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Title: Canada at War

Date of first publication: 1915

Author: Sir Robert Laird Borden (1854-1937)

Date first posted: June 29, 2019

Date last updated: June 29, 2019

Faded Page eBook #20190654

This eBook was produced by Al Haines


Canada at War



Rt. Hon.
Sir Robert Laird Borden
K.C., P.O., G.C.M.G.















Speeches delivered by Rt. Hon. Sir
Robert Laird Borden, K.C., P.C.,
G.C.M.G., in England, Canada
and the United States,
July-December, 1915.

ENGLAND, JULY 13, 1915.[1]

It is with very great pleasure that I renew the associations made so happily three years ago, when I had the honour of being a guest at the first annual dinner of the Empire Parliamentary Association. I regret that I was not able to meet the members of the United Kingdom Branch when they visited Canada two years ago. Their visit at that time and similar visits which I hope will be undertaken in the immediate future must do much to bring about that more thoroughly mutual understanding, that spirit of co-operation and that comprehension of each other's ideals, which are so essential in a world-wide Empire like ours, bound together it is true by the ties of kinship but also united by the ties of a common sovereignty and of a common ideal.

I appreciate very sincerely and very warmly as well what Mr. Bonar Law has just said with regard to the part which Canada has played in this great contest. There was no doubt in my own mind as to what that part would be, and I took the responsibility three days before the actual declaration of war of sending a message to His Majesty's Government stating that if war should unhappily supervene they might be assured that Canada would regard the quarrel as her own, and would do her part in maintaining the integrity of this Empire and all that this war means to us. We are not a military nation in Canada; we are a peace-loving and peace-pursuing people with great tasks of development within our own borders lying before us. Thus, for a struggle such as this, upon so gigantic a scale, we were naturally unprepared. But even so the Minister of Militia and Defence succeeded in placing upon the Plain of Valcartier, within six weeks of the outbreak of war, a force of thirty-three thousand men, thoroughly armed and equipped in every branch of the service—infantry, artillery, commissariat, Army Service Corps, and all the vast organization that is necessary in war as carried on in the present day. We have sent overseas up to the present nearly seventy-five thousand men, including troops which are doing garrison duty in the West Indies. There are in Canada to-day seventy-five thousand men in training, with organization being prepared as rapidly as possible for their advent to the front when needed. The response from every province in the Dominion has indeed been so warm, so impressive, so inspiring, that our chief difficulty has been to secure arms, equipment, material and all else that is necessary to enable the men to go to the front. So far as the men were concerned they were there in abundance; so far as the other preparations were concerned we have been very much in the same condition as yourselves, unprepared for war upon so tremendous a scale.

We are engaged with a great nation whose military preparation has extended over nearly half a century, and whose aim, as far as we can comprehend it, has been world-wide supremacy by force of arms. Naturally in the opening months, even in the opening year, of such a struggle we could not accomplish all that might at first be expected; but I take comfort in this thought, that for purposes of war or for any other purpose the resources of this Empire are not only abundant but almost unlimited, and there is yet time for that preparation which perhaps ought to have been made at an earlier day. The day of peril came before the day of preparation. But looking back on what we had to contend with, the condition of affairs to-day is one upon which we should rather congratulate ourselves than otherwise. I have no fear for the future, although the struggle may be a long one and may entail sacrifices which we did not at first anticipate. From the people of Canada I bring to you this message: that in whatever is necessary to bring this war to an honourable and triumphant conclusion Canada is prepared to take her part. And I am sure that is true of every Dominion of the Empire. Last autumn, in speaking before a Canadian Club in the west of Canada, I said that if this war should continue for a year it was reasonably probable that the oversea Dominions would have in the field two hundred and fifty thousand men. To-day, if you estimate what Australia and New Zealand, what South Africa and Canada have done and are doing, you will find that the oversea Dominions of this Empire have either in the field or in training as organized troops not less than three hundred and fifty thousand men.

Mr. Bonar Law has spoken of the courage and resourcefulness of the Canadian troops. They were men taken from civil avocations of life, with no prolonged military training, but with the habit of overcoming obstacles, with a certain resourcefulness, with all the traditions of the great races from which they sprang and inspired by such a spirit as made us sure that their record would be worthy of Canada. I would not speak the truth if I did not confess to you that I am proud, very proud indeed, of the part which they have played. I am equally proud of the splendid valour shown by the men of these islands in that great retreat from Mons, against overwhelming numbers, under difficulties which I think were greater than those which ever before attended a successful retreat. The Empire's tribute is due to the unsurpassed valour and heroism of the British Army at that time. It is almost superfluous to speak of the equally splendid valour which has distinguished the troops of Australia and New Zealand at the Dardanelles. I had the pleasure of sending telegrams to the Governments of these two Dominions, congratulating them upon the part which their forces are taking in that very dangerous operation.

What a fantastic picture it was that Prussian militarism made for itself before the outbreak of this war. It pictured Canada, Australia and New Zealand standing aloof and indifferent or seeking an opportunity to cut themselves adrift from the Empire. What is the actual picture to-day? They are bound to the Empire by stronger ties than ever before and are prepared to fight to the death for the maintenance of its integrity and for the preservation of our common civilization throughout the world. What of South Africa? The Prussian picture was that it should flare into rebellion at once, sever itself from the Empire, and proclaim its independence. What is the actual picture? The heroic figure of General Louis Botha receiving the surrender of German South-West Africa—a territory larger than Germany itself.

We have nothing to fear as the outcome. We do not, we dare not, doubt the success of the cause for which the British Empire and the Allied Nations are fighting. It is impossible to believe that the democracies of the British Empire, even though unprepared on so tremendous a scale as our opponents for such a war as this, will not prove their efficiency in this day of peril. They have proved it, and they will prove it to the end.

In the later days when peace comes to be proclaimed, and after the conclusion of peace, it is beyond question that large matters will come up for consideration by the statesmen of the United Kingdom and the oversea Dominions. It is not desirable, nor perhaps becoming, that I should dwell upon these considerations to-day. I said what I had to say on the subject with considerable frankness and some emphasis three years ago when I had the pleasure of addressing you. What I expressed then represents my conviction now. I do not doubt that the problems which will be presented, exceedingly difficult and complex as they must be, will find a wise and just solution. Finally, in thanking you for the reception which you have accorded me to-day and for the honour which you have done to the Dominion which I represent as its Prime Minister, let me express the hope and aspiration that in confronting the immense responsibilities which devolve upon those inheriting so great an Empire as ours, one which must necessarily command so profound an influence on the future of civilization and the destiny of the world, we shall so bear ourselves, whether in these mother islands or in the oversea Dominions, that the years to come shall hold in store no reproach to us for lack of vision, want of courage, or failure of duty.

[1] On July 13th, 1915, Sir Robert Borden was the guest at a luncheon given by the United Kingdom Branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association in the Harcourt Room of the House of Commons. The Right Honourable Arthur J. Balfour, First Lord of the Admiralty, presided. The Right Honourable A. Bonar Law, Secretary of State for the Colonies, proposed the toast of "Canada and the War." Sir Robert Borden delivered the above address in response to the toast.

JULY 29, 1915.[1]

I am deeply sensible of the very high honour which has just been conferred upon me, but I am equally conscious that it is a tribute not so much to me as to the great Dominion beyond the Atlantic which I have the honour to represent in this great testing time of our nationhood. The ancient ceremonies by which I have been invested with your Freedom carry us back to the olden days, and we remember that not many years after the conquest of 1066 your predecessors wrested from the Conqueror a charter which declared that they should be deemed "law-worthy." Love of liberty and insistence upon the rights of the people, memorable everywhere within these islands, have especially distinguished the citizens of London; nor do I forget that the same qualities have always characterized the people of a neighbouring county within the quiet of whose churchyards sleep those whose blood runs in my own veins.

For a thousand years the progress and advancement of this great city have kept time with the march of civilization across the centuries. It has long been a great imperial city and it is not amiss to allude for a moment to the causes which have brought this about. While it may not be fitting that one of our kindred should speak of the British people as a great race, nevertheless, I may at least say that it has wrought great things. And the greatest of all its achievements is the upbuilding of an Empire sustained by ties such as those which unite ours. In the beginning the founding of a nation within these islands and the consequent necessity of orderly government compelled a system autocratic in its character and methods. Then came the great charters of freedom and the will of the people to make their own laws and govern themselves. Orderly government on the one hand; individual liberty on the other; justice, the equality of all men before the law—upon these secure foundations the fabric of the national life was built; and in these later years there has come the not less noble ideal of a democracy founded upon equality of opportunity for all the people.

In the Dominions beyond the seas the same ideals have led inevitably to the establishment of self-governing institutions. That principle which in the eyes of the short-sighted seemed destined to drive the far-flung nations of our Empire asunder has but united them by ties stronger than could be dreamed of under any system of autocratic government. For this I call to witness the events of the past twelve months. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada—all these great free nations possessing full rights of self-government, enjoying parliamentary institutions, living by the voice of the people—why have they joined in this conflict, and why are their citizens from the remotest corners of the earth fighting under a common banner and making common cause with the men of these islands in the greatest war the world has ever known? And why are the descendants in Canada of those who fought under Wolfe and of those who fought under Montcalm when contending for the possession of the northern half of the American continent, why are they now standing together in the Empire's battle line? To speak of later events, why do we find beyond the channel, in France or in Belgium, the grandson of a Durham and the grandson of a Papineau standing side by side in this struggle? When the historian of the future comes to analyze the events of this war, he will realize that some great overmastering impulse contributed mainly to this wonderful result. One such impulse is to be found in the love of liberty, the ideals of democracy, and the spirit of unity founded thereon, which make the whole Empire one in aim and purpose. But there was also the intense conviction that this war was forced upon our Empire; for in honour we could not stand aside and see trampled in the dust a weak and unoffending people whose independence and liberties we had guaranteed. Beyond and above all this we realized the supreme truth that the issue forced upon us by this conflict transcends even the destinies of our own Empire and involves the future of civilization and of the world.

I have spoken of the march of civilization since the spot where this imperial city stands first had a name. Slowly and painfully, even within these islands, the lesson was learned of equal liberty and equal justice for the people; but that lesson was well learned and it has carried throughout the world an influence the greatness of which cannot be denied. The empires of bygone days have passed away because they were established on no such sure foundation. The greatest test to which modern democracy has ever been subjected now confronts us; and it remains to be seen whether the love of individual liberty which is closely interwoven with our national ideal carries with it so strong a sense of the duty of service to the state as will enable us to withstand the onslaught of the most highly organized and formidable military autocracy ever known. The events in which we move are so great that we, moving among them, can hardly comprehend or realize their magnitude; but it must be apparent to all thoughtful men that the civilization and the institutions which have been slowly and laboriously built up with toil and with blood for a thousand years hang in the balance to-day, and that we are called upon to face the ultimate test of national existence. The issue is really between two ideals, two systems of government. Let us realize that the resources of our Empire are infinitely greater than those of Germany; the population of the British Islands and the four Dominions alone is almost as great. Confession of failure in this war, or even serious doubt as to its issue, denies the capacity of the British people to govern themselves and may herald the downfall of democratic institutions.

This war is not as those of a century or two centuries ago. Then armies contended; to-day the whole manhood of each nation is thrown into the struggle. During the past week I have visited France and that visit was the most interesting and inspiring event of my life. I saw a whole nation in arms; and yet the entire country even up to the line of the trenches was covered with a bountiful harvest. With the manhood of the nation at the front the soil was prepared, the seed was sown, and the harvest is now being reaped, chiefly by the labour of the old men, the women, and the children. It would be impossible to describe too vividly to you the intense impression made upon me by the courage, the patience, the seriousness, and the self-control of the French nation. No people so inspired can ever perish or be subdued. We are proud to remember that this great allied nation is of our own kin, because you in the British Isles look back to Celtic and Norman as well as Saxon ancestors; and if this be true of you it is still more true of us in Canada.

During my sojourn here and my recent visit to France many men have spoken to me with warmest appreciation of the Canadian troops at the front. I am very proud indeed that they have proved themselves worthy of the highest traditions of the great races from which they sprang. Canada is not a military nation, but Canadians have not lost the fighting spirit of their ancestors. While in France I watched the eager intent faces of ten thousand Canadians to whom I spoke within sound and range of the German guns. Three days ago I looked into the clear undaunted eyes of a thousand convalescent Canadians returned from the valley of the shadow of death. In the eyes and in the faces of these men I read only one message—that of resolute and unflinching determination to make our cause triumphant, to preserve our institutions and our liberties, to maintain the unity of our Empire, and to perpetuate its influence through the world. The same message I bring to you also from the great Dominion which has sent these men across the seas.

While the awful shadow of this war overhangs our Empire I shall not pause to speak of what may be evolved in its constitutional relations. Upon what has been built in the past an even greater structure will doubtless arise in the future. Those who are to be its architects will have a great part to play and I do not doubt that they will play it worthily. The structure must embody not only the autonomous government of each inter-imperial nation but the majesty and power of an Empire united by ties such as those of which I have spoken, yet organized more efficiently and thoroughly for the preservation of its very existence. To those who shall be called upon to design and to erect so magnificent a monument, crowning the labours of the past and realizing the hopes of the future, let us all bid God Speed in their great task.

