901, and in reply to Mr. Morley’s statement of the wonderful prosperity of Great Britain I repeated the argument I used at Liverpool, and quoted again Mr. Bryce’s statement about the crushing burden the 1s. a quarter on wheat would be on about 30 per cent. of the population.

When I had finished, Lord Charles Beresford made [321]a speech that was quite friendly to my proposition, saying, “that the time had arrived when we had to do something to bind the Mother Country and the Colonies more closely together, and to do something also by which we might mutually benefit by the trade of the Empire, in view of the enormous competition directed against us by the rest of the world.”

Sir Guilford Molesworth and Mr. Ernest E. Williams then spoke strongly supporting me. They were followed by Mr. Faithfull Begg, who made a short but remarkably clever speech. He began by saying, “Is this the London Chamber of Commerce? Can I believe my eyes and ears? I have sat here and listened to what I am satisfied was the strongest attack upon Free Trade that has been heard in these walls in two generations, and in an open discussion no one has said a word in defence of the old policy. I was a Free Trader and I can no longer support the principle, but will no one say a word in defence of the old cause?” This taunt brought up a Mr. Pascoe, who used a number of stock arguments of the Cobden Club school. General Laurie, Admiral Sir Dalrymple Hay, Sir S. B. Boulton, and the Chairman, Sir Fortescue Flannery, then followed in speeches distinctly favourable to my proposition, and the meeting closed.

The effect of this meeting cannot be better shown than in the editorial comments of the Financial News of the next day, the 14th June, 1902:

It was indeed a remarkable gathering which assembled at the London Chamber of Commerce yesterday to hear Colonel Denison speak upon the National Food Supply and cognate trade questions; and the essential feature of the meeting—more essential if Colonel Denison will allow us to say so, even than his own speech—was that [322]to which Mr. Faithfull Begg drew attention when he announced his surprise that in a discussion upon Free Trade versus Protection, no one, in that erstwhile typical house of Free Trade, stood up to champion the old cause. Most of those present were in Mr. Faithfull Begg’s own position; they had recently been forced by the logic of events, from acquiescence in or championship of Free Trade, into a conviction that it would no longer do. True, Mr. Faithfull Begg’s challenge brought forth a solitary advocate of the discredited philosophy; a young man to whom the meeting listened with obvious impatience; for as General Laurie said, every one of his points had been answered in advance by the lecturer, and the quality of his arguments might be gathered from the fact, that among them was an assertion that, as an explanation of our adverse trade balance there was no question as to there being anything in the nature of an export of securities in progress! That this should have been the only voice raised upon the Free Trade side would be a mightily significant circumstance in any gathering of business men; but to those who are familiar with the London Chamber even in its recent history, the significance is greatly heightened. For a body professedly independent, there was, until the other day, no association in England (unless it be the Royal Statistical Society) more thoroughly and openly upon the Free Trade side in the economic controversy. With the surrender of the London Chamber of Commerce it is really time to dictate conditions of peace.

This was a conclusion to my campaign far beyond my most sanguine expectations. It was a coincidence that about the time I concluded my campaign at this successful meeting, Dr. Fred W. Borden, Minister of Militia of Canada, who had lately arrived in England, in an interview with Mr. I. N. Ford, representative of the New York Tribune, stated that I represented [323]nobody’s views except my own, and pretended that he did not know of me even by name, until Mr. Ford let him understand that he was too well informed for that to be accepted. In an interview with one of the London newspapers he also spoke in a hostile manner of me and my views. As he had been quite friendly to me personally when we had met a day or two before, I was at a loss to account for his action. After consideration, I came to the conclusion that the Canadian Government had taken up some new position upon the question of preferential trade, and that I was wrong in my previous belief that I was working directly in their interests and in accordance with their views in a general way.

Mr. Ford telegraphed on the night of the meeting to his various papers across the Atlantic, the following account of my concluding words at the London Chamber of Commerce:

Colonel Denison closed his series of addresses in the United Kingdom on a tariff for Imperial Defence by a speech before the London Chamber of Commerce in which he announced that he represented the British Empire League in Canada, and had accomplished his purpose. This had been to raise the question of a British tariff for defence and business. The subject had been discussed in Parliament, and had been taken up by the Press throughout the Kingdom. The Dominion Ministers would be in England next week, and the responsibility for carrying the question into the Imperial Conference or dropping it altogether would be theirs not his.

When I sailed for home Mr. Ford cabled:

Colonel Denison will sail for Montreal to-day. He has gone so far and so fast in presenting the plans of [324]the British Empire League of Canada that neither Imperialist nor colonial has been able to keep abreast with him. His views on a war tax around the Empire are not considered practicable by the Canadian Ministers, but the energy with which he has forced the business side of Imperial Federation upon public attention here, is generally recognised.

The Annual General Meeting of the British Empire League was held on the 7th July, where the Hon. George W. Ross and I represented the Canadian Branch. I moved a resolution which Mr. Ross seconded. I spoke as follows:

Your Grace, my Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen,—I shall only occupy two or three minutes of your time, as I am fortunate to have with me one of the very best and most active members of our League, the Prime Minister of Ontario. I am here at this moment under a resolution of the League in Canada which reads as follows:

“That he also be empowered and requested to advocate that a special duty of 5 to 10 per cent. be imposed at every port in the British possessions on all foreign goods in order to provide a fund for Imperial Defence, which fund should be administered by a committee or council in which the Colonies should have representation.”

That resolution I need not tell you is one which this League did not feel disposed to endorse because the League had held itself open, and I wish to thank the President, the Council, and the Members of this League for the broad-minded liberality and generosity with which they enabled me to speak, and say what we Canadians wished to lay before the people of this country. I thank this League for its courtesy, and for the broad-minded spirit in which it was done, more particularly as I happen to know that the well-considered resolution adopted by the Executive Committee [325]was drafted by probably one of the most vehement opponents of my policy. That broad-minded spirit I have seen all over England and I wish publicly, as I am going away in a day or two, to express my thanks for that British spirit which allows such free discussion.

I shall only take one or two minutes more because I wish Mr. Ross to have an opportunity of speaking at greater length. I have listened with a great deal of attention to what our noble President has said in his speech with respect to three questions, of defence, commercial relations, and political relations, and if you think of it, we have combined all three in these two lines: “A duty in order to provide a fund for Imperial Defence, which fund should be administered by a committee.” The duty helps all questions of commercial relations, helps your trade, helps your food supplies, and it also furnishes a fund for defence, and provision is made for a committee to administer the political relations. The whole thing can be done by an adaptation of that resolution. As to the question of defence, I wish to say that we Canadians are in favour of any method that may be devised to defend this Empire, but we know that no system of defence can be made worth a snap of the finger that does not secure the protection of the food supplies of this Mother Country, and yet you persist in spending on ships, troops, fortification, on coaling stations on Naval Reserves, on everything but food, the most important of all. I urge you to do all you can not only to make your food supply safe, but also to save your trade, your merchant shipping, and to put all these things in a safe position.

Mr. Ross followed me with a very able and powerful speech in which he expressed the views of the Canadian League with great eloquence and vigour.

On the 17th June, a letter from Sir Robert Giffen appeared in the London Times severely criticising the [326]policy I was advocating. As a great statistician and Free Trader, and formerly Secretary of the Government Board of Trade, he was considered the ablest expert on the subject and his name carried great weight. His objections were in substance:

First, that under such a system at 10 per cent., the United Kingdom would pay £41,000,000 annually, and the colonies but £3,500,000, of which Canada and Newfoundland would contribute £2,400,000, whereas on the basis of population the Colonies are one quarter of the United Kingdom.

Second, the effect of such a tax would be infinite disaster to the trade of the United Kingdom, by raising the cost of raw material and by requiring harassing regulations in regard to the entrepot trade.

Third, the increase of existing duties in the Colonies by 10 per cent. would effect no such injury to their trade as the substitution of duties for the Free Trade system of the United Kingdom.

Fourth, the duty on foreign goods entering the United Kingdom and preference given to colonial goods, would increase the price for colonial goods imported in the United Kingdom by £11,000,000, and the Colonies would thus gain much more than their contribution.

Fifth, the difficulty in arranging bonding privileges in such free ports as Singapore and Hong Kong.

This letter was so plausible that even the Times in an article on the 19th June, said:

Colonel Denison is a representative Canadian of the highest character and proved loyalty, and no doubt his views prevail widely in British North America. At the same time the criticisms of his plan from a strictly economic point of view which Sir Robert Giffen published in our columns on Tuesday appear to us to be conclusive.


This attack was satisfactory to me as it gave me an opening for a reply which I made as follows:


In your issue of yesterday there is a letter from Sir Robert Giffen commenting upon my address to the London Chamber of Commerce, and requesting me to give information on certain points. May I give my answer?

He asks (1) how much under the scheme I proposed the Mother Country would have to pay; (2) how much each of the principal Colonies; (3) how the trade of each would be probably affected; (4) what exceptions would be made as to Hong Kong and Singapore, which are distributing centres?

1 and 2. These I shall answer together, dealing only with Canada, as space will not admit my going fully into the whole question. I will take Sir Robert Giffen’s figures, although he puts the foreign imports of Canada and Newfoundland together at £24,000,000; while the statistical abstract for colonial possessions gives the figures for Canada alone at over £27,000,000 for 1900. Taking Sir Robert Giffen’s figures, however, Canada would have to pay, on a basis of ten per cent. on foreign imports, nearly £2,400,000 per annum. As the normal amount Canada has been spending on defence in years past, has been about £400,000 per annum, this would mean an additional payment by her of £2,000,000 a year. Sir Robert Giffen claims that the United Kingdom would have to pay £41,000,000 per annum. This is an extraordinary statement. The expenditure of the United Kingdom upon the Army and Navy in ordinary years, not counting war expenses, far exceeds £41,000,000. So that the United Kingdom would not pay one farthing a year more under the proposition than she always does expend.

This answers the first two points. The United Kingdom would pay nothing additional, Canada would expend £2,000,000 more than she has been doing.


As to Canada’s paying in proportion to her population, that would be an unfair basis, because she is a young country with very little accumulated wealth, and is developing and opening up enormous tracts of territory at a great cost to the sparse population. Great Britain is a small country with a large population, and has been in process of development for nearly 2,000 years, for I believe some Roman roads are in use to-day. The time will come when Canada will be able to do far more.

3. As to how trade would be affected, I answer that the trade of the United Kingdom would be greatly benefited. The duty would tend to protect for yourselves your home market, which you are rapidly losing. It would give you advantages over the foreigner in the markets of 360,000,000 of people in the British possessions, in which at present you are being attacked in the most pitiless and disastrous commercial war. It would turn emigration into your own dominions, instead of aiding to build up foreign, and possibly hostile, countries. In the British Colonies the inhabitants purchase from the United Kingdom many times as much per head as the inhabitants of foreign countries, and it is the direct interest of the Mother Country to save her population to build up her own Empire. Your food supply also, which is in a most dangerous and perilous condition—a condition which leaves our Empire dependent upon the friendship of one or two nations for its very existence—would be rapidly produced upon British soil among your own people, and would make you once again an independent and powerful nation. At present you are existing upon sufferance.

4. Sir Robert Giffen speaks about the entrepot trade and the difficulty of allowing goods to pass in bond. We Canadians have so many goods passing in bond through the United States, and the United States have so many passing in bond through Canada, without the slightest difficulty on either side, that we cannot [329]see how there could be any trouble about such an arrangement. This system could apply to Hong Kong and Singapore, and it should not require much thought or ingenuity to arrange minor details of that kind, if the broad principle was once agreed upon.

The question of taxing raw material for manufactures and its effect upon exports to foreign countries could be easily arranged by the simple expedient of granting a rebate of the duty on goods sent to foreign countries. I fancy this is an expedient well understood by most civilised nations.

It is asked also what would be result of putting an extra 10 per cent. on exports from the United States into Canada. It ought very largely to increase the sale of British manufactured goods in Canada, but I notice that Sir Robert Giffen, in counting the advantage to the United Kingdom, leaves out the United States, and only counts European competitors. This is rather remarkable, when we remember that the Canadian imports from the United States in 1900 were £22,570,763 and from all European countries under £4,000,000. In this connection it is interesting to note that British imports into Canada had been declining for some years before 1897, but when the 33 1/3 per cent. preference was given to the United Kingdom the imports from it into Canada rose from £6,000,000 worth in 1897 to £9,000,000 in 1900.

Sir Robert Giffen claims that the Colonies would gain the full amount of the 10 per cent. tax on the foreigner in increased prices. If so, why should not the United Kingdom gain the 10 per cent. on all she sold in the Empire? The rule should certainly work both ways; but, as a matter of fact, a large portion of the duty would be borne by the foreigner. The greater part of the present tax on flour is now being paid by the United States railways, through the reduction of their freight rates in order to meet it.

Sir Robert Giffen repeats a second time, to impress it upon his readers, that the proposed preferential arrange [330]ments would impose a charge upon the people of the United Kingdom of £42,000,000, as if the people would have to pay that amount more than they do now. This I emphatically deny. It will only mean a rearrangement of taxation. A little more would go on grain and manufactured goods and other things, but it could come off tea and tobacco or income tax, so that the taxpayer would pay no more, and it makes little difference to him on what he pays it, if he actually pays out the same amount for his needs each year.

In Canada we feel that Great Britain is steadily losing her trade, that her home markets are being invaded, that she is in great and constant danger as to her food, that her mercantile marine is slipping from her, her agriculture being ruined, and that anything that would tend to keep the markets of the Empire for the Empire would be of enormous advantage to her. The British Empire League in Canada suggested the scheme they have urged me to advocate in this country. This scheme has received general support in Canada, but the League will, I am sure, be pleased with any effective plan which will put matters in a better position for the advantage of the Empire as a whole.

Your obedient servant,

George T. Denison.

18th June.

This letter was not replied to. Lally Bernard writing from London to the Toronto Globe of the 8th July says:

There is a great deal of argument going on in a quiet way regarding the controversy between Sir Robert Giffen and Colonel George Denison, on the subject of an Imperial Zollverein, and the reply of Colonel Denison to Sir Robert Giffen’s letter in the Times has aroused the warmest admiration even from those who are diametrically opposed to his theory.


Sir Wilfrid Laurier with Sir Wm. Mulock, Mr. Fielding, and Mr. Patterson, arrived in London a few days after this. I had been surprised at Dr. Borden’s attempt to weaken and destroy the effect of what little I had done to prepare public opinion, and thinking that Sir Wilfrid and the other Ministers must have sympathised with what he had done, I came to the conclusion that there was no use in me taking any further trouble in the matter. I ceased any work, and although I was constantly meeting Sir Wilfrid and his colleagues I never once spoke to them upon the question.

I had been having several conversations with Mr. Chamberlain, and knew exactly what his position was, and he had asked me to press the Canadian delegates to take a certain course. In view of Dr. Borden’s action I had not attempted to do anything on the line Mr. Chamberlain suggested. This was the condition of affairs when I had to leave for home, which was just before the meeting of the Conference. I went down to the Hotel Cecil the morning before leaving, and called on Sir Wilfrid to say good-bye. He seemed astonished when I told him why I had called, and asked when I was leaving; I told him the next day. He urged me to stay over a week or two, but I said it was impossible as my passage was taken and all my arrangements made, and I said I knew he was going to a meeting and that I would not keep him. To my great astonishment he said, “Sit down; I want to talk to you,” and then he surprised me by asking my opinion as to what could be done at the Conference. I was so astonished that I said, “You ask me what I would do in your place?” He said, “Yes. You have been here for over two months, you have been about the country addressing meetings, [332]you have been discussing the question with the leading men, and you have studied the subject for years, and I want the benefit of your opinion. Now what would you say as to moving the resolution you have been advocating?” I thought for a moment and said, “No, Sir Wilfrid, I would not do that.” He asked me why. I said, “Because it could not be carried. I have discussed it with Mr. Chamberlain and he is not ready for it. Sir Edmund Barton tells me that they are having a great fight over the tariff and could not take it up now. Sir Gordon Sprigg says they are not in a position to do it on account of the war in Cape Colony, and Mr. Seddon is so full of another scheme connected with shipping, that while he would support it, it might not be as vigorous support as would be required.”

Having the opening, however, I told him of my conversation with Mr. Chamberlain, and pressed upon him the advisability of taking up Mr. Chamberlain’s idea, which was for Canada to give Great Britain further preferences on certain articles, in fact, if possible free entry of those articles in return for the preference of the one shilling a quarter on wheat. I think this was already his view, but I pointed out all the advantages from a Canadian point of view of this plan, and expressing the hope that he would be able to see his way to it, I said good-bye and left him. I saw my friend and colleague in my work, the Hon. G. W. Ross, and told him of the conversation, and asked him to press the same view upon the Canadian Ministers, which he did.

On my arrival in Toronto the representatives of the Toronto newspapers came to interview me on my work. Among other things, I said:


I am entirely satisfied that Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Mr. Fielding and Sir William Mulock are doing all in their power to obtain some advantageous arrangement for Canada at this Conference. They have all been impressed with the importance of their mission and their speeches have been along the best lines. Hon. Mr. Fielding made an admirable speech at the United Empire Trade League luncheon, in which he expressed the unanimity of the Canadian people in favour of the preference to England, stating that both parties were in favour of it, and appealing to Sir Charles Tupper, who sat near him, to corroborate this.

Hon. George W. Ross at the annual meeting of the British Empire League, with the Duke of Devonshire as chairman, made a telling and impressive speech, strongly advocating preferential tariffs within the Empire. But in the face of Sir Frederick Borden’s efforts in the opposite direction, these and the other splendid addresses of Sir Wilfrid and his colleagues could not have the effect that they would have produced had our representatives been of one mind in the matter.

I was very much astonished at Sir Frederick Borden’s action in stating that I represented nobody’s views but my own, when he must have known that I never intended to represent anybody’s views except those of the British Empire League, and that at all public meetings I invariably read the resolutions that had been passed asking me to take a certain course. His endeavours to minimise the result of my work and to lull the English mind into believing that everything was well, and that nothing should be done, must have had an injurious effect, as I have said, upon the efforts that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir William Mulock, and Mr. Fielding were making upon behalf of Canada.

Col. Denison was asked by one of those present as to the reason for Sir Frederick Borden’s attitude, and he replied, “That I cannot tell you. I can only recall the [334]remark of Lord Beaconsfield, made once in reference to Lord John Russell. He said, ‘Against bad faith a man may guard, but it is beyond all human sagacity to baffle the unconscious machinations of stupidity.’”

Sir Michael Hicks-Beach resigned from the Cabinet while I was on my way home. I always felt that the desire of Mr. Chamberlain to give a preference to the Colonies to the extent of the one shilling a quarter on wheat had something to do with the retirement of Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. In 1906 I lunched with Mr. Chamberlain and he explained to me why he had been unable to carry out the preferential arrangement that he had outlined to me before Sir Wilfrid Laurier arrived in England in 1902. The difficulty was that Sir Michael Hicks-Beach objected to it because he had imposed the duty avowedly as a means of raising revenue for war purposes, that he had defended it and justified it as a necessity on account of the war expenses, that the war was only just being concluded, and the outlay for months to come could not be diminished. For that reason he was firmly opposed to reducing any portion of the duty for the time. This prevented Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s offers being accepted, and postponed action indefinitely, as the Conference concluded its session about the same time.

Sir Edmund Barton and Sir John Forrest went through Canada on their way home to Australia from the Conference, and they with their party dined at my house. During the day I drove Sir Edmund and Lady Barton about Toronto. I told Sir Edmund what I had been urging Sir Wilfrid to do at the Conference, and the remark he made was peculiar. He said that the proceedings of the Conference were as yet confi[335]dential and he could not speak of them, but he might say that I should be well satisfied with my Premier. I was confident then that Sir Wilfrid had taken that line which the official reports shortly afterwards corroborated. The final result was, however, that our efforts had been unsuccessful, and our movement had received a serious set-back.

