Brock Centenary: The Speeches
The preliminaries over, the gathering was addressed by a number of well known gentlemen whose speeches follow:
Chairman of the General Committee
This meeting to-day is held to commemorate the death of a brave and wise man who died in the defence of his country. It is not a pean of victory we sing but a requiem. We are not here to glorify war; nor is our object to exult over our brave but defeated adversary. Rather is it an occasion when Canadians should pause and look back over the past and give praise to God that in the days of stress and storm He raised up great, good and brave men who were willing and able to fight for their king and country in order that they might enjoy civil and religious liberty under the British flag, and that they might hand down to their posterity a fair and goodly heritage which they had won from the primeval forests by their labour and sacrifices. The United Empire Loyalists came to this country not as those who desired to better their condition in life, nor were they possessed by land hunger, nor by ideas of political and social aggrandisement. They came solely because of their devotion to the British Crown and Constitution, and because they preferred to live in peace and poverty under a monarchical Government rather than in wealth and discord under republican institutions. It was to these men that Brock appealed, nor did he appeal in vain when war was declared. It was on July 27th, 1812, that in reply to an address from the Assembly of Upper Canada he said:
"Gentlemen: When invaded by an enemy whose avowed object is the entire conquest of the Province, the voice of loyalty as well as of interest calls aloud to every person in the sphere in which he is placed, to defend his country. Our militia have heard the voice and have obeyed it. They have evinced by the promptitude and loyalty of their conduct that they are worthy of the king whom they serve, and of the constitution which they enjoy; and it affords me particular satisfaction, that while I address you as legislators, I speak to men who, in the day of danger, will be ready to assist not only with their counsel, but with arms."
He concluded as follows: "We are engaged in an awful and eventful contest. By unanimity and despatch in our councils, and by vigour in our operations, we may teach the enemy this lesson, that a country defended by free men, enthusiastically devoted to the cause of their king and constitution, can never be conquered."
We know the response, and others who will follow me will speak of it in greater detail. With the Canadian poet we can say and sing:
But render homage, deep and just,
To his and their immortal dust,
Who proved so worthy of their trust—
No lofty pile nor sculptured bust
Nor must it be supposed that the United Empire Loyalists and their children were the only men who responded to Brock's call to arms. Our gallant French-Canadian compatriots were not a whit behind in their hearty response. Coming from a brave and adventurous race, they performed deeds of valour and endurance equal to the best in the defence of our country. The hardy Highlanders of Glengarry, too, were rallied to the flag by the Macdonells. Not the least active among these Scottish Roman Catholic Loyalists was the Rev. Alexander Macdonell, a priest who afterwards became the "Good Bishop," a brave and loyal man whose country's welfare was ever near to his heart. Another Macdonell, George, was second in command of the Glengarry Regiment, and still another, Colonel John Macdonell, was aide-de-camp to Brock in addition to being Attorney-General of the Province. He, alas, lost his life in his gallant efforts to second his chief at this battle which we commemorate to-day. Scotsmen are ever brave and loyal, and we have in the Scottish population of the country an element on whom we can rely in time of danger.
Let us not forget that we owe not a little to our Indian allies in the War of 1812. Tecumseh and Brant played great parts. Nor was Brock niggardly in his praise. After the fall of Detroit he says in his despatch to the Governor-General:
"The conduct of the Indians, under Colonel Elliot, Captain McKee and other officers of the department, joined to that of the gallant and brave of their respective tribes, has since the commencement of the war been marked with acts of true heroism, and in nothing can they testify more strongly their love for their King, their great Father, than in following the dictates of honour and humanity by which they have hitherto been actuated."
Why do we single out Brock as a hero among so many who have rendered good service to the country? I think that it is because he was a man of loyalty, vigour, energy and administrative ability; because he was the embodiment of the patriotism and loyalty of the people; because he had within him the power to inspire others with the spirit of patriotism and self-sacrifice; and above and beyond all, it is due to his efforts, and to the spirit of resistance and Imperialism to which he gave form and substance, that Canada to-day is an integral part of the British Empire, and a daughter nation within that great galaxy of the nations known as the British Empire.
