Date: 1920

Origin: CNE Annual Report, 1920 (CNE Archives)

Excerpt from:

    Opening Ceremonies Address


Sir Auckland Geddes

1920 CNE

Ladies and Gentlemen:

To us who are citizens of the British Empire, some of those fellows can at every moment watch the sun climb from behind the shoulder of the whirling world, the past years strife inevitably brought hours of anxiety and days of danger. Not yet, and not for a long time, will the spirit of peace be re-established in the hearts of men. We cannot hope to remain in splendid isolation. We cannot insulate ourselves from the thought currents of humanity. Whether we will it or no, whether we like it or no, we must be prepared to meet every jar and to endure every shock and every blow which angry men, disappointed men, mad men can deliver to the framework of society. That there will be jars and shocks and blows is as certain as it is that winter will follow summer, and spring winter. To meet them, to endure them without flinching is an affair of the spirit made strong by faith in some great ideal – the ideal of ordered freedom. But to meet and endure them without failure requires not only spiritual fortitude but material preparation.

The Aftermath of War

Four years of bloody war made heavy inroads on the accumulated wealth and seriously impaired the prosperity of the Empire. It will take all our efforts to ease and comfort and the times of quiet leisure for holidays, for art, for study, for research and for invention that were ours before the war. To you, whose proud privilege it is to be Canadians, is granted the great opportunity of helping in that restoration to an extent and in measure that is not granted to any others of our fellow citizens.

Work and Prosper

I know your spirit for I have lived among you. I never forget that, by deliberate wish and choice, I was one of you. I know your great county and it’s wonderful natural richness, for, in the days before the war, wi5h pride I called it mine, but now that I am the servant of the whole Empire, the servant of India, Australia, New Zealand, South Isles, I can see you as the great part of a great whole and realize how much for us all depends on your efforts and upon your success. “Work and Prosper” is a motto of no limited application. It is the motto which must be made to ring in the ears of all the British peoples, but though it rang in the ears of England and the Dominions beyond the Seas, if it did not ring in Canada, it would ring in vain. By chance, by fate, by luck, in the good providence of God, you have, at this speaking, vast rich lands waiting for the ploughing, railways made and laid through the great northwest that can serve the population that will come, that is even now coming.  In all sobriety of thought and in greatest clarity of vision at my command, I see you Canada, with your vast natural, unwanted wealth, as this sheet anchor now of the Empire we love. Within a century (and what is a century in the history of the English-speaking peoples?) you will be numbering your population not by millions but by tens, perhaps by hundreds, of millions. With confidence made absolute by knowledge of you and yours, I look forward to the future of your land, which when my service to the Empire is finished, will, I hope, again be mine. Work and Prosper, yes, but working for yourselves under the protection of democratic laws, remember that the work cannot ever be for yourselves alone and your prosperity preserved like treasure in a napkin. Work for Canada that Canada may prosper mightily and, working for Canada, remember that you are working for that still greater thing, the British Family of Nations, whose existence, in unseen ways, in a manner that only the archives of the Chanceries of the world capitals could reveal, serves, watches and protects your interests.

Relationship with America

And remember, too, that outside the family of nations to which we belong is a great and powerful nation that has drawn its fundamental ideas and laws as milk from the breasts of the same old mother that nursed us in our infancy. England, mother of freedom, is now but the greatest of the sister dominions in the British Empire, but England and Britain were when Canada was not and it was in England that a vague theory of democratic government was made into a possible national practice. America, with all her power, owes much to England, but let us not forget that we all owe much to America. Her interests and ours are interwoven through a million ties. It is vital for her, I believe, for us I know, for the whole world I feel sure, that she and we should work together in friendship based on mutual respect and understanding. You, Canada, are her nearest neighbour. An invisible line, unfortified, unguarded, separates you and her along thousands of miles of frontier. You have the great opportunity of interpreting us to her and her to us. You and she are too near neigbours not powerfully to affect one another. Your life and her life cannot fail to act and re-act each on the other and, as you grow more powerful and prosperous, that action and re-action must increase in intensity.

Moving Forward

I have no fear for your future. During the war, with deepening pride, I watched and heard of the doings of your fighting men. The nations, whose sons were such bonnie fighters, the men who did the doughty deeds the story of whose doing stands to imperishable glory of the Canadian Corps, is not and are not of the sort that is going to fail. You are winning back fast to to prosperity. This great Exhibition shows that the springs of sudden confidence and energy have not run dry in Canada. What have you to fear? Your land and its resources we know. Your climate and its vitalizing properties are the joy of all who have experienced it. The rest is in your own hands. You have great opportunity to serve yourselves, to serve Canada, The Empire, Humanity. Take it, and may God go with you. But remember that material prosperity alone can never make a nation great. Greatness is no in outward things. No marble palace as habitation is required to make a man great. His greatness resides in the inward recesses of his being and in his soul made strong by struggle and schooled to humility by disappointment, perhaps by pain and suffering. Remember the children that must be educated to understand the nobility of work and not permitted to believe that luxury bought by wealth for which their fathers laboured in theirs by some divine dispensation. It is easier to be great in the midst of hardship than in the midst of wealth and so I would amend slightly the motto of your Exhibition and say: “Work that you may prosper spiritually and grow great”, for I know that if you do so, material prosperity will be yours also and your cup with overflow.