We were encouraged in October, 1902, by the action of the National Union of Conservative Associations held at Manchester on the 15th of that month, when Sir Howard Vincent obtained the adoption of a resolution in favour of Imperial preferential trade. The New York Tribune, commenting on this, said: “This news is a great triumph for the Hon. Joseph Chamberlain’s views, and it also no doubt goes to show that Colonel Denison’s recent imperialistic campaign in the Motherland was not without decided educative effect.”

On the 20th October, 1902, the National Club of Toronto gave a complimentary banquet to me in recognition of the work I had done in England that summer for the Empire. Mr. J. F. Ellis, President of the Club, occupied the chair; the Hon. J. Israel Tarte and the Hon. George W. Ross were present. There was a large and influential gathering. I was very much gratified at Mr. Tarte’s presence. Although once associating with the Continental Union League, he had for years been a loyal and active member of our British Empire League. He was at the time a Cabinet Minister, and came from Ottawa to Toronto solely to attend the dinner, and it was at such a crisis in his career that he wrote out his resignation from the Government on the train while coming up. His speech is worth reproducing:


Mr. President and Gentlemen of the National Club,—I think it is fit, I think it is proper, that French Canada should be represented at a gathering like this. I am not here this evening as a member of the Dominion Cabinet. Am I a member of the Dominion Cabinet? That is the question. That is the question I very diplomatically declined to answer when I was leaving Ottawa to come here. Being a Minister is not the most care-free life in the world. It is an occupation that is exposed to accidents of all kinds. A Minister is exposed to tremendous hazards—to the fire of the newspapers, to the bad temper of members of Parliament, to the assaults of opponents, and occasionally to the tender mercies of your best personal friends.

I am present to-night as a British subject of Canadian origin—of French-Canadian origin—proud of British institutions, and feeling in that pride that he is speaking the sentiments of his countrymen in the Province of Quebec. I have been connected with the British Empire League since 1888. I am not prepared to say that I have approved all the speeches made by all members of the League, or that I have always agreed with the speeches that members of the League make here. I have in mind the fact, however, that decent speeches of other people have not always been properly appreciated. I was agreed from the start and am agreed now with the primary object of the League, which is to promote British interests abroad and at home, to bring about a better knowledge of our needs and a better understanding between all portions of the Empire. We belong to a great Empire; great through its power, great through its wealth, but especially great through its free institutions.

I have now been thirty years in public life, as a newspaper man, as a member of the Legislature of my native province, and as a Cabinet Minister. After having travelled pretty extensively, observing as I went, after having visited several exhibitions of the world, I have come to the conclusion that British institutions [337]are the best adapted to bring about the greatness of this country, as they make for happiness, safety, prosperity, progress, and permanency.

Since I have been in office as Minister of Public Works, and that is six years and three months, I have endeavoured to the best of my ability to build up British and Canadian commercial independence on this continent. I have done my best to improve and develop trade between the Empire through Canadian soil, through Canadian channels, in Canadian bottoms, and through Canadian railways.

Let us not be satisfied, continued Mr. Tarte. Let us make up our minds to make ourselves at home from a national as well as a commercial standpoint.

Col. Denison, who is allowed to speak of things of which other people fear the consequence, has spoken of the tariff. Col. Denison has spoken of Chamberlain, and has quoted Chamberlain’s words on the tariff. Chamberlain is not Minister of Finance—he is Colonial Secretary. He has spoken of the tariff, mind you. I think he should be dismissed. He has violated the Constitution of England, and doesn’t know what he has done. He has spoken on the tariff, and he has spoken for Protection. He is a dangerous man. He has said foreign nations had formed combinations, and were maintaining hostile tariffs and that the English nation was suffering by reason of this. He will be punished.

This was a satirical allusion to the fact that he was being forced out of the Cabinet, because, as Minister of Public Works, he had discussed in public meetings the question of tariff policy. He was put out of the Cabinet the next day.




As I have said, we felt that the result of the Conference had been a very serious set-back and discouragement to all our wishes. I therefore watched public opinion very carefully and with considerable anxiety, and I noticed two or three uncomfortable indications. In the first place a restlessness manifested itself among the manufacturing classes in Canada, particularly in the woollen trade, against the British preference which pressed upon them, while Canada received no corresponding advantage, and a discussion began as to whether the British preference should not be cut off. The next thing which alarmed me was that during the following winter a movement arose in the United States to secure the establishment of a reciprocity treaty with Canada. Suggestions were made to renew the sittings of the High Joint Commission which had adjourned in 1898 without anything being done. This was evaded by our Government, but a strong agitation was commenced in the Eastern States, and supported in Chicago, to educate the people of the United States in favour of tariff arrangements with Canada.

The more far-seeing men in the United States were uneasy about the movement for mutual preferential tariffs in the British Empire. They saw at once that [339]if successful it would consolidate and strengthen British power and wealth and would be a severe blow to the prosperity of the United States, which for fifty years had been fattening upon the free British markets, while for thirty years their own had been to a great extent closed to the foreigner and preserved for their own enrichment. I felt that the failure of the Conference would give power to our enemies in the United States and aid them to enmesh us in the trade entanglements which would preclude the possibility of our succeeding in carrying our policy into effect.

Every week I became more and more alarmed. It will be remembered that there was then no Tariff Reform movement in England. That Lord Salisbury was dying, that Mr. Chamberlain had not yet openly committed himself, and that nothing was being done, while our opponents were actively at work both in the States and in Canada. The small faction in Canada who were disloyal were once more taking heart while the loyal element were discouraged.

Still further to cause anxiety the Imperial Federation Defence Committee took this opportunity, through Mr. Arthur Loring, to make an imperious demand upon the Colonies to hand over at once large cash contributions in support of the Navy, or practically to cut us adrift. Had the desire been to smash up the Empire, the attack could not have been better timed than when everything was going against the Imperial view. I wrote a reply which appeared in The Times on the 2nd March, 1903:


With reference to your issues of January 9th and 10th which contained the letter of Mr. Arthur Loring, Hon. Secretary of the Imperial Federation (Defence) [340]Committee, and your leading article upon the question of colonial contributions to the Imperial Navy, I desire to send a reply from the Canadian point of view.

Mr. Loring’s proposition is practically that the Mother Country should repudiate any further responsibility for the defence of the Empire, unless the Colonies pay over cash contributions for the Navy in the way and under the terms that will suit the Imperial Federation (Defence) Committee. The British Empire League in Canada and the majority of the Canadians are as anxious for a secure Imperial Defence as is Mr. Loring, but the spirit of dictation which runs through the publications of his committee has always been a great difficulty in our way, by arousing resentment in our people, who might do willingly what they would object to be driven into. Because we hesitate to pay cash contributions we are attacked as if we had made no sacrifices for the Empire. Mr. Loring seems to forget our preference to all British goods, which has caused Germany to cut off the bulk of our exports to that country, to forget that we imposed a duty on sugar in order by preference to help the West Indies in the Imperial interest, that we helped to construct the Pacific cable for the same reason, or that numbers of our young men fought and died for the cause in South Africa. We have proved in many ways our willingness to make sacrifices for the Empire, and yet, because we will not do just exactly what Mr. Loring’s committee suggest, they wish to cut us adrift.

This is a very impolitic and dangerous suggestion. It is so important that we should understand each other, and that you in England should know how we look at this question, that I hope you will allow me to say a few words upon this subject.

The British Empire League in Canada requested me as their president to go to Great Britain last April to advocate a duty of 5 to 10 per cent. all round the Empire on all foreign goods in order to provide a fund for Imperial Defence. This proposition was approved [341]of at a number of meetings held in various parts of Canada, and by political leaders of all shades of politics and I am certain it would have been confirmed by a large majority in our Parliament had Great Britain and the other Colonies agreed to it.

I addressed a number of meetings in England and Scotland, and discussed the question with many of the political leaders in London. I soon discovered while the audiences were receptive, and many approved of the proposition, that nevertheless it was new, contrary to their settled prejudices, and that it would take time and popular education on the subject before such an arrangement could be carried in the House of Commons. When Sir Wilfrid Laurier came over just before the Conference, knowing that I had been discussing the subject for two months, he asked me if I thought the proposition I had been advocating could be proposed at the Conference with any prospect of success. I replied that I did not think it could, that Great Britain was not ready for it, that Australia at the time was engaged in such a struggle over her revenue tariff that she could not act, and that if I was in his place I should not attempt it. He did, however, make a number of suggestions at the Conference which, if accepted by the home Government, would have gone a long way to place the Empire on a safer footing. The Mother Country would not agree to relieve Canada from the corn duty, but was quite willing to accept and ask for contributions for defence. This Sir Wilfrid refused; and a large portion of our people approve of that course, not because they do not feel that they ought to contribute, not because they are not able to contribute, but because they do not feel disposed to spend their money in what they would consider a senseless and useless way.

We feel that to save our Empire, to consolidate it, to make it strong and secure, there are several points that must be considered and that, as all these points are essential, to spend money on some and leave out [342]others that are vital would be a useless and dangerous waste. If our Empire is to live, she must maintain her trade and commerce, she must keep up her manufactures, she must retain and preserve her resources both in capital and population for her own possessions, she must have bonds of interest as well as of sentiment, and she must have a system of defence that shall be complete at all points. An army or a navy might be perfect in equipment, in training, in weapons, in organisation, in skilled officers, &c., and yet if powder and cordite were left out all would be useless waste. If food were left out it would be worst of all, and yet Mr. Loring asks us to contribute large sums to maintain a navy, and to have that navy directed and governed by a department in which we would have little or no voice—a department under the control of an electorate who in the first war with certain Powers (one of which we at least know is not friendly) would be starving almost immediately, and would very soon insist on surrendering the fleet to which we had contributed in order to get food to feed their starving children. They might even be willing to surrender possessions as well. While you in England maintain this position, that you will not include food in your scheme of defence, do you wonder that we in Canada should endeavour to perfect our own defence in order to secure our own freedom and independence as a people, if the general smash comes, which we dread as the possible result of your obstinate persistence in a policy, which leaves you at the mercy of one or two foreign nations.

I wish to draw attention to the following figures, which seem to show that there is weakness and danger in your commercial affairs as well:

United Kingdom imports (foreign) £413,544,528
United Kingdom exports (foreign) 252,349,700
Balance of trade against United Kingdom       £161,194,828
United Kingdom imports (foreign) £416,416,492
United Kingdom exports (foreign) 234,745,904
Balance of trade against United Kingdom £181,670,588

We see the result of this great import of foreign goods in the distress in England to-day. The cable reports tell us of unemployed farm labourers flocking into the towns, of unemployed townsmen parading the streets with organised methods of begging, of charity organisations taxed to their utmost limit to relieve want. We see the Mother Country ruining herself and enriching foreign nations by a blind adherence to a fetish, and we begin to wonder how long it can last.

Adopt the policy of a duty upon all foreign goods, bind your Empire together by bonds of interest, turn your emigration and capital into your own possessions, produce ten or twelve million quarters more of wheat in your own islands, no matter what the cost may be, and then ask us to put in our contributions towards the common defence, for then an effective defence might be made.

Yours truly,

George T. Denison.

I was so alarmed at the state of affairs that on the 23rd March, 1903, I wrote to Mr. Chamberlain the following letter, which shows my anxiety at the time:

Dear Mr. Chamberlain,

There are one or two very important matters I wish to bring to your attention.

Just before the Conference I had a conversation with you and Lord Onslow in reference to Canada’s action. You considered that it would be useless at the time to attempt to carry the proposition that I had been advocating in Great Britain, of a 5 to 10 per cent. duty [344]around the Empire for a defence fund. You told me what line you thought the most likely to succeed, and advised me that Canada should try to meet your views by further concessions to Great Britain in return for advantages for us in your markets. I urged this upon Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and I understand that he was willing to meet you, if possible, on the lines indicated. Unfortunately, nothing was done. I fancy your colleagues got frightened, for I know that you personally had a clear insight into the matter, and fully appreciated the importance of something being done.

Now I wish to tell you how matters stand out here. Our people are very much discouraged. Many of our strongest Imperialists in the past are beginning to advocate the repeal of our preference to Great Britain. The manufacturers who were in favour of the preference, provided we had a prospect of getting a reciprocal advantage in your markets, are, many of them for their personal ends, now desirous of stopping it. All the disaffected (there are not very many of them) are using the failure of the Conference to attack and ridicule the Imperial cause. This is all very serious. The gravest danger of all, however, is that the United States will never give our Empire another chance to consolidate itself if they can prevent it. They are already agitating for the reassembling of the High Joint Commission to consider, among other things, reciprocal tariffs. Only the other day a member of the Massachusetts House of Assembly declared in that house that he had assurances from Washington that the passage of a resolution in favour of reciprocity with Canada would be welcomed by the administration. We see the danger of this, and our Government have made excuses to delay the meeting of the Commission until October. Now if nothing is done in the meantime towards combining the Empire—if nothing is done to make such a start towards it as would give our people encouragement, what will happen? The United States will give us the offer of free reciprocity in natural [345]products. What would our people be likely to do in that case? All along the frontier our farmers would find it very convenient to sell their barley, oats, hay, butter, poultry, eggs, &c., to the cities on the border. In the North West it would appeal to our western farmers, who would be glad to get their wheat in free to the mills of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Such a proposition might therefore carry in our Parliament, and would probably bind us for ten or fifteen years. This would be a dead block against any combination of the Empire for preferential trade, for then you could not give us a preference, as we would be debarred from putting a duty on United States articles coming across our border, which would be necessary if an Imperial scheme were carried out.

A proposition for reciprocity with the United States was made in 1887. At the dinner given to you in Toronto that year I fired my first shot against Commercial Union, and ever since I have been probably the leader in the movement against it. My main weapon, my strongest weapon, was an Imperial discriminating tariff around the Empire. We succeeded in getting our people and Parliament and Government to take the idea up and to do our side of it, and we have given the discriminating tariff in your favour. We hoped that you would meet us, but nothing has been done, and our people feel somewhat hurt at the result. Where will we Imperialists be this autumn when the High Joint Commission meets? The people of the United States will be almost sure to play the game to keep back our Empire, and we will be here with our guns spiked, with all our weapons gone, and in a helpless condition.

I feel all this very deeply and think that I should lay the whole matter before you. I do not wish to see the Empire “fall to pieces by disruption or by tolerated secession.” I do not wish to see “the disasters which will infallibly come upon us.” I wish to see our Empire “a great Empire” and not see Great Britain “a little [346]State,” and I do urge upon you as earnestly as I can to get something done this Session that will give us a preference, no matter how small, in order that our hands may be tied before the High Joint Commission meets, so that we may escape the dangers of a reciprocity treaty, for if we are tied up with one for ten years, our Empire may have broken up before our hands are free again.

If something was done on the preference, I believe we could carry large expenditures for Imperial Defence in our Parliament. I enclose a letter to the Times which appeared while you were on the sea, which I believe pretty fairly expressed the views of most of our people.

I send my hearty congratulations on the success of your mission to South Africa, and on the magnificent work you have done there for our Empire,

Believe me,

Yours, &c.

The Right Hon Joseph Chamberlain, M.P.

On the 16th April, 1903, I received a letter from Mr. Chamberlain which was quite discouraging. I wrote to him again on the 18th April, and on the 10th May received an answer which was much more encouraging.

I was not surprised when, on the 15th May, Mr. Chamberlain made his great speech at Birmingham, which resulted soon afterwards in his resignation from the Government, and the organisation of the Tariff Reform movement, which he has since advocated with such enthusiasm, energy, and ability.

The result of this speech was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud. Instantly the whole prospect brightened, every Canadian was inspirited, and confidence was restored. Such an extraordinary change [347]has seldom been seen. The Toronto correspondent of the Morning Post, 17th May, 1903, said:

Canada has seldom before shown such unanimity over a proposed Imperial policy, as that which greets the project of Mr. Chamberlain for the granting of trade concessions to the British Colonies in the markets of Great Britain.

It is this hope in the ultimate triumph of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy which has caused the Canadian people to wait patiently for that result. The extraordinary defeat of the Unionist party in the elections of 1906 has not destroyed this confidence, and the Empire has yet a chance to save herself.

The 6th annual meeting of the British Empire League took place on 19th May, 1903, in the Railway Committee Room, House of Commons, Ottawa.

A very unpleasant event occurred about this time in the Alaskan Award. I had looked into the matter very closely while Sir Wilfrid Laurier was in Washington engaged in the negotiations over the dispute, and I felt confident that we had a very weak case for our contentions, in fact I thought we had none at all. I saw Chief Justice Armour, who was to be one of the Canadian Commissioners, just before he left for England. He was a friend of mine, and one of the ablest judges who ever sat in the Canadian Courts, and I told him what I thought. He evidently felt much the same. I said to him that I wished to make a remark that might be stowed away in the back of his head in case of any necessity for considering it. It was that when he had done his very best for Canada, and had done all that he could, if he found that Lord Alverstone would not hold out with him, not to have a split but if the [348]case was hopeless to join with Lord Alverstone and make the decision unanimous. I said if Lord Alverstone went against us the game was up, there was no further appeal, no remedy, and there was no use fighting against the inevitable, and it would be in more conformity with the dignity of Canada, and good feeling in the Empire, to have an award settled judicially, and by all the judges. Unfortunately the Chief Justice died, and the Government appointed a very able advocate Mr. Aylesworth, K.C., who happened to be in England at the time, to fill his place. Mr. Aylesworth had been the advocate all his life. At that time he had absolutely no knowledge of political affairs. The award was better than I expected and gave us two islands, which the United States had held for years, and on one of which a United States Post Office had been long established. Mr. Aylesworth forgetting there was no appeal, and that the matter was final, prevailed on Lt.-Governor Jetté who was with him to make a most violent protest, and a direct attack upon Lord Alverstone. Owing to this, the award created a good deal of resentment in Canada. The people were very much aroused, and believed they had been betrayed.

By the time Mr. Aylesworth arrived in Toronto he had time to think the matter over. The Canadian Club had organised a great banquet in his honour, and I am of opinion that when he arrived at home, he was astonished at the storm he had aroused. He at once allayed the excited feelings of his audience by a most loyal, patriotic, and statesmanlike speech, and quieted the feeling to a great extent, although it is still a very sore question in Canada, and Lord Alverstone is placed on the same shelf with Mr. Oswald of the treaty of 1783, [349]and Lord Ashburton who gave away a great part of the State of Maine; but had I been in Lord Alverstone’s place, and I am an out and out Canadian, with no sympathy whatever with the United States, I should have done as he did.

In the spring of 1903 a controversy arose between Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and the present Lord Salisbury in which I was able to intervene on Mr. Chamberlain’s side with some effect.

Mr. Chamberlain had said in a public letter that the late Lord Salisbury had favoured retaliation and closer commercial union with the colonies. The present Lord Salisbury wrote to The Times saying that his father profoundly dissented from Mr. Chamberlain’s fiscal policy. Several letters followed from Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Michael Hicks-Beach. I published in The Times on the 18th May, 1905, the following letter:


The controversy which has been lately going on in the Press in Great Britain over the question of the late Lord Salisbury’s view on protection and preferential tariffs has excited considerable interest in this country. As I am in a position to throw some light upon the late Premier’s opinions on these questions, I would ask your permission to say a few words.