[1] On July 29th, 1915, the Corporation of the City of London presented the Freedom of the City to Sir Robert Borden. The ceremony, according to ancient custom, took the form of a meeting of the Court of Common Council convened in the Guildhall for the purpose. The business of the meeting was conducted in the presence of a general company of invited guests. The Town Clerk read the order of the Court directing the presentation of the Freedom of the City in a Gold Box. The Principal Clerk to the Chamberlain read the Declaration of the Compurgators. The Master and Wardens of the Leathersellers' Company, of which Sir Robert Borden is a member, presented him for the Freedom. The Chamberlain then made an address, and thereupon admitted him to the Freedom of the City, offering him the right hand of fellowship, and presenting him, in the name of the Corporation, with a Copy of the Freedom in a Gold Box. Sir Robert Borden, having taken the time-honoured oath and signed the roll, delivered the above address in reply.

ENGLAND, AUGUST 4, 1915.[1]

I believe that in Japan the Constitution recognizes great men, men who have rendered distinguished services to the state, men of large experience, of high ability, of acknowledged and unwavering patriotism, to whom the title of Elder Statesmen is given. You have not in Britain any constitutional recognition of such men, but there are those among you who have that status, and among them none stands more prominent than the great statesman to whose inspiring words we have listened to-night. We of the oversea Dominions may perhaps be allowed to term ourselves the "younger statesmen," and as one of these I have the honour and privilege of seconding the resolution which Mr. Balfour has just moved.

Considering all the events of the year there are indeed some matters on which we have the right and privilege to-night of congratulating ourselves to the full. Was the unity of this Empire ever so strikingly made manifest before? Was it ever more clearly demonstrated that our race is not a decadent race? What has been the result of the call of duty? You in these islands debated not so long ago as to whether in case of necessity you could send abroad an Expeditionary Force of from eighty to one hundred and sixty thousand men—if I am not mistaken the most optimistic among you believed that a force of one hundred and sixty thousand men was the limit. What has been the response to the call? You are now organizing armies from ten to twenty times greater than the limit you set for yourselves in the past. That is not an indication of decadence. We, also, in the oversea Dominions are doing our part as best we can. And so it has been in India as well. In the early months of the war I had the privilege of reading a debate which took place in the Council of India; a great debate worthy of the Mother of Parliaments herself, a debate couched in language of the loftiest patriotism; and in that debate the demand of India was that she should be permitted to do her part in this war. The same is true of Egypt and all the Crown Colonies. From East to West, from North to South, throughout the Empire the response on all hands has been more splendid and inspiring than we could have ventured to anticipate.

Mr. Balfour has referred in eloquent terms to the work of the great Navy which is under his direction and which has accomplished its task so wonderfully ever since the war broke out. We realize not less than you that the pathways of the seas are the veins and arteries of this Empire through which its life-blood must flow. If these are once stopped or seriously obstructed the Empire cannot continue to exist. We are conscious with you of that wonderful vigil in the North Sea, of the patience, endurance and fortitude of the officers and men of the British Navy. We are grateful as you are grateful, with the most intense appreciation of all that they have wrought. They have rid the seas of the marauders by which our commerce was troubled and have safeguarded that intercourse which is so absolutely necessary for you and for us, both in peace and war.

There is another arm of the Service which has done great things. I allude to the splendid work performed by the Royal Flying Corps in this war. Knowing the great efforts made by other nations in this particular branch of military and naval activity we were inclined to anticipate that the British aviation service might not be up to the highest standard. I have good reason to know, from intimate accounts of what has transpired at the front, that the work of our aeroplane service has been equal to the best, and that in initiative, resourcefulness, and fortitude our men have been unsurpassed.

It is not necessary to dwell on the valour of our troops, to which eloquent reference has been made by Lord Crewe and Mr. Balfour. In all the splendid traditions of the British Army for centuries past no more glorious record can be shown than that achieved in the retreat from Mons. I believe that no retirement was ever conducted successfully under greater difficulties and against more overwhelming odds. The heroism and determination of officers and men have added a fresh glory to British arms that will not be forgotten so long as our race endures. In France and at the Dardanelles the men from Australia, from New Zealand, from Canada, have also proved that the old traditions are not forgotten overseas and that the men of the Dominions are prepared in any danger, in any peril, to stand side by side with their comrades of these islands. In South Africa, Boer and Briton, marching together under the Empire's flag and fighting under the inspiring leadership of General Louis Botha, have wrested from Germany her greatest colonial possession. I associate myself also with what has been so well said as to the valour of the troops from India who have fought by our side in France and Belgium.

Mr. Balfour has spoken of our Allies. No one can forget the courage, the patience, the fortitude of France. The soul of Russia we know to be unconquered and unconquerable. The devotion and heroism of Belgium and Serbia have moved the admiration of the world. The fine valour of Italy, now in the fighting line with the Allies, has already made its influence felt.

This war is one not of armies alone but of nations. More than that, it is a war in which the material resources of the nations are being organized and utilized to an extraordinary degree. Not only the manhood of the belligerent nations but all the industrial organization, all the uses of sciences, all the command of the forces of nature which has been achieved in the past, are being brought to bear in the conflict. We have in our Empire resources almost limitless, resources infinitely greater than those of Germany and Austria-Hungary combined. If we possess the self-denial, the patriotism, and the organizing capacity to utilize them to the utmost and to throw our full strength into the contest then our cause will assuredly triumph. I do not believe that we shall fail in that task. Our race has never failed in the hour of trial. Why should it fail now? To fail with the resources and numbers at our command would mean the default of our national spirit and be accounted to us for dishonour in the years to come. In short if we do not win it will be because we deserve to lose. We will not fail! All that men could do our men have done at the front. We can rely upon them to the utmost in every test; but we must not attempt to accomplish with men alone what our enemies are doing with guns and munitions. The industrial resources of the Empire are sufficiently great to provide an abundance of both. In Canada we began to organize our industries for the production of munitions of war as far back as the end of August, 1914. In Great Britain and in Canada great progress has been made and great results since attained; but even during recent months munitions of war have been the continuous and growing need of our troops. As to what we have done or failed to do in the past, whether in Canada, in these islands or elsewhere, let the dead past bury its dead. This is not the time to speak of the past but to look to the future. It is a time, not for criticism but for action. What concerns us throughout the Empire is to see that for the future there shall be no failure; and I believe there will be none.

In some aspects the results of the war during the past twelve months have not been all that we anticipated. On the other hand, if there is any disappointment with us the disappointment of Germany is tenfold greater. Any failure in the past or any reverse in the future shall merely inspire us to a higher resolve and a more inflexible determination to perform our duty until this war which we are waging for the cause of civilization and humanity shall have been carried to the issue which we all desire.

For a century we have had no war which threatened the existence of our Empire; for fifty years we have not been involved in any really great war. During that time the democracies of the Empire have made marvellous strides in the development of their material resources. Under such conditions the call of the market place has been sometimes clamorous and insistent, especially in new communities like Canada or Australia. The war cannot fail to influence most profoundly the whole future of the world, the ideals of all civilized nations. It has already most profoundly influenced the people of this Empire. The great increase of wealth, the wonderful development of material prosperity did not fail to have their influence; and no one could deny that this progress was in itself a good thing. The standards of life for the people were raised and their comfort increased. It is not wealth at which we should rail. Rome fell indeed in the time of her wealth but it was because she made wealth her god. War came suddenly upon us when all the nations of the Empire were much concerned in these questions of material development; but we rejoice that throughout the Empire men have realized most fully during the past twelve months that there is something greater than material prosperity, something greater even than life itself. The national spirit everywhere responded instantly to the call and to the need. It made itself manifest as a spirit of self-sacrifice, of co-operation, of mutual helpfulness, of highest patriotic endeavour. This is as it should be, for the character of a nation is not only tested but formed in stress and trial, through sacrifice and consecration to duty.

I have come far across the ocean to visit our men at the front and in England and especially the wounded in the hospitals; and this has been an inspiration in itself. To many soldiers, officers and men, from these islands, from Canada, from Australia, from New Zealand, I have spoken and among them all I have found a wonderful spirit of determination and of patience, a spirit of consecration. There is indeed a splendid unity of purpose among all these men gathered from the four corners of the earth.

Last night I walked down the Embankment. At my right was the great Abbey, at my left the great Cathedral, at my feet flowed the historic river. Here came in by-gone centuries the Celt, the Saxon, the Dane, the Norman. Each in turn, all finally in co-operation, have lent their influence and made their contribution to our national life. And how splendid a structure they have built! What a mighty influence for good it has carried throughout the world! Standing thus on what seems to us hallowed ground, we of the oversea Dominions meditate perhaps more than you do upon these wonderful memories of the past and all the glorious events through which the life of our Empire has moved. Let us never for one moment forget that of all the mighty events recorded in its history none were greater than those through which we are passing to-day. Is an Empire like ours worth living for? Yes—and worth dying for. And it is something greater than it was a year ago. Indeed, it never can be quite the same. The old order has in some measure passed away. Once for all it has been borne in upon the hearts and souls of all of us that the great policies which touch and control the issues of peace and war concern more than the peoples of these islands. God grant that we shall so bear ourselves in this war and be so guided in all the momentous results to which it must lead that, whether in these islands or in the oversea nations, citizenship of our Empire shall be a still greater and nobler possession in the years to come than it has ever been even in all our glorious past.

And now before I close let me bring to you this latest message from the people of Canada. For those who have fallen in the struggle we shall not cease to mourn; for the cause to which they have consecrated their lives we shall not cease to strive until it triumphs. We are supremely confident that it will assuredly triumph and for that great purpose we are inspired with an unflinching determination to do our part.

[1] On August 4, 1915, the anniversary of the declaration of war, a public meeting was held in the London Opera House to record the determination to carry the struggle to a victorious end. Lord Crewe took the Chair and the speakers were Mr. Balfour, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and Sir Robert Borden. Mr. Balfour moved the following resolution:

"That on this anniversary of the declaration of a righteous war this meeting of the people of London records its inflexible determination to continue to a victorious end the struggle in the maintenance of those ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and the sacred cause of all the Allies."

Sir Robert Borden, in seconding the resolution, spoke as above.

ENGLAND, AUGUST 6, 1915.[1]

From the bottom of my heart I thank you for the very warm and generous reception which you have accorded to me and I appreciate most sincerely the eloquent tribute which Sir Gilbert Parker has just paid to the part that Canada has played in the war. This Club has been in intimate association with the progress and development of Canada for more than a century. During the past twelve months you have especially earned our thanks and our gratitude for your active and earnest endeavours in providing comforts for the Canadian soldiers at the front and within these islands.

Turning to the great matters which touch the hearts of all the Empire's nations at this moment, let me speak to you briefly of how we in Canada have endeavoured to do our part. On the first of August, 1914, I dispatched as Prime Minister a telegram to the Government of the United Kingdom expressing the hope that peace might be preserved, but conveying also the assurance that if war should unfortunately break out the people of Canada would stand shoulder to shoulder with their kinsmen within these islands. We had made no endeavour to become a great military nation, but within three weeks after the outbreak of war the Minister of Militia had assembled on the Plains of Valcartier, near the city of Quebec, a force of thirty-three thousand men fully armed and equipped. Within six weeks their training had proceeded so satisfactorily that they were ready to cross the Atlantic to undergo final training before taking the field. A few months afterwards the First Canadian Division proceeded to the front and when put to the test they proved themselves worthy in the highest sense of the great races from which they had sprung. Fighting side by side with the men of the British Islands, and perhaps before the conclusion of the war with the men of the other Dominions, they will feel the inspiration drawn from effort put forth and sacrifice made in common with kinsmen and with comrades for the upholding of a great cause.

Of those who have gone to the front the record of some of the fiercest battles of the war tells its own story; while as for those now encamped at Shorncliffe one incident reveals their eagerness to be in the fighting line with the least possible delay. During my recent visit to France I found that a detachment of fifteen hundred Canadians had just arrived and were in camp near Boulogne. In the ship which conveyed them from Folkestone to Boulogne twelve men from units not yet ordered to the front had stowed themselves away in the hope of thus sooner reaching the fighting line.

It has been a very great privilege to visit the men in the trenches, the thousands now completing their training at Shorncliffe, and the wounded in hospitals and convalescent homes. Their fortitude, their determination, their patience are not to be mistaken. One reads their spirit in the very look of the men and hears it in the magnificent response given upon every appeal to their patriotism.

The unity of the Empire is now more strikingly manifest than ever before. Considering the lack of any formal organization and taking into account the plenary powers of self-government with which all the oversea nations have been entrusted, and which indeed they hold as of right and not of grace, one cannot fail to conclude that the co-operation between the Dominions and the Mother Country in this war has been successful to a degree which few could have anticipated. There may come a day when we must consider some means of even more effective organization for intercourse, for defence, and for the determination of foreign relations. To those who may sincerely believe that such a task is both impracticable and impossible the example of those who founded the Canadian confederation may be commended. If ever a task seemed at the time impossible and hopeless it was theirs. Yet no one to-day could deny the remarkable success with which the difficulties have been met and surmounted. Remember that we have in Canada a sparse population of eight millions scattered over a territory reaching from east to west little short of four thousand miles; consider the diversities of race and of creed and the seeming divergence of interest between different communities; and we realize how wonderfully and how splendidly the Canadian national spirit has asserted itself in this great test of our nationhood. With this impressive lesson before our eyes, can it be doubted that the difficulties which seem to stand in the way of better organization of the Empire for purposes to which I have alluded can be overcome by wise counsel and earnest co-operation of the Empire's statesmen.