What does it mean to be a British citizen? What benefits accrue to us by having this status? Are not the paths of the sea open to us and to our commerce by the grace of the British navy? Can we not go to all parts of the world as individuals, knowing that the Union Jack protects us? Is it a small privilege to share in the brave deeds of the British army? Are we not proud of our common literature, and are not Shakespeare and Milton and Tennyson our very own? Not borrowed plumes we are wearing, but our own. And are not the benefits of British civil, religious and political liberty ours also? Is not British justice and administration of the law something to be proud of and to be thankful for? What should we do to maintain our status as a partner, a full partner, in the Imperial concern? Is it not our bounden duty to contribute directly to the support of the British navy? Are we to lag behind the other self-governing nations of the Empire in this essential duty? A thousand times No! A Government which will subscribe twenty-five millions of dollars for this purpose, and at once, can go to the polls in perfect confidence when their time comes to ask the people for their verdict.
Some good people seem to think that the time of universal peace is at hand. One has only to look at the state of affairs in Europe on this very day, to perceive how far we are removed from the millennium. In time of peace we must prepare for war; preparation for war is the best insurance policy against it. We wish to live at peace with all nations, but at all costs and at all hazards we must defend our shores. Universal military service is the duty of the Canadian people in the near future. The people will be better for it morally and physically. It will surely come, for the policy of the future is the maintenance of the integrity of the British Empire. We love our country, we believe it has a great future; we must make it secure. What says a sweet singer of Canada:
We have gathered here to-day as Canadians to commemorate an event which will be ever dear to us and our posterity. One hundred years ago Sir Isaac Brock, the hero of Upper Canada, died in battle upon this field in defence of his country and the flag. In the past we have learned and heard altogether too little of this truly great man, and of what he accomplished; it is not too much to say that he preserved Canada to the Empire and at the same time created a national sentiment in Canada which has ever grown and expanded to the present day. The national importance of the battle of Queenston Heights, following the capitulation of Detroit, cannot be over-estimated; national sentiment or a feeling of nationhood was even then manifesting itself in this young colony. The peoples who had settled in Canada sprang from races which had always stood out strongly for national identity—the English glory in their historic past; the Scottish race, to which my forefathers belonged and which to some extent I represent, on this occasion, are noted for their love of country; and so with the other races which made up the United Empire Loyalist settlers of Upper Canada at the time of the War of 1812-14. Our national heart was created and stirred in this century-old war, and the heartbeats have ever become stronger down to this day, and we now look back through the mists of one hundred years to Sir Isaac Brock as the first true source of national sentiment which fertilized our country, and stamped it as British and Canadian forever.
Our object in coming here to-day, after we have enjoyed one hundred years of blessed peace with our neighbours to the south, is not to perpetuate national hostility, or even to cherish a mere military spirit; we hope and pray and fully believe that this peace will ever exist between us and our American brothers. Our object in coming here to-day is to honour the name and memory of one who was chiefly instrumental in bringing about that blessed peace, and in preserving our country to enjoy it; and in the name of peace we say that the ground upon which we stand to-day is consecrated and distinguished by the valour of our soldier hero, who gave up his life on this spot in the first great battle of the War of 1812 to purchase that peace which a grateful country has ever since enjoyed.
This monument under which we stand is a fit emblem of everlasting peace and at the same time it fittingly commemorates the glorious death of the man in memory of whom it was raised. We Canadians should ever be grateful to Divine Providence for having favoured us with such an able civil and military chief, because Brock was both the chief executive in our civil affairs and Commander-in-Chief of the forces. As Administrator of the Province of Upper Canada he was able and prudent; as Commander-in-Chief he was experienced and fearless. It remained, however, for the great chief Tecumseh to read the true character of the man as man. When they first met, Tecumseh turned to his fellow chiefs and allies, and, pointing to Brock, who stood by him, said, "This is a man!" The correctness of this opinion was borne out in both the life and death of Brock.
Our hero was ever dutiful. He always performed his duty and saw that others did likewise. The performance of duty was ever uppermost in his mind, and his ideals were always high, his aspirations noble. Permit me to quote here one of his first General Orders issued to the troops immediately upon his taking the field on the 4th of July, 1812:
"The Major-General calls the serious attention of every militiaman to the efforts making by the enemy to destroy and lay waste this flourishing country; they must be sensible of the great stake they have to contend for and will, by their conduct, convince the enemy that they are not desirous of bowing their necks to a foreign yoke. The Major-General is determined to devote his best energies to the defence of the country, and has no doubt that, supported by the zeal, activity and determination of the loyal inhabitants of this Province, he will successfully repel every hostile attack, and preserve to them inviolate all that they hold dear."
The result of the war proves how well Brock himself lived up to these sentiments.
