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  ― 309 ―

IV

Lord Athelstan was the principal Canadian host. He was at the first Conference as Sir Hugh Graham. He then struck everyone as remarkably retiring and unassuming. When the Glasgow University included him amongst the delegates on whom the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred, he confided to me that he had doubts about accepting it, as he thought his educational attainments did not justify his carrying the designation of “doctor.” He feared he would feel that he was sailing under false colours. However, he was persuaded by his friends to take it. Few self-made men are troubled with excessive modesty, but he is essentially self-made. At fifteen years of age he was an office boy in the office of a newspaper, of which two years later he was manager. He was half owner of the Montreal Star when he was nineteen years old and full owner at twenty-one. He was Chairman of the Canadian Press Committee.

He entertained the delegates at a brilliant banquet at Montreal. Many Canadian notabilities were there. Professor Leacock made a characteristically humorous speech. He was head of the Department of Political Economy at the McGill University, and he told the visitors what was before them:

“You are to be given dinners and luncheons all the way from here to Vancouver, to be shown waterfalls, factories and works of all kinds, and in the spirit of true British brotherhood you are going to stand for it. I form something of a mental picture of you delegates when you get to


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a town at the end of the trip and they say, ‘This is the principal factory of our town, we want you to see it.’ Some men break down in hysteria and say in a quavering voice, ‘Is that your principal factory really?’ Others go off in a flying rage and say, ‘By heaven, don't show me that!’ But you are come to eat these luncheons and look at these factories because that is the way we bind our British Empire together.”

The visitors certainly had hospitality showered on them during their stay of more than six weeks in Canada. Their headquarters were two luxurious trains, in which they travelled from place to place. Their thoughtful hosts arranged that the monotony of the journey was broken by numerous motor trips and days and nights spent in the wonderful hotels of the Dominion. They saw Canada from east to west, travelling back by a different route to the one they went.

On arrival in Canada, when contemplating the lengthy programme of hospitality and travelling, one of the delegates, with a sardonic sense of humour, remarked, “I wonder who amongst us will die in Canada from all the travelling and feasting prepared for us.”

The reply promptly came in a shocked voice, “No one.”

He quietly answered, “Surely it is contrary to the law of average, especially when so many of the delegates are old and some of them sickly, that they should all survive such lavish feasting.”

A doctor and nurse accompanied the delegates


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wherever they went to provide medical attention for them during the whole of their stay in Canada.

The delegate who made the gloomy prediction was much surprised when the tour ended and no one died. When asked to account for it, he replied that that was “the most phenomenal thing about a trip crowded with phenomena.”

At Grand Pré, in Acadia, Nova Scotia, Lady Burnham unveiled a statue to the heroine of Longfellow's poem “Evangeline,” a story founded on a painful occurrence. When early in the eighteenth century Nova Scotia was ceded to Britain by the French, and later when war again broke out between France and Britain, the Acadians were rightly or wrongly accused of assisting the French with provisions and ammunition. The British authorities banished them from their homes and dispersed them amongst British American Colonies far from their much-loved, beautiful land.

When the Blackfoot Indians were visited at their reservation near Gleichon, the head of the party, Lord Burnham, was invested with the honour of chieftainship, and received the name of “Old Sun.” He was solemnly garbed in Indian fashion, squaws danced, and there was an Indian and cowboy exhibition in which wild cattle were lassoed, infuriated steers ridden and bucking horses mounted. The Indians made a splendid showing—mounted, painted and in full war costumes—as they swept across the prairie.

At hotels we met a good many Americans who did not hesitate to claim that they had won the war. At Lord


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Athelstan's Montreal banquet also there were United States journalists who expressed this view in somewhat aggressive terms. Sir John Willison, The Times representative in Canada, interpreted the delegates' views accurately when in the course of a speech he referred to what Canada had done in the war, and said:

“We sent our best and some 60,000 of them are still over there. We acted as we did because there was nothing else to do. Nor have we ever claimed that we won the war. If a Canadian may say it, we received the world's respect and kept our own, and that is enough for a decent individual or a decent nation.”

The speech was lost probably on those for whom it was meant, but it gave Britishers satisfaction!

The Duke of Devonshire was Governor-General of Canada. The delegates to the first Conference had been his guests at luncheon at Chatsworth, and the members of the Canadian Conference were his guests at Rideau Hall.

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