I was for some years president of the Imperial Federation League in Canada, and since it was merged in the British Empire League I have held the same position in that body. In 1890 I was appointed specially to represent the Canadian League in England for the purpose of advocating the denunciation of the German and Belgian treaties, and of urging the establishment of a system of preferential tariffs between Canada and the Mother Country. In two interviews [350]with Lord Salisbury, I urged both points upon him as strongly as possible, and pointed out to him that our League had taken up the policy of preferential tariffs in order to counteract the movement for commercial union or unrestricted reciprocity between the United States and Canada, which at that time was a very dangerous agitation. After hearing my arguments, Lord Salisbury said that he felt that the real way to consolidate the Empire would be by a Zollverein and a Kriegsverein. This was substantially our policy, and I begged of him to say something on that line publicly, as it would be a great help to us in the struggle we were having on behalf of Imperial Unity. He did not say whether he would do so or not; but a few months later at the Lord Mayor’s banquet at the Guildhall in November, 1890, he made a speech which attracted considerable attention, and which gave us in Canada great encouragement. He spoke of the hostile tariffs and said: “Therefore it is that we are anxious above all things to conserve, to unify, to strengthen the Empire of the Queen because it is to the trade that is carried on within the Empire of the Queen that we look for the vital force of the commerce of this country. . . . The conflict which we have to fight is a conflict of tariffs.”

At Hastings on May 18th, 1892, he made another speech still more pronounced the terms of which are well known.

We carried on a correspondence for many years, and I saw him on several occasions when I visited England. We discussed the policy of preferential tariffs and the denunciation of the German and Belgian treaties, which were denounced by his Government in August, 1897. His letters to me show how strongly he was in sympathy with us; but he was a statesman of great caution and evidently would not commit himself to practical action in regard to either preference or fair trade, as long as he believed that the prejudice against any taxation on articles of the first necessity was too strong to be overcome.


The following extracts are taken from letters received by me from Lord Salisbury, and they give a clear idea of what his opinions were. In the early days of the movement I was probably the only one who was pressing on Lord Salisbury the urgent need of some action being taken, and he may not have had occasion to express his views upon the subject to many others.

In a letter dated March 21st, 1891, in reply to one from me telling him of the danger of reciprocity or commercial union with the United States, he wrote:

“I agree with you that the situation is full of danger, and that the prospect before us is not inviting. The difficulties with which we shall have to struggle will tax all the wisdom and all the energy of both English and Canadian statesmen during the next five or ten years. I should be very glad if I saw any immediate hope of our being able to assist you by a modification of our tariff arrangements. The main difficulty I think, lies in the great aversion felt by our people here to the imposition of any duties on articles of the first necessity. It is very difficult to bring home to the constituency the feeling that the maintenance of our Empire in its integrity may depend upon fiscal legislation. It is not that they do not value the tie which unites us to the colonies; on the contrary, it is valued more and more in this country, but they do not give much thought to political questions and they are led away by the more unreasoning and uncompromising advocates of free trade. There is a movement of opinion in this country, and I only hope it may be rapid enough to meet the necessities of our time.”

In another letter, dated November 22nd, 1892, he wrote:

“I wish there were more prospect of some fiscal arrangements which would meet the respective exigencies of England and Canada, but that appears still to be in the far distance.”

“In another letter written nine years later, dated [352]March 1st, 1901, a little over a year before his final retirement from office, referring to a report of the speeches at the annual meeting of our League in Canada, which I had sent to him, he wrote:

“It is very interesting to read Mr. Ross’s address about the error into which free trade may run, for I am old enough to remember the rise of free trade, and the contempt with which the apprehensions of the protectionists of that day were received. But a generation must pass before the fallacies then proclaimed will be unlearnt. There are too many people whose minds were formed under their influence, and until those men have died out no change of policy can be expected.”

“These extracts show very clearly Lord Salisbury’s views, and prove that personally he would have favoured preferential tariffs in order to save and preserve a great Empire.”


George T. Denison.

This was much commented on in the British Press.

The Times said:

The extraordinarily interesting letter which we publish from Colonel Denison, the president of the British Empire League in Canada, shows how deeply sensible was the late Lord Salisbury of the obstacles which prejudice and tradition offer to the adoption of a genuine policy of tariff reform, and how conscious he was of the difficulties to a practical statesman of overcoming them.

The London Globe said:

Few more remarkable contributions have been made recently to the controversy over fiscal reform than the letters of the late Marquis of Salisbury, which Colonel Denison, of Toronto, has communicated to The Times.


The Outlook said:

The invaluable letter in The Times from Colonel G. T. Denison, of Toronto, has disposed once for all of Lord Hugh Cecil’s theory that the system of free imports ought to be regarded as a Conservative institution. Passages cited by Colonel Denison from unpublished letters and forgotten speeches prove that the late Lord Salisbury’s agreement with the principles of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy was complete.

Lord Hugh Cecil had the following letter in The Times of the 20th May, 1905.


I have no desire to enter into any controversy with Colonel Denison as to Lord Salisbury’s opinion in 1891 or 1892. The extracts from the letters published by Colonel Denison do not seem to me to have any bearing on Lord Salisbury’s attitude towards any question that is now before the public.

I myself think that it is undesirable to quote the opinions of the dead, however eminent, in reference to a living controversy. But since the attempt continues to be made by tariff reformers to claim Lord Salisbury’s authority in support of their views, it is right to say that I have no more doubt than have any of my brothers that Lord Salisbury profoundly dissented from Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals so far as they were developed during his lifetime. Not only did he repeatedly express that dissent to us, and to others who had been in official relations with him, but he caused a letter to be written in that sense to one of my brothers.

In conclusion, may I point out that it would have been more courteous in Colonel Denison, if he had at least consulted Lord Salisbury’s personal representa[354]tives before publishing extracts from Lord Salisbury’s private correspondence?

Yours obediently,

Robert Cecil.

19th May.

I replied to this in the following letter to The Times, which was published in the issue of 13th June, 1905:


I have seen to-day, in The Times of the 20th inst., Lord Robert Cecil’s letter in reply to mine, which appeared on the 18th inst. As his letter contains a reflection on my action in publishing extracts from the late Lord Salisbury’s letters to me, I hope you will allow me to make an explanation.

Mr. Chamberlain had claimed that the late Lord Salisbury had approved of his policy of preferential tariffs, while the present Lord Salisbury held that his father “had profoundly dissented from Mr. Chamberlain’s fiscal policy.”

As Lord Salisbury and his brothers had published their father’s private opinions, which may have referred more to the time and method and details of Mr. Chamberlain’s action than to the general principle of preferential tariffs, I had no reason to think that there could be any objection to publishing the late Premier’s own written words on the subject. The letters from which I quoted, although not intended for publication at the time, contained his views on a great public question, and did not relate to any person, or any private matter, and as he was not here to speak for himself, I felt that it was desirable to publish the extracts in order to show clearly what his views were.

Lord Robert Cecil says that it would have been more courteous in me to have consulted with his father’s representatives before publishing, but in view [355]of their own action in publishing his oral, private opinions, it would seem discourteous to assume that they could, under the circumstances, desire to suppress positive evidence on a matter of grave public importance to our Empire.

Yours, etc.,

George T. Denison.

Toronto, Canada, 31st May, 1905.

This closed the episode.




In 1906 I went to England again, and once more the Toronto Board of Trade appointed me as one of their delegates to the Sixth Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire to be held in London. I arrived in London on the 27th June, and the next evening, at the Royal Colonial Institute Conversazione, I met Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain, and it was arranged that my wife and I were to lunch with them a few days later. Mr. Chamberlain had wished that we should be alone. After lunch the ladies went upstairs, and Mr. Chamberlain had a quiet talk with me for about an hour. He gave me the whole history of the difficulties he had encountered and explained how it was that he was not able to carry out the arrangement we had discussed in 1902, just before the conference. He told me that Sir Michael Hicks-Beach objected to throwing off the one shilling a quarter on wheat in favour of the colonies, because he had put it on only a short time before as a necessary war tax to raise funds for the South African War, that the expenses were still going on, and that it would be inconsistent in him to agree to it at the time.

Shortly after Sir Michael Hicks-Beach resigned from [357]the Cabinet and Mr. C. T. Ritchie (afterwards Lord Ritchie) was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the autumn it was considered advisable, so Mr. Chamberlain told me, that he should pay a visit to South Africa, which would take him away for some months, and he went on to say: “On my return from South Africa we called at Madeira, and I found there a cablegram from Austen saying the corn tax was to be taken off. When I arrived in London the Budget was coming up very soon. I could not do anything for many reasons. I did not wish to precipitate a crisis, and I had to wait.” He was evidently annoyed at the matter, and explained it to me, because he had held out hopes to me that if Sir Wilfrid Laurier would meet him with further preferences, he would give us the preference in wheat. This he had been unable to do.

I asked him if he could explain why Ritchie acted as he did. He did not seem to know. I suggested that I thought either Mr. Choate, the United States Ambassador, or some other United States emissary, had frightened him and he had taken off the tax to head off any movement for imperial trade consolidation. Mr. Chamberlain asked me why I thought so, and I drew his attention to the fact that shortly after the corn tax was taken off Mr. Ritchie went down to Croydon to address his constituents, and in justifying his action used the argument—apparently to his mind the strongest—that a preferential corn tax against the United States would be likely to arouse the hostility of that country and be a dangerous course to pursue. The audience seemed at once to be struck with the cowardice of the argument, and there were loud cries of dissent, and then they rose and sang “Rule Britannia.” Mr. Ritchie did not contest Croydon in [358]the next election, but was moved to the House of Lords shortly before his death. Mr. Chamberlain apparently had not thought of that influence.

Mr. Chamberlain was then looking in perfect health, and left the next day for Birmingham, where great demonstrations were made over his 70th birthday. He told me he was anxious to have a rest, as the burden of leading a great movement was very heavy. I urged him strongly to take a holiday, and I had pressed the same idea upon Mrs. Chamberlain as I sat next to her at lunch. He took ill, however, before a week had passed. The strain at Birmingham was very heavy.

The meeting of the Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire took place on the 10th, 11th and 13th July. We had but little hope of doing anything to help the preferential trade policy, for the General Elections had gone so overwhelmingly against us that it seemed impossible that in England our Canadian delegation could carry the resolution they had agreed upon in favour of Mr. Chamberlain’s policy. We expected to be badly defeated, but decided to make a bold fight. After the discussion had gone on for some time, Sir Wm. Holland and Lord Avebury, who led the free trade ranks, approached Mr. Drummond, who had moved the Canadian resolution, and suggested that if we would compromise by the insertion of a few words which would have destroyed the whole effect of what we were fighting for, the resolution might be carried unanimously. Mr. Drummond said he wished to consult his colleagues, and he called Mr. Cockshutt, M.P., and me out of the room and put the proposition. I said at once, “I would not compromise to the extent of one word. Let us fight it out to the very end, let us take [359]a vote. We will likely be beaten, but let us take our beating like men. We will find out our strength and our weakness, we will find out who are our friends and who are our enemies, and know exactly where we stand.”

Mr. Cockshutt said immediately, “I entirely agree with Denison.” Drummond said, “That is exactly my view. I shall consult with no others but will tell them we will fight it to the end.”

I spoke that afternoon as follows as reported in the Toronto News, 23rd August, 1906:

There were a few remarks, said Col. Denison, which had fallen from previous speakers, to which he desired to call attention. In the first place, his friend Mr. Cockshutt, said that Canada had given England the benefit of five million dollars annually in the reduction of duties, in order to help the English manufacturer to sell English manufactured goods in Canada, and stated that that was a contribution in an indirect way towards helping the defence of the Empire. Mr. Cockshutt, however, left out one important point. If Canada had put that tax on, collected the money, and handed over the five million dollars to England in hard cash, what would have been the result? The greater portion of the trade would have gone to Germany, would have given work to German workmen, would have helped to build German ships, and it would have taken more than the five million dollars annually to counterbalance the loss thereby caused to this country. He felt that every day the British people were allowing the greatest national trade asset that any nation ever possessed, the markets of Great Britain, to be exposed to the free attack of every rival manufacturing nation in the world without any protection, without any possibility of preserving those great national assets for the use of their own people, and in his opinion such a policy was exceedingly foolish.


He had heard a gentleman from Manchester say that it was all very well for Canada, and that Canada wanted it. He was one of the very earliest of Canadians who advocated preferential tariffs. In 1887 he began with a number of other men who were working with him, to educate the people of Canada on the subject. When they first began they were laughed at; they were told it was a fad, and it was contrary to the principles of free trade. When he came to England years ago he could find hardly a single man anywhere who would say anything against free trade. He was perfectly satisfied that for years English people would have listened much more patiently to attacks upon the Christian religion than they would have to attacks upon free trade.

Why did they advocate the system of preferential tariffs in Canada? Because the country was founded by the old United Empire Loyalists, who stood loyal to this country in 1776, who abandoned all their worldly possessions, who left the graves of their dead, and came away from the homes where they were born into the wilderness of Canada, and who wanted to carry their own flag with them. They wanted to be in a country where they were in connection with the Motherland, and it was the dream of those loyalists to have a united Empire. Canadians were not advocating preferential tariffs for the benefit of Canada.

He said, further, that if England would not give Canada a preference, although Canada had already given England one, at least it was advisable that England should have some tariff reform which would prevent the wealth which belonged to this great Empire being dissipated among its enemies. That was the reason they were advocating the resolution. It was said that they desired to tax the poor man’s food. He said it was of the utmost importance to have food grown in their own country. England in the past had had no reserves of food. Fortunately [361]they were now in such a position that, if they kept the command of the sea, Canada would be able to grow enough in a year or two for the needs of the United Kingdom. Seven years ago England was in such a position that, if a combination of two nations had put an embargo on food, she would have been brought to her knees at once. Australia and Canada were now growing more wheat, but everything depended upon the navy; and if England allowed her trade and her markets, and the profits which could be made out of the markets, to be used by foreign and rival Powers to build navies, they were not only helping those foreign nations to build navies at their own cost, but at the same time the people of this country had to be taxed to build ships to counterbalance what their enemies were doing.

Canadians felt that they were part of the Empire. They had helped as much as their fathers did; but after all, they had only added to the strength of the Empire, because their fathers went abroad to other nations, carrying the flag and spreading British principles and ideas into other countries. He therefore contended that Canadians had a great right to urge upon the people of England to do all they could to preserve the Empire, as Canadians were doing in their humble way.

As had been already said, Canada was giving preferences. For instance, she was giving a preference to the West Indies, so that nearly every dollar that was paid for sugar in Canada went to the West Indies. A few years ago it all came from Germany, and the profits that were made out of Canadian markets went to Germany, and, although they were not comparable with the profits made out of the English markets, such as they were they helped Germany. The trade gave her people employment; gave her navy money, and enabled her still further to build rival battleships. Was that wise? (No.) Canada asked England to remedy that; but Canada did not want it if England [362]did not, because England wanted it five, ten, fifteen, or thirty times more than Canada did. Free trade at one time existed in Canada. When he was a very young man he was a free trader, but he was now older and wiser. What was the condition of the country then? It was a country with the greatest natural resources in the world, with the most magnificent agricultural prospects, with mineral and every other resource, such as he believed had not been paralleled anywhere else on the globe. Yet, for twenty years, when they had only a revenue tariff, what happened? The Yankees in 1871 put on a large protective duty, and commenced to build up their manufactures. The result to Canada was that in a few years, in 1875, 1876, and 1877, the Americans not only made for themselves but introduced their goods into Canadian markets. The result was that Canadian manufactories were closed up, the streets of the cities were filled with unemployed, and during that early period of their history nearly one million Canadians left the country. It was so well known that it was called “the exodus.” People used to wonder what was the matter, and enquired whether there was a plague in the country. They used to enquire how it was that Canadians could not succeed, and how it was there were so many people starving in the streets.

An agitation was started for a national policy—a protective agitation. Canadians decided that they must protect their own manufactures, and they had done so since 1878, with the result that there were now no starving people in the streets, no want in the country, no submerged tenth, and no thirteen million people on the verge of starvation. The exodus had ceased from Canada to the States, and Canadians were now coming back in their tens and twenties of thousands. Canada was now prosperous. A great deal had been done in the last twenty years. For instance, Canada had to come to England to get an English company to build the Grand Trunk Railway. [363]They did not do it wonderfully well, but still they did it, and it was now a fine railroad. But what had Canadians done? They had built the Canadian Pacific Railway to the other side; two gentlemen in Toronto were building another trans-continental railroad right across the continent, and the Government were assisting a third project, the Grand Trunk Pacific. The Canadian Pacific Railroad, a Canadian institution, managed in Canada, had its vessels on the western coast at Vancouver, carrying goods and passengers through to Japan, to the Far East, and Australia and New Zealand. All that had been done since Canada took up the policy which enabled it to prevent the enemy from bleeding it to death.

He hoped he had made the point clear. Surely England would desire to follow the example of Canada in that respect. “The exodus” was now taking place. The Right Hon. John Morley, in reply to a speech that he (Col. Denison) made, referred to the wonderful prosperity of Great Britain, which depended on free trade. Now he would tell the delegates the other side. The Right Hon. James Bryce went to Aberdeen just at the time the Government put the tax of a shilling a quarter on wheat. The Right Hon. James Bryce, who was a very able and clever man, made a powerful and eloquent speech, but he had not lived long enough in Canada. He said that the tax of a shilling a quarter on wheat would make a difference of 7½d. per annum to each person in the United Kingdom, and that it would be a great burden upon the ordinary working man of the country: but when they thought of the lowest class of the people, about 30 per cent. of the population, or 13 millions, as Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman had said, who were living upon the very verge of want, then he said it would mean reduced subsistence, frequent hunger, weakness of body, and susceptibility to disease. Was that not an awful fact for a prosperous country? Was it not an awful fact to think that 8d in a whole year would mean [364]reduced subsistence, frequent hunger, weakness of body and susceptibility to disease to 13 million of English people? That was the condition of England. The exodus was taking place; the people were going to Canada, where they enjoyed sane conditions under which people could live. They were going to Canada, instead of going to hostile countries, as they had done in the past.

Canada was getting a good many of such people, but not half enough; and if she had preferential tariffs in that sense, it would keep the blood and bone and muscle in this country under the common flag: it would keep them from helping to build up hostile nations, and would in that way be a source of strength to the Empire. He hoped that would be considered an answer to his friends from Manchester, on the point that there would be give and take, and not as had been said, simply “take” on the part of the colonies. He thought that was a most unfair statement to make; but he had now presented the Canadian side of the question.

Another extraordinary thing had happened. A gentleman whom the people of England had appointed to take control of English affairs with reference to the colonies, had lately declared that the colonies ought to make a treaty among themselves, leaving Great Britain out. That was rather a flippant way to meet offers of friendship, sympathy, and loyalty. Two hundred and seventy-four members of Parliament, he believed, had written requesting that no preference should be given. He desired to ask what had Great Britain done to those men that they should want to prevent England getting an advantage? Why should they object? Why should they interfere? What had Great Britain ever done to them?

His friend, Mr. Wilson, had told the delegates of the French manufacturer who said, ‘Why do you not come over and build your factories in France?’ British factories were already being built on the [365]Continent to-day. British factories, with British money, British brains, British enterprise, and British intellect, were now being built in the United States; but while that was the experience of England, Canada, on the other hand, was able to say that United States capital was being utilised in Canada and giving work to Canadian workmen. That was where Canada was reaping the advantage; and it was not to be wondered at that the Canadian delegates came to England and asked the English people to look about them.

When he was a young man he used to boat a good deal upon the Niagara River, a mile above the Falls. Two people always rowed together and always had a spare pair of oars. They had to row at an angle of 45 degrees, and row hard to get across without being carried into the rapids. They could not depend on their course by watching the river or watching their own boat; they had to take a point on the shore, and another point away beyond it, and keep them in line. The instant they stopped rowing, although the boat might appear to be perfectly calm and safe, it was quietly drifting to destruction. The Canadian people were on the shore and were watching the British people in the stream. The people of this country had their eyes on the oars and on the boat, but were not watching the landmarks and outside currents. They were not watching what Germany or the United States were doing; they were not watching how other nations were progressing. In fact England was going backwards. If he were standing on the shore of the Niagara River and saw a man stop rowing, he would shout to him to look out, and that was what he was doing now.

