Alumni Orator: Orchard, Chauncey D.
Read the Alumni Oration
Oration: "The Alumni Oration: New Wood - New Forest New Challenge, by Chauncey D. Orchard" University of New Brunswick, Reunion-Encaenia, May 11-16, 1947 (May 1947): 29-39. (UA Case 67a, Box 2)Graduation Address Delivered By: Beaverbrook, Lord
Seeking a theme that would seem to justify this return from across a continent to impose myself on you for half an hour. I found a keynote in a comment of the eminent late Mr. Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court of the United States:
"A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged: it is the skin of a living thought and may vary in colour and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used."
For the past forty years in Canada, the word "forestry" pre-eminently has been the "skin of a living thought". It has cloaked three revolutionary developments:
A complete and world-wide change in the importance of wood in human economy—a new wood.
A rapidly changing concept of the role of forests and forestry—a new forest.
An outstanding challenge to the young people and the educational institutions of the country—a new challenge.
"The New Wood"
Primitive man, his world and his development, offer a fascinating field for study and speculation. One may well wonder how he ever managed to survive at all. Too slow to run away from his fleeter enemies, too puny to match their strength, too big to hide under a stone, too small to inspire any fear, he might well have perished in his first immature stages as thousands of other nascent species of animals must have done, and many as fully developed and apparently better equipped we know did.
Anthropologists tell us that one important factor in his survival was the odd, and apparently trivial, ability man developed to oppose his thumb to the rest of his hand, thereby acquiring a firm grip—and the two things he first gripped certainly must have been a stone and a wooden stick.
Almost certainly wood was the first material that prehistoric man adapted to his use as a tool, a weapon, or a convenience. It was his first fuel. It first introduced to mankind the principles of mechanics. We may reasonably suppose that his first use of wood was in the form of a stick, and it is hard to imagine that with a stick in his hand that stick was not almost at once a lever; or that, having discovered the lever and the interesting and important fact that with it he could move weights far beyond the limits of his natural strength, the round stick did not almost at once become a roller. It is equally hard to imagine that the wheel was conceived from any other source than the roller.
Mechanics has added very little to the fundamental lever, roller, and wheel known to prehistoric man through the accident of round wood—accident, because there seems to be no reason why nature should not have developed a square tree trunk which would have halted our development in mechanics in the lever stage for untold centuries. We owe, then, to a few freaks of evolution and to round wood the very survival of man and the inspiration for, and the physical development of, his mechanical genius, but insofar as anything basically new was concerned that genius seems to have suffered a complete eclipse for a long period of centuries. Perhaps we should say, rather, that, having discovered and used the initial fundamental principles handed to him by nature in a round stick did not almost at once become a roller. It is equally hard to imagine to nature's gift for a long period of centuries.
Mankind progressed from wood to stone, to metals, added metal to metal, and discovered the secret of alloys, but wood remained just wood, always increasingly useful, but always just wood.
Long before the dawn of history, we had attained a high degree of skill in its use. King "Tut" (1350 B.C.) had beautiful furniture of wood, decorated with ivory and metal work, that would do credit to master-craftsmen of today. His workmen made boards, timbers, and veneers, from which they fashioned their finished products.
Less than a hundred years ago, more than three thousand years after King "Tut's" workmen fashioned their boards, our wood-workers, and wood-users, had boards, timbers, and veneers, and the veneers were held in place by the same glue, the product of boiling horns and hoofs, that King "Tut's" craftsmen used.
Had not one, Alexander Buntin, built the first wood pulp plant in America at Valleyfield, Quebec, in 1867 (first wood pulp used for paper—1860), we could have moved our date of transition ahead another fifty or sixty years to well within the range of postgraduate days of the majority of this assembly.
Now witness the transition in the short space of our own experience to the "sew wood" of 1947.
Boards, timbers and veneers still are important items in our wood world, but we have today some boards and veneers that our Egyptian craftsmen hardly could have imagined. This bit of board has been given the unlovely name of "compreg"—45 laminated sheets of thin veneer adding up to 0.8 inches have been interleaved with a plastic resin and pressed into a stable waterproof, and more or less homogeneous mass of wood and resin, five-eighths the thickness of its component parts and approximately twice their density (S.G. 1.02), three to four times the normal strength of wood (tensile strength 37.000 lbs. to wood 8000/1800,) of the same dimensions and comparing favourably with wrought iron (37,000:-45.000), compressed and impregnated—hence "compreg".
And here is a sheet of "three-ply veneer," each sheet cut 5/1000 of an inch thick, defects cut out, edge glued, and finally assembled into a single sheet 15/1000 of an inch thick, with amazing qualities of flexibility and strength. This, incidentally, is the skin of the famous Spitfire and Mosquito fighter planes.
No Longer Just Wood
These examples could be multiplied a thousand times, but the marvels of the "new wood" range as well into an entirely different field. Wood, no longer, is just wood.
Alexander Buntin turned wood into paper in 1867 at the then amazing rate of two and one-half tons per day. Modern newsprint mills make a minimum of about two hundred tons of paper per day, and six hundred to eight hundred tons per day are made in some of the more than one hundred mills in Canada. Paper is one of the most familiar of wood's disguises.
At least one laboratory has succeeded in hydrogenating wood. The resulting substance is a heavy viscous mixture similar to crude oil, from which can be distilled countless fractions, including alcohols, glycols, glycerine, and phenols for making plastics. Under various treatments developed during very recent years, wood has graduated from the status of a very useful, but not very versatile, material handed to us in the "finished" form by nature, to the unaccustomed role of an airy, fairy, wonder substance that masquerades in any one of a thousand transmutations.
We have been familiar with "wooden" paper for about seventy-five years, and with "wooden" textiles for about twenty-five years. Now, "Imagine that you can drop a few tons of tree tops, branches, sawdust, slabs and other waste into a hopper of a great plant, and that then you can walk to the other end of the plant and turn a spigot marked 'lignogene' and get a high-octane fuel
for your car: another marked 'vitamins' and get a package of concentrated vitamins from wood yeast; another marked 'fridgolene' and get a fine anti-freeze agent; another marked 'aquavit' and get a potable drink: imagine this and you will be guilty of over-simplification and exaggeration, but you will not violate basic fact".
Dr. Fernow wrote: "It may be stated without tear of contradiction that outside of food products no material is so universally used and so indispensable in human economy as wood". A recent review says. "More than any other raw material wood disregards the boundaries separating substances from their functions".
We are told that Germany actually planned economic and industrial world domination on the basis of wood as a basic raw material, giving wood the descriptive name of "universalrohstoff". In this scheme the derivatives and uses of wood were listed on the basis of known facts and experience in the following order of importance:
Solid and liquid fuels.