The enemy to-day is congratulating himself upon a great success in the eastern theatre of war. The fall of Warsaw has been foreshadowed for many days, but it is useless to deny or to minimize the significance of the event. The Germans have at last achieved a success which they attempted six or nine months ago. This will not in the least daunt our courage; it will only spur us to greater endeavours. Nevertheless, the highest national spirit is to be found in a true appreciation of the conditions which confront us. The enemy nations were not without their misconceptions as to the results which they would obtain from their immense preparation for this war and by reason of our lack of preparation. On the other hand it is best to admit that we have not been guiltless of misconception. In the early months we failed correctly to estimate the immense fighting power of a nation highly disciplined and thoroughly organized for war as well as for peace and unquestioningly obedient to the will and control of a determined military autocracy. Later we did not adequately realize the resourcefulness of the enemy in adapting himself to new conditions of warfare which must have been as unexpected to him as to us.

Before the outbreak of war there was discussion during recent years as to our ability to send across the channel in case of need an expeditionary force. The estimate of the force which could be sent varied from eighty thousand to one hundred and sixty thousand men. Confronted with the realities of a war which tests our national existence we find it necessary to organize, arm and equip expeditionary forces ten or twenty times greater than those first contemplated. No one who has not had the responsibility of office can realize what it means not only to organize such forces but to provide guns, rifles and equipment on so immense a scale. From personal experience I know something of such responsibilities; and I am glad to feel that they are being met in these islands as they ought to be met. The task is a great one; it is vitally necessary that the whole power of the nation should be concentrated upon it and I believe that it is now being so concentrated. I have this profound conviction—that regiment for regiment, and man for man, our forces are holding their own, and more than holding their own, with the best and most efficient troops of the enemy. But this is a war in which all the uses of applied science are being turned to our destruction; it is a war not only of men but of science, chemistry and mechanism. The most striking asseverations of the justice of our cause are of no value to our soldiers facing a torrent of shells. What, then, is our first necessity? Our first duty and our first necessity is to place ourselves on at least an equal footing in this most important regard. I believe we are taking the necessary steps to do that, and not one moment of time should be lost. If we really accept the seriousness of the situation, there can be no possible doubt as to our ability to accomplish this in the early future.

And when we recall any disappointments, let us never forget that the disappointment of the enemy must be tenfold greater. When we are confronted by such a reverse as the fall of a great fortress, let us remember that we have accomplished one great task, which outweighs a thousand fold any such event. We have maintained the security of the ocean's pathways. Upon that security the continued existence of our Empire depends. Remember also that during the continuance of this war it means almost if not quite as much to our Allies as to ourselves, for it assures to them the continuance of the supplies without which it would be difficult if not impossible to carry on the war. With that great task practically accomplished, with the assurance that so far as the uses of science are concerned we shall be placed on an equal footing with the enemy in the near future, and with the overwhelming superiority in resources and numbers which is ours, who dares doubt what the future will bring? I for one do not.

One parting word. From Canada let me bring to you this message—not for one moment shall we be discouraged by any reverse, not for an instant shall we relax our determination and our effort to bring this war to a triumphant and honourable conclusion. Afterwards we shall march forward to a nobler and a greater future. Great as has been the task of our Empire throughout the world, great as has been its influence in the cause of democracy, humanity and civilization I venture to believe that an even greater work lies before us and that the future opens up to us yet higher opportunities of usefulness and service.

[1] On August 6th, 1915, Sir Robert Borden was the guest at a luncheon given by the Canada Club. Sir Gilbert Parker, Bt, M.P., presided. Sir Robert Borden spoke as above.

AUGUST 10, 1915.[1]

Very deeply do I appreciate the great honour you have conferred upon me to-day. At the same time I am thoroughly conscious that it is a tribute not so much personally to me as to the great Dominion which I have the honour to represent as its Prime Minister. The people of that Dominion will appreciate as much as I do the very marked distinction thus conferred; and especially will they appreciate it by reason of the fact that this ancient city, whose history runs back for more than a thousand years since its name was first prominent in these islands, is united by unusually close ties with us of the west beyond the ocean. We recall the fact that from this city in the earliest days went forth those to whom the discovery of the main continent of America was largely due. We remember that from that day to this the name of Bristol has been especially associated with the maritime enterprise which has bound together so closely our Dominion and these islands.

I was especially touched by the recital of the names of those on whom the Freedom of this city has been bestowed in the past. There was the name of the great general who preserved for Britain, and for Europe as well, the liberty which was imperilled one hundred years ago. To-day we are fighting in the same cause and for the same liberty as that which he so successfully asserted. Then there came the names of those lords of the sea, those great men who throughout all the oceans and in the Mediterranean as well, maintained that power without which our Empire could not continue or endure. It is especially an honour to me that my name should be inscribed upon the same roll with these historic names.

You have spoken of giving to those to whom the Freedom of this city has been accorded the best that you have. We of the oversea Dominions in this great struggle—more momentous in its causes and perhaps in its consequences than we yet have realized are giving to the cause of Empire and of liberty the best that we have. Our Canadian soldiers united in splendid comradeship with men from these islands, from other overseas Dominions, from India and from the Crown Colonies have proved themselves not unworthy to fight side by side with such comrades.

Throughout this Empire we have many races and many creeds; but all united by a single purpose at this juncture. So we in Canada are not all of one race. Those who came first to the soil of Canada were of a great nation now happily an Ally of ours, the great French nation. And there are to-day within these islands, at Shorncliffe, several regiments whose mother-tongue is French, and not English, who have come from Canada to do their part in the great struggle. In the development of constitutional government in Canada—which has indeed proceeded very much on the same lines as with you—Canadians of French descent have laboured harmoniously and effectively with us whose forefathers came from these islands. And no better exponents of the cause of constitutional government and liberty in Canada have been found than those descended from the first pioneer race of Canada, the French race.

We in Canada find the need, realized everywhere throughout the Empire, that we should know and understand each other a little better. In a vast country like ours, with scattered communities diverse in race, diverse in creed, and sometimes in ideal and apparent interest, there is the greatest need of mutual understanding and comprehension. And as we have come to know ourselves better during the past twenty-five or fifty years, so the national spirit of Canada has been awakened, and has become strong and vigorous. Likewise, throughout an Empire such as ours, with scattered dominions on every continent and in almost every island of the oceans, it is well that we should know each other better. The truer insight arising from the comradeship of these men fighting side by side will be of marked advantage in that regard. How inspiring it was to see Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians at one of the soldiers' clubs in London the other day, to see them yesterday at a convalescents' home in Kent, to observe the fine spirit of comradeship which exists between them! From this comradeship will follow an influence which cannot but make for the more splendid unity of the whole Empire.

Nor should we forget what has been so gloriously attempted and accomplished in South Africa. Boer and Briton have fought there side by side for a great purpose under the inspiring leadership of General Louis Botha, and with results at once splendid and far-reaching.

I thank you, my Lord Mayor and gentlemen of the Council, for the honour you have done me. There is a very happy memory to me of some three years ago when you did me the honour of welcoming me upon my landing in your city. I shall go back to the people of Canada with even happier memories of this occasion, and I know I may take from you to them as I bring from them to you, the expression of a strong determination that this struggle in which we are now engaged shall never cease until it is brought to an honourable and triumphant conclusion. In that great purpose Canada has been united with you since the outbreak of war. In that same great purpose Canada will be united with you to the end.

[1] On August 10th, 1915, Sir Robert Borden was made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Bristol. The ancient ceremony took place in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. Sir Robert Borden spoke as above.

SEPTEMBER 16, 1915.

From time to time during the past two years or more I have been honoured with invitations to address the Canadian Club of Ottawa, but, for one reason or another, it has not been my good fortune to have that privilege. Upon my return from Great Britain the invitation was renewed, and while I really do not intend to make an address to you to-day, because that would have required more time than I have been able, by reason of urgent and pressing public duties to devote to preparation, still I did consent to speak conversationally and intimately to you, my neighbours and friends in this city, with which I have been associated more or less for nearly twenty years, in which I have lived during the past ten years, and in which I hope that the remaining years of my life may be spent. Indeed, it is said that to prepare even an entirely extempore address requires a good deal of careful preparation. So you will thoroughly understand that I am not making an address to you to-day, but that I shall merely attempt to give to you my impressions of some incidents of my recent visit to Great Britain and France.

I am thoroughly conscious that even if I took the utmost limit of time for preparation, and if I were most brilliantly and exceptionally gifted with expression, I could hardly hope to make you feel those incidents as they did impress me from time to time.

It was a great satisfaction to me that I was able to make the voyage across the Atlantic from this continent to the other under the aegis of that flag which floats over the whole Empire, and to do that without hindrance or interruption. I might dwell for a moment upon one interesting incident in New York. I remember very well that a great number of gentlemen associated with the press were gathered on board the ship and that from time to time members of our party were asked to pose for photographs. The British Ambassador, who happened to be on board the ship that morning, was successful in eluding these gentlemen, but I am afraid they found victims among nearly all the members of our party. But when the Captain came on board, about a quarter to twelve, one of these gentlemen who had been practising upon us, as more or less "easy marks," requested him to step into an open place on one of the decks in order that his photograph might be taken. The Captain, as this was only fifteen minutes before we were to sail, treated the request in a rather cavalier manner and said that he had no time for such nonsense; he further enquired why his photograph was wanted in any case. To which the gentleman of the press replied, "Well, Captain, you know they would be very angry with me at the office if anything should happen and we didn't have your photograph."

During the course of the voyage I was given to understand that more or less difference of opinion prevailed as to the effect upon the lives and fortunes of all of my presence on board, and I deeply regret to say that so far as I was able to estimate the situation the vote was rather heavily against me. As we began to approach the danger zone, however, the presence of some British destroyers on the morning of Thursday greatly comforted those on board, some of whom had been equipping themselves with waistcoats which, upon the proper utilization of a little tube attached, would swell out into a very comfortable life-buoy, and which were said to be equipped not only with tablets of concentrated food but with a small flask of brandy, so that the person thus fortunately prepared might in case of accident put to sea in every possible safety and comfort. We landed on the morning of Friday, and my first realization of what the war meant was in meeting two Canadian officers at Liverpool, both of whom had been severely wounded, one of them wounded by a shell which had destroyed two captains in the Canadian forces, of whom one was his dearest friend.

You may recall the review which was held at Shorncliffe not long after my arrival in England. We had the privilege on that occasion of seeing the Second Canadian Division. I well remember the appearance they presented, fifteen or sixteen thousand bayonets glistening in the morning sun, as we drove over from Folkestone and crossed the brow of the hill which brought the review ground into immediate observation. Their bearing and their spirit are all that Canada could desire. When they are called upon to undergo the supreme test at the front their record will be not less worthy than that of the First Canadian Division.

Let me illustrate to you the spirit of these men. When I visited France afterwards, I found that fifteen hundred of them whom I had not seen at Shorncliffe were near Boulogne and I had the privilege of inspecting them. They marched before me, two hundred and fifty of them as reinforcements for the Princess Patricia's Regiment and the remainder to fill gaps in the ranks of the First Canadian Division. With these units were at least a dozen men from units not authorized or ordered to go forward, who had stowed away on board the ship in order to reach the front. When I arrived I found that these men were being sent back to Shorncliffe. That is merely an illustration of the spirit which inspires these men—a spirit which animates also those at the front, the wounded in the hospitals and the convalescents.

But besides the sixteen or seventeen thousand—I am not sure of the exact number—who constitute the Second Canadian Division, there were also at Shorncliffe about as many more, under training from whom, as occasion demands, reinforcements go forward to the Division at the front. These men were also under review that day, and their bearing, their demeanour, their spirit were all that one could desire.

An officer of Lord Kitchener's staff, a very distinguished soldier, Sir Archibald Murray, was at Shorncliffe on that occasion. I had the privilege of being with him in his motor car, both going to and coming from Shorncliffe, and of standing near him at the review. He told me that he had seen at least four hundred thousand men of the new army now organized in the British Islands pass before him under inspection and under review during the past four or five months, and he said to me very frankly that among all the four hundred thousand he had seen no finer body of men than the Canadians who had passed before him on that day.

I had the opportunity later of going to France. We went from Dover to Boulogne. At Dover and on the way to Boulogne we saw a great many very interesting things, of which it would not be proper for me to speak. Upon arriving there we were welcomed by the French military and naval authorities. The French naval commandant had visited Canada about three years before in a French ship called the "Descartes." When I mentioned to him that there was a Canadian brigadier at Shorncliffe of French descent, Brigadier General Landry, he told me that at Montreal three years before he had had the privilege of meeting General Landry's father. We inspected at Boulogne some heavy guns which were on their way to the front.

Before proceeding to the hospitals we went to a cemetery in which a number of British and Canadian officers and men are buried. I had an opportunity there of planting seeds of Canadian maples upon the graves of many Canadian officers. Those whose graves were designated were Major J. S. Ward of the Princess Patricias, Captain G. Munz of the Third Canadian Infantry, Captain R. A. S. Allen of the Fifth Canadian Infantry, Lieutenant F. W. Campbell of the First Canadian Infantry, Lieutenant S. A. Reddock of the Third Canadian Infantry. It was not only a privilege but an honour to avail myself of this opportunity. These men lie side by side with their British comrades who have fallen in the same great cause. I trust that the seeds of these maples planted upon their graves may grow into great trees, commemorative of their valour and heroism, and of the consecration of their lives to the great cause in which all the energies of our Empire are now enlisted.