Two gentlemen had spoken on behalf of the poor people in India, but he would like to know whether those gentlemen were not much more interested in the exchange of commerce between England and India than they were in the internal comfort and happiness of the natives. He would also like to ask who put on [366]and took off the duty in India? Was it not done through the influence of the English Government? Why was such a large duty placed on tea, and why was it not taken off tea and put on wheat? If the duty were taken off tea, it would not cost the working man a farthing more, and the result would be that the Indian farmers and agriculturists would probably obtain some slight advantage, but the Indian tea worker would get a direct and positive advantage. Both parties would be helped by it, and it would also help at the same time the whole Empire.

An extract had been read from a speech by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Prime Minister of Canada. Sir Wilfrid seven or eight years ago might have made a remark of that kind, and it so happened that he was in very bad company at the time, because the remarks were made at the Cobden Club. In Canada, prominent men such as Sir Wilfrid Laurier were able to understand and listen to good arguments, to assimilate them and to change their minds. But Sir Wilfrid at the last conference made a plain and distinct offer, which he had repeated in public, and yet he (the speaker) heard political partisans in this country in their newspapers making the statement that Canada had made no offer. It was not true! The offers were in the report of the Imperial Conference of 1902; that he would give the present preference and a further preference on a certain list of selected articles, if the English people would meet him. The long list of articles was not mentioned because it would be improper to do so, as it would have the effect of making the business of Canada unsettled in reference to those things. But that the offer was made was an undoubted fact, and people in this country had no right to make statements to the contrary.

He desired to make one final appeal to Englishmen to look at the matter broadly; and when they found that the security and unity of the whole Empire might depend upon closer federation with the colonies, he appealed to English people not to make such flippant [367]remarks as that the colonies should make an agreement among themselves leaving out the Mother Country, because if that were done, and a preferential tariff instituted among the colonies, the Mother Country would very soon find out the difference. He appealed to Englishmen as a Canadian, the whole history of whose country was filled with records of devotion to the Empire, not to think that they were acting in any way for themselves, or for their personal interests, but only in the interests of their great Empire, which their fathers helped to build, and which they, the children, desired to hand down unimpaired and stronger to their children and children’s children.

The vote was not taken until the next day, and when the show of hands was taken I think we had five or six to one in our favour. A demand was made for a vote by Chambers with the result that 103 voted for the resolution, 41 against it, and 21 neutral. The reason so much larger a number appeared with us on a show of hands was, I believe, because many Chambers had given cast iron instructions to their delegates to vote against it, or to vote neutral, but on a show of hands many of them voted as they personally felt after hearing the arguments.

This was a remarkable triumph that we did not expect, and must have been very gratifying to Mr. Chamberlain.

Unfortunately Mr. Chamberlain’s illness took place just as the Congress opened. It was thought at the time that he would recover in a few days, but he has not as yet been able to resume active leadership in the struggle for preferential tariffs or tariff reform. As far as the work of our organisation is concerned, although we were at first ridiculed and abused, criticised and caricatured, the force of the arguments and the innate [368]loyalty of the Canadian people, have caused the feeling in favour of imperial unity and preferential trade to become almost universal in Canada. The preference has been established, West Indian Sugar favoured, penny postage secured, the Pacific Cable constructed, assistance given in the South African War in the imperial interest, and now the whole question remains to be decided in the Mother Country. The colonies have all followed Canada’s lead.

The conference of 1907 was futile. Sir Wilfrid Laurier took the dignified course of repeating his offers made in 1902, and saying that the question now rested in the hands of the British people. The British Government declined to do anything, which in view of the elections of the previous year was only to be expected, but a good deal of ill feeling was unnecessarily created by the action of one member of the Government, who offensively boasted that they had slammed, banged, and barred the door in the face of the colonies. We still feel however that this view will not represent the sober second thought of the British people. If it does, of course our hopes of maintaining the permanent unity of the Empire may not be realised.

From the Canadian standpoint I feel that enough has been said in the foregoing pages, to show that there was a widespread movement, participated in by people of both sides of the boundary line, which would soon have become a serious menace to Canada’s connection with the Empire, had it not been for the vigorous efforts of the loyalist element to counteract it. To the active share in which I took part in these efforts, I shall ever look back with satisfaction. Not many years have passed, but the change in the last twenty years, has been a remarkable one, the movement then making [369]such headway towards commercial union or annexation being now to all seeming completely dead. Nor should it be forgotten that it is to the Liberal party, a great many of whose leading members took part in the agitation for Unrestricted Reciprocity, that we owe, since they came into power, the tariff preference to the Mother Country, and the other movements which I have mentioned above, which tend to draw closer the bonds of Empire.

It would be difficult now to find in Canada any Canadians who are in favour of continental union, many of those who formerly favoured it, being now outspoken advocates of British connection, looking back with wonder as to how they then were carried away by such an ill-judged movement. Nevertheless the lesson taught by this period of danger is clear. We must not forget, that with a powerful neighbour alongside of Canada, speaking the same language, and with necessarily intimate commercial intercourse, an agitation for closer relations, leading to ultimate absorption, is easy to kindle, and being so plausible, might spread with dangerous rapidity. This is a danger that those both in Canada and Great Britain, who are concerned in the future of the British Empire, would do well to take to heart, and by strengthening the bonds of Empire avert such dangers for the future.



Speech Delivered at the Royal Colonial Institute on the 13th May, 1890, in reply to Sir Charles Dilke.

I am very glad to have the opportunity of saying a few words this evening. I have listened to the discussion and I find there is a feeling that of all the Colonies Canada is the only one which is not doing her duty. I have heard the doubt expressed as to whether Canada would, in case of serious trouble, stand by the Empire in the defence of her own frontiers. In support of this view I have heard an opinion quoted of an Englishman who was dissatisfied with this country and left it for the United States; dissatisfied there also he went to Canada, where he is now equally dissatisfied and is agitating to break up this Empire. I utterly repudiate his opinions. He is no Canadian and does not express the views of my countrymen. You have generally large numbers of Australians, New Zealanders and Cape Colonists at these meetings, but it is not always that you have Canadians present, and I do not think that we have altogether had fair play in this matter. It seems to be popular to compliment the other Colonies, while the doubt is expressed as to whether the Canadian people would fight to keep Canada in the Empire. I am astonished to hear such a reflection upon my country. Our whole history is a standing protest against any such insinuation. Let me recall a few facts in our past history, facts which show whether Canadians have not been true [372]to this country. Why our very foundation was based upon loyalty to the Empire. Our fathers fought for a united Empire in the revolution of 1776. They fought to retain the southern half of North America under the monarchy. Bereft of everything, bleeding from the wounds of seven long years of war, carrying with them nothing but their loyalty, they went to Canada and settled in the wilderness. Thirty years later, in 1812, in a quarrel caused by acts of British vessels on the high seas far from Canada—a quarrel in which they had no interest—the Canadian people (every able-bodied man) fought for three long years by the side of the British troops, and all along our frontier are dotted the battlefields in which lie buried large numbers of Canadians, who died fighting to retain the northern half of the continent in our Empire. And yet I come here to London and hear it said that my countrymen won’t stand true to the Empire. (Cheers.) Again, in 1837, a dissatisfied Scotchman raised a rebellion, but the Canadian people rose at once and crushed it out of sight before it could come to a head. The people poured into Toronto in such numbers to support the Queen’s authority, that Sir Francis Head, the Governor, had to issue a proclamation telling the people to stay at their homes, as they were gathering in such numbers they could not be fed. (Cheers.) In the Trent affair—no quarrel of ours; an event which occurred a thousand miles from our shores—every able-bodied man was ready to fight; our country was like an armed camp, the young and the old men drilling, no man complaining that it was not our quarrel, and the determined and loyal spirit of the Canadian people saved this country then from war. (Cheers.) So also in the Fenian Raid; again no quarrel of ours, for surely we have had nothing to do with the government of Ireland, and were not responsible in any way. Yet it was our militia that bore the brunt of that trouble. The lives lost in that affair were the lives of Canadian volunteers who died fighting in an Imperial quarrel. This affair cost us millions of dollars, and did we ever ask you to recoup us? And I, a Canadian volunteer, [373]come here to London to hear the doubt expressed as to whether my countrymen would stand true to the Empire. (Cheers.) It is not fair, gentlemen; it is not right. For the spirit of our people is the same to-day. (Cheers.) I have also heard the statement made this evening that there were no proper arrangements for the Nova Scotia militia to help in the defence of Halifax, as if there might be a doubt whether they would assist the Imperial troops to defend Halifax. This is not fair to my comrades of the sister Province of Nova Scotia. Let me recall an incident in the history of that Province at the time of the Maine boundary difficulty. I allude to the occasion—many of you will remember it—when an English diplomatist, being humbugged with a false map, allowed the Yankees to swindle us out of half the State of Maine. Well, at that time, Governor Fairfield, of the State of Maine, ordered out all the militia of that State to invade New Brunswick. The Nova Scotian Legislature at once passed a resolution placing every dollar of their revenue, and every able-bodied man in the country, at the disposal of their sister Province of New Brunswick. This vote was carried unanimously with three cheers for the Queen; and their bold and determined stand once more saved the Empire from war—(cheers)—and yet I, an Ontario man, come here to England, to hear the doubt expressed as to whether the militia of our sister Province of Nova Scotia would help to defend their own capital city in case of attack. It is not fair, gentlemen, and I am glad to be here to-night to speak for my sister Province. (Cheers.) However, I cannot blame you for not understanding all these things. You have not all been in Canada and even if any of you were to come to the Niagara Falls and cross from the States to look at them from the Canadian side, you would not return to the States knowing all about Canada. It would not qualify you to be an authority on Canadian affairs. (Laughter and applause.) Now our position is peculiar. We have a new country with illimitable territory—you can have no conception of the enormous extent—a territory forty times the size of Great Britain, and fifteen times the size of the [374]German Empire, and we have only a small population. We are opening up this country for settlement, developing its resources, and thereby adding to the power of the Empire. Our burdens are enormous for our population and our wealth. What have we done quite lately? We have spent something like $150,000,000—£30,000,000—in constructing a railway across the continent and giving you an alternative route to the East. Many people thought this would be too great a burden—more than our country could stand—but our Government and the majority of our people took this view, that this scheme would supply a great alternative route to the East, bring trade to the country, add strength to the Empire, and make us more than ever a necessity and a benefit to the Empire. And remember, all the time we are developing our country, all the time we are spending these enormous sums, we do not live in the luxury you do here, and while we are perfectly willing to do a great deal, we cannot do everything all at once. With you everything is reversed. You have had nearly 2,000 years start, with your little bit of country, and your large population, and by this time I must say you have got it pretty well fixed up. (Laughter.) The other day I was travelling through Kent and I was reminded of the remark of the Yankee who said of it: “It appears to me this country is cultivated with a pair of scissors and a fine comb.” We have not had the time or the population to do this, and we cannot afford a standing army. It is not fair to find fault with us because we do not keep up a standing army. It is absolutely necessary we should not take away from productive labour too large a number of men to idle about garrison towns. The Canadian people know that as things stand at present, they cannot be attacked by any nation except the United States. We would not be afraid of facing any European or distant Power, simply because the difficulties of sending a distant maritime expedition are recognised to be so tremendous. Suppose war should unfortunately break out with the United States—and that, as I say, is the only contingency we need seriously consider—in that case, [375]what are we to do? It would be useless we know to attempt to defend our country with a small standing army. We know that every able-bodied man would have to fight. We know that our men are able and willing to fight, and what we are trying to do is to educate officers. Our military college, kept up at large expense, is one of the finest in the world. Then we have permanent schools for military purposes, men drafted from our corps being drilled there and sent back to instruct. We keep up about 38,000 active militia, and the country has numbers of drilled men who could be relied on. As an illustration of our system, I may mention that in 1866 there was a sudden alarm of a Fenian invasion. The Adjutant-General received orders at 4 o’clock in the afternoon to turn out 10,000 men. At eleven the next day the returns came in, and to his utter astonishment he found there were 14,000 under arms. The reason was that the old men who had gone through the corps had put on their old uniforms, taken down their rifles, and turned out with their comrades, and there they were ready to march. Instead of the militia force going down, it is, I think, slightly increasing. Our force could be easily expanded in case of trouble. If there were danger of war, and the Government were to say to me to-morrow: “Increase your regiment of cavalry and double it,” I believe it could be done in twenty-four hours. I cannot tell you how many stand of arms we have in the country, but I believe there are three or four times as many rifles as would arm the present militia force, and therefore there would be no difficulty on that score. In case of a great war, it would, of course, be necessary to get assistance from England. We certainly should want that assistance in arms and ammunition. We have already established an ammunition factory, which is capable of great extension. We have a great many more field guns that we are absolutely using. It would be an easy thing to double the field batteries with retired men. Further, there is a good deal of voluntary drill, and I may say, speaking from my experience in the North-West campaign, that I would just as [376]soon have good volunteer regiments as permanent forces. They may not be quite so well drilled, but they possess greater intelligence and greater zeal and enthusiasm. If any trouble should come, I am quite satisfied you will not find any backwardness on the part of the Canadian people in doing their full duty. At the present time, considering the enormous expense of developing the country and of, in other ways, making it great and powerful, it would, I think, be a pity to waste more than is absolutely necessary in keeping up a large military force. The training of officers, the providing of an organisation and machinery, the encouragement of a confident spirit in the people, and a feeling of loyalty to the Empire—these are, I venture to say, the principal things, of more importance than a small standing army. (Applause.)

The Chairman (the Right Hon. Hugh C. Childers).—You will all, I think, agree that it is rather fortunate the few remarks by previous speakers have elicited so eloquent and powerful an address as that we have just listened to. (Cheers.)



Lecture Delivered at the Shaftesbury Hall, Toronto, on the 17th December, 1891, on “National Spirit,” by Colonel George T. Denison.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The history of the world is the history of the rise and fall of nations. The record of the dim past, so great is the distance from which we look and so scanty the materials of history, seems almost a kaleidoscope, in which one dominant race rises into greatness and strength upon the ruins of another, each in turn luxuriating in affluence and power, each in turn going to ruin and decay.

In the earliest period, when Europe was peopled by barbarians, we read of Egypt, of its power, its wealth, and its civilisation. Travellers to-day, standing in the ruins of Thebes and Memphis, view with amazement the architectural wonders of the gigantic ruins, and draw comparisons between what the race of ancient Egyptians must have been, and the poor Arab peasants who live in wretched huts among the debris of former grandeur. The Assyrian empire has also left a record of its greatness and civilisation. Their sculptures show a race of sturdy heroes, with haughty looks and proud mien, evidently the leaders of a dominant race. The luxuriant costumes, the proud processions, the ceremonious cortège of the Assyrian monarchs, all find their place in the sculptures of Nineveh, [378]while their colossal dimensions indicate the magnificence of the halls and galleries in which they were placed. These broken stones, dug from the desert, are all that is left to tell us of a great and dominant race for ever passed away. The Persian empire came afterwards into prominence, and was a mighty power when in its prime. The Phœnicians, by their maritime enterprise and their roving and energetic spirit, acquired great power. Their influence was felt as far as England. Their chief cities, Tyre and Sidon, were at one time the most wealthy and powerful cities in the world, excelling in all the arts and sciences. To-day ruin and desolation mark their sites, and testify to the truth of the awful prophecy of Ezekiel the prophet.

The Greeks and Romans were also dominant races, but the small republics of Greece frittered away in dissension and petty civil wars the energy and daring that might have made Athens the mistress of the world. Rome, on the other hand, was more practical. The Roman was filled with a desire for national supremacy. He determined that Rome should be the mistress of the world, and the desire worked out its fulfilment. The Carthaginians rose and fell, victims to the greater vigour and energy of their indomitable rivals the Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire of the East, the Mohammedan power, restless, warlike, and fanatical, quickly overran Asia Minor and Turkey, and threatened at one time the conquest of all Europe.

Three hundred years ago Spain was the all-powerful country. Her ships whitened every sea, her language was spoken in every clime, her coins were the only money used by traders beyond the equator. England, which was at that time the sole home of English-speaking people, was only a fifth or sixth-rate Power. To-day the British Empire is the greatest empire the world has ever seen, with 11,214,000 square miles of territory, a population of 361,276,000, a revenue of £212,800,000, total imports and exports of £1,174,000,000, and she owns nearly one-half of the shipping of the world.

In considering the causes which lead to the rise and [379]fall of nations, we find that the first requisite to ensure national greatness is a national sentiment—that is, a patriotic feeling in the individual, and a general confidence of all in the future of the State. This national spirit generally exhibits itself in military prowess, in a determination of placing the country first, self afterwards; of being willing to undergo hardships, privation, and want; and to risk life, and even to lay down life, on behalf of the State. I can find no record in history of any nation obliterating itself, and giving up its nationality for the sake of making a few cents a dozen on its eggs, or a few cents a bushel on its grain.

The Egyptians commemorated the deeds of their great men, erected the greatest monuments of antiquity, and taught the people respect for their ancestors, holding the doctrine, “accursed is he who holds not the ashes of his fathers sacred, and forgets what is due from the living to the dead.” The Assyrians on their return from a successful war paraded the spoils and trophies of victory through their capital. They also recorded their warlike triumphs in inscriptions and sculptures that have commemorated the events and preserved the knowledge of them to us to this present day. The national spirit of the Greeks was of the highest type. When invaded by an army of 120,000 Persians in B.C.490, the Athenians without hesitation boldly faced their enemies. Every man who could bear arms was enlisted, and 10,000 free men on the plains of Marathon completely routed the enormous horde of invaders. This victory was celebrated by the Greeks in every possible way. Pictures were painted, and poems were written about it. One hundred and ninety-two Athenians who fell in action were buried under a lofty mound which may still be seen, and their names were inscribed on ten pillars, one for each tribe. Six hundred years after the battle, Pausanias the historian was able to read on the pillars the names of the dead heroes. The anniversary of the battle was commemorated by an annual ceremony down to the time of Plutarch. After the death of Miltiades, who commanded the Greeks, [380]an imposing monument was erected in his honour on the battlefield, remains of which can still be traced.

This victory and the honour paid both the living and the dead who took part in it, had a great influence on the Greeks, and increased the national spirit and confidence of the people in their country. The heavy strain came upon them ten years later, when Xerxes invaded Greece with what is supposed to have been the greatest army that ever was gathered together. Such an immense host could not fail to cause alarm among the Greeks, but they had no thought of submission. The national spirit of a race never shone out more brightly. Leonidas, with only 4,000 troops all told, defended the pass at Thermopylæ for three days against this immense host, and when, through the treachery of a Greek named Ephialtes, the Persians threatened his retreat, Leonidas and his Spartans would not fly, but sending away most of their allies, he remained there and died with his people for the honour of the country. They were buried on the spot, and a monument erected with the inscription:

Go, stranger, and to Lacedæmon tell
That here, obedient to her laws, we fell.