Food and fodder.
Cellulose and textile fibre.
Basic materials for chemical industry
Wood has traveled far during the past twenty-five years, and certainly has not reached the end of its course.
It is axiomatic that man lives only by virtue of his natural resources. We have attained to a high degree of skill in fashioning, fabricating, and adapting nature’s gifts to our use and our peculiar needs. We can transform, but we have yet to create an ounce of food or of raw material. A country’s natural resources are the measure of its potential wealth. Its economic development and intellectual culture will determine the use it makes of that wealth; and the wisdom with which the natural resources are managed, used, and conserved, in turn, will determine in large measure the level of the material, intellectual, and cultural development of the country—a beneficent circle.
Here in Canada we have been abundantly blessed with a wealth of natural resources—rich soils, abundant minerals, fish, game, water power, invigorating climate and widespread forests of the most useful of the tree species of the world. They all contribute their share to our livelihood, and the loss or the serious depletion of any one of these resources would have an immediate effect on our scale of living, nation-wide. The loss or serious depletion of our farm or forest resource would be a major national disaster. Both are possibilities to be seriously considered and forestalled; and, without making any dogmatic assertions, it is not impossible that forests, to us here in Canada, may be the more important of the two, with their widespread bearing on such influences as water, erosion and climate, in addition to their own intrinsic value. Unquestionably, the forests have been the most despoiled and stand in the greater danger of nation-crippling depletion.
Time, circumstance, scientist and laboratory have created for us a "new wood" giving promise of a new level of wealth and culture. If we are to inherit that promise in all its attractive possibilities, we must create for ourselves a "new forest".
"The New Forest"
Pioneer peoples in a new land always have been prodigal in the use of their new-found wealth and opportunities.
Extravagant and improvident use of wood resources had so far depleted the formerly widespread forests of Palestine, Asia Minor, and Greece that by the eleventh century, B.C., wood was at a premium, and timber for important buildings had to be brought from long distances. Solomon, and his father, David, before him, had to send to Hiram, King of Tyre, for timbers from Mount Lebanon, algum, fir and cedar, which were brought "in floats by sea to Joppa", and carried thence overland to Jerusalem. But Alexander found these forests of Lebanon, the last forest reserve of the then civilized world, practically exhausted (333 B.C.). Italy, China, Central Europe, every "civilized" country, followed suit.
History brings before us the accumulated experience of the ages in proper perspective, enabling us to analyse cause and effect. From its lessons we should be able to understand the background of existing problems, and plan their rational solution. Forest history teaches that it has not been until imminent disaster has threatened that people have learned to treat their forests as a crop and manage them as such; and it has been only the few more progressive nations that have had the foresight to heed the warnings and profit by it. The result is that we Canadians have before us examples and for our guidance the whole story from abundant wood supply to depletion, and through depletion to rehabilitation on the one hand, or to complete exhaustion on the other.
An address of this description is a poor medium for imparting detailed statistics, and I have no intention of trying your patience with any such. I can assure you, however, that official reports and statisticians, foresters, and forest services tell us that:
More than one-third of the land area of Canada (1.290.960 square miles, or 37%) is forested, in comparison with less than one-sixth (16%) considered to be of present or potential value for agriculture.
Our average annual depletion, used and lost (3,150 million cubic feet), is just about 1% of our total stand of commercial species (311.201 million cubic feet ).
On the subject of increment, or the annual growth offsetting annual depletion, our authorities start to hedge, usually contenting themselves with pointing out that our forest lands should be capable of producing more than we are using, as undoubtedly they should, and that growth is not more than one half of what they could be made to grow under only reasonably good management, which, again, unquestionably is right. Whether they are producing as much as we are using, and when we are going to have them under reasonably good management, are questions still to be answered.
Pattern Of Pioneer People
In the meantime, for fifty to three hundred years past, depending on the region, we have followed, Canada-wide, the historic pattern of pioneer people.
When the white man first came to Canada he found such an overpowering abundance of mature timber that he in his day and with his limited markets and manufacturing facilities and his preoccupation with the essentials of food and shelter, understandably was quite unable to conceive of any shortage of timber. Yet it is amazing how quickly the warning conditions developed. We are told that local industry suffered from exhaustion of accessible timber and fuel supplies before our people began to move west; but roads pushed farther afield, railways, canals, and streams improved for driving, brought relief from hitherto inaccessible regions. Always there was more timber beyond, and temporary embarrassments were soon forgotten. An approved pattern of "progress" and expansion developed in Ontario and held sway for decades. First, the surveyor was sent ahead of the outposts to establish the boundaries of new townships. Next, the logger was encouraged to remove the best of the timber as rapidly as possible. Finally, came the settler, who, without reference to the quality of the soil, was to turn "stump" land into a Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, forest land is not necessarily, indeed, seldom is, arable land. The settler eked out an existence at subsistence level for some years and then, broken and disillusioned, abandoned the attempt.
Quebec has borrowed Ontario's "1847" pattern for its "1947" settlement program.
The Maritime Provinces do not appear to have made any concentrated effort to colonize non-arable forest lands, but otherwise do not appear to have been able to see farther ahead in their forest problems, or to better insure their perpetuation, than the rest of the nation.
The rugged terrain of the Pacific Coast never did engender any rosy dreams of agricultural pre-eminence, but its vast expanse of forest did foster the equally disastrous and false impression of an "inexhaustible resource".
Only an isolated few have looked very far into the future and sounded any note of warning.
Sir John A. MacDonald, looking daily down on the Ottawa River, wrote in June 1871 to the premier of Ontario:
"The sight of the immense masses of timber passing my windows every morning constantly suggests to my mind the absolute necessity there is for looking at the future of this great trade. We are recklessly destroying the timber of Canada and there is scarcely the possibility of replacing it. The quantity of timber reaching Quebec is annually decreasing and the fires in the woods are periodically destroying millions in money. What is to become of the Ottawa region generally, after the timber is cut away, one cannot foresee. It occurs to me that the subject should be looked in the face and some efforts made for the preservation of our timber. The Dominion government having no lands has no direct interest in the subject, but it seems to me that it would be a very good thing for the two governments of Ontario and Quebec to issue a joint commission to examine the whole subject and to report:
As to the best means of cutting the timber after some regulated plan, as in Norway and the Baltic;
As to replanting so as to keep up the supply as in Germany and Norway; and
As to the best way of protecting the woods from fire.
Rise of Two Forest Schools
Sir Wilfred Laurier convened a historic forest conference at Ottawa in 1906, which had much to do with the awakening of an interest in Canada's forests and forest problems and the establishing of our first two Canadian Schools of Forestry at Toronto in 1907 and at U.N.B. in 1908.