Perhaps, as I am about to allude to the hospitals, I should have spoken of the Canadian Red Cross Hospital at Cliveden, which I had the privilege of seeing before I went to France. All the Canadian hospitals, and indeed the British hospitals as well—I visited many of them—are splendidly organized. Canada has every reason to be proud of hers. I saw none better anywhere. The splendid Canadian Red Cross Hospital at Cliveden is magnificently organized and well conducted, and the wounded provided with every comfort.

Of the four hospitals which I saw near Boulogne, one was under the command of Colonel McKee (it was about being removed from that locality); one under the command of Colonel Shillington of Ottawa, at Le Touquet; one under the command of Colonel Murray McLaren, and one under the command of Colonel Birkett, of Montreal. I visited all these hospitals. I found men there who had left the civil pursuits of life at great sacrifice, who had taken up this patriotic duty, and who were consecrating their energies to the task of caring for the sick and the wounded. And, more than that, I found in every one of those hospitals Canadian nurses; they were all Canadian nurses so far as I can remember; and many of them were from this city. The best of organization, the best of equipment, the best of everything that could be provided, I found everywhere.

Later on in that evening—because we journeyed pretty late that night—before returning to Boulogne I met the officers of Colonel McLaren's command at their mess, and many from the other hospitals. Thus I had the opportunity of hearing the warm appreciation and the highest possible praise from the British medical officers there present of the excellent organization and arrangements to be found in the Canadian hospitals.

We returned to Boulogne very late that night. We left early in the morning on our way to St. Omer, the headquarters of Sir John French at that time. We stopped for a moment at the aviation base. The officer whom we happened to meet proved to be the son, the distinguished son, of Mr. Wanklyn, of Montreal. When we asked him to show us some of the splendid aeroplanes which were there concentrated, he spoke to me of his father. I have since learned that he has distinguished himself in the Royal Flying Corps and that Canada has reason to be proud of the service which he has given to the Empire.

We went on from there to St. Omer. After a short interview with Sir John French and some members of his staff we proceeded on our way toward the front. I had the honour of being accompanied by Prince Arthur of Connaught, the son of His Royal Highness the Governor General. We passed through many historic scenes and along a very interesting route. In going through Cassel, a small town situated on a hill, Prince Arthur pointed me to a large crater made a few weeks before by a German shell which, as he told me, must have been fired from more than twenty miles away. We got out of the motor and passed from the side of the road to this crater—it was quite close to the road—descended into it, and vainly sought to find some fragments of the shell; they had all been carried away. Just beyond that there is a hill on which a monastery is situated. There in the previous September a fierce engagement had taken place; and a relative of Prince Arthur, fighting in the ranks of the German army, had been killed and was buried on that hill.

And, speaking of the wonderful indifference to danger which characterizes the people of all that surrounding territory, I remember one impressive incident which Prince Arthur related. He said that on one occasion last winter or autumn when he had a certain message to deliver, a guard stationed upon a road along which he had to pass warned him not to proceed by that route as it was being shelled. Prince Arthur replied that whether it was being shelled or not he had to deliver his message, and he went. On that very road which he was urged not to traverse he found a young girl wheeling unconcernedly a perambulator with two children in it.

We passed on toward the front and came to a hill, called the Scherpenberg, which has historic memories for all Canadians, indeed for all the Empire, because it looks out over the renowned valley in which the city of Ypres is situated. That was the hill which Lord Roberts ascended just before his last illness. In mentioning his name let us not omit a just tribute to the splendid patriotism, the noble devotion, and the fine insight which characterized that great man throughout his life. From this hill we could look forth on the city of Ypres and through a field glass we could see the ruins of some of the great historic buildings which had been shelled by the Germans. It was our hope to have gone through the city afterwards, but we were detained so long in our visit to the Canadian Division and the Princess Patricia's Regiment that we got no nearer the city of Ypres. It lay at the foot of the distant hills. To the right of it was Hill Number 60. There was not very much happening at the front that day. We saw a few shells, and while we were on the Scherpenberg we saw a German mine—we didn't know at the time whether it was a German or British mine—we saw a German mine explode on the celebrated Hill Number 60. Sir John French told me in the evening that it did little or no damage.

I do not think that any Canadian, or indeed any Briton or Frenchman, could look upon that valley without being very greatly moved. In the country toward which we looked, around Ypres, following the sweep of the hills to Messines on the right, and another town the name of which I do not recall, on the left, we were told that at least one hundred thousand, perhaps one hundred and twenty thousand men, had fallen and found their graves within ten months. When we remember that all this is due to the insensate and criminal ambition, to the lust for power and prestige, of perhaps not more than a score of men; when we recall the efforts that Six Edward Grey made, almost successfully, to stay the hands of the German Emperor on the eve of the outbreak of war; when we remember the pledge that Sir Edward Grey then gave; when we realize that Austria at the last moment was willing to draw back, and that the mobilization ordered by Germany without any further conference with the other European powers brought on a war which, I believe, was intended from the first, surely all of us will agree that the awful cemetery of the Ypres valley will be a monument of everlasting infamy to the memory of the men who forced this war upon Europe and upon the world.

Briton and Frenchman may well be stirred in looking down upon that valley. I hope there will never come a day when any Canadian can look forth upon it without the deepest emotion. While we realize that the achievements of the First Canadian Division have perhaps been more fully told than those of any British troops during the war, still we know the story has not been completely told—that perhaps it has not been half told. Picture to yourself for a moment the condition. The Turcos and Algerians who were holding that line next to the Canadians veritably believed that the deluge which overwhelmed them had really come from the lower regions, from hell itself. No one who has not been through the hospitals can realize the effect of that gas attack. In the hospitals I have seen thousands of Britons and Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, and the only men in whom I ever found any depression were the few that I met who had experienced and survived the full severity of this gas attack. It must have been horrible in its intensity. No one can wonder that the division on the Canadian left broke and yielded up the line under the veritable impression, to which I have alluded, that all the powers of the lower regions were conspiring with the Germans for their destruction. And then came a terrible test to the Canadian troops, men taken, mark you, from the civil avocations of life and having had no previous experience of war. Then came a test to them such as perhaps was never before applied to any troops in the world. And those who prophesied that our race was decadent, let them remember that the Canadians stood firm not for hours but for days. Men lay down in agony under the gas which was poured upon them, but they did not retire, they held on; and from those who are best qualified to judge, from the military commanders of the British and French forces, from Lord Kitchener, from the King, from the President of the French Republic, I have had but one word as to what the Canadians did on that day; they saved the situation for the Empire and for the Allies.

One man—I do not think his story has been told—found himself in command of a regiment, or what was left of a regiment. He had, as he told me, one hundred and eighty rifles, but he had from four to six machine guns, some of which had come to him from another regiment that had been almost decimated. He was told to retire in the middle of the afternoon, but took upon himself the responsibility of not retiring until just about twilight. And first he buried his dead and arranged to bring off his wounded. When he did retire he saw Germans massing on his flank, to attack him on the flank and in the rear. He opened with his one hundred and eighty rifles and his six machine guns, which had been kept masked by his troops, and he told me that not more than a dozen of that column of Germans escaped. That man—I will tell you something of him later on—came untouched through that awful battle, but he was wounded as few men have been wounded and lived, in the battle of Festubert. Ypres, Festubert, Givenchy—those were the words we heard in the hospitals of England, everywhere.

Coming down the hill, we saw a York and Lancashire Regiment. I said, "You are just back from the trenches?" "Yes, Sir." "It is very quiet to-day at the front." "Yes, Sir," said one of them, evidently the wit of the regiment, "it is always pretty quiet at the front when we are out of the trenches."

We passed on to the headquarters of the First Canadian Division, which was about three miles behind the firing line, and early in the afternoon we went forward to visit all the regiments that could be spared from the trenches. They had been assembled near Plug Street, so called, in order that I might inspect them. First I went to the Ambulance Corps, under the command of Colonel Ross. He showed us all his equipment—complete in every way. Some of the ambulances bore marks of shrapnel and rifle bullets—they were dented here, there, everywhere. We realized through what the men of the Army Medical Corps had passed in bringing back the wounded from the front.

Then we went to the men of the First, the Second and Third Brigades—of all the brigades. To each brigade I felt myself privileged to say a few words conveying a message from the people of Canada expressive of the intense pride which we had felt in their achievements, of the unspeakable anxiety with which we had followed every movement since they had gone to the front. I do not believe these men had realized how deeply their valour and heroism had touched the hearts of the Canadian people. It was a privilege to express it to them. I spoke to all, to every unit there; and in every unit, in every man, so far as I was brought into touch with them, I found the same unconquerable spirit of determination to fight this battle to the end, to do their duty in the future as they had done it in the past.

We went from there through a wood which has been much celebrated in story and in picture—what the soldiers call "the Plug Street Wood"—into the artillery trenches, the observation trenches. We had a very good opportunity of seeing the German trenches just in front of us, and the Canadian trenches a short distance this side. In some places not more than two hundred yards, according to the plan which I have of the ground, separates the Canadian trenches from the German. It was believed to be a Bavarian division—in fact, it was known to be a Bavarian division—which held the ground opposite to our men. We went through the artillery observation trenches. Here and there we were told to take off our hats, or be a little careful, where the trench was not of the proper depth, and I remember that General Burstall, when we came to a large break in the rear wall of the trench, remarked to me that the "blighters" had succeeded in landing a shell there two days before. The "blighters," as he called them, were not doing very much that day.

It was thought worth while to let us see the accuracy of the Canadian fire, and a telephone message was sent to the guns away in the rear to plant a couple of shells at a certain point, which we were told to watch. The shells fell with the greatest possible accuracy.

And later on, after leaving the artillery observation trenches, we went to an 18-pounder battery, which was under the command of Major White, of this city, a very capable and distinguished officer. There was another Ottawa officer, if I remember correctly, and also a son of one of my colleagues in the House of Commons, Lieutenant Lancaster, son of Mr. E. A. Lancaster. This battery was, of course, considerably in the rear of the observation trenches which we had just left. The guns had been trained upon certain buildings in and out of which German working parties had been seen to go during the past twenty-four or forty-eight hours. I am inclined to believe that the battery commander had reserved this particular performance for our benefit, because they fired twenty rounds very quickly—tap, tap, tap—more quickly even than that; and they announced to us with a great deal of satisfaction and much pride that the four buildings in question had ceased to exist.

We went from there to a spot, not far distant, where some practice was being carried on in a certain form of trench warfare, the throwing of bombs, all of which was very interesting, but I have not time to describe it.

Then we proceeded to the headquarters of General Currie, and after remaining there a few moments, we returned to see one of the brigades marching into the trenches. They marched with all their equipment, everything complete. Each colonel, as his battalion passed, dismounted and stood with me for a few moments. Nearly every one of the battalions had its mascot. I remember particularly that the rear of one battalion was brought up by a very fine specimen of billy-goat, which went into the trenches with the men and remained there until the regiment came out. Very fortunately, there were few casualties during the period in which this brigade remained in the trenches on that occasion. We enquired about it afterward and found that only one man was wounded during the whole period—six or eight days, I think it was.

While we were observing this brigade marching into the trenches we saw above us aeroplanes, with clouds of shrapnel bursting around them. And later on, as we visited the Princess Patricia's Regiment, there were two aeroplanes, one apparently German and one British, with clouds of shrapnel, most picturesque in appearance, bursting around each.

We saw the Princess Patricia's, or what was left of them. I said a few words to them; and Prince Arthur, whom I had urged to address the men, spoke to them also and made a most excellent address. They are still full of courage, determination, and spirit; and their ranks have since been very greatly augmented by men of the McGill regiment of Montreal. The regiment will shortly be brought up to its full strength, and its future record will be as splendid as its past.

The German guns did not respond to the Canadian artillery while we were there. But the Germans have a remarkably fine intelligence department. They evidently ascertained that evening that a party was visiting the Canadian headquarters which were about three miles in the rear of the trenches; for on the following morning Headquarters received attention from the German artillery in the shape of twenty-five or thirty shells. Fortunately little or no damage was occasioned.

In the meantime we had proceeded to Sir John French's headquarters, and very early the next morning we left for the headquarters of General Joffre, whom we had the privilege of meeting. He impresses one as a great soldier and a great man, and I do not wonder at the confidence which not only the French army but the whole French nation place in him.

Next morning we proceeded to the headquarters of the Second French Army Corps, and from there to the headquarters of the Eleventh French Army Corps. The former is commanded by General Petin, a very distinguished soldier, who was promoted by General Joffre to that very important position at a comparatively early age. The General of the Eleventh Army Corps is an Alsatian, General Baumgarten. He placed us in the hands of one of his artillery officers, and we went to the French artillery trenches at the front. We saw their batteries; we saw the famous "Soixante-quinze" guns. The batteries are very skilfully concealed. Later on we went to see a mortar battery, hidden with most wonderful skill, so well concealed, in fact, that when we arrived at the battery we could not tell where it was. That is literally true.