Let us always remember that the War of 1812 was not of our making. On the 18th of June, 1812, President Madison declared war against Great Britain, with Canada as the point of attack. The "Right of Search," the power to search for contraband or for deserters on board of American ships, was claimed by Britain, but was resisted by the United States. Strange to say, this claim was abandoned by Great Britain the very day before war was declared by President Madison, yet the war was declared and went on. It will be readily seen that Canada had absolutely nothing to do with this war or its alleged cause, the "Right of Search"; and yet, in making this war on Canada, the United States placed itself on record as approving a forcible invasion of a neighbouring peaceful country and of involving it in all the horrors of war. At that time the United States had eight million people, Upper Canada had barely eighty thousand. At the very outset the Americans placed upon a war footing one hundred and seventy-five thousand men, whereas there were less than ten thousand men of all kinds capable of bearing arms in Upper Canada. These figures give us an idea of the very great disparity both in numbers and fighting strength between the two peoples so far as we in Upper Canada were concerned. During the two and a half years of the war there were no less than twelve separate and distinct invasions of Canada, and fifty-six military and naval engagements, the great majority of which were won by our forces. While Brock lived his genius and spirit guided and inspired the defence of the country, and after his death his noble example and the preparations he had made for war during his life encouraged and enabled the people to repel the invader.
Under the guise of strict discipline and the grim visage of a soldier and fighting man, Isaac Brock possessed a warm human heart; he was ever solicitous for the comfort and well-being of his people and especially of his militia soldiers, and on every occasion consistent with the safety of the Province he relaxed the rigours of war and would permit the militia to return to their homes and farms. This is evidenced by many of his Militia General Orders. An extract from Militia General Orders of 26th of August, 1812, immediately after the capture of Detroit, reads as follows:
"Major-General Brock has ever felt anxious to study the comforts and conveniences of the militia, but the conduct of the detachments which lately accompanied him to Detroit has if possible increased his anxiety on this subject. The present cessation of hostilities enables him to dispense with the services of a large proportion of them for a short period."
We very naturally ask ourselves who these troops were for whose welfare General Brock was always so solicitous. There were of course some British regular troops in Canada, noticeably the Forty-ninth, Brock's own regiment, but during the earlier stages of the war, and while Brock lived, the men of the Province, militia and yeomanry, had to be relied upon mainly; these chiefly were the men of the York, Glengarry, Norfolk and other militia regiments; every loyal man capable of bearing arms in the Province turned out to fight, or to help those who fought. The York and Glengarry militia served with great distinction, and I may perhaps be permitted to refer to the fact that forty-three gentlemen of my own name and family connection held commissions in the various regiments in that war. In connection with this I might further mention a somewhat curious incident. My own grandfather, Colonel Alexander Macdonell, was taken prisoner by the Americans at the Battle of Niagara, and was confined as a prisoner at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the very same prison in which his own father, Captain Allan Macdonell, had been confined by the Revolutionary States as a prisoner of war during the Revolutionary War, 1776–83.
Now, happily, all is peace; we have enjoyed one hundred years of peace and we thank Divine Providence for it. We have had preserved to us by Brock and those who fought and fell with him a rich kingdom; we possess it in peace and happiness and great prosperity. This is an age of peace, and in this age and generation it is fit that we should advance all the works and arts of peace; a very great trust in this respect has been handed down to us and confided to our safe keeping. In these days of our prosperity we must protect and defend and develop this great country, this rich heritage which the heroism of our forefathers has preserved to us. We must not only conserve it, but we must better it and develop it, and make useful to man all these possessions which have been given us. Our ideals and ambitions must always be high, and if we find ourselves faltering let us look upon this splendid monument and think of the hero in honour of whom it was raised; and let us at all times remember that now as in 1812 in unity we possess our strength; we must become one people if we are to be a great people, with one great common country. We have many Provinces but only one Canada.
It has been well said by one of Brock's biographers that "it remains for the youth of Canada to profoundly cherish the memory of Isaac Brock and to never lose an opportunity to follow the example set for them by his splendid deeds." It has also been truly said that "he fell ere he saw the star of his country rise," and, although the sky over this battlefield upon which his eyes closed forever one hundred years ago was cloudy and overcast, yet because he lived and died those who came after him enjoy the cloudless sunshine of peace and happiness.
Brock's family motto was "He who guards never sleeps." We know how faithfully he guarded and safeguarded his country in life, and let us pray that in death under this monument he sleeps well.