Some theoretically excellent forest laws have been passed in some provinces but by and large the forests have been left to the not too tender mercies of private enterprise in the woods. We have suffered from an almost complete lack of an accurate knowledge of the extent of the resource, an accurate inventory, and from a lack of reliable data on growth rates. We have suffered from a lack of trained men to gather the essential data, analyse it, and to educate the public. We have suffered from the very abundance of our wood supply that always provided more a little further on while the most valuable and accessible forest lands close to centres of population were wastefully logged, burned, reburned, and permitted to develop into barren waste. Sir John A. MacDonald, looking down on the Ottawa River from his office window in 1871, was watering the "square timber" trade at its peak. To Sir John the timber trade mean: "square timber" of white pine. He accurately assessed the portent of his "annually decreasing" deliveries to the ships at Quebec, and we, too, seventy-five years later, know "there is scarcely the possibility of replacing it". But other frontiers, especially in British Columbia, other methods, and other uses postponed the reckoning which we now approach, and certainly will not be able to sidestep, as sawmills, railways, a Panama Canal, and Douglas fir enabled us to side-step exhaustion of the white pine.
We have taken a hasty glance back over the trend of forest history, but it is not our purpose here tonight to make excuses, or to shoulder blame onto our grandfathers. Rather, we seek to recognize a position and shape some future policy. Our grandfathers had their own problems and they met them in the tradition of English-speaking people in their own way. If by chance they made mistakes and left us somewhat less well provided for than they might that is a poor excuse for us to abandon our surest and most valuable source of wealth, or unwittingly, and dimwittedly, to let it slip through our fingers. The old forest of magnificent white pine is gone; spruce is reduced to fence rail proportions; and the majestic centuries old Douglas fir of the Pacific Coast is on its way out.
Canada never can be completely denuded of forest growth of some value. Our resources in forest lands are so great that nature will grow some timber in spite of the worst we can do. But nature's best in active competition with man's worst will be a poor and poverty-stricken substitute for what we might enjoy.
The simple fact is that so-called "forestry" in Canada to date has consisted of little more than the liquidation, usually wasteful liquidation, of a gift crop handed to us by nature. Logging is not forestry. Forestry is the growing of successive crops of wood in the greatest quantity and the highest quality that your land is capable of producing; and I do not know of any forest on any acre in Canada, with the possible exception of a few acres in Government and University experimental forests, that are being so managed. The history of our forest lands is written plainly in the woods for any who care to read, a history of steady deterioration in quality and quantity of wood produced; and the history is the same Canada-wide. Here in New Brunswick and the east, axe, ox team, and sailing ships of the early days slowed the process down to stretch it out over two hundred years. On the Pacific Coast, our power saws, logging railways, diesel trucks, and modern freighters, merely telescoped the process into a short fifty years. The end results have been much the same—denuded lands, deteriorated stands, and poor prospects for a second crop and established industries and communities.
The old forest, the gift of nature from which Canadians have drawn about twenty-five per cent, of their livelihood, is going, or gone. The "New Forest" will be no gift. It will be grown, cultivated, managed, and protected to maturity by us if we are to have forests worth the name at all.
Therein is the new challenge—a challenge as old as the forest problem, dating in Canada at least from Sir John A. MacDonald's concern for his white pine timbers, but ever new until it is faced and adequately disposed of.
"The New Challenge"
We have said that the forests rank high amongst our natural resources. They are not presently the greatest, but in a country approximating ninety per cent, forest land and so situated as to be admirably adapted to the growing of wood, they can be made the greatest without in any way detracting from the value of the others. The gross gain in forest values is net gain in national wealth. Nothing is detracted from anything else. They now account for a sufficiently great part of our living to be disastrous in their loss—and their progressive loss is more than a mere threat. Their influences impinge on every aspect of our life.
Foresters and conservationists have reiterated so often the forest's complementary functions in such matters as regulation of stream flow, control of floods and erosion, production of fur and game, and aesthetic values, that one feels that these influences, intangible as they are, have lost their impact on the well-informed audience. These values are there, they go with the forest and will be lost when we lose the forest, and, intangible as they are, their worth to the nation probably exceeds the value of all direct forest employment and income.
But forests reach still deeper down into our national and economic life. To choose a single significant example, we need more population in Canada. Vancouver Island (12.408 square miles) is approximately the size of Switzerland (1.944 square miles). Vancouver Island is richer than Switzerland in natural resources, enjoys one of the finest climates in the world, and has unequalled appeal to the tourist. The Island supports a population of 177,000, compared to Switzerland's 4.066,400 (1 to 23). This is a condition that is nothing short of dangerous in the present stare of world affairs and it is common Canada-wide. Vancouver Island's forests, put on a sustained yield managed basis, and supplemented with the processing industries they would support, would insure the future prosperity of its present population, and go far toward solving the labor and employment problem for the additional one or two million souls it should be called upon to support.
All this adds up to a challenge of first magnitude for the younger generation of Canadians. Budding young undergraduate foresters may have failed to find any great spiritual uplift in cruise lines that always run uphill, ring-infested stumps that defy counting, back-packing, mosquitoes, black flies, or in bough beds that never prove to be as soft or as aromatic as the poet would have us believe; but if they are to be foresters worth their salt they will in time find something in today's challenge to fire the imagination, to give incentive for great work, and to compensate in large measure for some of the dollars they need scarcely hope to amass in their chosen profession. On their shoulders, and on the Universities, in this forest-dependent country, will rest, in at least equal measure with agriculture and industry, the responsibility for feeding the Canadian people; and, in greater measure, the responsibility for Canada's cultural level and scale of living.
We older, early graduates of our first forest schools, newcomers in an infant profession, had little chance to practice forestry. When I went first to British Columbia we still thought there that we had somewhere in the neighborhood of a two-hundred-year supply of virgin timber; and less than twenty years ago in that province I listened to one of our most prominent foresters ridicule the idea of sustained yield management before a meeting of the Canadian Society of Forest Engineers. Under the prevailing public sentiment and laws of the land, Canada-wide, our job, perforce, was to assist in the progressive liquidation of the existing asset. If in spite of that we managed to wedge in enough surveys, research, investigation, and education along rational forestry lines finally to break the ice of public indifference, as in most regions we have with the encouragement and connivance of a certain few farsighted legislators and the press, then we have accomplished about as much as reasonably could have been expected of us. But forest management is a very long-term undertaking and any drawing back, more particularly in the critical stages of early development, is likely to ruin all progress made to date.
It is significant that the press, our legislators, and people generally, have stopped referring to our "inexhaustible resources".