Next we went through the town of Albert, which has been destroyed to even a greater extent, I believe, than Ypres. I say that from the testimony of those who had seen both towns. Upon the tower of its beautiful church there was an image of the Madonna and Child. The Germans had fired until this had been struck, and it was hanging over the side of the tower as we saw it. In front of the church, in the street, there were the marks made by twelve or fifteen shells, great cavities in the street showing what the intensity of the German shell fire had been.

We proceeded back through Amiens and thence to Chantilly. In the afternoon, sitting on the veranda, we could hear even there, only about twenty or twenty-five miles from Paris, the booming of the guns at the front. Senlis, just a few miles away, was devastated terribly by the Germans, and its Mayor and seventeen of its citizens shot. Creil, through which we passed, and which we afterwards visited that afternoon—a large part of it also was destroyed by the German shell fire. And so we left Chantilly and came on to Paris.

Only one incident of what took place at Paris have I time to mention, and that is my visit to the hospital which is maintained for wounded soldiers of the French army by municipalities of the Province of Quebec and by the subscriptions of public spirited citizens in those municipalities. It is a very handsome building, No. 7, rue de la Chaise. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Dubonnet, and the nurses, and of seeing several distinguished French soldiers, some of whom had been decorated with the Legion of Honour. We also visited the splendid British hospital at Versailles, and a small Australian hospital which is maintained by four Australian ladies, in Auteuil.

Next morning we left Paris for Treport, where a well equipped Canadian hospital—No. 2, General Hospital—under the command of Colonel Bridges is situated. There also is a fine British hospital, in which I found several Canadian wounded. In the Canadian hospitals also there are both British and Canadians, because all these hospitals are for all the soldiers of the Empire; there is absolutely no distinction as to who shall be received. After inspecting the staff of that hospital, I briefly addressed them, and as their cheers died away, the Last Post sounded over the grave of a British officer who was buried in the little cemetery below, which I had the opportunity afterwards of visiting, and where I had the privilege of planting the seeds of Canadian maples upon the graves of Canadian dead.

We returned to Boulogne that night, where we met Commander Evans, who addressed this Club about two years ago, and who is in command of the destroyer "Vicking." He told me he had asked to be allowed to bring us from Dover to Boulogne when we came to France, and it had been denied; he had asked to bring us back, and it was granted. He preserved the most pleasant memory of his visit to Canada. We asked him that night whether he could not come to Folkestone with us for dinner, and he said he would have been delighted, but his night would be occupied in hunting German submarines.

Let me pay a tribute here to the splendid work of the British Navy. Do you appreciate what it meant last winter for those men to hold that wonderful, ceaseless vigil in the North Sea? I do not believe it could be adequately described. The submarine menace, too, upon which the Germans counted so much, has been met by a resourcefulness on the part of the Admiralty, on the part of the officers and men of the Navy, which I believe has proved much more effective than has yet been disclosed. Indeed, not only in connection with submarine, but also in respect of clearing the ocean of all the dangers that threatened our commerce, too much cannot be said in praise of the Navy's work. It has been splendid, it has been wonderful; and in these days when we sometimes are a little discouraged because of lack of success in this or that theatre of operations, believe me when I tell you that the task performed by the British and Allied Navies in keeping the seas cleared is an infinitely greater weight in the scale of victory than all that has been accomplished by our enemies upon land.

And Britain has made great sacrifices for it, not only in recent years, but for five centuries past—sacrifices adequate to the task which this war made necessary.

We have fed our sea for a thousand years,
    And she calls us, still unfed,
Though there's never a wave of all her waves
    But marks our English dead.
We have strawed our best to the weeds' unrest,
    To the shark and the sheering gull.
If blood be the price of admiralty,
    Lord God! we ha' paid in full.

We came back, as I have said, to Dover, and the next day we visited hospitals at Shorncliffe. Some of them, two I think, are in buildings not perhaps quite up to date, but the arrangements depending upon the Canadian administration are the best that could be provided.

Proceeding on the same afternoon to Monks Horton we found there a thousand Canadian convalescents. I had the great privilege of speaking to those men; and, looking into their eyes, I read the same message that I had found in the faces and in the bearing of the men at the front. I visited and addressed one hundred and fifty Canadian convalescents at Bromley later in the same evening. And then, very late at night, to London.

There were then in the British Islands between six and seven hundred hospitals, counting great and small. It was my hope and my desire when I crossed the Atlantic to see all the Canadian wounded. I found that they were scattered in the British Islands in no less than one hundred and forty-three hospitals; in many of these hospitals, of course, there might be only a few. I selected those hospitals in which the largest number could be visited—forty-three, in all. It would be quite impossible to convey to you the impression made upon me by the wonderful patience, the abounding courage and the remarkable fortitude of these men. I found them wonderful, absolutely wonderful, and everywhere one met the desire and the determination to do still their part.

Might I relate one or two brief incidents? Those visits were so crowded with incidents which never can escape my memory that I could speak of them to you all the afternoon.

One Canadian officer, who had passed through the great battle of Ypres untouched, was wounded at Festubert. He received three bullets in his right arm, four in his left shoulder, four in his left leg. I saw him when he was just out of hospital. He could hardly use his right arm at all. He was returning to his home in the West, in order to assist in harvesting the crop on his farm, and thence to the front as soon as his wounds would permit. He had offered his services—not only offered but pulled wires to get to the front—in the very first week of the war.

I said to him, "Did the surgeon remove all these bullets at one operation?"

"Well, Sir," he said, "he missed a few of them the first time—he missed a few."

"Tell me about it," I said.

He replied: "My left shoulder pained me and it would not heal."

"What happened?"

"I insisted that the surgeon should open it up again."

I asked: "With what result?"

"Well," he said, "he found three little pieces of shell and a piece of my shirt, and after that I got well."

I saw another Canadian—let me speak of him for just a moment—a man who was wounded in the most shocking way, in the brain, with shrapnel, while he was delivering an order under the direction of General Currie. I would not undertake to describe to you that wound as it was described to me. That man walked between three and four hundred yards to give a message to General Currie, and then fell unconscious. Every one thought he was dead. His wife, almost frantic, succeeded in getting to France through the indefatigable efforts of Sir Max Aitken, who went to Lord Kitchener himself before he accomplished it. She found him in a British hospital in France. They had to remove parts of his brain, and the physicians said, "That man will never be able to speak." He was not able to speak for a long time, but, fortunately, as the wound healed speech came back. I had him at my rooms in London; took him to dinner at a celebrated inn, "Ye Cheshire Cheese," and, so far as I could observe, he had thoroughly regained his speech except for the occasional misplacing of a word, which he usually corrected.

An Australian, in that gallant, wonderfully gallant, feat of arms, the landing at Gallipoli, was shot through the head, paralyzed, unconscious. When he regained consciousness he heard the stretcher bearers going around, and the man next to him told them that he was dead. As in a nightmare, he made frantic attempts either to move or speak. He thought himself unsuccessful and relapsed into unconsciousness, but must have either moved or spoken, because five days afterwards he regained consciousness at Alexandria.

I spoke to a British soldier in Lady Sargent's Hospital at Deal. They said he was a character. I asked him, "How are you getting along?" He said to me, "I am a sniper and I was sniped." "Tell me about it." "Well," he said, "I had gone and done some sniping. There was a little clump of bushes and I knew there was a German sniper beyond it. I went out and I crawled to these bushes under fire." "How did you get along?" I asked. "I lowered the other fellow," he said, "but in coming back, as I lifted my leg, crawling along, they put a bullet through here: the most fortunate thing in the world that ever happened me. They couldn't have wounded me in a better place; didn't touch bone; and I was most anxious indeed for six weeks' rest. I am going back to the front in about two weeks."

May I trespass upon your patience to say one word about preparation in Great Britain and in France. Bear in mind, if you please, that the expeditionary force which Great Britain thought herself able to send abroad in case of war was not greater, according to the estimates of some men, than that which we have already sent across the Atlantic. In Great Britain the estimate was that they might send eighty thousand or one hundred and twenty thousand or one hundred and sixty thousand men at the outside to the Continent. Of course it has since been discovered that you cannot make war on the limited liability principle, and that in such a struggle the whole resources of the nation must be thrown into the conflict if success is to be achieved. Imagine the task which confronted the British Government and the British War Office when they were obliged to undertake a force fifteen or twenty times greater than they had ever contemplated.

Do you realize—I wonder if you could realize as those who are responsible in such matters realize—what it means to train, arm and equip a modern army and provide it with all the necessary organization? It is a gigantic task even for us here in Canada, who have one hundred and fifty thousand men under arms and eighty-three thousand men overseas. Consider what it must be for the British Government to deal with these millions of men, or more, and arm and equip them. I am perfectly willing to concede, as Mr. Lloyd George himself has said, that they were not thoroughly conscious at first of the tremendous task which confronted them, but I am entirely satisfied that now the British authorities are fully conscious of the effort which must be made. I believe further that the necessary preparation and the necessary effort are now being made. If you call to mind the numbers and resources of this Empire alone, and take account also of those of the Allied nations, can you doubt that in the end right will triumph?

Preparation in France, while not commensurate with that in Germany, was of course a great deal better than ours. And the spirit of the French people is sober, serious, wonderful. In this war France has found herself. Both in Great Britain and in France there is the most earnest determination that this war shall be brought to the issue which we all desire. It is wonderful in France to see everywhere, almost up to the lines of the trenches, the country cultivated by the labour, for the most part, of the old men, the women and the children; to see the harvest being gathered by the same labour, with the aid, here and there, of men sent back from the front. The French nation is absolutely in earnest. Perhaps there is a spirit of even greater seriousness and gravity to be observed in France than in the British Islands, which have not been brought so closely into contact with the horrors of the war, although I believe that the issue of this struggle is of as vital significance to Great Britain and to all the British Empire as it is either to France or to Russia. And so I come back to you from the men at the front, from the French people, from the British people, with a message not only of determination, but of confidence. One cannot tell what in the final sifting may come from this war. The events through which we are moving are so wonderful, so tremendous, so world-compelling, that we can hardly realize their significance. One of my colleagues said to me a year ago that this war seemed to him as the suicide of civilization. Let us hope rather that it may prove to be the death of much that marred and hindered the progress and development of civilization and democracy. Shall we not hope and indeed believe, that this war may prove to be the birth-pang attending the nativity of a truer and nobler civilization, in which this country, as one of the great free nations of the Empire, will have no inconsiderable place and play no unworthy part.


Owing to the very great demands upon my time and energies since the present Government assumed office I have found myself unable to visit many great communities of our Dominion as often as I have desired. Nevertheless, I have not failed to watch with the greatest interest and appreciation the splendid progress which your city has made in the meantime. During that period the trade of the port has wonderfully expanded and I am informed by those in a position to speak on the subject that its volume during the coming winter will probably be greater than ever before. I do not doubt that the facilities provided by the works now under construction will be utilized to the full in the early future.

The events of a magnitude almost surpassing comprehension through which our Empire has moved during the past fifteen months are still supreme in our thoughts. When the war broke out we were not doubtful of the justice of our quarrel. The additional insight afforded by the disclosures and events of the past twelve months has amply confirmed the judgment first given; and public opinion throughout the world has assented to that judgment. It is equally apparent that our Empire could have abstained from entering this conflict only at the sacrifice of its honour and prestige, of its future influence throughout the world and, in all probability, of its further existence.

In this historic province, founded in the first instance upon the devotion and self-sacrifice of the Loyalists, there was never any doubt as to the response of the people. In New Brunswick as elsewhere you have given of your best and you will continue to give. It has been my privilege in France and in Great Britain during the past summer to meet some of New Brunswick's gallant sons who have served with marked distinction at the front and to congratulate them, as I congratulate you, upon the splendid valour, resourcefulness and heroism which has marked their action under the fiercest test. For a hundred years Canada has been involved in no war which really tried and tested the spirit of her people. During that century the development of our country, the peaceful avocations of everyday life, had engrossed the minds and energies of our people; but when the war did come the descendants of those loyal and adventurous men who laid the foundations of our country proved that they had not forgotten the traditions and the spirit of their ancestors.

The war has raged with most intense fury for more than a year and no one can with any reasonable certainty predict the period of its duration. Many months ago it became apparent that the enormous military strength of Germany and Austria and their unlimited preparation for this war had been underestimated in the first instance by the Allied Nations. In numbers and in resources those nations are vastly superior to the Central Powers; and the spirit and valour of their troops are certainly not inferior. But we are paying a terrible price in blood and in treasure for lack of that preparation which, if made in time, would have deterred Germany and Austria from their resolve to force this war upon the world. During the past dozen years there have fallen upon the public ear many profound assurances that Germany meditated no aggression and that the world's peace would not be disturbed. What did these avail when the sword was once drawn in this struggle for existence? The men in the trenches know that it is within our power to make victory certain; but they also know that victory depends upon supreme effort and sacrifice.

In the early months of the war serious but unthinking friends advised the Government to despatch a force of two hundred and fifty thousand men to the front without the slightest delay. The Government of Canada was entirely unable to accomplish any such task for precisely the same reason that the Government of the United Kingdom was unable to throw a force of two million men into France and Flanders in September and October of last year. The military units had to be organized, the men had to be enlisted and trained, the officers especially had to be trained, the guns, the rifles, the ammunition, the equipment, had to be provided. For the latter purposes the industrial resources of the country had to be organized. In short, training, discipline, organization and equipment constitute the difference between an army and a mob. Time was necessary for all this; and time was costly while Germany's millions of highly trained and thoroughly equipped troops were attempting to hack their way through.

