Globe, 1 Nov 1900, page 1

The Scotch in Canada

Sir Wilfrid Laurier attends the Caledonia Society’s Concert

A Sturdy Race

What this country owes to their enterprise

A pleasing speech

Complimentary address presented to Lord Strathcona, Honorary President of the Society

(Special despatch to the Globe)

Montreal, Oct 31 – Sir Wilfrid Laurier met with a most cordial reception to-night from the Scotchmen and Scotchwomen assembled at the annual concert of the Caledonian Society in Her Majesty’s Theatre. As everyone knew, he has been engaged for the past month in a political struggle, and it was a tribute to his varied genius that he was able to-night to throw politics aside for a moment and deliver an address exquisitely suited to the occasion.  First of all, Lord Strathcona the Honorary President, was presented with a congratulatory address.  In his reply he refered to Sir Wilfrid as a picture of eloquence and oratory, and added that a man might be a good Scotchman, Irishman, Englishman, or Frenchman, and yet be loyal to the country of his adoption.

The Premier’s reception

Sir Wilfrid shortly after entered the theatre, escorted by three Highland pipers, and was received with great applause. He had already spoken three times during the day, namely at Ste Rose, Ste Scholastique and Westmount, but was still in excellent voice.  Having thrown aside politics, he also abandoned his campaigning costume, and appeared in evening dress, adorned with the tartan sash of the Caledonian Society. His appearance on the stage was the signal for loud cheers.

Lord Strathcona, in announcing the guest of the evening, said that Sir Wilfrid was known not only in Canada, but in the mother country, Great Britain, as the representative not merely of Frenchmen but of Canada as a whole. Sir Wilfrid had been received everywhere with the greatest enthusiasm, and without consideration of party politics one could say he was proud to have as Premier one who could so worthily fill the position on all occasions.

A Pleasing Speech

Sir Wilfrid Laurier made a pleasing reference to the Scottish music, which whether pathetic or humorous, reached the heart. He had the greatest admiration for the Scottish character, and added that if he were not a Canadian of French origin he would like to be a Canadian of Scottish origin.  There were many things commendable in the Scottish character.  The French Canadians were most mercurial, said Sir Wilfrid.  The St Jean Baptiste Society celebrated the day with a procession and a band; the Irish showed their feeling in the same way, and the English thought the best way was to have a good dinner of roast beef of Old England.  He did not know but the Scotch way was the best after all (applause).  Referring to racial pride, Sir Wilfrid alluded to the defeat of the English King at Bannockburn, but said that to-day Scotch soldiers all over the world would fight for the English Queen. When in Paris he had found a society called the Franco-Scottish Society, composed of French and Scotch.  This commemorated the old days of alliance between Scotland and France.  These days have passed away, but he thought it was a noble thing to find men of Scotland and France united to maintain these old traditions.

Scotch enterprise in Canada

Sir Wilfrid went on to speak of all that Canada owes to the Scotch. They were the pioneers of trade.  Under the French regime the only trade was the fur trade; but after the cession the Scotch applied their genius for organization, and for a time created a rival of the mighty Hudson Bay Company.  After the amalgamation of these companies the Scots applied themselves to the lumber business and for 60 years were the great carriers of lumber to Great Britain.  Then they turned their attention to ocean navigation, and Sir Wilfrid paid tribute to the late Sir Hugh Allan. Afterward the era of railways set in, and the Scotch were again to the fore and no man did more for the development of Canada in this respect than Lord Strathcona. In fact the Scotch did more for Canada than any other race.  The university of which they were all so proud and of which he was proud to be a graduate, owed its origin to a Scotchman, Hon Peter McGill and a large measure of its development to another Scot, Lord Strathcona.  His Lordship was also one of the founders of the Royal Victoria Hospita.  Referring to our relations with the motherland, he said that as High Commissioner Lord Strathcona had done more for the development of the Imperial ideal and the improvement of trade relations than any other man. For all these reasons he was proud to be a Scotchman tonight (applause).  Tomorrow he wound become one of his own race. In Canada after all, we can afford to maintain the traditions of the past, and yet be Canadians all the time. (Applause) In his conclusion, Sir Wilfrid expressed his pleasure at being present at an oasis in the desert of politics, but added that tomorrow he would be delighted to plunge again into politics.  He received a sympathetic hearing throughout, and was loudly applauded on resuming his seat.  Sir Wilfrid had previously, during the day addressed meetings at Ste Rose on behalf of Mr Thomas Fortin, St Scholastique on behalf of Mr JAC Ethler, and at Westmoung on behalf of Mr JAC Madore.