Even though the Dominion Government still fails to protect its own indirect but enormous income from forest resources by assisting the provinces in such matters as forest protection, responsible Ministers of the Crown have admitted the responsibility. In December, 1945, the Minister of Mines and Resources issued a statement which included this comment: "The nation cannot afford to see forests, as a source of raw materials, dissipated. It is believed that the Dominion could properly assist the orderly development of the national forest resources in two directions, first, by expanding activities for which it would be fully responsible, and second, by assisting through provision of funds to raise provincial standards in respect of the conservation, protection and development of the provincial forest resources."
British Columbia, by Royal Commission, has recently (January,1946), completed a second exhaustive study of the forest situation in that province and has within the past few weeks passed some of the most constructive and far-reaching sustained yield measures yet enacted in Canada.
Ontario and Saskatchewan have recently completed similar investigations.
The time is ripe, and the prospects were never brighter, for a concentrated effort on the part of the Canadian people to turn over a new leaf in forest management; to lift the forest resource out of the sink hole of liquidation and put it on the solid foundation of rational management. It will be a long process, stretching over the next hundred years, calling for unremitting vigilance, effort and leadership. Those responsibilities fall now, at a most critical period, on the forest schools and on the men now entering the forest profession.
Since the first classes were graduated about 1910 by the newly-established Forest Schools at Toronto and U.N.B, we have trained, as nearly as I have been able to learn, about nine hundred foresters, or an average of about twenty-five per year. During this University year now closing there were about one thousand students in the four forestry schools, and the prospects appear to be that this number will be increased by twenty-five per cent, in 1948. I detect some uneasiness as to whether Canada can absorb any such numbers of trained foresters.
In the light of the problems we have to solve that fear is ridiculous. The number is inadequate.
In the light of the values and profits involved, any such fear is short-sighted and clearly brands a timid and wavering approach to the development of our most valuable asset and business prospect.
Will Need Them
From the immediate, personal, but highly practical, standpoint of whether these men will be able to find a job, my opinion is that we will find employment for all who will be graduated from the present enrolment, and will continue to need foresters in like numbers. We have been deprived of the services of perhaps two hundred young foresters who normally would have been graduated during the war years. There are more than that number of forestry jobs vacant at the present time; and one thousand men in training does not mean one thousand foresters. There is a heavy normal "wastage" during the four or five years intervening between entrance and graduation. There is a
further wastage after graduation that always will be operative no matter how many positions may be vacant, or how urgently the men may be needed in the work for which they have trained. One thousand men in the schools probably means not more than one hundred graduated per year, of whom between fifty and seventy-five may be expected to be employed in forestry work after the lapse of ten years. In view of the fact that men with forestry training are always in demand in the closely allied activities of logging and manufacturing, the promising development in forestry practice which will call for more and more practicing foresters in industrial employ, the need for more men in the various Government Forest Services, and the obvious necessity of raising to professional level many jobs now occupied by "practical" men. I find considerable encouragement for the future of forestry and nothing to arouse fear in an enrolment of one thousand men in the Forest Schools.
We have endeavored this evening, in the course of less than 60 minutes, to make a quick summary of centuries of forest and wood history, and to relate that history to the present situation and future prospects in Canada.
Perhaps we have not made faster progress in applied forestry because we have tried to cover too much ground; because the few have wanted to move too fast and consequently have run into the stone wall of characteristic reluctance on the part of most people to abandon the old, or to adopt the new. Always, too, there has been the difficulty of "getting across" the proper perspective. Marie Antoinette, confronted with the inconceivable idea of the masses needing and crying for bread, is reported to have asked in amazement. "Why don't you give them cake?" Going about our affairs in Victoria at a temperature of 40 degrees above, it really means nothing to us when we read that Snag Creek is suffering at 80 degrees below (Daily Press, Feb. 3). You must have experienced 50 or 60 degrees below zero to imagine what 80 below means. The rich simply cannot appreciate the misery and frustration that goes with poverty, and Canada will find it extremely difficult to appreciate what a scarcity of wood will mean.
It is quite possible that we in Canada have been a little too rich for our own good, and certainly we have no general conception of what forest depletion will do to us as a nation. With our background we cannot conceive of any such thing as a ruinous wood shortage; and that ruinous shortage, if we permit it to come, has been developing, and will develop, so gradually that succeeding generations will have no clear-cut standards for comparison.
Canada has depended, and continues to depend, to such an extent on wood that, without it, and in spite of our other life-saving natural resources, we would be a poverty-stricken nation.
Always A Mainstay
Wood has always been a mainstay of the human race.
Today, the field of usefulness of wood and its value has so widened that we are quite justified in talking of the "New Wood" as if of an entirely new resource.
Canada depends on wood for about twenty-five per cent, of her income. The proportion is so great that its loss would be disastrous.
New Brunswick's forest resource has badly deteriorated. I need not quote authority. Go look at your woods.
Ontario has thousands of acres of drifting and eroding sands that once supported their most valuable white pine stands.
British Columbia has twenty million acres of denuded forest lands, and if lately applied measures, too recent to judge effects, do not have the desired results, we are adding to these denuded areas every year more acres than an expensive planting program of twenty million trees per year will rehabilitate.
A combination of circumstances have conspired to aggravate a situation already critical and now threatening to become worse.
Improvement and eventual remedy will arise out of a clear recognition of the facts, a will to remedy, and an adequate number of trained foresters for leadership and technical direction. Foresters of the right calibre and in sufficient numbers will hasten the public education and crystalize the will.
Century And A Half
For nearly one hundred and fifty years U.N.B. has been doing the work that the small University is best fitted to accomplish, sending out into the world a steady leaven of educated young men and women, unspoiled by luxury, serious-minded, of high ideals, and admirably adapted and equipped for leadership. After an absence of twenty-seven years, during which I have had some opportunity to observe apparently more favored centres of learning, I have no desire to see U.N.B. a “great institution” in the commonly accepted sense of the term. Already for more than one hundred years U.N.B. has been great in its service in New Brunswick and Canada. I confidently expect it to be greater in that best sense of the word—and in this "new" field of forestry it has an unequalled opportunity to add measurably to its greatness.
Read the Graduation Address
Graduation Address: "The Address to the Graduating Class by Right Honorable Lord Beaverbrook" (UA Case 67, Box 1)Read the Valedictory Address
The custom here and everywhere is to give advice to graduating students. You needn't take it - but we are compelled to give it. Advice is a passion with us; we can't help it. You have an option to accept that advice; we have an obligation to give it. Old people are spilling over with advice to the new generation. So here we go.
You will become scientists and engineers, economists, doctors, and ministers of the Gospel. Many will take part in politics and some will plan to make money. These will be lawyers.
I say to you study the philosophy of John Calvin. You need not accept his faith in the damnation of unbaptized infants, and you may doubt his belief in "one for heaven and ten for hell" – though I admit he was a brilliant mathematician.