Six hundred years after, Pausanias read on a pillar erected to their memory in their native city, the names of 300 Spartans who died at Thermopylæ. A stone lion was erected in the pass to the memory of Leonidas, and a monument to the dead of the allies with this inscription: “Four thousand from the Peloponnesus once fought on this spot with three millions.” Another monument bore the inscription: “This is the monument of the illustrious Megistias whom the Medes, having passed the river Sperchius, slew—a prophet who, at the time, well knowing the impending fate, would not abandon the leaders of Sparta.” The Athenians were compelled to abandon their homes and take refuge on the island of Salamis, where the great battle was fought the following October, between 380 Greek vessels and a Persian fleet of 2,000 vessels. This action was brought on by a [381]stratagem of Themistocles, whom no odds seemed to discourage. This ended in a great victory for the Greeks, and practically decided the fate of the war. Themistocles and Eurybiades were presented with olive crowns, and other honours were heaped upon them. Ten months after this Mardonius a second time took possession of the city, and the Athenians were again fugitives on the island of Salamis; even then the Athenians would not lose hope. Only one man in the council dared to propose that they should yield; when he had left the council-chamber the people stoned him to death. Mardonius, who had an army of 300,000 men and the power of the Persian empire at his back, offered them most favourable terms, but the national spirit of the Greeks saved them when the outlook was practically hopeless. The Athenians replied that they would never yield while the sun continued in its course, but trusting in their gods and in their heroes, they would go out and oppose him. Shortly after the Greeks did go out, and a brilliant victory was won at Platæa, where Mardonius and nearly all his army were killed. The Mantineans and the Elians arrived too late to take part in the action with the other Greeks, and were so mortified at the delay that they banished their generals on account of it. Thus ended the Persian invasions of Greece. The national spirit of the Greeks inspired them to the greatest sacrifices and the greatest heroism, and was the foundation of the confidence and hope that never failed them in the darkest hour. There were a few traitors such as Ephialtes, who betrayed the pass, and a few pessimists like Lycidas, who lost hope and was stoned to death for speaking of surrender. The lesson is taught, however, that the existence in a community of a few emasculated traitors and pessimists is no proof that the mass of the citizens may not be filled with the highest and purest national spirit.

The history of Rome teaches us the same great lesson. As Rome was once mistress of the world, as no race or nationality ever before wielded the power or attained the towering position of Rome, so we find that just as in [382]proportion she rose to a higher altitude than any other community, so does her early history teem with the records of a purer national sentiment, a more perfect patriotism, a greater confidence in the State on the part of her citizens, and a more enduring self-sacrificing heroism on the part of her young men. Early Roman history is a romance filled with instances of patriotic devotion to the State that have made Roman virtues a proverb even to this day. Many of the stories are, no doubt, mere legends, but they are woven into the history of the nation, and were evidently taught to the children to create and stimulate a strong patriotic sentiment in their breasts. When we read the old legend of Horatius at the bridge; when we read of Quintus Curtius, clad in complete armour and mounted on his horse, plunging into the yawning gulf in the Forum to save the State from impending destruction; when we read of Mutius Scævola, of Regulus, urging his countrymen to continue the war with Carthage, and then returning to the death which was threatened him if he did not succeed in effecting a peace, we can form some idea of the spirit which animated this people, and can no longer wonder at such a race securing such a world-wide supremacy. The Romans took every means to encourage this feeling and to reward services to the State. Horatius Cocles was crowned on his return, his statue erected in the temple of Vulcan, and a large tract of the public land given him. Rome was filled with the statues, and columns, and triumphal arches, erected in honour of great services performed for the State. Many of these monuments are still standing. Varro, after the terrible defeat of Cannæ, received the thanks of the Senate because, although defeated and a fugitive, he had not despaired of the future of the State. The Romans, like the English, never knew when they were beaten, and disaster rarely inclined them to make peace. They did not look upon Carthage, their neighbour to the south, as their natural market, not at least to the extent of inducing them to give up their nationality in the hope of getting rich by trading with that community, and yet history leads [383]us to believe that Carthage was at one time very wealthy and prosperous. No, the national sentiment was the dominant idea.

For Romans in Rome’s quarrel
Spared neither land nor gold,
Nor son, nor wife, nor limb, nor life,
In the brave days of old.

Even the Romans, however, had traitors, for we read that Brutus ordered the execution of his own sons for treason. Catiline also conspired against the State; of course his character was not good; he was said to be guilty of almost every crime in the calendar, but when you are picking out specimen traitors it is difficult to be fastidious about their personal character. The national spirit of the race, however, easily overcame all the bad influences of the disloyal, and it was only when this sentiment died out, and luxury, selfishness, and poltroonery took its place, that Rome was overthrown.

The experience of the ancients has been repeated in later times. The national spirit of the Swiss has carried Switzerland through the greatest trials, and preserved her freedom and independence in the heart of Europe for hundreds of years. No principle of continental unity has been able to destroy her freedom. The Swiss confederation took its origin in the oath on the Rutli in 1307, and eight years later at Morgarten, the Marathon of Switzerland, 1,300 Swiss peasants defeated an army of 20,000 Austrians. This inspired the whole people, and commenced the series of brilliant victories which for two centuries improved the military skill, stimulated the national spirit, and secured the continued freedom of the Swiss nation. In 1386 another great victory was won at Sempach, through the devotion of Arnold of Winkelried, whose story of self-sacrifice is a household word taught to the children, and indelibly written on grateful Swiss hearts. The memory of Winkelried will ever remain to them as an inspiration whenever danger threatens the fatherland. A chapel marks the site of the battle, the anniversary is [384]celebrated every year, while at Stanz a beautiful monument commemorates Winkelried’s noble deed. In 1886 the five hundredth anniversary of Sempach was celebrated by the foundation of the Winkelried Institution for poor soldiers and the relatives of those killed in action. In 1388 a small army of Swiss, at Naefels, completely defeated, with fearful loss, ten times their number of Austrians, and secured finally the freedom of Switzerland. A history published last year says:

“Year after year the people of Glarus, rich and poor alike, Protestant and Catholic, still commemorate this great victory. On the first Thursday in April, in solemn procession, they revisit the battlefield, and on the spot the Landammann tells the fine old story of their deliverance from foreign rule, while priest and minister offer thanksgiving. The 5th April, 1888, was a memorable date in the annals of the canton, being the five hundredth anniversary of the day on which the people achieved freedom. From all parts of Switzerland people flocked to Naefels to participate in the patriotic and religious ceremonies. A right stirring scene it was when the Landammann presented to the vast assembly the banner of St. Fridolin, the same which Ambuhl had raised high, and thousands of voices joined in the national anthem.”

A magnificent monument at Basle commemorates the bloody fight of St. Jacques. The national spirit of the Swiss, nurtured and evidenced in this manner, has held together for hundreds of years a people professing different religions, and actually speaking four different languages. In 1856 King Frederick William IV. of Prussia threatened them with war. The whole people rose; grey-haired old men and mere boys offered their services, fellow-countrymen abroad sent large sums of money, and even the school children offered up their savings, and there was no intruding traitor to object that the children should not be allowed to interfere on the pretext that it was a party question. Catholic and Protestant, French, German, Italian, and Romansch, all stood shoulder to shoulder, [385]animated by the same spirit, determined to brave any danger in defence of the honour and independence of their country. The noble bearing of the Swiss aroused the sympathy and commanded the respect of all Europe, and really caused the preservation of peace. They have been free for 500 years, and will be free and respected so long as they retain the national spirit they have hitherto possessed. It is interesting to note that the Swiss teach the boys in the schools military drill, furnishing them with small guns and small cannon that they may be thoroughly trained.

Russia has grown from a comparatively small principality to an enormous empire, and as it has constantly risen in the scale of nations, so has it also been marked by a strong sentiment of nationality. Alexander, Prince of Novgorod, in 1240 and 1242 won two great victories, one at the Neva and the other at Lake Peipus, and so saved Russia from her enemies. He received the honourable title of “Nefsky,” or of the Neva, and the anniversaries of his victories were celebrated for hundreds of years. The great Alexander Nefsky monastery in St. Petersburg was built in his honour by Peter the Great. Dimitry, in 1380, won a great victory over the Tartars. Over 500 years have elapsed, but still the name of Dimitry Donskoi lives in the memory and in the songs of the Russian people, and still on “Dimitry’s Saturday,” the anniversary of the battle, solemn prayers are offered up in memory of the brave men who fell on that day in defence of the fatherland. It is hardly necessary to refer to the magnificent display of patriotism and self-sacrifice shown by the whole Russian people, from Czar to serf, in the defence of Russia in 1812, against armed Europe led by the greatest general of modern times. The spirit of the Russians rose with their sacrifices. The destruction of Moscow by its own people is one of the most striking instances of patriotic devotion in history. The Governor of Moscow, Count Rostopchin, burned his own country palace near Moscow when the French approached, and affixed to the gates this inscription: “During eight years [386]I have embellished this country house, and lived happily in it in the bosom of my family. The inhabitants of this estate—7,000—quit at your approach. You find nothing but ashes.” The city was abandoned and burnt. Nothing remained but the remembrance of its glories and the thirst for a vengeance, which was terrible and swift. Kutusof, the Russian general, announced the loss, and said “that the people are the soul of the empire, and that where they are there is Moscow and the empire of Russia.” The magnificent column to Alexander I. in the square in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg is a striking memorial of the victor of this great war. A visitor to St. Petersburg cannot fail to notice the strong pride in their country that animates the people. Now turning to England we find numberless proofs of the same sentiment that has built up all great nations. The brilliant victories of Cressy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, won by Englishmen against overwhelming odds, had no doubt exercised an important influence upon the people. The Reformation and the discovery of the New World exercised the popular mind, and a spirit of adventure seized most of the European countries. English sailors were most active and bold in their seafaring enterprises. They waged private war on their own account against the Spaniards in the West Indies and in the southern seas, and attacked and fought Spanish vessels with the most reckless indifference as to odds. The Armada set a spark to the smouldering patriotism of the people, the whole nation sprang to arms, the City of London equipped double the number of war vessels they were called upon to furnish. Catholics and Protestants vied with each other in animating the people to the most vehement resistance. To excite the martial spirit of the nation Queen Elizabeth rode on horseback through her army, exhorting them to remember their duty to their country.

“I am come amongst you,” she said, “being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live and die amongst you all, to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour, and my blood [387]even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart of a king, and a king of England, too, and think foul scorn that Parma, Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realms.”

These noble sentiments show the feeling that animated the race, for no woman could speak in such a strain who had not lived and breathed in an atmosphere of brave and true patriotism. Elizabeth voiced the feeling of her people, and this strong national spirit carried England through the greatest danger that ever menaced her. The poems of Shakespeare ring with the same loyal sentiment:

This England never did (nor never shall)
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself
Now these her princes have come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms.
And we shall shock them: Nought shall make us rue
If England to itself do rest but true.

Henry V. is as much a song of triumph as the Persæ of Æschylus, but here again history repeats itself, and Shakespeare has to refer to the treasonable conspiracy of Grey, Scroop, and Cambridge, who

Hath for a few light crowns lightly conspired
And sworn unto the practices of France
To kill us here in Hampton.

The three hundredth anniversary of the defeat of the Armada was celebrated at Plymouth three years ago, and a magnificent monument erected on the Hoe, close to the statue of the brave old English sailor, Sir Francis Drake, who did so much to secure the victory. The great poets of England have voiced the patriotic feeling of the country in every age. Macaulay’s “Armada,” Tennyson’s “Revenge,” and “The Light Brigade”; the songs of Campbell and Dibdin are household words in our empire, and I never heard of any objection being made to their being read by children.


The confidence of England in herself carried her through the terrible struggle with the French, Spaniards, and Dutch, in which she lost the American Colonies. Her patriotic determination also carried her through the desperate struggle with Napoleon, who at one time had subdued nearly every other European country to his will. While the English people are animated by the spirit of Drake and Frobisher, of Havelock and Gordon, of Grenville and Nelson, of the men who fought at Rorke’s Drift, or those who rode into the valley of death, there need be no fear as to her safety. Our own short Canadian history gives us many bright pages to look back upon. The exodus of the United Empire Loyalists was an instance of patriotic devotion to the national idea that is almost unique in its way. The manly and vigorous way in which about 300,000 Canadians in 1812 defended their country against the attacks of a nation of 8,000,000, with only slight assistance from England, then engaged in a desperate war, is too well known to require more than the merest reference. It is well to notice, however, how the experience of all nations has been repeated in our own country. We were hampered and endangered in 1812 by the intrigues of traitors, some of whom in Parliament did all they could to embarrass and destroy the country, and then deserted to the enemy and fought against us. General Brock’s address to the Canadian people, however, shows the same national confidence that has carried all great nations through their greatest trials. “We are engaged,” said he, “in an awful and eventful contest. By unanimity and despatch in our councils and by vigour in our operations we may teach the enemy this lesson, that a country defended by free men enthusiastically devoted to the cause of their king and constitution can never be conquered.”

The memory of our victories at Queenston Heights and Chateauguay are as dear to the hearts of the Canadian people as Marathon and Salamis were to the Greeks, or Morgarten and Sempach are to the Swiss. Why then should we be asked to conceal the knowledge of these victories won on our own soil, by our own people, in [389]defence of our own freedom? Confederation united the scattered provinces, extended our borders from ocean to ocean, gave us a country and a name, filled the minds of our youth with dreams of national greatness and hopes of an extending commerce spreading from our Atlantic and Pacific coasts to every corner in the world. The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway consolidated the country more than ever, brought the provinces into closer union, and inspired the hope that a great portion of the trade between the East and the West would pulsate through our territory. All these causes have created a strong national spirit. This feeling was dormant until the people became uneasy about an insidious movement commenced four years ago in New York, which, while apparently advocated in the interest of Canada, would have resulted in the loss of our fiscal independence and possibly our national existence. This was followed by President Cleveland’s retaliation proclamation, a blow intended to embarrass our affairs, and so to force us into subserviency. Afterwards came Senator Sherman’s speech, strongly advocating annexation; and Mr. Whitney, the Secretary of the Navy, threatened us with an invasion, describing how four armies of 25,000 men each could easily take Canada.

The newspapers in the States were filled with articles on the subject, and maps were published showing our country divided up into states, and its very name obliterated. As an instance of the newspaper articles I quote the following from the New York Commercial Bulletin, published in November, 1888, commenting on the speeches of Senator Sherman and Mr. Whitney. The Bulletin says:

“Both are inimical to commercial union unless it also be complemented by political union, or, to phrase it more plainly, they insist that annexation of Canada to the United States can afford the only effective guarantee of satisfactory relations between the two countries, if these are to be permanent. These prominent men, representing [390]each of the great parties that have alternately the administration of this Government in their hands, we are persuaded did not put forth these views at random, but that they voiced the views of other political leaders, their associates, who are aiming at making Canadian annexation the leading issue at the next Presidential election. As if speaking for the Republicans, Senator Sherman, as has already been shown, thinks the country now ready for the question, while Secretary Whitney, as if speaking for the other political party, is not less eager to bring the country face to face with it, even at the risk of war with England.”

The North American Review, one of the most respectable of their magazines, actually published an article by General Benjamin F. Butler, in which, speaking of annexation, he said: “Is not this the fate of Canada? Peacefully we hope, forcefully if we must,” and in the truculent spirit of a freebooter, he suggested that the invading army should be paid by dividing up our land among them. This was followed by the McKinley Bill, aimed of course at all countries, but especially bearing upon the articles where Canada’s trade could be seriously injured. This portion of the bill is generally believed to have been prepared with the assistance and advice of traitors in our own country.

In face of all this a lecturer in this city a few weeks ago made the following statement:

“Let me say once more, that I have been going among the Americans now for more than twenty years. I have held intercourse with people of all classes, parties, professions, characters, and ages, including the youth of a university who are sure to speak as they feel. I never heard the slightest expression of a wish to aggress on Canada, or to force her into the union.”

Among the people of antiquity there was a race that inhabited Mysia, a portion of Asia Minor, lying next to the Hellespont. This race was said to have been once [391]warlike, but they soon degenerated, and acquired the reputation of being the meanest of all people, Mysorum ultimus or last of the Mysians being used as a most contemptuous epithet. The ancients generally hired them to attend their funerals as mourners because they were naturally melancholy and inclined to shed tears. I think that the last lingering remnant of that bygone race must have wandered into this country, and, unable to obtain employment in their natural vocation, mourn and wail over the fate of Canada, urge our people to commit national suicide, and use every effort to destroy that hope and confidence which a young country like our own should always possess. This small clique is working in collusion with our enemies in the States, the design being to entrap us into annexation by force or fraud. This threat upon our country’s life, and the intrigues of these conspirators have had the effect that similar attempts have had upon all nations that have possessed the slightest elements of manliness. The patriotic feeling at once became aroused, the clergy in their pulpits preached loyalty and patriotism, the people burst out into song, and patriotic poems of greater or less merit appeared in the local press everywhere. The Stars and Stripes, often before draped in friendly folds with the Union Jack, disappeared from sight, while our own flag was hoisted all over the land. Battle anniversaries were celebrated, military monuments decorated, and in all public gatherings the loyal sentiment of the people showed itself, not in hostility to the people of the United States, but in bitter contempt for the disloyal among ourselves, who were intriguing to betray the country. This manifestation of the popular feeling killed the commercial union movement. No party in Canadian politics would touch it, and the Commercial Union Club in this city is, I believe, defunct. Its chairman, however, has not given up his designs against Canada. Coming to Canada about twenty years ago, his first mission was to teach the Canadians those high principles of honour of which he wished them to believe he was the living embodiment. His writings and his influence have never been on the side [392]of the continued connection between Canada and the Empire, but it is only within the last year or two that he has thrown off the mask, and taking advantage of the movements in the States to coerce us into annexation has come out openly in favour of the idea under the name of Continental Unity. In his last lecture on “Jingoism,” given a few weeks ago, he made his political farewell. If I placed the slightest confidence in his statement that he had concluded his attacks on Canada, I would not have troubled to answer this, his latest vindictive effusion. But he has already made so many farewells that he calls to mind the numerous farewell performances of antiquated ballet dancers, who usually continue repeating them till they are hissed off the stage. Before three weeks had elapsed he once more appeared before the public, with a letter announcing once more his departure from the stage, and arguing at length in favour of annexation for the purpose of influencing Mr. Solomon White’s Woodstock meeting. Mr. White’s speech and his letter were the only words heard in favour of that view, in a meeting which by an overwhelming majority of both parties in politics, voted against the idea. He will write again and lecture again if he sees any opportunity of doing Canada any injury.

This Oxford Professor has been most systematic in his efforts to carry out his treasonable ideas. He sees several obstacles in his way. The prosperity of the people, their loyalty to their sovereign, their love for the motherland, the idea of imperial unity, the memory of what we owe to the dead who have died for Canada’s freedom, and the martial instinct of our young men which would lead them to fight to maintain the independence of their country. He sees all these influences in his way, while the only inducement he can hold out to us in support of his view is the delusive hope that annexation would make us more prosperous and wealthy. How getting a market among our competitors, who produce everything we sell and are our rivals everywhere, would enrich us is a difficult point to maintain, and as his forte [393]is destruction and not construction, his main efforts are devoted to attacking all that stands in his way. Without the same ability, he seems desirous of playing the part of a second Tom Paine in a new revolution, hoping to stab the mother country, and rob her empire of half a continent, as did that other renegade whose example he tries to imitate. He never loses an opportunity to make Canadians dissatisfied with their lot, trying to make us believe that we are in a hopeless state, while in reality we are exceedingly prosperous. In England he poses as a Liberal Unionist, which gives him a standpoint in that country from which he can attack Canada to the greatest advantage. His book on the Canadian question was evidently written for the purpose of damaging this country in England. One of his very few sympathisers said to me with a chuckle, “It will stop emigration to Canada for five years.” I need not devote time to this, however. Principal Grant has exposed its inaccuracies and unfairness, and proved that this prophet of honour has been guilty of misrepresentations that would shame a fourth-rate Yankee politician.