When the Canadian troops now actually under orders to proceed across the Atlantic shall have embarked Canada will have sent overseas one hundred thousand men. Add to the army which Great Britain first sent to the Crimea the British forces that fought under Wellington at Waterloo, and you will find that the total is fifteen thousand less than the force which Canada has already dispatched to the front. In addition, we have in training and on duty in Canada not less than seventy-five thousand men. We have given and are giving of our best. In valour, in initiative, and in resourcefulness, the troops which Canada has sent and will continue to send are inferior to none in the world.

During the first six months of the war the allied troops hardly fought on even terms by reason of the immense superiority of the enemy in guns, machine guns, and ammunition of all kinds. That most serious handicap has been almost, if not wholly, overcome; from personal enquiry on the other side of the Atlantic I am satisfied that the arrangements made and the organization established in the British Islands, in the Dominions, and elsewhere will soon place our forces on equal terms with the enemy.

So far as field guns are concerned we arranged more than a year ago that there should be no competition between the British and the Canadian Government in securing a supply; and so it was agreed that for the Canadian artillery the British Government should undertake to supply the necessary field guns of every type, as well as the ammunition therefor. This arrangement is being satisfactorily carried out.

As for machine guns, we realized early in the war the necessity of an abundant supply, and orders have been given from time to time for a very large number. Those ordered during the first twelve months of the war are now being rapidly delivered, and they are more than sufficient to equip two full army corps up to the highest standard of the enemy's forces. During the past summer the provision of machine guns became a matter of vital interest to the Canadian people, as reports through the press emphasized the necessity that our forces should be adequately supplied with all the machine guns that could be utilized. Patriotic individuals offered to contribute large sums for this distinctive purpose. The Government of Ontario made a similar patriotic proposal; and throughout the country various communities generously subscribed to funds for this object. During my absence in Great Britain my colleagues endeavoured to make it clear to the people that an ample supply of machine guns had been ordered and that these would be paid for out of the Canadian treasury. The treasury of Canada ought properly to bear all the cost of equipping and maintaining our forces in the field; and that has been our policy. Nevertheless, the spirit and impulse which prompted our people could not be stayed, and, indeed, any attempt to stay it would have been ungracious and possibly would have been misunderstood. Up to date the sums thus received by the Government amount to $773,327.95. I deeply appreciate the splendid earnestness which has prompted these patriotic offerings; and although the Government had made every necessary provision for machine guns, I am not the less conscious of the overflowing and generous patriotism of our people whose munificent gifts must, of course, be devoted to the purposes for which they were made. In dealing with other needs which will certainly arise the Government will not fail to remember these generous and free-will contributions. And in all your splendid generosity, do not forget the Patriotic Fund and the Canadian Red Cross Society. They have done a great work but they have a still greater work to do. Appeals which assuredly will not fall on deaf ears must be made in the early future. See that the response is generous and ample. When you are making provision for the Canadian Patriotic Fund, the Canadian Red Cross Society, the Canadian War Contingent Association and other like patriotic organizations you may be assured that the Government will not fail to make every necessary provision for guns, munitions and equipment.

Possibly some confusion may exist in the public mind as to the comforts supplied to men at the front and to the wounded in the hospitals. In all countries for many years past the Red Cross Society has been an institution greatly relied upon for aid in time of war. In Great Britain, in Canada, in every Dominion of the Empire, that Society ever since the war's commencement has been indefatigable in its efforts, and the good which it has accomplished cannot be overestimated. The hospital which the Canadian Red Cross Society has established and maintains at Cliveden is, to my personal knowledge, one of the best organized and best equipped hospitals in Europe to-day. The hospital maintained by the Canadian War Contingent Association near Shorncliffe is equally well organized and equipped, although it cannot accommodate so many patients. The Canadian Red Cross Society is constantly sending supplies of needed articles to all the Canadian hospitals. To this work of mercy the women of Canada throughout the Dominion have consecrated their energies with splendid zeal and with equally splendid results, and the gratitude of the nation is theirs for what they have done and for what they are still doing.

Apart from its hospital near Shorncliffe the Canadian War Contingent Association makes no attempt to provide for the wounded, but devotes its energies to the distribution of comforts among the men at the front. Let there be no misunderstanding as to the situation in this respect. Canadian troops are as thoroughly equipped and carefully provided for as those of Great Britain or of any of the belligerent nations. In Canada as in Great Britain not less than sixty-six different articles of equipment are provided by the Government for each soldier. But many useful articles of various kinds, designated as comforts, which the War Office or the Militia Department could not undertake to supply are provided and sent to the troops at the front by various patriotic associations. The Government, whether in Great Britain or in Canada, is grateful for the provision thus made, and the men in the trenches are especially grateful that they are so remembered. The consent of the Government that this work should be carried on, and that these comforts should be provided, does not in the least mean that any portion of recognized military equipment is not provided either the British troops or for the Canadian troops. Let it also be borne in mind that the pay and allowance of the Canadian troops are much higher than those of the British troops, which, in turn, are much greater then those of the continental nations. Thus the people of Canada can be assured that in equipment, in supply of comforts, and in the receipt of pay on a generous scale, the Canadian soldiers are well provided for.

My visit to Great Britain and France during the past summer was crowded with the most impressive incidents which have ever come within my experience. In France I saw a nation in arms for the preservation of its existence; men of every rank, condition, an walk of life, summoned it is true, but eagerly anxious to do their share in freeing the soil of France from the foot of the invader; those physically unfit for military service, the old men, the women, and the children taking their part in the fields or in the munition factories; the whole country cultivated by their labour and bearing abundant crops; the entire nation animated by a resolute and united spirit of patriotic devotion. The people of Great Britain to whom the realities of war have been brought home by the barbarous attacks on undefended communities along the coast and by the raids of the Zeppelins are not less determined and not less conscious that this unprovoked war threatens their national existence.

At the front I have seen the Canadian troops and their British comrades and the great armies of France as well. I need not dwell upon their valour, their fortitude, their efficiency. To the Canadian troops it was my privilege to bear a message from the Canadian people; a message of pride and admiration to men who with no experience in active service and with but little military training proved themselves the equal of any troops in the world under the test of as searching an ordeal as was ever known.

The privilege which I most greatly esteemed was that of visiting the wounded. Among the French soldiers in hospitals at Paris, among the British, the Canadian, the Australian, the New Zealand wounded in France and in Great Britain, one found a thorough realization of the greatness of the cause for which the Allied Nations are contending; wonderful patience in all that they had suffered; a fine spirit of determination to return to the front and continue their duty whenever their physical condition would permit. How slight seem all the minor ills of life compared with what these men have endured and what some of them must continue to bear throughout their lives. In some of the great hospitals I have addressed an assemblage of five hundred convalescents gathered from every part of the Empire, all renewing their strength under the same roof, all united in a splendid comradeship which means much for the Empire's future. Their thunderous response to my expression of firm determination to fight until we triumph left no doubt as to their own stern resolve. In all, I visited between forty and fifty hospitals, including every Canadian hospital except those at the Dardanelles and one of those in France. In equipment, organization, and general efficiency our hospitals are second to none; in all the hospitals every care and attention are provided for the comfort and solace of the wounded.

There have been reverses as well as victories in the past. There may be reverses as well as victories in the future. But the men of our race have never fought so fiercely or so stubbornly as with their backs against the wall. So it will be in this war. We drew the sword reluctantly and only after every possible effort to preserve the peace of the world had been exhausted. It will not be sheathed until the triumph of our cause is full and unmistakable. Whether the doctrine that might is right shall prevail and shall supersede the recognized canons of civilization, whether the creed of the jungle or the creed of Christianity shall inspire and guide humanity in the years to come—that is the issue forced upon the world in this war. To such a demand humanity can give but one answer, and Canada will do her part in making the answer complete and final.


I thank you for the address with which I have been welcomed and for your inspiring reception. In the activities of my public duties, intensified as they have been during the past fifteen months, it has not been my privilege to visit as often as I could have wished this city, with which my associations are so close and in which so many happy years of my life were spent. A welcome from any Canadian community is always grateful, but none comes quite so near to my heart, as a welcome from my native province.

One hundred and sixty-six years ago the British standard "with sea-foam still wet" was planted on the shores of Chebucto Bay, where it will ever float. In the great testing of our national spirit, the descendants of those who planted that standard have not been found wanting. Speaking in this city nearly a year ago, I dwelt upon the justice of the cause for which our Empire had drawn sword. It is a deep satisfaction to realize that every subsequent relation, every development, every event, all that has since transpired, makes clearer the truth that we are fighting against prepared and deliberate aggression, that not without dishonour could we have forborne this quarrel, and that the cause which we maintain transcends the interests of our Empire, concerns the ideals of democracy and humanity, and closely touches the future of world.

The physical condition of our Empire, comprising vast territories and great populations scattered throughout the world, made the security of ocean communication an imperative necessity of its existence. Thus the sea power of Great Britain was an essential of defence, but was never designed for aggressive purposes. No such aggression could have been attempted except by the establishment of vast military forces, and public opinion not only in the British Isles but elsewhere was warmly opposed to any such policy. Indeed, when the statesmen and the military experts of Great Britain, in view of the obvious aggressive designs of Germany, considered during recent years what military aid Great Britain could send to the continent if war were forced upon us, the maximum suggested was one hundred and sixty thousand men, a force which proved so absurdly inadequate when the time for action came that one wonders how it could have been deemed possible to wage under such conditions a war which must threaten our national existence. The lack of adequate military preparation is the most striking evidence that our Empire desired peace and harboured no aggressive purpose.

To those who, as in Germany, believed that the spirit of the British people was wholly absorbed in material affairs, that the race had become decadent and that it lacked the resolution and self-sacrifice to maintain its existence, its power and its influence at any cost, the enlistment of two and half million men in the British Isles within a year came as a distinct surprise and even shock. Not less amazing to them has been the spirit evoked in the oversea nations, in India and in the Crown Colonies. The Dominions have been as prompt as the motherland to answer the call of duty, and from all the races enjoying liberty and just government under the British flag there has been the same splendid response.

Occasionally we hear dissertations upon European militarism which are apparently intended to include the Mother Country. The unfortified boundary of four thousand miles between the United States and Canada is used as an illustration that all the nations of Europe lack the peace-loving spirit which pervades this continent. No one can fail to rejoice that that boundary, whether on land or on water, needs no guard on either side. But let it be remembered that the convention which practically forbade any armed forces on the Great Lakes was made between the Government of Great Britain and the Government of the United States fifty years before this Dominion came into existence. Let it not be forgotten that in the most difficult and delicate controversies that have arisen between our Empire and the kindred nation to our south, Great Britain has always maintained the policy of settling by peaceful arbitrament disputes of even vital concern. Of this the Alabama Treaty and the settlement of the Venezuela controversy are conspicuous illustrations; and the examples thus given have since been followed in many notable instances. Those who apparently include Great Britain in scathing denunciations of European militarism would do well to recall their words and to remember that by every available effort and up to the last limit consistent with national honour, our Empire during the past half century has sought to maintain peace.

One important purpose of my recent visit to Great Britain was to obtain precise information respecting preparation already made and about to be made for carrying this war to a successful issue. An Empire prepared to dispatch an expeditionary force of from eighty to one hundred and sixty thousand was naturally confronted with a mighty task when it became evident that victory would depend upon the ability to organize a force twenty times greater. It is possible that during the past year more might have been done. On the other hand, considering the magnitude of the task, great things have been accomplished. To enlist, organize and train an army of two and a half millions is a tremendous undertaking; to equip it and to provide the necessary armament and munitions is a still greater task. The latter would not have been possible except for the possession of great industrial resources both in Great Britain and in the overseas Dominions, coupled with the control of the seas, which was fortunately secured in the early months of the war by the British Navy, strongly aided toy the Navies of the Allied Nations. In all past wars such control has been a determining factor, and I for one am prepared to place it in the balance against all military successes which have been achieved by the enemy nations and to affirm that the scale turns in our favour.

The organization of a modern army demands not only military experience but high business ability. Successful efforts for that purpose require also great energy and the capacity to go straight to the mark. It has been the single purpose of the Minister of Militia to send to the front forces effectively trained and equipped in as large numbers and with as little delay as possible. For men taken from every day walks of life with no experience of active service and little or no military knowledge, training was essential, and especially was it essential for the officers, upon whose ability and efficiency depend the lives of thousands of men entrusted to their charge. Without the magnificent patriotism and devotion which have inspired the Canadian people it would have been impossible for the Government of Canada to do all that has been accomplished. The men who have upheld the honour of Canada in France and Flanders have more than justified the expectations of the Canadian people. For the Empire, for the Allied Nations, for the world itself the Canadians held the day at Ypres against great odds and under a test so terrible that the most experienced veterans might have failed to endure it.