It is John Calvin’s commercial philosophy that I recommend to you. It is the basis of our business structure. It was the foundation of our system of commerce; it was the origin of our form of international trade; and it is all summed up in the shorter catechism – it is forbidden "whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbor’s wealth or outward estate". In other words, to do your duty by the community, you must be good doctors, engineers, lawyers, and good money makers too, if you adopt that vocation. Some teachers tell us that it would be a terribly lonely business to know how to do something well, if we are advancing a personal interest. They are the critics of individualism, the exponents of economic planning, and the advocates of the principle of equal misery.
John Calvin gave us a stouter lesson and it was the custom of this good man, John Calvin, to hold a weekly meeting of the just – and all the citizens of his Kingdom of Geneva were looked on as just men. Everybody was summoned to appear before him. The righteous were permitted to point out the faults of each other. The meeting always lasted all day long and well into the night. There never was any absenteeism. Thus Calvin taught his disciples: "Do not fear criticism; stand up for your beliefs".
Now, just like my master, Calvin, I have a few words of counsel to offer too. I would say to you – do not rely too much on experience, yours or mine. Rather trust to the gift of improvisation which is the gift of invention in its most primitive form. It is the art of dealing with the unexpected and snatching some advantage from it. The unexpected often happens. Plans go awry. The planners must not put too much faith in their plans. Many plans are born to be scrapped. The man who relies purely on plans runs into disaster sooner or later. The man who can improvise snatches triumph from catastrophe.
It is in war that we have learned the full value of improvisation, and in war we get lessons that are rude and violent, as more than half the audience know only too well.
Now, war shows us that we must trust to improvisation and also to individualism. Study, I ask you, the life of Churchill in war. Churchill, the individualist, who shows us how to improvise.
It was in 1940 – the Autumn – while invasion still threatened the coast of Britain, that Churchill sent his one and only armored division to the Middle East to defend the Suez Canal, and the Canal was held against Germans, Italians, Bulgarians, Roumanians. That triumph of defence was a great individual decision; that was an act of improvisation of a daring character.
Britain’s struggle against foreign invasion under Churchill is in truth an epic of improvisation and individualism. The defence of England turned upon opportunities seized, on chances taken, on individual decisions and improvised situations. How to meet the virtual certainty of invasion from the French coast? Everything depended upon British domination of the air over England. And domination depended upon a supply of fighter planes. The Battle of Britain – won by scrapping plans and improvising planes. The plans would have lead to certain defeat; the planes gave Britain victory.
There was, of course, a severe shortage of aluminium. Said Churchill, "Wood is plentiful, and furniture makers. Very well. A wooden airplane". Hence the improvisation of the Mosquito – nearly first among war planes.
His journeys abroad all over the Allied world. Five times in war I traveled with Churchill. There was no provision for those expeditions in the book of the rules. The first journey was in 1940 in the month of June. The French Army was beaten and in disorderly retreat. The book of rules won’t help now. Important members of the French Cabinet had gathered at Tours. They were debating a plan for an armistice. Churchill was warned of pending disaster by his own ambassador. Instantly, he decided to make an appearance at the French Cabinet. He left for Tours at once and arrived there in the morning. The airfield had been heavily bombed. There was difficulty in making a landing, particularly as he was escorted by sixteen fighter aircraft to protect him against enemy airplanes. After landing, he was confronted by blocked roads filled with refugees. Progress in the direction of Tours was almost impossible, but expedients brought us at last to a restaurant. The cupboard was bare. The refugees had eaten up everything, and not a morsel of food was to be found. Churchill insisted on having something to eat before he went to the French Cabinet meeting. An officer provided a few scraps – not much.
When he reached the Mayoralty, Mandel was in the room of the Mayor and he was talking on telephones and picking chicken bones. Renaud, the Prime Minister, did not appear for some time. When he did come, Churchill was seated opposite him in an armchair, gripping the arms and speaking with such passion as to move all those who heard him to the deepest emotion. What did Churchill ask? That the French fleet should be safe and free; that the French Cabinet should be set up on French colonial soil in Africa.
One Under Minister who was present in that room did not sit at table with those of Cabinet rank. He stood by the door as if he were an interloper. Tall, gloomy, determined, and undaunted in disaster, that Under Minister was General De Gaulle.
It was a story of individualism that Churchill unfolded when he went to Tours in that day of June, 1940!
Newfoundland in the month of August, 1941. A meeting with the President of the United States – the first meeting between these two leaders of men. The United States was not at war in August, 1941. Churchill improvised to some purpose on that occasion. He prepared the draft of the Atlantic Charter, and the President of the United States accepted the Churchill text. It was for Churchill "a day’s march nearer home".
By December 1941 – Churchill wanted more "tools to finish the job". – Did he wait upon the organization? Did he trust to the machine? Not at all! Churchill, the individualist, set out for Washington in search of weapons for British soldiers and ships for British sailors. That first war trip to America was the maiden journey of the warship "Duke of York". She was really a submarine masquerading as a battleship and running practically all the way under the sea. She had plenty of guns but her gunners had not been trained. Her crew was new – many of them had not been to sea before. The escort of British destroyers could not keep up with us on account of bad weather. We left that escort in our wake when we were hardly out of sight of the shores of England. We sailed down the French coast within easy reach of any German airplanes, for at that time France was occupied. If we had been spotted, the battle would have been an unequal one – no destroyers, no aircraft carriers, just a lonely battleship. But in the fact of all danger, Churchill’s holiday spirit prevailed.
The return journey by airplane. Mr. Churchill flew to Bermuda where he arrived at noon. He had just endured three exhausting weeks of vital economic and strategic discussions with the President and his advisers. He had spoken to the combined session of the American Congress and to the Canadian Parliament. He had never rested. He left Bermuda the next morning on an arduous and dangerous flight direct from Bermuda to Britain. The airplane had a ceiling of only 6,000 feet; 25,000 feet would have been more suitable. Icing conditions certainly would prevail – and certainly did prevail. Never before had such a type of airplane flown so long a distance. He was accompanied by the Chief of the Navy, the Chief of the Army, and the Chief of the Airforce, and me.
There were other journeys too. They formed no part of the system of war organization, which I often thought was growing bigger than the war. Over organization, which takes the punch out of war.
But in peace, as in war, do not read too long the way which paralyzes individualism or the power to act will be atrophied. Minds will be hedged about with fears and indecisions. The art of dealing with the unexpected is lost when a man is waiting on a machine, an organization, or a committee. And the lamps of passion and conviction burn low when we do not seek by every instrument of persuasion or education to maintain the individual’s judgment and conscience. There is not substitute for the individual.