In the London Anti-Jacobin this summer he tells the English people to turn their attention to Africa, to India, and to Egypt, that there they have fields for achievement, and that other fields may be opened when the Turkish empire passes away, and asks the English people why they should cling to a merely nominal dominion. He evidently longs to see Englishmen, and English treasure and English enterprise given to assist and develop India, Africa, Egypt, or Turkey, anywhere except Canada, which has given him a home and treated him with a forbearance and courtesy unparalleled. The vindictive malignancy of this suggestion to the Anti-Jacobin is manifest. He sees that emigration to the magnificent wheat fields of our North-West will help and strengthen Canada, and so he decries Canada in his book and writes to English journals endeavouring to divert English enterprise and capital to countries inhabited by alien races about whose affairs and possibilities he knows nothing. These are instances of his systematic [394]intrigues against the prosperity of Canada. In February last, to attack the innate loyalty of the people, he delivered to an organisation of young men in this city a lecture on “Loyalty.” The whole aim of the lecture was to throw ridicule upon the very idea. A few men of bad character, who had claimed to be loyal, were quoted to insinuate that loyalty was synonymous with vice. As I have in my lecture on the “United Empire Loyalists” sufficiently answered him on this point, I will pass on to the next which was on “Aristocracy.” The object of this lecture was to discredit aristocracy, to show that the aristocracy belong to England and to the Empire, and to try to arouse the democratic instincts of a democratic country like ours against British connection. To weaken, if possible, the natural feeling of the people towards the land of their ancestors. His last lecture, on “Jingoism,” is the one I principally wish to deal with, as it is aimed at the other influences, which this Mysian desires to weaken in furtherance of his traitorous plans. The main object is to strike at our national spirit, at the evidences of it, and at the causes which increase and nourish this sentiment. He combines in a few words what he objects to: “Hoisting of flags, chanting martial songs, celebration of battle anniversaries, erection of military monuments, decoration of patriotic graves, arming and reviewing the very children in our public schools.” In his elegant way he says: “If Jingoism finds itself in need of all these stimulants, we shall begin to think it must be sick.” As a matter of fact, it is these manifestations of a Canadian national spirit that make him sick, to use his own elegant phrase. He says, “Jingoism” originated in the music halls of London. No feeling could have originated in that way in Canada. We have neither the music halls nor the class of population he refers to. With his usual inaccuracy and want of appreciation of historical teaching he fails to see that the national spirit in Canada has shown itself in exactly the same way as the same feeling has been exhibited in all great nations in all ages, and has been evoked by the same cause, viz. [395]national danger. He speaks of protectionism coming back to us from the tomb of mediæval ignorance, forgetting that he helped to resurrect it in 1878 and gave the influence of his pen and voice to put that principle in power. The volunteer movement, that embodiment of the martial instinct of our race, the outcome of the manly feeling of our youth to be willing to fight for the freedom and autonomy of their native land is another great element that stands in the way of the little gang of conspirators, and so our lecturer attacks the whole force. As we have no standing army, he praises the regular soldiers, so as by innuendo the more forcibly to insult our volunteers; insinuates that it is something feminine in the character of our people that induces them to flirt with the scarlet and coquette with the steel. This historian says the volunteer movement in England was no pastime, it was a serious effort to meet a threatened danger; but, unfortunately for his argument, the danger never came to anything. And yet he ought to know that volunteers in England have never seen a shot fired in anger for over two hundred years, and that he was speaking to the citizens of a city, that have seen in every generation since it was founded dead comrades brought home for burial who had died in action for their country. The loss of life and the hardships of the North-west campaign, the exposure to the bitter cold of winter storms, and the other sufferings of our Toronto lads on the north shore trip, of course, were only pastime, while the parading in the parks and commons of England, in the long summer evenings, has been a serious effort. The erection of a monument at Lundy’s Lane, unless it included honouring the aggressors who fought against us and tried to wrest from us our country, is described as “the meanness of unslaked hatred.” Are the monuments all over England, France, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Rome, Greece and the United States all evidences of “the meanness of unslaked hatred”? They have never hitherto been looked at in that light. The professor, however, considering how he is always treating a country that has used him far better than he ever [396]deserved, should be a first-class authority on the meanness of unslaked and unfounded hatred. After twenty-five years the people of Toronto decorated the monument in honour of their dead volunteers, who died in defence of Canada in 1866. There was not one word of swagger or fanfaronade, simply an honouring of the memory of the dead, and pointing out the lesson it taught to the living to be true to their country. This is the cause of a sneer from this man, who seems to forget that those who fell in 1866 died for Canada. What more could man do than give up his life in defence of his country? And yet we, the people of Toronto, have to submit to these insults to the memory of our dead fellow-citizens. An earnest protest is also made against teaching patriotism to our children in the public schools, making them nurseries, as he says, of party passion. Of all the many instances of the false arguments and barefaced impertinence of this stranger, this is the worst. What party in this country is disloyal? What party is not interested in Canadian patriotism? A few strangers, some like the Athenian Eschines, believed to be in the pay of the enemy, some actuated only by natural malignity, are trying to destroy Canada, and find the patriotic spirit of our people in the way. These men have tried to hang on to the outskirts of a great and loyal party, and by the ill odour which attaches to them have injured the party, which longs to be quit of them. When Goldwin Smith’s letter was read at the Woodstock meeting another letter from the foremost Liberal leader in Canada was there advising the Liberal party to be true to its fidelity to the old flag, to vote down the resolutions of the conspirators, and to show that we were prepared to sacrifice something to retain the allegiance of this great Dominion to the sovereign we love. I have never referred to this question without vouching for the loyalty of the great body of the Liberal party, and especially for the loyalty of my old leaders, the Hon. George Brown, Mr. Mackenzie, Mr. Blake and Mr. Mowat. And Mr. Mowat voiced the feeling of all true Canadians, for, thank God, this has not yet become [397]a party question. As is done in Switzerland, and as is universally done in the United States—and all honour to them for it—all parties will unite to teach our children to honour our own flag, to sing our own songs, to celebrate the anniversaries of our own battles, to learn our own history, and will endeavour to inspire them with a national spirit and a confidence in our future. In all this, remember that we do not want war. It is the last thing anyone wants. These intrigues between traitors here and enemies in the States may betray us into war, but if it comes, it will not be the fault of the Canadian people, or the great mass of the right-thinking people of the United States. We only want to be let alone. We have everything a nation requires, we have an immense territory and resources, we are as free as air, with as good institutions as any country in the world. We do not wish to lose our nationality or to join a country for mere mercenary considerations where, in addition to a thousand other disadvantages, we would have to pay more as our share of the pension fund alone than the whole interest on our present national debt. We have nothing whatever to fight for; we don’t even require their market unless we can get it on equal and honourable terms. We do not intend, as some advise, to kneel down in the gutter in front of our neighbour’s place of business, and put up our hands and blubber and beg him to trade with us. Such a course would be humiliating to the self-respect of a professional tramp. A war could do us no good—could give us no advantage we do not now possess, save that it would rid us of our traitors. It would be a fearful struggle, and, no matter how successful we might be, would bring untold loss and suffering upon our people. This professor of history, who asks if we want war, ought to know that every attempt in the past to carry out his views has resulted in bloodshed. In 1775 our people fought against the idea. In 1812 they fought again in the same cause. In 1837, in spite of real grievances, all was forgotten in the loyalty of the Canadians, and once more by bloodshed the feeling of the people was manifested. On the 27th [398]October, 1874, the Globe editorially told him that what he was advocating simply meant revolution, and yet this man who is taking a course that he knows leads in the direction of war and bloodshed has the impudence to charge loyal men who are working in the opposite direction with wanting war.

The Swiss have for 500 years celebrated their battle anniversaries and honoured their flag and taught patriotism and military drill to their children. Their whole male population is drilled, and yet no one charges them with being an aggressive or “jingo” race; no one ever dreams that they desire war. It is a fallacious and childish argument to say that this kind of national spirit in itself indicates an aggressive feeling. If so, the United States must be a most aggressive race, for no country waves her flag more persistently with cause or without; no country more generally decorates the graves of her dead soldiers, and no country is erecting so many military monuments, and I respect them for it. By all means let us live on friendly terms with our neighbours, but certainly no people would despise us as much as they would were all Canadians so cowardly and contemptible as some sojourners here wish us to be.

The census returns seem to cause great satisfaction to our enemies. The progress has not been as fast as some could wish, and the exodus of our people is much talked of. The only trouble I find is that the exodus is not as extensive as it should be. The man who cannot get on here, or who is dissatisfied with Canada or her institutions, is right to go to the country he likes best. It does not cost much to go, and, if he wishes, by all means let him go. The man to be despised is he who, dissatisfied here, remains here, and, using the vantage ground of residence in the country, exerts every effort to injure and destroy it. If a few of this class would join the exodus, instead of doing all they can to increase it, it would be a blessing, and in the end increase materially both our population and our prosperity. Strength does not consist so much in numbers as in quality. When Hannibal was crossing into [399]Italy he called for volunteers to stay behind to garrison some posts; not that he required them, but because he desired to rid himself of the half-hearted. Some thousands volunteered to remain. He then considered his army much stronger than when it was more numerous, because the weak element was gone. Shakespeare, that great master of human nature, puts the same idea in Henry V.’s mouth on the eve of Agincourt, when in the face of fearful danger:

Oh, do not wish one more;
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host
That he who hath no stomach to this fight
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

It is this very exodus of the dissatisfied from Canada that makes our people more united and determined. We have about 5,000,000 of people anyway, about equal to the population of England when she faced Spain, about equal to the population of Prussia when, under Frederick the Great, she waged a triumphant war against a combination of Powers of about 100,000,000.

The remarks about the copyright law are really too funny. The professor says that the anti-British feeling in the States is dying out, “and its death will be hastened by the International Copyright Law, because hitherto the unfair competition to which American writers were exposed with pirated English works has helped to embitter them against England.” Their hatred is not against their own countrymen, who, with the consent of the nation, have pirated English books, and sold them in competition against their native writings, but it is vented against the poor, innocent English author, whose property has been taken from him, much against his will and to his great loss. There is not a man in all the United States who would imagine so mean an idea. Space will not admit of answering one-half the misrepresentations and false arguments in this lecture on “Jingoism.” The utter indiffer[400]ence to facts and to the teachings of history, when they do not aid his arguments, gives this lecturer an advantage from which a more scrupulous writer is debarred. Take for instance his reference to the calmness and freedom in the States during the civil war. His statement that “civil law prevailed, personal liberty was enjoyed, the press was free, and criticised without reserve the acts of the Government and the conduct of the war” seems strange to any who remember the history of the time when Seward’s “little bell” could put any citizen in the northern states in prison without warrant or trial; when Fort Lafayette in New York harbour, the old capitol at Washington, Fort McHenry at Baltimore, and Fort Warren at Boston were filled to overflowing with political prisoners; when newspapers were suspended and editors imprisoned, when Clement Vallandigham, one of the foremost men in the United States, was imprisoned and then banished for criticising the policy of the Government.

He speaks of his sympathy with the “Canada First” movement, of which I was one of the originators and for which I chose the motto “Canada First,” the idea being that we were to put our country first, before all personal or party considerations. We began our work by endeavouring to stir up and foster a national spirit. Charles Mair wrote a series of letters from Fort Garry to the Globe in 1869, before the North-West territories became part of Canada, advocating the opening of that country. His letters were filled with the loyal Canadian spirit. Robert G. Haliburton a year or two after went through the country lecturing on “Intercolonial Trade,” and “The Men of the North,” and teaching the same lesson. W. A. Foster about the same time wrote his lecture on “Canada First,” a magnificent appeal to Canadian patriotism, while I lectured in different parts of the Dominion on “The Duty of Canadians to Canada,” urging the necessity of encouraging a strong national spirit in the people. The professor says he gave the movement his sympathy and such assistance as he could with his pen. He hoped, as did one or two others who injured us by their support, to [401]turn it into an independence movement and make a sort of political party out of it, and it melted into thin air, but the work of the originators was not all lost, as Mair says in his lines in memory of our friend Foster:

The seed they sowed has sprung at last,
And grows and blossoms through the land.

The professor has in the same way been giving his sympathy and support to the Reform party, advocating trade arrangements somewhat as they do, and tacking on annexation, which they do not. His assistance is blasting to the Reform party, and nothing but Mr. Mowat’s manly repudiation of his ideas could save the party from the injury and damage that so unwelcome a guest could not fail to bring upon it. For I have no doubt he is as unwelcome in the ranks of the Reform party as his presence in Canada is a source of regret to the whole population. The last words of his lecture are as follows:

“But at last the inevitable will come. It will come, and when it does come it will not be an equal and honourable union. It will be annexation indeed.”

With this last sneer, with this final insulting menace, this stranger bids us farewell, and only does so, partly because he thinks that in his book and in his lectures he has done all that he possibly can to injure our prosperity, to destroy our national spirit, to weaken our confidence in ourselves and in our country; and partly also to disarm criticism and somewhat allay the bitter feeling his disloyal enmity to Canada has aroused. But we need not lose hope.

The instances I have given from the history of the past show that the very spirit that has carried great nations through great trials has manifested itself in all ages, just as the patriotic feeling of the Canadian people has burst out under the stress of foreign threats and foreign aggression, and under the indignation aroused by internal [402]intrigue and treachery. This feeling cannot be quenched. Our flag will be hoisted as often as we will, and I am glad to notice that our judges are seeing that what is a general custom shall be a universal custom, and that where the Queen’s courts are held there her flag shall float overhead. All parties will unite in encouraging a national spirit, for no party can ever attain power in this country unless it is loyal. Mr. Mowat shows this clearly in a second letter which has just been published in the Globe. We will remember the deeds of our ancestors and strive to emulate their example. Our volunteers will do their duty in spite of sneers, whether that duty be pastime or a serious effort. We will strive to be good friends with our neighbours, and trade with them if they will, putting above all, however, the honour and independence of our country. In Mr. Mowat’s words:

“We will stand firm in our allegiance to the sovereign we love, and will not forget the dear old land from which our fathers have come.”

If all this is “Jingoism,” the Canadians will be “Jingoes,” as that loyal Canadian, Dr. Beers, said in his magnificent lecture at Windsor. We would rather be loyal Jingoes than disloyal poltroons. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that a sound national spirit alone can bring our native land to a prominent position among the nations of the earth; and if thus animated, what a strength this country will be to the British Empire, of which, I hope, we may ever form a part. Let us then do everything to encourage this spirit. Let all true Canadians think of Canada first, putting the country above all party or personal or pecuniary considerations, ever remembering that no matter what the dangers, or trials, or difficulties, or losses may be, we must never lose faith in Canada. I will conclude with a few lines from one of “The Khan’s” poems, which appeared not long since in one of our city papers, as they indicate the feeling that exists generally among native Canadians:


Shall the mothers that bore us bow the head
And blush for degenerate sons?
Are the patriot fires gone out and dead?
Ho! brothers, stand to the guns,
Let the flag be nailed to the mast
Defying the coming blast,
For Canada’s sons are true as steel,
Their mettle is muscle and bone.
The Southerner never shall place his heel
On the men of the Northern Zone.
Oh, shall we shatter our ancient name,
And lower our patriot crest,
And leave a heritage dark with shame
To the infant upon the breast?
Nay, nay, and the answer blent
With a chorus is southward sent:
“Ye claim to be free, and so are we;
Let your fellow-freemen alone,
For a Southerner never shall place his heel
On the men of the Northern Zone.”





Abbott, Sir John, 217

Abercorn, the Duke of, 299

Aberdeen Journal on Newspaper Society’s dinner, 302

Aberdeen, Lord, at National Club dinner, 239

Aberdeen, Mr. James Bryce’s meeting at, 305

Abortive political movement, 56-61

Adams, Charles Francis, 109

Address, House of Commons to the Queen, 131

Adolphustown, meeting at, 64

Alaska acquired by United States, 98

Alaskan Award, 347

Algoma, contest constituency, 57

Allan, Hon. G. W., 65, 158

Allen, Benjamin, 78

Allen, J. Davis, visits Canada, 259;
visits Toronto, 260

Allen, Ethan, 109

Alverstone, Lord, on Alaskan Arbitration, 348

American Continental Congress, 2

Ames, Oliver, 109

Amnesty meeting, 41-45

Annexation letters to Globe, 121

Annexation manifesto of 1849, 4

Annual meeting, Imperial Federation League in Canada, 1888, 91;
1889, 128;
1890, 138;
1892, 195;
1893, 196;
1894, 204;
1896, 213

Annual meeting, Imperial Federation League (England), 1890, 142

Annual meeting, British Empire League in Canada, 1897, 223;
1898, 244;
1899, 248;
1900, 271;
1901, 285;
1902, 288, 289;
1903, 347

Annual meeting, British Empire League (England), 1902, 324

Appendix A, 369

Appendix B, 375

Archibald, Lt.-Governor, visits Niagara Falls, 36;
plot to forestall expedition, 45-47;
fails to meet Riel’s emissaries, 48

Argentine export of wheat, 1897, 238, 239

Armour, Chief Justice, 347

Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hon. H. O., 199

Ashburton, Lord, 349

[405]Atlantic and Pacific Fleets increased, 152

Atlantic Steamship Combine, 292

Avebury, Lord (Sir John Lubbock), 203, 206;
presides at conference, 207;
member of organising committee, 209;
British Empire League inaugurated, 212;
meeting at his house, 230;
at British Empire banquet, 280;
presides at Council meeting, 1902, 299;
at Congress, 358

Aylesworth, Hon. Mr., Alaskan Arbitration, 348


Badenach, Wm., 58

Badgerow, G. W., 58

Baines, Talbot, 300

Baker, Edgar, 78

Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J., 76

Banquet, British Empire League in London, 1900, 271-280

Barrie, meeting at, 136

Barton, Sir Edmund, 280, 332, 334

Bastedo, S. T., 189

Beach, Sir Michael Hicks-, on food supply, 236, 334, 356

Beatty, W. H., 158, 197

Beers, Dr. W. Geo., speech at Syracuse, 126;
speech at Toronto, 137

Begg, Faithfull, M.P., 321, 322

Behring Sea fisheries, 147, 150, 151

Belleville welcomes Schultz, 27

Bennett, Capt. James, 26, 43

Beresford, Lord Charles, 320

Bernard, Lally, letter to Globe, 330

Bethune, R. N., 159

Biggar, C. W. R., 58;
on Sir Oliver Mowat, 186, 192

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, 138

Blackstock, T. G., 197

Blain, Hugh, 58, 158, 197

Blaine, Hon. James, Behring Sea difficulty, 147, 151, 153;
re Commercial Union, 163

Blake, Edward, at National Club, 239

Bliss, Cornelius N., 109

Board of Trade banquet, 1887, 88

Board of Trade banquet, Sir Oliver Mowat’s speech, 193

Body Guard, Governor-General’s, escort Lord Lansdowne, 73

Boer ultimatum, 264

Borden, Sir Fred, in England, 1902, 322, 331, 333, 334

Borthwick, Sir Algernon, 209

Boswell, Mayor, 64, 65

Boulton, Major Charles, 23

Boulton, Sir S. B., 321

Bourassa, Henri, 264

Bowell, Sir Mackenzie, 217, 244

Braddon, Sir Edward, 226

Brantford branch formed, 119

Brassey, Hon. T. A., 207

Brassey, Lord, 198, 209

Bristol Chamber of Commerce meeting, 316

British Columbia, union with Canada, 9

Brock, Sir Isaac, 15

Brock, W. R., 158

Brock’s Monument, 158

Broomhall, G. S., 239

Brown, Hon. G., letters of Mair to Globe, 14;
Red River expedition, 34;
publishes Foster’s lecture, 55;
Algoma election, 57