On many occasions since my return I have been asked as to the probable duration of the war. In my judgment any estimate of the most eminent authority can be little more than a conjecture. During the past year the Allied Nations, and especially our Empire, have fought at a disadvantage, for the reason that the enemy was prepared and we were not. It cannot be denied that a year ago we underestimated the military strength of Germany and the vastness of her preparation for this conflict. In recent months that disadvantage has been largely removed by preparation already made upon a vast scale. Within the coming year I am convinced that it will altogether disappear. Then, with resources almost unlimited at the command of the Allied Nations, and especially of our Empire, with the great superiority in numbers which is ours, with a just cause, with the command of the seas assured, one cannot doubt that the issue will be what we desire. Let no one, however, underestimate the strength of the forces which are arrayed against us. The Allied Nations can win, but there must be a supreme effort; and nowhere is that effort more necessary than within our Empire. We may not always have realized the absolute truth of our words when we speak of the existence of our Empire being at stake. This Empire cannot long continue unless the allied cause is victorious. And the future, not of the Allied Nations alone, but of the whole world is in the balance, for we are fighting against the recrudescence of an ideal absolutely destructive of all that Christianity and civilization have taught us during the past two thousand years, the ideal that might makes right.

Moreover we are fighting against methods of warfare as barbarous as any recorded in history. The mass of evidence presented to the world by the report of Lord Bryce's Commission has not been widely distributed and few realize how terrible are the incidents disclosed. A recent volume published by the Government of France, after a careful investigation and based on the most convincing evidence, tells the same story. The genesis of these awful methods appears to have arisen in the conviction of the Prussian military autocracy that the victory of their armies was assured in whatever war they might undertake and that the terrorism of the civil population in the countries which they invaded was both essential and justifiable for abbreviating the duration of the struggle. For fifty years war has been to the German people a source of territorial aggrandizement, wealth, prestige and power. They waged it on the territory of other nations and were content to make it by design more terrible than ever before, because they believed their own soil would never feel its actual horrors. Prussian autocrats deliberately prepared for and embarked upon this war as a great national business enterprise, trusting to their ideals "might is right" and "woe to the conquered." Where will they stand in the end when confronted with their own doctrine?

On the first day of August, 1914, three days before war broke out, I despatched a message conveying to the British Government the firm assurance that if unhappily war should ensue the Canadian people would be united in a common resolve to put forth every effort and to make every sacrifice necessary to ensure the integrity and maintain the honour of our Empire. That assurance has been fully endorsed by the Canadian people and it has been made good by effective action. More than ninety thousand men have already been dispatched overseas and when those actually under orders shall have embarked the number will reach one hundred thousand. Within the past three weeks I have had the privilege of reviewing twenty-five thousand men under training in Canada, and I have found their physique, their bearing and their spirit all that could be desired. In all, since the beginning of this war, it has been my privilege to see under review more than one hundred thousand Canadian troops, and among them those who held the trenches at "Plug Street" when I visited the front in the latter part of July. There in passing down the line I saw regiment after regiment of men whom a year's experience at the front had converted into veterans; men strong in their determination to do their duty; men who had held their ground at Ypres in face of as fierce an ordeal as ever confronted an army in the field. The Second Division is now in the field, and Canada has at the front a full army corps complete in every branch of the service, and thoroughly armed and equipped. We have practically another army corps in reserve, besides the forces training in Canada.

But we have done something more. This is a war in which applied science and the mechanical arts are relied on to a greater extent than in any previous war. It became necessary to organize not only regiments but the industrial resources of the country. When the Minister of Militia was asked by the Imperial Government in August, 1914, to place a certain order for shells urgently required by the War Office, he concluded that they could be produced as effectively and expeditiously in Canada as elsewhere. A committee was formed for the purpose. Manufacturers were called together and asked to undertake the work. Little by little the industries in the country understood that the manufacture of shells could be undertaken in Canada. Confidence in our ability for the purpose was established, and to-day Canada is capable of producing more than a million shells per month. The present production would undoubtedly be greater if larger orders had been placed at an earlier date, but the Shell Committee had power only to give orders within the limits prescribed by the British Government. The war's requirements will probably call for increased production in Canada, and the manufacture of field guns is under consideration. All such matters are now controlled by the recently established Ministry of Munitions of Great Britain, whose representatives are in Canada for the purpose of utilizing still further our resources.

During the past twelve months Canada's capacity to produce supplies and articles of almost every character that can be required for war purposes has been repeatedly urged upon the attention of the British and Allied Governments, both by cable and by personal interview during my recent visit, when I conferred, on several occasions, with the Director of Contracts of the War Office. I found him and other officials whom I met disposed to give every possible consideration to the productive capacity of Canada. Occasionally we have thought that, owing to lack of knowledge on the part of British departments, Canadians have not had sufficient opportunity to undertake orders placed elsewhere. Considering, however, the enormous industrial resources of the United States as compared with those of Canada, I was gratified to learn that while the orders placed by the War Office in the United States have been very large, amounting during the first eleven months of the war to one hundred million pounds, those placed in Canada have reached a total of nearly forty-eight million pounds during the same period. Having regard to all considerations that must be taken into account—the necessity of ensuring prompt filling of orders on an enormous scale, the very extensive facilities available in the United States for such purposes, the overpowering urgency which confronted those who were responsible, the vital necessity of the earliest possible delivery of supplies on which men's lives depended—you will agree that the comparison of these figures affords no reason for concluding that the resources of this Dominion were overlooked by the British Government.

New industries such as the production of toluol and other articles necessary in the manufacture of munitions have been commenced and are now well-established. Other new industries are in contemplation and the lessons thus learned have given to the Canadian producers and manufacturers a renewed and wider confidence in their ability to compete with the world.

The magnificent crops with which Canada has been blessed during the present year have necessarily brought the attention of the Government to the needs of transportation, which has been so seriously interfered with for war purposes. More than fifteen hundred steamships have been requisitioned by the British Government alone, and the governments of other nations have been obliged to pursue the same course with respect to their merchant marine. The lines plying on the North Atlantic between Canada and Europe were largely drawn upon, as they possessed steamships which were specially suited for the war needs of the British Government; and thus a marked shortage of ocean transport began to develop during the early winter.

In February last the Government sent to Great Britain a representative who possessed great experience in ocean transportation and through his efforts and those of Sir George Perley, eighteen of the best steamships available among those which had been requisitioned by the Admiralty were set apart and assigned to service between Canada and Great Britain for the transportation of supplies and munitions of war purchased by the British and Allied Governments in Canada. Up to the present time these steamships have transported no less than 409,548 tons of freight; and under recent arrangements made with the Admiralty the number of steamships engaged in this service has been largely increased. Further, we have had under urgent consideration the necessity of increasing the means of ocean transportation for general purposes. This is equally important to Great Britain and to Canada; to Great Britain because of the food supplies which she must receive from this country and in order that her manufacturers may have access to Canadian markets; to Canada in order that trade with the Mother Country may be maintained and that the crops which have been harvested may find a portion of their market in Great Britain and other European countries. During my recent visit to Great Britain the subject was fully discussed not only with the Admiralty, but with several of the British Ministers, all of whom realized its importance to both countries. Arrangements were then made that the Admiralty should release, so far as the paramount exigencies of the war would permit, every available vessel that could be used for this service. The matter was also taken up with the steamship lines whose ships had been requisitioned by the Admiralty and urgent representations made as to the chartering by them of steamships wherever they could be obtained. A considerable number of ships have already been released and during the past week assurances have been received from the Admiralty which promise fuller provision by them than at one time was anticipated. Other measures of a character not hitherto undertaken in Canada have engaged the attention of the Government and if the needs of the traffic appear to necessitate the proposed steps, we shall not fail to take them.

My visit to Great Britain and to France was crowded with most impressive incidents which are indelibly fixed in my memory. The ruins of towns through which invading armies had swept, the valley of the dead upon which the hills about Ypres look down, the lines where our gallant Canadians held a Bavarian division at bay when I saw them in July, the graves of our glorious dead, the men in hospital whose physical weakness and suffering has not daunted their spirit, the division at Shorncliffe straining at the leash in their eagerness to reach the fighting line, the fine appreciation in Great Britain and in France of Canadian valour and determination—of all this I could tell you much if time permitted. When the book is closed and the story has been told, no more glorious incidents will have been recorded than those which distinguished our men at Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy.

In the midsummer of a year ago our Empire spared no endeavour that might promise peace. Those who compelled this war counted upon our desire to avoid it and believed that even in face of their reckless disregard of the most sacred obligations, we would never draw the sword. We drew it reluctantly, but now that it has been drawn, now that the just cause for which it was unsheathed has been consecrated anew by the sacrifice of the Empire's best blood, we will never sheathe it until that cause is triumphant. In this grim determination the whole Empire is united. Through the darkness and horror of this war we may hereafter discern the dawn of a fairer and truer civilization in which the silent conflict of armaments shall no longer have a place, in which the advancing ideals of civilization and democracy shall be renewed and strengthened, and through which our Empire inspired by a more perfect understanding and unity shall exercise a benign influence and attain to a greater and nobler future.


Looking over a volume containing records and proceedings of your Society my eye chanced to fall upon the qualifications necessary to membership. It is required that an applicant shall have attained the age of eighteen years, that he shall be a native or descendant of a native of New England, and that he shall be of good moral character.

I am thoroughly well grounded as to my claims under the first heading. With regard to the third others must be my judge. As for the second qualification, I have seldom been in England in recent years without visiting a little village within the verge of the weald of Kent where for many generations lived those whose name I bear. We left England in 1638 and for a century and a quarter we made our home in New England. For more than a century and a half we have lived in Canada. In all three countries there still dwell those of our name and kin. Chiefly of New England ancestry were those who colonized western Nova Scotia; and the influence of that ancestry is still unmistakable. The colonists who settled down in the last half of the eighteenth century to the task of converting from a wilderness to a garden the beautiful and fertile Annapolis Valley brought with them not only the New England spirit, the New England ideal and the New England conscience, but also the New England knowledge, experience and instinct of self-government. Up to 1878 the system of local self-government in town meetings and through presentments of the grand jury was practically that which had been brought from New England a century before. The New England schoolmaster was manifest in the good education of those by whom the town records were written in the earlier years. As our country was thinly populated schools were almost impossible at first; and in examining the records of a century ago it is curious to note the change in diction, in caligraphy and in spelling which forty or fifty years had brought about. But notwithstanding lack of opportunity the tradition as to education was not forgotten. Schools were gradually established and improved. In some districts a notable schoolmaster exercised a profound influence which impressed itself upon the entire community for a generation. Eventually an excellent system of free schools came into being.

The associations first established by kinship and by a community of ideals were not lessened in later days. Between the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada and the New England States there has been during the past fifty years a very close relation. Our young men and young women came to find employment in New England factories. Thousands of Nova Scotia fishermen sailed out of Gloucester. Many of our boys were educated at Harvard or at Yale, and on the other hand our own seats of learning have had students from the United States. New England tourists thronged our country during the summer months. During your Civil War many thousand Canadians fought under the Stars and Stripes in New England regiments.

The task of creating our confederation was surrounded with difficulties not unlike those which confronted the statesmen who united the thirteen colonies into an actual nation. Indeed the obstacles in our case were perhaps greater than in yours, because with us there were not only questions to which the framers of your Constitution found an answer, but also differences of race and of creed as well as very real divergence of ideals. The relation of the new confederation to the Empire also had to be taken into account. Courage, patience, resourcefulness, wide vision, unbounded confidence in the future of our country, firm faith in the destiny of our Empire, were essential. The men who were called to the task possessed in an eminent degree all these qualities. The last and one of the greatest of them, a native of my own province, passed away a few weeks ago in the person of Sir Charles Tupper. He lived to see the bounds of the Dominion extended on the west to the Pacific and on the north to the Pole. His belief in Canada's material resources was so great as to expose him thirty years ago to reproach and derision; but long before his death results had amply justified his most optimistic prophecy.

Let me give an illustration. In the three provinces of Canada lying between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains there is to-day a population of about one and three-quarter millions of whom little more than a million constitute the rural population. During the present year these three provinces produced about three hundred and fifty million bushels of wheat, nearly three hundred and fifty million bushels of oats and about fifty million bushels of other grains. It was an unusual harvest but one which indicates the possibilities of that remarkable country, only a small portion of which has yet been brought under cultivation. A yield of eighty bushels of wheat to the acre has been occasionally reported and fifty or even sixty bushels have not been unusual. One farmer whose wheat was partly destroyed by hail collected his percentage of insurance and concluded, after some doubt, that the crop was worth harvesting. It yielded forty bushels to the acre. Among those who have benefited by the bountiful harvest just garnered in these prairie provinces are many worthy citizens who came to us from your western States and whom we have warmly welcomed as an admirable element in the population to whom the development of our western heritage is entrusted.

But a nation lives not by bread alone; its permanence and its influence depend upon the character of its people and upon the institutions which they upbuild and maintain. For three quarters of a century Canada has been governed by ministers responsible to the elected representatives of the people. There has been a gradual assumption of absolute and full control over internal affairs and of growing control over matters of external concern, especially those which touch our relations with this kindred nation. Our system of cabinet government and parliamentary control has developed upon almost precisely the same lines as in the United Kingdom.

During the past quarter century the opening up of our western Provinces and the world-wide realization of their fertility and importance, the industrial growth of the eastern Provinces and the general development of Canada's varied resources brought about a remarkable increase of material prosperity in our Dominion.