Now, some advice to the students who have been selected for overseas scholarships. You will see something of the weather that made the British Empire, for of course it was the British summer that drove the Scots to Canada, the Irish to Australia, and English to New Zealand. Only the Welsh were left and they went into politics.
As the years passed by, some of the hardier spirits from the Empire began to drift back to the Mother Country. I, myself, went over there thirty-seven years ago. It was a fine summer. I was completely deceived. I stayed on. But every time I see rain in June, I plan to go back to the Empire – to Jamaica, or even to Fiji – perhaps to New Brunswick.
And now it is the turn of the overseas students to go and have a look at England. Some of them may be tempted to stay – I hope so. For the Empire people living in Great Britain are a small minority. We need all the support that we can get. Not that we are oppressed. The British people are very tolerant. They put up with a good deal from us, but they don’t pay much attention to what we say.
For instance, I have been trying to tell the British public about the Empire. They were kind about it and quite polite. Nobody ever said, that is in public, "Well, why don’t you go back to the Empire?" Although I have the impression that it was occasionally said behind closed doors.
I tried this Empire society on the Conservatives. Sometimes they thought it would lose the election, and sometimes they thought it would win the election. They blew hot, and they blew very cold, but always when it came to action, they ran away from the Empire Policy. I tried it on the Labor Party, but that was no good at all. I even tried it on the Liberals, but in Great Britain, the Liberals at present are in the shadows. And finally, when the parties were united in the one grand ragbag of a government, I put the Empire Policy to all of them and at that moment the Government broke into pieces. Not one of the pieces adopted the Policy, but when the "Tories" – that’s what the Conservatives are called over in England – lost the election, some of them turned around and blamed it on me, and my Empire propaganda.
But there it is – the British have not been too harsh with us from over the seas. They put me in the House of Lords where I have no power. So, if any of you decide to stay there, you know what to expect. At the very worst, it will be the House of Lords.
To those of you who have not had overseas service during the war. If you are to know Britain, then you must know the life of Britain in 1940. The blackout. The trenches in the public parks and squares. The sandbags piled up for the protection of the doors of public buildings. The ghostly scene in the moonlit streets. A London that had never been known before, and which we hope will never be known again. The drone of engines as enemy planes passed over the city spying out the targets in preparation for the raids to come – flights undertaken with the deliberate purpose of making an onslaught on the nerves and endurance of the British people.
The long cloudless days of one of the finest summers England has ever known. The short nights that brought relief to those having tempermental dispositions towards the war. And as summer bloomed – the crash. The defences of Europe in ruins. The British Army on the beaches of Dunkirk. Britain almost defenceless. When suddenly with a wave of spirit comparable only to a tidal bore, the British people rose up in their determination. They would not yield. They would make no terms with the enemy. The fight would be carried on even to the final destruction of the race.
Then the factory wheels began to turn – to turn with a speed and direction that spoke well for the reconstruction of the defences which none doubted in those months of June and July, 1940, must soon be put to shattering and conclusive test.
Gone were all thoughts of a 40 hour week – of a 50 hour week even. For weeks on end, some men and many women worked 70 hours in their grim determination that the country should be provided with the weapons without which Britain must assuredly perish.
It was to America that we turned in that hour of peril, and we found a people willing to receive us, ready to help us, all of them filled with hope, some of them with high confidence too. We placed our orders.
At the same time, let it be said that the orders placed in the States for aircraft, for engines, for guns, for ammunition, far exceeded the cash resources of Britain. The barrel was emptied and even the bottom was scraped. Out of all this expenditure of British gold, of British dollars, of American securities owned by Britain, out of the liquidation of vast British enterprises situated in the United States, Britain not only supplemented her own aircraft production in the most effective manner, but also laid the foundations, set up the machinery, provided the trained personnel and established the system on which the American Airforce was expanded and equipped for the battlefront when the United States was challenged by Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Thus it was that the resources of Britain were dissipated; thus a wealthy nation with a mighty exchequer and vast credit was stripped in a matter of a few months of much of its wealth.
I remember the occasion when the Chancellor of the Exchequer told Mr. Churchill and his colleagues that the vast resources of Britain were exhausted, the bank balances dissipated. No more money available for the payment of current accounts. That was the position of Britain in the early months of 1941.
Meanwhile, a merciless onslaught was taking terrible toll of the productions facilities up and down the country. Coventry, nerve centre of the aircraft industry, was bombed and production damaged. Essential aircraft engines were delayed in delivery, machine tools wrecked, and the rhythm of production interfered with to a distressing extent.
Southampton was attacked, the home of the Spitfires. Weybridge, where the Wellington bombers were built. One after another – a long list and every night a growing list. Then it was that men and women, too, worked through the night, worked through the day, and yet another night so that production might begin again. There was little opportunity for them to grieve over the dead. There was not much chance for the restoration of conditions in their homes where the windows had been blasted, the water supply cut off, and the sewage destroyed.
It was at this time that the Canadian Armies guarded the shores of Britain. But it is not of Canada that I would speak. Let others tell of the achievements, of the valiant deeds of the Dominion. For in birth, in upbringing, in education, in tradition, I am a Canadian, and it is as a Canadian that I now speak of the British people – that brave people – always foremost in the fight, ready to give the best that was in them.
Of the British effort in war, undertaken, let it be said, against my advice, for the protection of freedom, for the liberty of enslaved peoples, for the rescue of Jews imprisoned in ghettos, for the relief of Republicans and Democrats oppressed by Dictators – a war entered into by the British people so that freedom and liberty and justice might live there and here and in all the world.
This race who sacrificed manpower, comfort, wealth, and risked freedom and liberty, thus giving an example to humanity, have become the subject of criticism and abuse leveled at them by certain sections of opinion.
Two attacks in particular on the British people are constantly repeated in narrow and prejudiced circles in foreign countries. It is pretended that Britain is the oppressor of countless populations of black people and brown people. For that reason above any other, some foreigners condemn what they call British Imperialism. What are the facts?
The British have conferred upon the colored populations of the Empire the supreme benefit of the rule of Justice. The black men in Africa, the brown men in Malaya, all know that British justice is undefiled. And of all the principles of human liberty, the first principle must always be the certainty of justice. Where else can you find justice for black men? Where else can you depend upon law and order in human relations where race and color are an issue?
What is the second attack, which some unjust persons make upon the British? It relates of course to the Jews. Harsh, bitter, and false things are said even in the United States about British actions in Palestine. Faced by the violent activities of Jewish terrorists who learned too well the technique of their German oppressors, the British people have been forced to take stern measures. And on this account, shrill voices cry out that the British are tyrants who make war on all Jewry. What nonsense!