Bruce Mines, meeting at, 57

[406]Bryce, Dr. George, 20

Bryce, Rt. Hon. James, at Aberdeen, 306, 315

Bull, Rev. Canon, 185, 186

Bulletin, New York Commercial, 106, 148

Bunting, Percy Wm., correspondence with, 178

Butler, General Benjamin F., 105

Butler, Sir Walter, 299


Caledonian Society dinner, 1888, 122

California absorbed by United States, 98

Cambridge, the Duke of, 140

Cameron, Hector, 78

Cameron, Hon. John Hillyard, 32

Campbell, C. J., 159

Canada, condition of, before Confederation, 7

Canada Club dinner, 1902, 315

Canada Club, speech at, 1890, 150

“Canada First” party, origin of and meaning of, 9
group aroused, 19
a secret organisation, 21
name chosen, 50
Foster’s lecture, 54

Canadian Club, dinner to Mr. Aylesworth, 348

Canadian Club of New York, 82

Canadian Monthly started, 169

Canadian Mounted Rifles, 269

Canadian Pacific Railway, cause of Commercial Union movement, 81

Canadian Pacific Railway, plot to injure it, 110

Canniff, Dr. Wm., 19, 26, 56, 58, 65

Carbutt, Sir Edward, 299

Carnegie, Andrew, member of Continental Union League, 109;
at meeting in Sun office, 111;
subscription to Continental Union League, 113

Carruthers, Bruce, at Hart’s River action, 269

Cartier, Sir George, in Hudson Bay negotiations, 13;
Red River expedition, 34;
visits Niagara Falls with Bishop Taché, 35-37;
his early disloyalty, 44;
changes his policy re Red River, 45;
letter to Riel, 48;
defeated in Montreal, 49

Cartoon, United States in 1900, 104

Cartwright, Sir Richard, resolution on reciprocity, 117;
meeting with Hon. James Blaine, 163;
on tariff inquiry, 220;
defends Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 226

Casey, George E., M.P., 246

Cattanach, A. J., 128

Cawthra, Henry, 158

Cecil, Lord Robert, letter to Times, 353

Centennial of United Empire Loyalists, 64, 65

Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Austen, 318

Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Joseph, 75;
at Board of Trade banquet, 1887, 88;
interview with, 1890, 146;
at British Empire League banquet, 1900, 272;
on preferential tariffs, 282;
luncheon with, 1902, 298;
Liverpool meeting, 1902, 306;
at Lord Lansdowne’s, 308;
speech at Birmingham, May, 1902, 308;
Daily News attacks, 310;
correspondence with, 338;
letter to him, 343-346;
[407]speech at Birmingham, May, 1903, 346;
controversy with Lord Salisbury, 349;
luncheon with, 1906, 356;
illness of, 358, 366

Charlton, John, M.P., in Continental Union Association, 108
asks Glen for money, 112

Chelmsford, meeting at, in 1900, 282;
effect of this meeting, 286

Chicago Tribune, 103;
on speech, 1902, 297

Chippawa, “Raising the Flag,” 159

Civil War in United States, 5

Clafflin, John, 109

Clark, J. M., 85, 91;
seconds resolution, 1888, 94;
at Ingersoll, 205;
on deputations, 136, 204, 224

Clarke, Mayor, 135

Cleveland, President, message to Congress, 103, 120;
Venezuela message, 210, 218

Cobden Club give Sir W. Laurier Gold Medal, 142

Coburg, reception of Schultz and Mair, 28

Cochrane, Bourke, 109, 112

Cockburn, Capt. Churchill, at action of Lilliefontein, 268

Cockburn, George R. R., 78, 85, 91;
occupies chair at First Imperial Federation meeting, 92, 159, 197, 200

Cockburn, Sir John, 299

Cockshutt, W. F., M.P., at Congress of Chambers of Commerce, 358

Colomb, Sir John, 140, 199

Colonial Club dinner, 1902, 315

Commercial Union, origin of, 80-82;
a treasonable conspiracy, 82-96

Commons, resolution on Preference, 195

Condition of Canada before Confederation, 7, 8

Confederation of Canada, 6

Conference of 1907 futile, 366

Congress, the American, 2

Congress of Chambers of Commerce, 1906, 212, 356, 359

Constitution of Imperial Federation League, 77

Constitution of National Association, 59

Contemporary Review, Goldwin Smith in, 177

Continental Union Association, 108, 109;
Goldwin Smith Honorary President, 169;
Goldwin Smith’s letter to, 174

Contingent to South Africa, letter on, 265, 266

Cornell, W. E., 58

Corn laws, repeal of, 4

Cosby, A. M., 158, 197

Cotton, growth of, in Empire, 300, 301

Council Meeting of Imperial Federation League in 1890, 141

Courier, Liverpool, extract from, 307

Cox, Harold, 211

Creelman, A. R., 197

Creighton, David, 136, 165

Crickmore, J., 58

Crimean War, raised prices, 5

Cumberland, Lt.-Col. Fred W., 57

Currie, Sir Philip, Behring Sea question, 148

Curry, J. W., K.C., 291

Curzon, Mrs. S. A., poem, 87


Dana, Chas. A., Continental Union League, 109;
at meeting in Sun office, 111;
[408]Myers visits, 112;
Mercier’s letter to, 114;
letter to Morison, 115

Darling, Henry W., 82

Davidson, Lt.-Col. John I., 158

Davies, Sir Louis, 244

Daw, W. Herbert, at Conference in 1894, 207, 208

Dedrickson, C. W., 58

Denison, Colonel George T., one of Canada First Group, 10;
welcomes refugees from Fort Garry, 24, 25;
goes to Ottawa with refugees, 26;
drafts protest, 29;
interview with Lt.-Col. Durie, 37;
moves resolution at meeting, 1870, 43;
lecture on Duty of Canadians, 50;
advocates Imperial Confederation, 1870, 53;
speech at National Club against independence, 63;
speech at United Empire Loyalists’ Centennial, 66, 67;
O’Brien episode, 69;
opposes Commercial Union, 83, 84;
speech at Board of Trade banquet, 1887, 88;
at organisation of Imperial Federation League, Toronto, 91, 92, 93;
letter to Globe, 1888, 121;
at Caledonian Society dinner, 122;
threatens Annexationists, 123, 126;
at Ingersoll, Lindsay, and St. Thomas, 127;
at Peterborough and Woodstock, 128;
chairman of flag-raising deputation, 135;
appointed president Imperial Federation League, 196;
on deputation to England, 1894, 204;
at conference, Sir John Lubbock’s, 1894, 207;
organisation of British Empire League, 213;
deputation to Hon. Wm. Fielding and Mr. Patterson, 220;
mission to England, 1897, 225;
on denunciation of German treaties, 228, 229, 230;
interviewed in Toronto, 1897, 231;
on food supply, 232-236;
on West Indian preference, 242, 243;
speech at annual meeting, 1899, 248;
South African War, at Military Institute, 260, 261;
letter to Globe on Volunteer contingent, 265;
at British Empire League banquet in England, 1900, 271-280;
speech at Chelmsford, 1900, 282;
speaks at St. John, N.B., and Montreal and London, Ont., 287, 288;
mission to England, 1902, 291;
speech at Royal Colonial Institute, 1902, 293;
at Council meeting, British Empire League, 299;
interview with Lord Rosebery, 303;
addresses Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, 305;
dines at Lord Lansdowne’s, 308;
letter to Daily News, 311;
discussion in House of Commons, 316;
addresses London Chamber of Commerce, 319, 320;
controversy with Sir Robert Giffen, 326-331;
returns to Toronto and interview, 332, 333;
banqueted by National Club, Toronto, 335;
writes to Mr. Chamberlain, 23rd March, 1903, 343;
writes to Times on Lord Salisbury’s views, 349-352;
writes to Times in reply to Lord Robert Cecil, 354;
speech at Congress of Chambers of Commerce, 359

[409]Denison, Lt.-Col. Fred C., writes to Wiman, 86, 87, 158, 165, 218.

Denison, Rear-Admiral, 280

Denison, Lt.-Col. Robert B., 65

Denison, Lt.-Col. Septimus, 205

Dennis, Lt.-Col. J. Stoughton, 17, 18

Depew, Chauncey M., 109

Deputation to England, 1894, 204;
1897, 223, 224;
1902, 286, 287

Derby, Earl of, sends book to the Queen, 159;
on British Empire League committee, 208, 281

Detroit, 95

Devonshire, the Duke of, president British Empire League, 212, 272, 273;
at Liverpool, 225, 226

Dickson, Casimir, 86

Dilke, Sir Charles, at Royal Colonial Institute, 140

Dissolution of Imperial Federation League, 194-198

Dobell, Hon. R. R., 224

Dodge, Granville W., 109

Donovan, J. A., 58

Drummond, George, 358

Dunraven, Lord, 209

Dun Winian & Co., influence of, 83

Durie, Lt.-Col., guard of honour for Cartier, 37

“Duty of Canadians to Canada,” lecture on, 50, 51


Edgar, Sir James D., 19, 25, 43

Edinburgh, Lord Morley’s speech at, 315

Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce meeting, 315

Egerton of Tatton, Earl, 299

Election of 1891, 156

Elgin, Lord, negotiates Reciprocity Treaty, 5

Elliott, R. W., 58

Ellis, J. F., presides at National Club dinner, 335

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 98

Empire, article in, 1890, 162;
comments on national spirit, 172;
flags given to schools, 156

Empire Day inaugurated, 256

English, C. E., 58

Equal rights movement, 194

Evans, Charles Napier, at Hart’s River, 269

Evans, George E., on deputation, 204;
receives cable from Africa, 258, 291

Evans, Sanford, 257

Executive committee, resolution, 1902, 289

Expedition, Red River, withdrawal proposed, 36, 42

Express, The Daily, interview in, 293


Fair Trade League, 211

Farrer, Edward, in Commercial Union, 108;
Glen’s letters to, 110, 111, 112;
pamphlet, 163, 164

Farrer, Sir William, 142

Fenian influence, 115

Fenian raid, Lt.-Col. J. S. Dennis at, 17

Fenian raids, 9, 70, 240

Ferguson, R. Munro, 199

Fessenden, Mrs. Clementine, suggests Empire Day, 256

Fielding, Hon. W. S., on Trade Inquiry, 220, 221;
West Indian preference, 242, 243;
speech in House, 243;
in London in 1902, 331

[410]Fife, the Duke of, 273

Financial News on London meeting, 321

Fisheries Treaty defeated in United States Senate, 120

Fitzpatrick, Hon. Charles, 244

Flag raising over schools, 134, 135

Flag over schools, effect of, 269

Flannery, Sir Fortescue, 321

Fleming, Andrew, 27, 44

Fleming, Sir Sandford, 197, 224, 245, 246

Florida acquired by United States, 100

Flower, Roswell P., 109, 113

Food supply, correspondence on, 237

Foraker, John B., 109

Ford, I. N., report of Royal Colonial Institute dinner, 1902, 294

Ford, I. N., 322, 323

Forrest, Sir John, 334

Fort Garry, 17;
seized by Riel, 18;
projected attack upon, 23

Foster, Hon. George E., at First Imperial Federation League meeting, 78;
mission to England, 1902, 290, 291

Foster, W. A., in “Canada First” group, 10, 15;
articles in Daily Telegraph, 22;
gets warrant against Richot and Scott, 31;
calls public meeting, 1870, 35;
at amnesty meeting, 1870, 44;
writes lecture, 54;
organises National Association, 56, 57, 58, 59

Fraser, W. H., 58

Free Trade, attack upon, at London Chamber of Commerce, 320

Free Trade bogey, 286

Fremantle, Sir Charles, 299

French wars, expense of, 1

Fuller, Bishop of Niagara, 65

Fuller, Valancy, 82


Gallinger, Jacob, 109

Galloway, Joseph, 2

Gallows Hill, 95

Gamble, John W., 221

German goods taxed in Canada, 229

German and Belgian Treaties prevented preference, 139;
mission against them, 150;
resolution against, 194;
discussion on, 207, 208;
efforts against, in 1897, 228;
denounced, 230

Giffen, Sir Robert, interview with, 234;
supports Corn Tax, 239;
letter against me to Times, 325;
reply, 327

Glasgow, meeting at, 1902, 315

Glen, Francis W., organises Continental Union League, 108;
letters of, 109, 110, 111, 112

Globe, the London, comments, 352

Globe, Toronto, 14;
letter to, in 1888, 101;
attacks and reply, 122, 124;
interview in 1897, 231

Gooderham, Albert E., 197

Gooderham, Alfred, 197

Gooderham, George, 158, 197

Gooderham, Wm. G., 197

Governor-General Lord Lisgar, 45

Governors of States endorse Cleveland, 211, 218

Grahame, Richard, of Canada First Group, 19, 35, 58

Grant, Rev., Principal George M., met him in Halifax, 53;
at First League meeting, 78;
in Australia, 127;
[411]at Hamilton, 128;
on preferential trade, 204, 216;
urges West Indian preference, 242;
letters from, 243, 244;
speaks at Mulock banquet, 1898, 246;
sympathises at first with Boers, 259

Grasett, Lt.-Col., 291

Gray, R. H., 58

Green, Mohawk Chief, 65

Grey, Mr., United Empire Loyalist, 221

Guelph, meeting at, 136

Gurney, Edward, 158

Gzowski, Sir Casimir, 70, 159


Hague, George, 246

Haliburton, R. J., 10, 15, 16;
at Niagara Falls, 35;
lectures, 16, 51, 52, 53

Halifax, lecture at, 53

Halifax branch, annual meeting of, 119

Hamilton, annual meeting at, 128

Hamilton, Lord George, 148, 308

Hamilton, Wm. B., 159

Hamilton, Wm. O’Brien at, 76

Harcourt, Sir Wm. Vernon, speech in House of Commons, 316

Harrison, President, breaks off negotiations, 151

Hartington, Lord, 74

Harts River, Bruce Carruthers, at action of, 268, 269

Hawick, meeting at, in 1894, 211

Hay, Admiral Sir Dalrymple, 321

Hay, Col. John, 109, 110

Headley, E. M., 210

Henderson, James, 159

Herbert, Sir Robert, chairman of executive, 212, 272, 299

Herschel, Lord, at Mulock banquet, 245, 246

Herschel, Hon. Richard, 245

Hessin, Wm., 58

Hill, Rt. Hon. Staveley, Behring Sea negotiations, 151, 163

Hill, W. Becket, 207, 208, 209

Hoffmeyer proposal, 90

Holland, Sir W. H., 299, 300, 301, 358

Home Rule resolutions, 69, 70

Hopkins, J. Castell, Woodstock meeting, 128;
at Ingersoll, 79;
St. George’s Society, 175

Hoskin, John, 158

House of Commons address, 1891, 195, 196

Howard, Allan McLean, 158

Howe, Hon. Joseph, 4, 20

Howell, A., 58

Howland, O. A., 182

Howland, W. H., chairman at Canada First meeting, 59, 60

Howland, Sir Wm. P., 59

Hudson’s Bay officials, hostile, 17

Hudson’s Bay Company, their policy, 12

Hudson’s Bay Territory, 9, 12;
acquired, 15

Hughes, James L., 86;
meeting at Lindsay, 127;
on deputation to England, 1894, 205, 209, 211

Hughes, Colonel Sam, at annual meeting, 1898, 244;
offers to raise contingent for South Africa, 260

Hunter, Rose & Co. print Farrer’s pamphlet, 164

Huron, Bishop of, 288

[412]Huron signal, 219

Hutchinson, Thomas, 1

Hutton, Major-General, 268


Imperial Conference, 1902, 286, 287, 303, 305, 331, 332

Imperial defence, letter to Times, 339

Imperial Federation (Defence) Committee, 339

Imperial Federation foreshadowed in lecture in 1870, 53

Imperial Federation Journal, comments of, 96, 118

Imperial Federation League started, 77;
in Canada, 85;
annual meeting, 1888, 91;
work of, 117-126;
dissolved, 197, 198;
resolution on dissolution, 199, 200

Imperial preferential duty, 287

Independence flag hoisted, 64

Independence flurry, 62-68

Independence movement, Globe’s action, 121

India, export of wheat, 1897, 238, 239

Ingersoll, branch formed at, 79;
meeting at, 127

Innerkip, Meeting at, 173

Innes, Lt.-Col. P. R., 209

Interprovincial trade, Haliburton’s lecture on, 15

Irving, A. S., 58


James, Dr. W. Culver, 207, 209, 299

Jersey, Lord, 209

Jesuit Estates Act, 194

Jones, Sir Alfred, organises meeting at Liverpool, 305

Jetté, Lt.-Governor, Alaska Commission, 348

Jones, John P., 109


Kilbride, Mr., evicted tenant, 74, 75

Kimberley, cable from, 258

King, the, at British Empire League banquet, 1900, 273, 274, 280

Kingsmill, George R., 20, 22, 58

Kingsmill, Nicol, 58

Kipling, Rudyard, poem, 222

Kirby, Wm., 185, 192

Kirkpatrick, Lt.-Governor Sir George, 190

Kitchener, Lord, on Hart’s River action, 269

Kirwan, Capt. Michael, 114

Kirwin, General, 114

Knutsford, Lord, refuses to denounce treaties, 196, 228


Lacrosse Club banquet, London, 1902, 293

Lady of the Snows, 222

Langelier, Mr., at New York, 111

Lansdowne, Lord, visit to Toronto, 70, 71, 73, 74;
interviewed by Imperial Federation League, 118;
British Empire League banquet, 1900, 272, 280;
dinner at, 308

La Prairie Camp, 33

Laurie, General, 321

Laurier, Sir Wilfrid, 111;
British preference, 216;
election of 1896, 219;
Lord Salisbury refers to, 220;
[413]in Liverpool, 1897, 225;
on Free Trade, 231;
West Indian preference, 242, 243;
resolution about Transvaal, 259;
on contingent, 263, 264;
returns from Chicago, 264;
decides to send contingent, 264;
at Sir William Mulock’s, 267;
speech in House, 1902, 303;
interview with, at Hotel Cecil, 331;
at conference, 1902, 333, 334;
at conference, 1907, 366

Lauterbach, Edward, 109

Law, Fred, Commander, 86, 128

Leader article on Red River Expedition, 36

Lecture on “Duty of Canadians,” 50, 51

Lecture on “National Spirit,” Appendix A, 371

Lee, A. B., 158

Lee, Capt., M.P., 300

Lee, Walter S., 158

Leeds, Lord Rosebery’s meeting at, 1902, 304

Lefroy, Fraser, 291

Leith Chamber of Commerce, 315

Letter to Globe, 26th September, 1888, 101

Letter to Globe on wanting war, 124;
on contingent, 265

Lesperance, John Talon, poem, 158

Lessard, Col. C. B., 268

Leys, John, Jr., 158

Liberty, Sons of, reference to, 126

Lilliefontein, fight at, 268

Lindsay, meeting at, 127

Lisgar, Lord, at Niagara Falls, 35, 45

Liverpool, arrived at, 1890, 140;
in 1897, 225

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, 1902, 305, 307

Liverpool papers, comments on meeting, 307

London Chamber of Commerce meeting, 1902, 319, 320

London, Ontario, meeting at, 1901, 288

Long, J. M., 79

Loring, A. H., 197, 198, 199;
letter to Times in reply, 339

Louisiana purchased, 98

Low, Seth, 109

Low, Sydney, writes interview for Pall Mall Gazette, 298

Loyal address from House to the Queen, 131

Loyalists of the Revolution, 1

Lubbock, Sir John: see Avebury, Lord

Lubbock, Neville, 210

Lundy’s Lane Monument, 181, 182

Lyman, Henry, 128

Lyman, H. H., 128, 224

Lynch, Dr., taken prisoner, 19;
arrives from Fort Garry, 25;
first protest, 30, 31;
second protest, 38, 39


Mafeking demonstration, 283

Mail, London Daily, on Canadian Imperialism, 246

Mail, the Toronto, 117

Mair, Charles, 10;
writes letters from Fort Garry, 14;
introduces Schultz, 15;
made prisoner, 19;
escapes from Fort Garry, 21;
raises loyal men at Portage la Prairie, 23;
lectures at Belleville, 53, 54