To the Canadian people thus immersed in the pursuit of material development there came little more than a year ago a call and a test which searched and tried the spirit of the nation. Until then Canada had known little of the actualities of war for a century. The course which she should pursue was entirely within the judgment and disposition of her parliament and people. From the first there was not the slightest hesitation. Recalled hurriedly to Ottawa on the first day of August, 1914, I took the responsibility in the absence of my colleagues of sending to the British Government a message which expressed our most earnest hope that a peaceful solution of the existing international difficulties might be achieved and our strong desire to co-operate in every possible way for that purpose; but which conveyed also to that Government the firm assurance that if unhappily war should ensue the Canadian people would be united in a common resolve to put forth every effort and to make every sacrifice necessary to ensure the integrity and maintain the honour of our Empire.

The pledge thus given has been most fully redeemed by the Canadian people.

I do not propose to argue or affirm the justice of our cause. The great controlling facts have been firmly established and they are widely known. Upon these facts the people of the neutral nations must found their own conclusions. The Canadian people are impressed with the most earnest and intense conviction that our cause is just and that it will prevail. Undoubtedly it concerns the power, influence and destiny of our Empire. But we are convinced beyond all question that the conflict is of vastly wider significance and that its determination must exercise a profound influence upon the world's future. Mankind have never been so grievously oppressed by the "peine forte et dure" of militarism and armaments as during the past half century. This is not an inspiring record after all the aspiration, the effort and the sacrifice of a thousand years. All the lives sacrificed and all the treasure expended in this struggle will have been in vain if humanity must still endure so intolerable a restraint added to the staggering burden which the conflict will itself entail upon all the warring nations. Such, however, would be the result of an inconclusive peace. The people of the British Dominions are animated by a stern resolve that there shall be no such outcome. It is for the future peace of the world that we fight to the end. The chief insignia of a civilized nation are orderly government and respect for the law. A world-civilization which cannot establish and maintain an equally high international standard will assuredly crumble. If it founds itself upon the jungle creed, to the jungle it will return.

A Canadian medical officer who was taken prisoner by the Germans told me that one of the first questions asked by his captors was this: "What did the English say to induce Canadians to fight for them?" I have heard the same idea in the British Islands when gratitude was expressed to Canada for assistance to Great Britain in this war. This is by no means the viewpoint of Canadians. We take part in this struggle because the destiny of the world-wide British Commonwealth is our destiny, because as one of its great nations we are determined to preserve its power and its influence, and because we conceive that, as one of those nations, there is for us the highest opportunity to advance the cause of humanity and civilization, to do our part worthily in the world's work.

The student of government finds in the organization of the British Empire an astonishing confusion of varied systems. To govern such an Empire at all is as great an undertaking as history has ever known. In administering the affairs of your great Republic vast and complex problems continually make themselves manifest. May I ask a moment's consideration of those involved in the governance of the British Dominions. A territory more than three times greater than that of the United States, scattered over all the continents and through all the oceans; a total population four times greater than yours; a white population little more than one half your own, of which three-fourths reside within the relatively inconsiderable area of the British Islands; an almost infinite variety and divergence of race and creed; discordant ideals and social conditions; conflicting economic interests; four self-governing nations, one in the northern and three in the southern hemisphere, all rapidly developing in power and influence; a great dependency with a population of three hundred millions embracing a dozen races with bewildering differences of creed, caste, tradition, custom and language; protectorates imposing responsibility for the development of great territories and the protection and welfare of large populations; a score of fiscal systems under which each unit of the Empire levies customs duties against the remainder; the safeguarding of territories which in some part of the world touch those of every other great power; the securing of the ocean pathways without which necessary inter-communication could not be assured; the necessity of considering all these heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting interests and conditions in determining questions touching foreign relations; a varied and seemingly confused medley of statutes, charters, orders in council, conventions, traditions and understandings for the governance of all these widespread possessions—consider this very imperfect summary of the conditions and problems which confront those called upon to administer the affairs of our vast Commonwealth. A hasty judgment would determine that any structure so apparently unstable must crumble at the first great shock.

It shall be to the honour of the British race as long as this war is remembered that the principle upon which is founded the governance of our Empire bound together all its far-flung Dominions and all its people of varied and divergent race, language, creed and ideal, by ties which proved even stronger in war than in peace. It is founded upon the principle of liberty and upon the theory and practice of autonomous government applied wherever conditions permit and to the most generous extent that experience can possibly sanction. For this supreme reason the Empire is strong in the day of trial.

The outbreak of war found Great Britain utterly unprepared for military operations upon the tremendous scale which has been found necessary. Communication between our scattered possessions is essential to their unity and continued national existence. Thus the fighting power of the Empire is concentrated almost wholly in the Navy, established with no aggressive intention and maintained solely for self-protection and self-preservation. Attempted aggression under such conditions was utterly inconceivable, for our military power was relatively insignificant. Apart from every other consideration the absolute lack of adequate military preparation for this war speaks for itself and unanswerably proclaims that the Dominions which owe allegiance to the British Crown followed the paths of peace and earnestly desired to avoid war.

Such indeed was the ideal of the Canadian nation; but in common with all the Empire the spirit of our people when tested proved worthy of their highest traditions. Within six weeks after the outbreak of war a force of nearly thirty-five thousand men was assembled, thoroughly armed, equipped and organized in every branch of military service. Its journey across the Atlantic in a great armada of steamships began on the 2nd October, 1914. Nearly one hundred thousand Canadian soldiers have since gone overseas; and during the past ten months they have poured across the ocean at the rate of more than two thousand per week. Our authorized force is now two hundred and fifty thousand and more than two hundred thousand are already under arms. Has our national spirit been adequately responsive to the nation's needs? For courage and devotion I point to the Canadians at Ypres, at Festubert, at Givenchy. For self-sacrifice, I see the women yielding their dearest at the country's call and consecrating their lives to all missions of mercy. For the bountiful generosity of our people I need but mention six millions for the Patriotic Fund, two millions for the British Red Cross Society, three and a half millions for our own Red Cross and kindred societies, more than two millions for the starving and destitute in Belgium, at least three millions in other patriotic contributions from Provinces and individuals, five millions in food products and other supplies useful for war purposes placed by the Dominion and the Provinces at the disposal of the British Government. Men of great financial experience believed that subscriptions by the public at large to the recent war loan of fifty millions would probably reach ten millions and could not exceed fifteen. The public added seventy millions to the fifteen and the total subscriptions ran close to one hundred and ten millions.

I have spoken of all these things in order that you may truly comprehend what our course has been in this war and that you may perhaps believe that Canada has made her loyalty a living principle in a finer way than ever before. And our Empire seems to us something greater than it was a year ago; when mighty armies from the Dominions and Dependencies arrayed themselves in its battle-line, a new and impressive epoch in its history was marked. These pregnant events have already given birth to a new order. It is realized that the great policies and questions which concern and govern the issues of peace and war cannot in future be decided by the people of the British Islands alone.

Realizing to the full the tragedy of this war we in Canada pray that "the whirring loom of time" may weave the mighty events of the next twelve months into an abiding peace. But there is with us the most intense conviction that the cause for which we fight does truly concern the freedom of the world and that there can be no enduring peace until it fully prevails. Interwoven with this conviction is an equally intense and unalterable determination to spare no effort and shrink from no sacrifice necessary to make so great a cause triumphant. Finally we have faith that this war heralds not the "dies irae" but the regeneration of our civilization, founded as it is upon so many centuries of aspiration, endeavour and sacrifice; faith also that humanity's struggle against the enthronement of force above right will not be in vain.


I am grateful to the Pilgrims of New York for their reception and for many invitations in the past to be their guest, which hitherto I have been unable to accept.

A political leader in a country of vast area and scattered population must inevitably be somewhat of a pilgrim himself, and so I may claim to be your comrade. Moreover, the task of one occupying such a position embraces every possible and useful effort to create a clearer comprehension and a better understanding between communities separated by divergence of race, creed or ideal, and sometimes by real or apparent conflict of interest. Your own endeavour has the same inspiring purpose of truer insight and perfect understanding between our kindred nations. For all that you have done in this regard, for all that you may yet accomplish, the grateful thanks of both are due.

From ocean to ocean across this continent runs a boundary line of nearly four thousand miles entirely unguarded on either side. Upon the Great Lakes for more than a century the armed forces of each country have been reduced to a point which forbids the thought of aggression. The agreement which accomplished so great a result was made between Great Britain and the United States fifty years before the Canadian federation came into being. It is embodied in a few letters exchanged between their diplomatic representatives and it can be terminated upon six months' notice. But for a hundred years it has held good and I believe it will always hold good. Does it not mark an impressive epoch in the relations of the two countries?

During the past half century or more those relations have on the whole been intimate and friendly; during the past twenty-five years they have steadily improved and I believe they were never more firmly founded on true understanding and sincere good will than at present. At times situations have arisen which proved difficult and delicate if not dangerous; they demanded forebearance, restraint and the most attentive consideration of the other's view point. All honour to the statesmen who so guided the affairs of either country as to prevent the awful calamity of war between two kindred people. Consider for a moment the course which has been taken. From 1870 up to the present time on how many occasions have differences important and sometimes acute been composed by resort to the peaceful arbitriment of an international tribunal. At Geneva in 1872, at Halifax in 1877, at Paris in 1893, again at Paris in 1899, at London in 1903 and at The Hague in 1910; on each occasion judgment was given by a great international court to whom each country had submitted for consideration and determination the claims which it put forward and the national interests therein involved. In some cases the decision was in your favour, in other cases it was for us, and in certain instances there was partial success for each; but on every occasion each country by the example which it gave to the world and by the influence of that example gained for itself a more conspicuous victory in the light of history, as it must yet be written, than if resort had been had to the arbitrament of the sword and the most signal success had attended its warlike operations. I beg you to consider what might have been spared to humanity during the past sixteen months and in many months yet to come if such examples had been followed; and I ask what stronger or more earnest effort could Sir Edward Grey have made for that purpose.

May I recall to you the provisions of a Treaty made in 1910, by which an International Joint Commission was established for the determination of all disputes between Canada and the United States in respect of the use of boundary waters. The Tenth Article, moreover, contemplates a reference to the Commission, by consent of the two nations, of differences of any kind arising between them; and it is thus of the most comprehensive character. The Treaty is to continue for five years from its inception and thereafter until either party gives a year's notice of denunciation. I most sincerely trust that the spirit which has preserved the Convention of 1814 will make permanent the Treaty of 1910. My observation of the proceedings of that Commission and my knowledge of what it has accomplished lead me to believe that it has been of inestimable value to the good relations between the two countries and that matters which might have occupied many months of tedious and unsatisfactory diplomatic correspondence have been dealt with promptly, efficiently and with satisfaction to your citizens as well as to our own. The Commission has undertaken and carried on its work in a thoroughly judicial spirit, worthy of the high purpose for which it was created. Its work has not attracted the notice or been attended with the appreciation which would have ensued if the same results had been accomplished by the usual diplomatic methods. For that reason I feel it not only a privilege but a duty to express my own belief in the great advantage which has resulted therefrom to both countries.

One who has seen the manhood of a young nation spring to arms at the call of duty and has been inspired by its wonderful outburst of patriotism and its spirit of self-sacrifice; one who has had the privilege of addressing the flower of his country's youth within sound and range of the enemy's guns as well as in hospitals and convalescent homes beyond the seas, and has stood by the graves of those who fell in France and in Belgium; one who has looked forth upon the valley at the foot of the hills that sweep around Ypres, and has realized that more than one hundred thousand men had there found their graves within ten months—such a person must surely realize the tragedy of this war and the awful responsibility of those who forced it upon the world.

The outbreak of hostilities found us utterly unprepared with military forces adequate for the vast operations which were immediately found necessary. Never perhaps, not even in the stress which came upon this Republic more than half a century ago has the capacity of democracy been so thoroughly and searchingly tested. We were called upon to meet the assault of the greatest military power ever known to the world, a highly efficient, thoroughly organized and determined people, trained to arms, magnificently equipped, provided with every military necessity and so industrially organized that the whole force of the nation could be thrown behind the blow it struck. Armies cannot be organized and trained nor munitions provided in a day. The task has been difficult; but the effort has been great. It would not have been undertaken nor could it be accomplished except for the most intense conviction of a righteous cause and the firmest determination to make it prevail.

Without pausing to speak of the mighty influence which this war must exercise upon the world's future I may be permitted to express my conception of what it will accomplish for the closer unity of our Empire. Never before have the Mother Country and the various Dominions and Dependencies been so closely united in ideal, inspiration and effort as in this conflict. In hospitals and convalescent homes beyond the seas I have many times met men from the British Islands, from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, brought together in close association and comradeship, each learning the better to realize his Empire, and all united in a common determination to do their duty in this war to the end. One can hardly exaggerate the immense advantage of such association and blending of the Empire's manhood.

All war is tragedy and this war the greatest tragedy the world has ever known. We all pray for the day when

"The roaring of war shall cease upon the air,
"Falling of tears and all the voices of sorrow;

but it is vain to cry Peace, Peace, when there is no peace. The ideals involved in this conflict are wholly irreconcileable and until one of them finally prevails no peace can be enduring. However hard the struggle may be and whatever sacrifices it may entail, the Canadian people will not shrink from the test. They are a peace loving and not a militarist people, but their conception of the cause for which they are fighting is such as to animate them with the sternest resolve to make it triumphant.

[The end of Canada at War by Sir Robert Laird Borden]