It is forgotten that it was Hitler and the Germans who attacked the Jews in Europe, who sacked the Ghettos and destroyed countless Jewish citizens in every country they invaded?
Is it forgotten that it was the British and the British Empire who first took up arms in defence of the Jews?
Is it forgotten that in those days The United States recognized to the furthest extent the struggle of the British Empire to resist persecution and to establish security and to sustain freedom?
Let it be remembered by those who mingle dispraise of Britain’s war effort with harsh criticism of her present policies that but for Britain’s stand in 1940, the Jewish populations of London, Leeds, and Manchester would have suffered the same fate as the wretched inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Maybe it is natural that some persons in the States should be critical of the British Empire. Certainly the vast majority of the citizens of the American Republic think differently and act differently, for they are a kindly and generous people.
But you are Canadians. You have borne a share, a full and more than a full part in the struggle of the Empire. It is right that you should ponder on the truth and that you should make it known.
As a Canadian, you have had bestowed upon you all the benefits and advantages of the atmosphere of optimism in which Canadians are brought up. You have before you the certainty of equal opportunity. No class prejudices bar your way.
But all these educational opportunities impose upon you a duty, and it is this: You should join in the leadership of the Empire to which you belong – a leadership which will insure for Britain and the British people the opportunity for reconstruction. It is the same measure of justice and the same opportunity which Britain conferred on our own country of Canada over the last century.
Valedictory Address: Delivered by Dalton Camp
Your Honor, Mr. Chancellor, Mr. President, Fellow Classmates and friends:
I should indeed be remiss in my duties were I not to address His Lordship, the Right Honorable Lord Beaverbrook, on behalf of the graduating class, and to welcome him as our Chancellor. No one of us could say well enough how proud we are that you have assumed this post. The pleasurable task has fallen to me to express the deep admiration and warm affection which the graduating class, one and all, hold for you.
On this happy day, we take this opportunity to welcome you again on your return to your native province, and to the institution which bears its name. We are fully aware that this University, in the long years of its history, has had no greater friend nor champion. We know that this day signals for all of us the continued vitality of the university’s contribution to this province, its citizens, and to this land of ours.
Again, I am sure the graduating class would wish me to welcome the alumni and alumnae who have returned on this memorable occasion. Your example of devotion and allegiance, your enthusiasm which has been so apparent, is an inspiration to the class of ’47, so that, on this day, we can do no less than pledge our continued and eager interest by maintaining an active association as members of your distinguished ranks.
One more word on behalf of my classmates and myself. On another occasion, we expressed as well as we could our gratitude to the members of the faculty. There is another association we shall always cherish. In this trying year, no one has contributed more of his energy to our cause. By his example of devotion to this university, by his courageous leadership, and his sympathetic understanding of our problems, he has captured the spirit of these times. We pray for his continued strength, so that the students of UNB may continue to find inspiration by his vigorous example. I refer, of course, to Dr. Milton F. Gregg.
Although I am sure the preceding words could be represented as the unanimous voice of the graduating class, I am not at all sure I should seek to extend that privilege. One learns quite early in life, or at least one should, the extreme hazard of voicing an opinion on behalf of others. And so, I am afraid I must strike out alone, but with the hope that the valedictorian’s words, if not endorsed by my classmates, might at least bear an occasional resemblance to their feelings.
When the graduating class wake from their slumbers tomorrow morning, or perhaps later in the day, we shall find ourselves in a world from which we are temporarily estranged. For a while at least, our participation in search of our own destiny will be in a state of suspension. Perhaps all of us shall feel a temporary loneliness, engendered by the realization that the pleasant years of university life are immediately behind us. A realization that the future holds a kind of uncertainty the like of which the world has never known.
That, I suppose, is a dramatic statement. If not, then it might be considered a cliché of all valedictorians. But let me attempt to amplify this observation.
To begin with, our life here has been perhaps as free an existence as we can ever hope to enjoy. We have been free to sample the great philosophies; we have been free to experiment with our own; we have been free to make the most glaring errors of judgment. And we have been free enough to enjoy leisure, free enough to indulge in carelessness.
But tomorrow, by the subtle and insidious processes of modern society, we can no longer enjoy such freedom. We must, to some extent, bow before the two great tyrants of our age- Conformity and Mechanization.
In a thoroughly mechanized society, we stand to be manufactured in the image of the machine. We stand to lose our finest sensibilities, to see them as shavings heaped upon the floor.
In a society so lavishly proud of its techniques in mass production, we ourselves have made a fetish of mass conformity. The independent and inquisitive mind finds itself compressed, confined, bounded on all sides by the eight hour day and the double feature at the cinema house; made insensate by the appalling sterility of our modern culture, with all its juke-box garishness, its mechanical gadgets, its previous utility, its digest magazines, its neon nightmares. For a few pennies, or by a flick of the wrist, we may learn all the news considered fit to print; and commentators are provided to render its meaning, and we are told of its further consequences by the prophets who garnish the editorial pages.
I wonder what kind of people we shall become if we continue to live in a world where we are urged to lubricate ourselves for our continued efficiency, as we lubricate our machines. I wonder how much we are influenced by the suggestion that by drinking a certain brand of liquor we can become men of distinction. And I wonder if it is possible to be reprimanded by a child, with horror showing on its face, because we brush our teeth without massaging our gums. Even the rather refreshing humor once found in the comic strips has disappeared. The other day, I found in the comic-strips, one corpse, another corpse pending, a petty theft, a bribery under way, and, by my count, eight guns, one sword, and a vicious hatpin …this seems to be indicative of our recent humorous bent.
I say that good naturedly; but it is somehow an ominous sign. If these are the kind of things which can be considered as having an influence upon our minds, how terribly easy it would be to influence us in more complex and critical matters.
It may be flattering for you and me to know that we are being fought over. The battle ground is in our minds. During the lull in lethal warfare, another battle goes on- it is a battle for our minds. This kind of warfare know no truce. It know no discrimination. It does not necessarily combat truth nor justice nor values nor ideologies.
What it does do so appallingly well is completely obscure truth, to dislocate us from our true nature and the fundamental integrity of human relations.
The casualties in this war for man’s mind are not buried beneath the earth, they are leveled to a kind of existence which the sensitive and creative mind finds intolerable. Our civilized world, the streets of our cities and towns, are littered with the casualties. So-called free men bound together by the chains of conformity, marching in a tragic lock-step, forced into the mart of mass production, to become mere spare parts or worse, the packaged goods from the assembly lines.
Sadly enough, all this is not as unpleasant as are the ultimate consequences. The musical accompaniment is in three-quarter time, with muted trumpets and tenor saxophones. Along the way, we have the byproducts of our drudgery- motor cars, frigidaires, pressure cookers, chewing gum. There have been more recent renovations- more money and less labor, more leisure to enjoy the emptiness which our labor and money provide. Science has given us a longer life, and some freedom from physical pain; but it has fashioned at the same time a startling and efficient weapon for our wholesale extermination.