Manchester Guardian, 303, 310

[414]Manitoba No. 1, hard wheat, 13

Mansion House, meeting at, 140;
meeting in 1896, 212

Map of North America in New York World, 104

Marcus, Herman W., 207, 210

Masham, Lord, 314

Mason, Lt.-Col. James, 260

Mason, J. Herbert, 158, 197, 224

Matabeleland, proposed preference, 228

Matsugata, Count, at Lord Lansdowne’s dinner, 308

Matthews, Jehu, 78

Macdonald, E. A., 108, 190

Macdonald, Sir John A., Hudson’s Bay acquisition, 13;
Red River rebellion, 28;
interview with, 29;
illness of, 35, 41;
letter to, 130, 161;
election in 1891, 163, 164, 165, 166;
his death, 217

Macdonald, J. K., 128

Macdougall, Hon. Wm., sent to England re Hudson’s Bay, 13;
appoints Mair to surveying party Fort Garry, 13;
Lt.-Governor of North-West Territory, 15;
arrives at Pembina, 17;
returns to Ottawa, 20;
at amnesty meeting, 42;
member North-West Emigration Society, 54

Macdougall, Joseph E., 20, 54, 58

Macfarlane, Senator, 78

Macfarlane, Thomas, letter to League Journal, 90;
at Hamilton meeting, 128

Mackenzie, Alexander, becomes Premier, 49, 57

Macklem, Oliver, 158

Maclean, W. F., M.P., 246

MacNab, John, County Attorney, 24, 25

MacNabb, Alexander, Police Magistrate, 31

McCarthy, Dulton, president Imperial Federation League, 78;
Toronto branch, 85, 90;
at Toronto meeting, 1888, 95, 96;
at Peterborough, 12;
at Hamilton, 128;
Sir Leonard Tilley replaces him as president, 194;
subscribes to fund, 197;
at annual meeting, 1896, 216;
suggests preference to England, 222;
on deputation, 224

McGillicuddy, Daniel, 219

McGoun, Archibald, 139

McGuire, John C., 109

McInnes, Senator, 128

McKay, Dr., Sir Oliver Mowat writes to him, 187

McKenzie, Kenneth, Q.C., 44

McLennan, Hugh, 78

McMurrich, W. B., 58, 291

McNaught, W. K., 158, 240

McNeill, Alexander, 78;
speech at Paris, 91;
at Toronto meeting, 94;
at Guelph, 112;
moves resolution in House of Commons, 195;
in the chair at annual meeting, 1893, 196;
at meeting of League at Ottawa, 1896, 214, 215;
on deputation to England, 224;
attacks Sir W. Laurier, 1897, 226;
speaks at Mulock banquet, 245, 246;
introduces J. Davis Allen, 260;
on South African War, 276;
at Owen Sound, 1901, 288

McTavish, Governor, 20

McTavish, John H., 48

McWilliams, W. G., 58

Meath, Lord, takes up Empire Day, 257

Medcalfe, Mayor, F. H., 43

[415]Meeting of Imperial Federation League in Toronto, 1888, 91

Meeting to welcome Schultz, Mair, etc., 24, 25, 26

Mercier, Honore, New York World’s comment, 107;
in Continental Union League, 110;
at meeting in New York, 111;
Glen writes to, 112;
writes to Dana, 113;
copy of letter, 114

Mercury, the Bristol, 316

Merritt, Lt.-Col. W. Hamilton, helps to escort Lord Lansdowne, 73;
helps to organise Toronto branch Imperial Federation League, 79, 86;
secretary Toronto branch Imperial Federation League, 91;
moves resolution for preferential tariffs, 91, 195;
advocates deputation to England, 139

Michie, James, 58

Military Gazette on South African War, 263

Military Institute, meeting at, 260, 261

Militia, the, 8

Miller, Warner, 109

Milligan, Rev. Mr., 124

Milner, Lord, 260, 261, 264

Mission to England, 1897, 225;
1902, 223-258

Molesworth, Sir Guilford, 299, 300

Monkman, Joseph, 23

Montague, Hon. W. H., 182

Montreal meeting, 1901, 288

Montreal Transcript, 13

Morgan Combine, 292

Morison, John, president Continental Union Association, 109, 111, 112

Morley, Lord, at Edinburgh, 1902, 315

Morning Post on St. John meeting, 1902, 288;
comments, 1903, 347

Moss, Chief Justice Thomas, 58

Mowat, Arthur, contests West Toronto, 166

Mowat, H. M., K.C., 291

Mowat, Sir Oliver, at St. George’s Society, 70;
F. W. Glen’s reference to, 111, 112;
assists Laurier, 1891, 166, 167;
his views on annexation, 178, 186, 187;
letter to Dr. McKay, M.P., 187;
action about Woodstock meeting, 189;
speech at Niagara, 1892, 190, 191;
joins Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s Government, 219;
attends Mulock banquet, 245

Mulock, Sir William, moves address to the Queen, 130, 131, 132;
penny postage, 244, 245;
banquet to, 245, 246;
a conference of, 1902, 331

Murray, C. Freeman, secretary of meeting, 1894, 207;
member of organising committee British Empire League, 210;
cable from, 271

Mutton, W. G., 58

Myers, Elgin, in annexation conspiracy, 108;
dismissed from office, 190;
visits C. A. Dana, 112


National Association, constitution, 59

National Club founded, 60;
dinners at, 62;
banquet to Lord Aberdeen, 239;
dinner, 1902, 335

National sentiment, efforts to encourage, 11, 50

[416]National Societies, 8

“National Spirit,” lecture on, 50, 172;
Appendix B, 377

National spirit lacking before Confederation, 8

National Union of Conservative Associations, England, 335

Naval reserve, 223

Navy Island, 1837, 95

Nelson, E. G., writes Raise the Flag, 157

Nelson, Knute, 109

New Brunswick, 11

News, The Daily, London, attacks, 310;
letter to, 311

Newspaper Society dinner, 1902, 302

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Centennial meeting, 190;
United Empire Loyalist meeting, 64, 66

Nicholson, General Sir Wm., 206

Nicholson, Peter, 57

Norfolk Reformer, 219

Norman, Field-Marshal Sir Henry, 242

Norris, W. E., on Independence, 64

Northcote, Sir Stafford, 28

Northern Railway in Algoma Election, 58

“Northmen of the New World,” lecture by Haliburton, 16

North-West Emigration Aid Society, 50

North-West rebellion, 68, 95

North-West Territories, 13

Nova Scotia, 11


O’Brien, Archbishop, 79;
speech at Halifax, 119

O’Brien, Dennis, 109

O’Brien, Wm., visit to Toronto, 70;
meeting at Toronto, 74

O’Donohue, Joseph John, 109

Onslow, Lord, 209, 343

“Opening of the War of 1812,” lecture, 171

Orillia, branch formed at, 119

Osler, E. B., 158, 197

Oswald, Mr., 348

Ottawa, branch meeting at, 119

Ottawa welcomes Lord Lansdowne, 76

Ottendorfer, Oswald, 109

Otter, Colonel, 268

Outlook comments on letter to Times, 353

Owen, Colonel, at Royal Colonial Institute, 140

Owen Sound meeting, 1901, 288


Pacific cable, 286

Paisley, meeting at, 1902, 315

Pall Mall Gazette prints interview, 298

Papineau, Louis Joseph, 111

Parker, Sir Gilbert, M.P., lunch at Constitutional Club, 293

Parkin, Dr. George R., C.M.G., tour in Australia, 105;
lecture at Whitechapel, 140;
at Imperial Federation meeting, 144;
on dissolution of League, 203;
on deputation, 204;
at National Club dinner, 239;
answers Edward Blake, 241;
on deputation to England, 1902, 290, 292

Patterson, Hon. Wm., 220;
at conference of 1902, 331

Paul, Mr., at Liverpool, 236

[417]Pauncefote, Sir Julian, dispatch to United States Government, 152, 153

Pembina, Hon. Wm. Macdougall arrives at, 17

Percival, Sir Westby, 207, 209

Peterborough, branch formed at, 79

Phelps, Walter, 109

Plan of Union of Empire by Galloway, 2

Plumb, Senator, 78

Portage la Prairie contingent, 23

Port Arthur, base of Red River Expedition, 34;
branch formed at, 119

Porter, Horace, 109

Post Office service in Canada, at first British, 8

Potter, O. B., 109, 113

Potts, Rev. Dr. John, 78

Preference granted to Great Britain, 222

Prescott, Schultz welcomed at, 27

President of the League, 1893, 196

Press Association and Goldwin Smith, 179, 180

Prince of Wales at banquet, 1900, 273, 279;
his advice to Great Britain, 293

Princess Theatre, political meeting in, 1891, 164, 165

Protest to Governor-General by Dr. Lynch, 30, 31

Protest, Lynch’s, against amnesty, 38, 39


Queen, the, on Raise the Flag, 159

Queen’s Own welcomes Lord Lansdowne, 73;
Sergeants’ Mess on Imperial Federation 136

Queenston Heights, 80;
anniversary of, 155;
view of, on book, 158


Rae, G. M., 20

Raise the Flag, song and book, 157, 158, 159

Rasch, Sir Carne, 282, 283

Reay, Lord, 199

Rebellion of 1837, 4

Reciprocity, discussion in 1902, 338;
dangers of, in 1903, 344

Reciprocity treaty, 5

Red River Expedition, 33, 34;
proposed withdrawal, 36, 43

Red River Rebellion, 17

Red River Settlement, 13

Reid, Hon. G. H., 226

Report of Imperial Federation League in England, 1890, 140, 141

Resolution at Toronto Station, 1870, 27

Resolution on withdrawal of Red River Expedition, 43

Resolution in Commons on preference, 195

Retaliation Act in Congress, 120

Review in Toronto in 1884, 64, 65

Rhodes, Cecil, on preference, 228

Rhodes, J. G., 199

Richot, Father, delegate from Riel, 27, 28

Richot and Scott arrested and discharged, 32

Ridout, John G., 58

Riel, seizes Fort Garry, 18;
parleys with loyalists, 23;
to send to meet Archibald, 45;
letters from Bishop Taché, 46, 47

[418]Ripon, Lord, 228

Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T., 356, 357

Ritchie, J., Jr., 58

Roaf, James R., 58

Roberts, C. G. D., favours independence, 64

Roberts, Field-Marshal Lord, at United Service Club, 206;
attends conference at Lord Avebury’s, 207;
on food supply, 233;
at Lord Lansdowne’s, 308

Robertson, J. Ross, 158

Robidoux, Mr., 111

Robinson, Hon. John Beverley, contests Algoma, 57;
at military dinner 1884, 65;
President Toronto branch Imperial Federation League, 86, 91

Roosevelt, Theodore, 109

Root, Elihu, 109

Rosebery, Lord, at Whitechapel meeting, 1890, 140;
at annual meeting, 1890, 143, 144, 146;
dissolution of League, 200, 202, 203;
at Leeds meeting, 304

Rosebrugh, Dr., 58

Ross, A. W., 78

Ross, Col. Robertson, 33

Ross, Hon. George W., supports flag raising over schools, 135;
election of 1891, 166, 167;
Press Association, 179, 181;
his loyalty, 156;
speech at St. George’s Hall, 1897, 239;
establishes Empire Day, 256;
on deputation, 1902, 292, 324;
speech at annual meeting in London, 1902, 325;
at conference, 1902, 332;
at National Club banquet, 1902, 335

Rowell, N. F., speech on Empire Day, 257

Royal Colonial Institute meeting 1890, 140;
conversazione, 1906, 356;
dinner, 1902, 293-298

Russell, Hon. Charles, 245


Salisbury, Lord, 74;
dinner with, in 1887, 76;
views on preference, 149, 150;
speech at Guildhall, 150, 196;
ultimatum to United States, 152;
on Canadian preference, 220;
delayed denouncing treaties, 222;
at British Empire League banquet, 1900, 272, 273, 274;
discouraged, 281, 282;
not supported, 292;
fails in health, 339;
letter to Times on his views, 349

Salisbury, the present Lord, writes to Times, 1903, 349

Schultz, Sir John, at Fort Garry, 1862, 14;
meets Mair, 15;
advises Dennis, 18;
taken prisoner, 19;
escapes, 21;
secures release of prisoners, 23;
welcomed at Toronto, 25, 26;
goes to Ottawa, 27, 28;
sends me warning, 35

Scott, Hugh, 19, 68, 158

Scott, Riel’s delegate, 28;
arrested and discharged, 32

Scott, Thomas, taken prisoner by Riel, 19;
put to death, 22

Seddon, Rt. Hon. R. J., at British Empire League meeting, 1897, 226;
speaks in South Africa, 303;
a conference, 1902, 332

Sergeants’ Mess Queen’s Own Rifles, 136

Setter, J. J., 23

[419]Shaw, Mayor, at Mulock banquet, 246

Shebandowan, Lake, 34

Sheppard, E. E., favours independence, 64;
at St. Thomas, 127

Sherman, Senator, advocates annexation, 99, 100, 101, 102;
interview in New York World, 104;
quoted by Lord Rosebery, 200

Sherwood, Lt.-Col., 164

Simcoe, Lt.-Governor, first Lt.-Governor of Ontario, 190

Slocum, General Henry W., 109

Small, J. T., at organisation of Imperial Federation League, Toronto, 86;
at Hamilton, 1889, 128, 158;
subscribes to special fund, 197;
visits England, 198;
proposition to dissolve league, 198;
on deputation to England in 1897, 224, 291

Smith, Goldwin, joins National Association, 60;
organises club dinners, 62;
Bystander comments, 63;
advocates Commercial Union, 82, 83;
foresees annexation, 104;
joins Annexationists, 108, 109;
honorary president Continental Union Association, 109;
name appears in Glen’s correspondence, 112;
Archbishop O’Brien denounces him, 119, 120;
contest with, 168-193;
lectures on “Loyalty,” “Aristocracy,” and “Jingoism,” 171;
lectures in reply, “United Empire Loyalists,” “War of 1812,” and “National Sentiment,” 171, 172

Smith, Larratt W., 197;
on deputation in 1894, 204

Smith, Sir Frank, 197, 246

Snow Road, 45

Somers, Mr., 136

South African War, 258, 259;
contingents for, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264

Speech by G. T. Denison at banquet, 1887, 88;
British Empire League dinner, 1900, 274, 275

Speech of Senator Sherman, 99

Spencer, Samuel, 109

Sprigg, Sir Gordon, 332

Spry, Daniel, 56

Stanhope, Rt. Hon. Edward, 198

St. George’s Society censures Goldwin Smith, 175, 176;
dinner, 1887, 70

Stimpson, Ont., false telegram report, 106

St. John meeting, 1901, 287

Stone Fort, Lt.-Col. Dennis at, 18

St. Paul, hostile influence in, 21

Straight, Sir Douglas, 298

Strathcona, Lord, on deputation to England, 1894, 205, 206, 207;
on deputation to England, 1897, 224

Straus, Nathan, 109

St. Thomas branch formed, 119;
meetings at, 127, 128

Symons, D. T., 128


Taché, Bishop, 36, 44;
letters to Riel, 46, 47

Tariff Reform, 291;
movement started, 346

Tarte, J. Israel, 111, 244;
in London, 1900, 272;
speech at National Club dinner, 1902, 335, 336

[420]Taxation in American colonies, 1

Taylor, J. F., 210

Tecumseh, 15

Tennyson, Lord, 209, 211

Texas acquired by United States, 98

Thompson, Sir John, 113;
at Washington, 147;
his death, 217

Thorold Camp, 33

Tiffany, Charles L., 109

Tilley, Sir Leonard, 20;
president of Imperial Federation League, 134, 194;
resigns presidency, 196

Times, The, on Royal Colonial Institute dinner, 1902, 294;
comments on Sir R. Giffen’s letter, 326;
letter in reply to Sir R. Giffen, 325, 326, 327;
letter to, in 1903, 339;
on Chamberlain-Salisbury question, 349-352

Toronto branch Imperial Federation League, 80, 91
Imperialistic city, 95
United Empire Loyalist meeting, 65

Transcript, Montreal, on North-West, 13

Transvaal, 258

Treaties, German and Belgian, 139;
denounced, 230

Trent affair, 240

Tribune, New York, comments, 1902, 335

Troops, British, in Canada, 8

Trotter, R. G., 58

Trout, J. M., 58

Tunbridge Wells Chamber of Commerce, 315

Tupper, Sir Charles, 215;
on deputation, 1897, 224;
annual meeting, 1898, 244;
on contingent, 260;
at League council meeting, 1902, 299;
organisation of British Empire League, 205, 206, 207, 209

Tupper, Sir Hibbert, at Washington negotiations, 147, 154;
Farrer pamphlet, 164, 165

“Twelve Apostles,” 49


United Empire, idea started in America, 1

United Empire Loyalists, 1;
lecture on, 171

United Empire Trade League luncheon, 1902, 333

Unrestricted Reciprocity defeated in Commons, 117

Unrestricted Reciprocity, 367

“United States in 1900,” cartoon, 104

United States Senate throw out treaty, 120

United States discussing reciprocity, 1902, 338, 339

Upper Canada College, meeting at, 155


Venezuelan affair, Message, 210, 211, 218, 240

Victoria, B.C., branch at, 79

Vincent, Sir Howard, 196, 232;
meeting at Chelmsford, 282, 283;
at Manchester, 1902, 335


Wales, Prince of (now the King), at banquet, 1900, 271, 274, 280

Walmsley, Thomas, 19, 58, 158

Walsh, M., 79

Ward, Principal, Owens College, 232

[421]War of 1812-’14, 3

Warrant issued for Richot and Scott, 31

Washington, negotiations at, 1890, 150, 151, 152

Weldon, Professor, 95, 204

West Indian preference, 242, 243, 244

Western Daily Press, article, 316

Westminster Gazette, 305, 310

Westminster Review, article in, 179

White, Arnold, on the Army, 268

White, Solomon, advocates annexation, 108, 187

White, T. M., secretary Continental Union Association, 109;
letter to Goldwin Smith, 173

Whiteway, Sir Wm., 226

Whitney, W. C., threatening war, 105, 109, 113

Wilkie, D. R., 86;
seconds resolution for preferential tariff, 91;
subscribes to fund, 197

Wickham, H. J., 86;
starts flag movement, 134, 135;
seconds resolution, 200;
on deputation, 1894, 204, 291

Wilkinson, Spenser, on food supply, 232, 233

Williams, E. E., at London Chamber of Commerce, 321

Willison, J. S., 264, 267

Wilson, General James H., 105, 109

Wilson, Charles John, Hawick meeting, 211, 212

Wiman, Erastus, starts Commercial Union, 81, 82;
Lt.-Col. Fred C. Denison, letter to, 86;
telegram to Press, 102;
in Glen’s letters, 112;
and Sir R. Cartwright, 163;
meets Goldwin Smith, 170

Winnipeg, 13

Wolseley, Field-Marshal Lord, commands Red River Expedition, 33;
warn him, 37, 44;
at Fort Garry, 48;
success of, 48;
food supply, 233;
British Empire League banquet, 1900, 272, 273, 280

Woodstock meeting, 187

Woollen trade in Canada, 338

Worrell, John A., 86

World, Toronto, comments, 89, 90

World, New York, 107;
map of North America, 1900, 104


Young, Sir Frederick, 209, 299, 300

Young, Major-General Ralph, 207, 209


Richard Clay and Sons, Limited,


[1] From Charles Mair’s lines in memory of Foster.

Transcriber's Notes:

Hyphenation has been standardised.

Ellipses have been standardised.

Some minor spelling, punctuation and presentation layout has been corrected/changed without specific note.

[The end of The Struggle for Imperial Unity by Colonel George T. Denison]