Minister of Education, Ontario
I have a great deal of pleasure in being present here to-day on this historic spot, and am deeply sensible of the honour conferred upon me in asking me to represent the Government of Ontario on this occasion. We are meeting here to-day to commemorate the deeds of a great man who passed away in his effort to save this part of the world for the British Empire. We must remember that at the time of the battle this part of the world was a wilderness, and Sir Isaac Brock's wonderful capabilities enabled him to consolidate the people of this sparsely settled country, not forgetting our dear old friends the Indians. With a handful of people, as compared with the country to the south of us, he made a gallant defence, and, as I said, retained this part of the world for the British Empire. He was not only a great soldier, but a diplomat and a statesman, and whatever his vision may have been one hundred years ago, everyone will agree with me that it was of such a character that he retained one of the best and finest parts of the world for Great Britain.
Let me say a word regarding the loyalty, the love of home and patriotism that existed at that time on this field of battle, and it might be asked, what are we doing to-day to create a sentiment of patriotism and loyalty to our country and flag? Let me contrast the efforts made in Canada to create a patriotic and national sentiment as compared with the country to the south of us. Just here let me tell you a short story regarding what occurred to myself in the city of Detroit some years ago, before I was a member of the Legislative Assembly or had any thought of public life. I have always remembered it with the keenest appreciation of the great work in which the people to the south of us are engaged, inculcating in the youth of the country a loyal and patriotic sentiment. I was in Detroit on a school fête day when the children of each school were marshalled together for a march past the Detroit City Hall, where they had a large picture of the President surrounded by their national flag, the Stars and Stripes. As each school reached the entrance to the City Hall the scholars halted, saluted, and gave three cheers. To a little urchin on the street near me who was selling papers I said, "Why do they stop and cheer?" He replied, "They are cheering for the old flag which we call 'Old Glory,' and, sir, let me tell you that is the flag that was never licked!" I possibly did not agree with the accuracy of his history, but I realized the sentiment that had been created in that youngster's mind, a sentiment of loyalty and patriotism no doubt inculcated in his mind at school.
You may reasonably ask, " What are we doing to create a sentiment of loyalty and patriotism in this country?" and I may say that we have succeeded in placing the Union Jack, the flag of civilization, over every rural school in the Province of Ontario. I am also reminded of what took place the other day in the State of New Jersey, and as you are a reading people, this episode would not pass unnoticed by you—it appeared in all of the papers of last week. A boy attending a high school in the State of New Jersey was asked, as is their custom Monday morning, to salute the flag and to announce allegiance to the United States. The boy stated that he had no objection to salute the flag, but he could not give his allegiance to the United States as he was a British subject. Mr. President, I find that the State regulations of New Jersey call upon every scholar in their schools to salute the flag on each Monday morning and to declare their allegiance to the United States. This boy, being a British subject, could not conform to that part of the regulations, and was dismissed from the school. What would our people think of a regulation of that kind? I leave it for your meditation.
I hope and trust this meeting will be an inspiration that will extend all over this Dominion of Canada, and that some definite and proper way shall be found to commemorate the deeds of our ancestors and those great heroes whose efforts we to-day jubilate in this part of Canada, realizing the great heritage that has become ours through the agency of those great men who have passed away. May Canada always remain a part—and by the Almighty's help I believe it will always remain a part—of the British Empire.
Mr. President, let me congratulate the Historical Societies, the volunteers and cadets here assembled for bringing about this wonderful meeting, which I trust will have an influence in making this an annual celebration for all time to come.
It is a great satisfaction to me to be here to-day and to know that so many patriotic societies and organizations have clubbed together to commemorate so splendidly the one hundredth anniversary of the notable victory gained upon this field.
The great, virile nations of the world have always commemorated the brave deeds and victories of their fathers. The Romans did everything in their power to inspire their young men with love of country by relating stories of their glorious past. Some of them were evidently legends, but they all tended to create and instil a pure national spirit.
For five hundred years after Marathon the Athenians commemorated the glorious victory won against overwhelming odds. The Spartans never forgot the death of Leonidas and his three hundred brave, unflinching followers, who died for the honour of their country at Thermopylæ. Pausanias the historian was able to read six hundred years after upon a column erected to their memory in Sparta, the names of the three hundred Spartans who had died with their king in that fight.
In Russia also the same spirit of reverence for their great heroes has always shown itself. Dimitry saved Russia by a great victory over the Tartars in 1380. Over five hundred years have elapsed, but still the name of Dimitry Donskoi lives in the memory and the songs of the Russian people, and still on "Dimitry's Saturday," the anniversary of the battle, prayers are offered up in memory of the brave men who fell on that day in defence of their country.