Whatever dreams we may entertain of our future achievements, we know with a reasonable certainty that most of us are committed to similar destinies. This degree we hold is a symbol of our possession of what is commonly called a college education. By and large, it precludes our temperamental unsuitability for common labor. But we are also aware that fame and fortune wait upon the very few-dependent upon a kind of genius most of us lack, and a kind of luck few of us enjoy. Our material and social future is roughly pre-determined-not for the individual, but statistically, for the majority.
Outside our door on the morrow, stand the agents for Better Worlds and Better Tomorrows. If we examine their products closely, I think you will agree that the kind of Better Tomorrow most of these panacea-peddlers have in mind is based upon the exchange of one kind of materialism for another. If we examine their handsome theories critically, we shall come to find that they have roots in a narrow prejudice. I hope you understand I am not talking in a political sense,-not entirely. I merely say that our society is so enmeshed in the gears of its gargantuan machinery, even the prophets of the avant-garde have nothing to offer save pecuniary redemption, or material salvation.
What they would have us do is believe that the ideal that all men are created equal is a fallacy, but they propose, in effect, another fallacy- that all men may be created equal by parliamentary legislation. Politically we are being tempted to adhere to a dictatorship of standardization mediocrity.
I do not propose to evaluate the many shades of political ideology abroad today: I suppose my conclusions would be like any other’s- in keeping with personal prejudices and personal judgments. But you will agree with me when I say that in the development of a people’s government in a democratic society, our forefathers made a remarkable beginning. But our trouble. But our trouble seems to be that we are dangerously prolonging our fervent admiration of their handiwork, and we are reluctant to put into action a few blunt urgencies that a changing world has thrust upon us.
Our abnormal fear of the political “isms” has given us a paralyzed conscience. No government can serve if its motives are stimulated by Fear; if it sacrifices foresight and initiative for the sake of what might be called political self-righteousness.
Our education here is complete, but the world will not stand still long enough for us to practice what little we have learned. A university, like all other institutions, must keep pace with the kind of flux we call progress if it is to survive. The distinguished philosopher Alfred Whitehead has remarked that “for each succeeding generation, the problem of education is new.” He confesses cheerfully I think, that every single generalization respecting mathematical physics taught him at Cambridge has since been abandoned. It is true of all science, and they are to be commended for such a courageous admission. It is similarly true of the humanities, and they are beginning to show a little courage. It can be said without disparaging our triumph today that nothing depreciates so quickly as does this degree we now hold.
For a moment I should like to digress again. I read in Hansard recently- and I confess the habit of reading Hansard- it is sometimes dull but not altogether unenlightening- a speech made by a worthy member of parliament. I should like to mention two of his statements. This honorable gentleman was advising policy of economy. He had two suggestions which would lighten the taxpayer’s load. First, he would dispense with the National Film Board, which he likened to a hungry white elephant. Secondly, he would dispose of our overseas broadcasting facilities on the Atlantic Coast, which he considered an example of trying to keep up with the Joneses.
But the classic grievance he cited, which brought him to this thriftful conclusion was that the price of alarm clocks was too high. And that, I think is a splendid example. I could not have invented a better one. We should sacrifice the National Film Board and our overseas programs for a cheaper alarm clock.
Here we see the reasoning, perhaps exaggerated , which infests our modern society. Material goods, utility, usefulness, cheapness above all else!
Now let us arrive at the core of my contention. If you agree with my diagnosis, you will perhaps agree with the prescription.
I can make this generalization with assurance; there has never been a time in the history of our university when it was faced with so great a challenge or so great a temptation. In this era of free education, so long as it lasts, the institutions of higher learning have the opportunity they have cried for so long. Philosophic educators consider the centers of higher learning as the logical touchstone for a nation’s culture, for a nation’s progress, and well being..
Let us consider that in light of this University and this Province. I will be frank, because there is little use in being otherwise, and I consider this an opportunity to unburden a few grievances, not against our Alma Mater, but against ourselves. Surely we realize the necessity of a cultural renaissance. If I were asked to answer the startled query now so frequently raised, as to why so many of our most promising young men are leaving this country for that nation to the south, my reason would be that one might as well live in the land where the way of life is original than remain in the land where it is , like the June bride, made up of something borrowed, and something blue. We have within our borders the seeds of our own greatness.
In a province where nearly half our population speak French, our university has as its language requirement one year of Latin. I suggest we render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar’s and render unto Canada those things which are distinctly her own. Truly, we can never be Canadian citizens so long as we are unable to enjoy social intercourse with nearly half of our Canadian family.
Furthermore, and this is obvious, nothing would be of more benefit to this university than would three hundred co-eds. A co-educational university makes a unique contribution to its students. The qualities of social poise, gentility, and manliness are vital necessities, and these qualities are the natural result of a campus society where men and women meet together in common endeavor, mutual respect and similar numbers.
And finally the university must meet the challenge of youth , and it must prepare its undergraduates for the awful challenge of the future.
Let me come to it directly. All our wealth of natural resources, all our great traditions and our limitless material potential are to no avail, unless we inhabit this land with men and women keenly aware of their own wealth of resources, young men and women cognizant of their own potential.
The key to our solution is in the continued expansion of the liberal arts, the humanities, the world of letters. This does not ignore the faculties of Science and applied science, but it is a plea for the faculty of Arts.
If we are to preserve our identity, retain some semblance of human dignity, in this cluttered world of chrome and silver-plated gadgets, we must return to something like that concept of education we abandoned in the era of Henry Ford’s first motor-car. Surely the Arts faculty has learned its lesson from the past. It can no longer devote its time to developing its students into what John Dewey proclaimed as “little coteries of emancipated souls.” It must renounce its previous snobbery and become once more an agent of humanity.
The liberal Arts must be the fountainhead of our culture. A professor of the Arts faculty told his class at the beginning of the year: “This course will not put a nickel in your pockets; it will never serve as a reference for a job”. I think it has come to pass that this university will ever resist sending its graduates from this campus economically secure but culturally bankrupt.
Tomorrow we do battle with the tyrants. If we are truly worthy of this degree we hold, we will continue our pursuit of truth, we will preserve our spiritual identity, we will master the machinery that has threatened to enslave us.
This is the best of possible worlds for us today. It is far from being the best of conceivable worlds. We can only contribute to that distant end by remaining free, enlightened individuals.
Should we fall, we forfeit this degree- this symbol of our sovereignty. We shall not fail so long as we covet the memory of this day, so long as we maintain the impetus we have gained in our years here.