Switzerland is another example of the patriotism of a free people. They won their freedom by three great victories won against overwhelming odds at Morgarten, Sempach and Naefels. Naefels was the final victory, and every year the people commemorate the great event. In solemn procession the people revisit the battlefield and the Landamman tells the fine old story of their deliverance from foreign rule. The five hundredth anniversary was celebrated in 1888, and people from all parts of Switzerland flocked to participate in the patriotic and religious services. This national spirit has kept Switzerland free although surrounded by great powers. Her children are all trained as soldiers in their public schools, and compulsory training of all their youth is rigidly enforced. We could learn a lesson from them in this.
Canada has shown the same virile spirit as other great nations, and we may take pride in the way in which our people have recognized what they owe to General Brock and the men who fought with him on this field one hundred years ago. This spot has seen several inspiring demonstrations.
Brock and Macdonell had been buried in Fort George in 1812. In 1824 their remains were removed and buried again under the first monument here. In 1824 there were no railways, practically no steamers, and the population of the Province was very small, and yet in the funeral cortege there were 560 men on horseback, 285 carriages and wagons, and thousands of persons on foot, in all estimated at about ten thousand people, who followed the remains the seven miles from Niagara to this place. That was a remarkable tribute to the memory of the great general.
In 1840 the monument was blown up on Good Friday by an Irish rebel or Fenian named Benjamin Lett. This aroused intense indignation throughout the Province, and a great demonstration was organized to arrange for building a new monument on a grander scale. The meeting was held in July, 1840, and a great number of the foremost men in public life attended. Ten steamers, all crowded with people, moved up the river in procession. About eight thousand persons were present. A new monument was decided upon and it is here above us now. It is a wonderful monument to have been erected by a small community when there was very little wealth in the country. This monument is as a column the finest and grandest I have seen. I put it far above the column to Alexander I. in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. It is about forty feet higher than the one to Nelson in Trafalgar Square. The National German Monument in the Neiderwald does not strike me as being so impressive.
In 1859, on the anniversary of the battle, there was another great gathering here for the inauguration of the monument. I was here with a detachment of my corps and there were a great many other detachments and people, and about two hundred of the old veterans of the war who came again to do honour to their dead chief. In the following year the late King was visiting Canada, and naturally he came here to do honour to the memory of the great general and to meet the surviving veterans of the war. There was another great demonstration and I was there on that occasion also. Could anything show more clearly the deep hold that General Brock had on the affection and memory of the Canadian people than these repeated gatherings? And now, after another fifty-two years, there is this splendid demonstration of respect and gratitude. I am proud that our people have done their duty to-day, and I hope that our action will inspire our children a hundred years hence to commemorate the great event. I make no apologies for coming here to glory over the victory. Brock died on this field and our fathers fought here that we should be a free and independent people, and we have enjoyed that position for a hundred years, thanks to their efforts. How can we use that freedom better, than in testifying in the heartiest manner our gratitude and appreciation for the priceless boon which we owe to those who then won it for us!
Permit me to express on behalf of the members of this generation of the family to which the former Attorney-General Macdonell belonged, my warm appreciation of the honour which was done to that gentleman's memory, by the invitation which in terms so generous and complimentary and so appreciative of his services, was extended to me as the representative of his family, to be present on this most interesting occasion as the special guest of your Committee.
We are assembled here to-day to commemorate the Centennial Anniversary of the death of Sir Isaac Brock, to give evidence that we Canadians hold in grateful remembrance the inestimable services which he rendered to our country, and to record it as our firm and solemn conviction that it is to that illustrious man of glorious memory we owe the preservation of this country, our connection with the Motherland and those British institutions which it is our happiness now to enjoy.
It was indeed a privilege for any man to have served under Sir Isaac Brock, to have been in any way associated with him, and more especially to have been placed in a position whereby he was enabled to second his indomitable efforts. It was the good fortune of Attorney-General Macdonell to have been associated with him in a threefold capacity. First he was connected with him by the most intimate ties of private friendship, for there existed between them the most perfect confidence and a mutual regard, amounting, as is frequently the case with men of generous impulse, to personal affection. Then as Attorney-General of the Province and chief law adviser of the Crown, he was the trusted legal adviser of General Brock in his capacity of President of the Council of the Province, and although but a young man he was equal to the exigencies of that critical period.
Upon the declaration of war, the House of Assembly was hastily convened in extra session on the 27th July, when General Brock, in the Speech from the Throne, made use of those ever-memorable words: "We are engaged in an awful and eventful contest. By unanimity and despatch in our councils and by vigour in our operations we will teach the enemy this lesson: that a country defended by free men, enthusiastically devoted to the cause of their King and Constitution, can never be conquered." But the House proved recalcitrant, and refused to comply with Brock's request to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act. It was the Attorney-General who solved the difficulty by giving it as his legal opinion that Major-General Brock, as Administrator of the Province, under the authority of his Commission from the King, had the power to dissolve the House and proclaim martial law, and that under the circumstances it was his duty to do so. This opinion was concurred in by his colleagues in the Government, and, accordingly, the Government as such tendered it as their unanimous advice to the Administrator, who immediately acted upon it, and thereby saved the country.
As a consequence of this drastic measure, the three leaders of the Opposition in the Legislature —Joseph Willcocks, Benjamin Mallory and Abraham Markle—who had been chiefly instrumental up to this time in thwarting all Brock's efforts, immediately fled to the United States, with which they had long been in traitorous intercourse, and where all their sympathies lay, Willcocks being eventually killed at the battle of Fort Erie, in 1814, in command of an American regiment, and Mallory serving throughout the war as a major in the same corps.
This measure enabled Brock also to deal summarily with their disloyal partisans and followers, much more numerous and infinitely more dangerous than is now generally supposed. He immediately issued a proclamation ordering all persons suspected of conniving with the enemy to be apprehended, and treated according to law. Those who had not taken the oath of allegiance were ordered to do so or leave the Province; many were sent out of the country; large numbers left of their own accord; those who refused to take the oath or to take up arms to defend the country, and remained in the Province after a given date, were declared to be enemies and spies, and were treated accordingly; a large number of this disloyal element were arrested and imprisoned early in the war, as on the day of the Battle of Queenston Heights the jail and Court House at Niagara as well as the block-house at Fort George were filled with political prisoners, over three hundred aliens and traitors being in custody, some of whom were tried and sentenced to death, while others were sent to Quebec for imprisonment.
This pressing and important business having been accomplished, General Brock entered actively upon his campaign, and determined upon offensive measures by an assault upon Detroit. Colonel Macdonell accompanied him as his military secretary and aide-de-camp. When the American, General Hull, in command of a greatly superior force and in possession of a strongly fortified position, on the 16th August proposed a cessation of hostilities with a view to his surrender, it was Colonel Macdonell whom General Brock entrusted with the delicate and important task of preparing the terms of capitulation. He returned within an hour with the conditions, which were immediately confirmed by General Brock, whereby Fort Detroit with 59,700 square miles of American territory— the whole State of Michigan—was surrendered. 2,500 officers and men became prisoners of war, and 2,500 stand of arms, thirty-three pieces of cannon, the Adams brig-of-war, and stores and munitions of war to the value of £40,000, all so sorely needed by the Canadian militia, were handed over to the British Commander.
General Brock in his despatch to the Home Government announcing the capture of Detroit, and which was published in a Gazette Extraordinary in London on the 6th October, with characteristic generosity bore testimony to the services of his friend in the following terms: "In the attainment of this important point gentlemen of the first character and influence showed an example highly creditable to them, and I cannot on this occasion avoid mentioning the essential assistance I derived from John Macdonell, Esquire, His Majesty's Attorney-General, who from the beginning of the war has honoured me with his services as my Provincial Aide-de-Camp."
Brock's biographer and nephew, Mr. Ferdinand Brock Tupper, graphically tells the end of them both, almost upon the spot upon which we now stand. After mention of the hasty gallop from Fort George, at dawn on the 13th October, when it was found that the Americans had during the night passed over the Niagara River and succeeded in gaining the crest of the heights in rear of the battery, and Brock's desperate effort to dislodge them, he goes on to say: "The Americans now opened a heavy fire of musketry, and, conspicuous from his dress, his height, and the enthusiasm with which he animated his little band, the British commander was soon singled out, and he fell about an hour after his arrival, the fatal bullet entering his right breast and passing through his left side. He lived only long enough to request that his fall might not be noticed, or prevent the advance of his brave troops. The lifeless body was immediately conveyed into a house at Queenston, where it remained until the afternoon, unperceived of the enemy. His aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, Attorney-General of Upper Canada—a fine, promising young man—was mortally wounded soon after his chief, and died the next day, at the early age of twenty-seven years. Although one bullet had passed through his body, and he was wounded in four places, yet he survived twenty hours, and during a period of excruciating agony his thoughts and words were constantly occupied in lamentations for his deceased commander and friend. He fell while gallantly charging, with the hereditary courage of his race, up the hill with 190 men, chiefly of the York Volunteers, by which charge the enemy was compelled to spike the eighteen-pounders in the battery there; and his memory will be cherished as long as courage and devotion are reverenced in the Province."
General Sheaffe, who succeeded General Brock upon the death of the latter, in his despatch announcing the victory which eventually crowned our arms, thus couples their names: ". . . No officer was killed besides Major-General Brock, one of the most gallant and zealous officers in His Majesty's service, whose loss cannot be too much deplored, and Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell, Provincial Aide-de-Camp, whose gallantry and merit rendered him worthy of his chief."
The Prince Regent thus acknowledged the communication through the Governor-General, by whom it had been forwarded: "His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent, is fully aware of the severe loss which His Majesty's service has experienced in the death of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock. This would have been sufficient to have clouded a victory of much greater importance. His Majesty has lost in him not only an able and meritorious officer, but one who, in the exercise of his functions of Provisional Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, displayed qualities admirably adapted to awe the disloyal, to reconcile the wavering, and to animate the great mass of the inhabitants against successive attempts of the enemy to invade the Province, in the last of which he unhappily fell, too prodigal of that life of which his eminent services had taught us to understand the value. His Royal Highness has also been pleased to express his regret at the loss which the Province must experience in the death of the Attorney-General, Mr. Macdonell, whose zealous co-operation with Sir Isaac Brock will reflect lasting honour on his memory." In communicating the above to the father of the Attorney-General, Lieutenant-Colonel Coffin, P.A.D.C, under date York, March 20th, 1813, stated by command of His Honour the President that "it would doubtless afford some satisfaction to all the members of the family to which the late Attorney-General was so great an ornament to learn that his merit has been recognized even by the Royal Personage who wields the sceptre of the British Empire, and on which His Honour commands me to declare his personal gratification."
No medal was struck for Queenston Heights, but when some time afterwards the rewards for the capture of Detroit were distributed, gold medals were deposited by the Sovereign with the families of Major-General Brock and Colonel Macdonell, and the King stated in each instance that it was done "in token of the respect which His Majesty entertains for the memory of that officer."
The graciously worded despatch of the Prince Regent mentioned the only fault of Sir Isaac Brock. Like Nelson he was too prodigal of his life; but as, alike by his services and his glorious death, Nelson became the hero and the idol of the British people, so by his services and his death Brock became for all time the hero of the people of this Province, and his memory will never die. Although he had served ten years in Canada, he had held his position as Administrator of Upper Canada but a few days over a year; yet that short time was sufficient to obtain for his name immortality, so long as the English language can narrate what in that brief period he accomplished, and hold forth for succeeding generations of British subjects in Canada and throughout the Empire the bright example of his genius and his gallantry, and the indomitable spirit with which he contended and overcame difficulties, apparently insurmountable, and which were sufficient to appal a heart even as stout and to tax to the uttermost a mind as versatile and resourceful as his.
Under this stately column he found a fitting tomb, and the ardent young friend, Glengarry's representative, who fell with him, lies beside him.
Chief Inspector of Schools, Toronto
I had the honour of requesting the Hon. Dr. Pyne, Minister of Education, to call the attention of the School Boards of Ontario to the importance of celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the victory so gallantly won on these heights, and of paying due tribute to the brave men and women who so nobly and heroically struggled to preserve for us the blessings of British liberty, and of unity with our motherland. To these men and women of firm faith and strong heart we give gratitude and reverence to-day, and especially to the statesman and hero who at the foot of these heights died a hundred years ago while leading Canadian volunteers to drive back invaders who without just cause had dared to come to Canada with the avowed purpose of forcibly taking possession of our country.
In the judgment of the committee that arranged for the celebration of the glorious deeds of our early history, it is most important that Canadian children should be trained to revere the memories of the great and true men and women of one hundred years ago, and to rejoice because of the victories won by them for freedom and for imperial unity.
There are men who have written to the newspapers objecting to the course we adopted. They seem to think it improper to let our children know that our country was ever in danger, and that it was saved by the unselfish devotion and the brave deeds of our ancestors. However, in spite of their protests, based on weak and unpatriotic sentiment, we intend to teach young Canadians to remember the patriotism and valour of the founders and defenders of Canada, and to train them to become worthy successors to the men and women who made such sacrifices for them.
We have no wish to fill the hearts of the pupils in our schools with animosity towards the great nation whose fertile fields and happy homes we see beyond the great river that separates it from our own fair land. We wish to develop in our children a spirit that will lead them to say to the people across our borderland not "Hands off Canada," but "Hands together to achieve for God and for humanity the highest and broadest and truest ideals that have been revealed to the Anglo-Saxon race."
We do not wish to make our children quarrelsome or offensive, but we do wish them to be patriotic Canadians, full of loyalty to their flag, their Empire, and their King. We wish them to understand what their predecessors did in order that they may have faith in themselves and in their country; and we intend that they shall learn the achievements of the past in order that they may have a true basis for their own manhood and womanhood. True reverence for courage and self-sacrifice, fidelity to principle, and devotion to home and country in time of need, is a fundamental element of strong, true character. The facts of history may have little influence in developing character, but the noble deeds of our ancestors performed for high purposes are the surest sources for the development of the strong and true emotions that make human character vital instead of inert. Emotions form the battery power of character, and among the emotions that give strength and virility and beauty to character, reverence for the dead who wisely struggled and nobly achieved, is surely one of the most productive of dignified and transforming character.
The history of the past is valuable chiefly for the opportunities it gives to be stirred to deep, true enthusiasm for heroism, for honour, for patriotism, for love of freedom, for devotion to duty, and for sublime self-sacrifice for high ideals. Whatever else we may neglect in the training of the young, I trust we shall never fail to fill their hearts with profound reverence for the men and women of the past to whom they owe so much.
We should teach other lessons from the War of 1812. We should fill each child's life with a splendid courage that can never be dismayed, by telling how a few determined settlers scattered widely over a new country successfully repelled invading armies coming from a country with a population twenty-fold larger. We should teach reverence not only for manhood but for womanhood by recounting the terrible hardships endured willingly by Canadian women generally, as well as by proudly relating the noble work done by individual women, of whom Laura Secord was so conspicuous an example.
A certain class of thoughtless people call us "flag-wavers" if we strive to give our young people a true conception of the value of national life, and of their duty to have a true love for their country and for their Empire. If a flag-waver means one who is proud of a noble ancestry, and determined to prove worthy of the race from which he sprung; one who knows that his forefathers gave a wider meaning to freedom, and who intends to perpetuate liberty and aid in giving it a still broader and higher value; one who is grateful because his Empire represents the grandest revelation of unity yet made known to humanity and who accepts this revelation as a sacred trust, then I am a flag-waver, and I shall make every boy and girl whom I can ever influence a flag-waver who loves his flag and waves it because it represents freedom, and honour, and justice, and truth, and unity, and a glorious history, the most triumphantly progressive that has been achieved by any nation in the development of the world.
We do well to celebrate the great deeds of the men and women of a hundred years ago, and teach our children to give them reverence, but it is far more important for us to consider what the people a hundred years hence will think of us than to glorify the triumphs of a hundred years ago. The work of the world is not done. Evolution to higher ideals goes ever on. Each succeeding generation has greater responsibilities and higher duties than the one that preceded it. The greatest lesson we can learn from the past is that we should prove true to the opportunities of our time; that we should with unselfish motive and undaunted hearts accept the responsibilities that come to us as partners in our magnificent Empire, and share in the achievement of greater triumphs for freedom and justice than have ever been recorded in the past.
Inspired by the records of such men as Brock, at the foot of whose monument we stand to-day and look with reminiscent glance over the marvellous progress of a hundred glorious years, let us determine that we shall do our part to make the coming century more fruitful than the past.
Six Nation Indians, Grand River Reserve
If a Mohawk Chief had in his make-up a particle of timidity I fear that your cheering would have frightened or disconcerted me.
Now, contrary to the usual preface to speeches on occasions of this nature, let me instead say that my pleasure in addressing you this afternoon is not altogether unalloyed, as I look back to the remote past, when my ancestors could make or unmake nations on this continent; their favour was then courted by the different European nations, until finally they entered into an alliance or treaty with the military authorities of the British nation, and which the Six Nations has ever held inviolate.
They, however, in my humble opinion, made a serious mistake in taking sides in the War of American Independence, as their treaty obligations only required them to assist the British when attacked by a foreign power and not in a case of family quarrel, so they could have consistently taken a neutral ground. It is not, however, so surprising that they took the step they did when we consider the influences that were brought to bear on them and the inducements that were held out to them. Consider the influence of Tha-yen-da-ne-gea—Brant, their war chief—and their own love of war. War with them was as religion. Add to these the influence of Sir William Johnson and others.
And there was the very strong inducement that they would be guaranteed a perpetual independence and self-government, and also that they would be amply indemnified for any and all losses that they might sustain by their services. Now we know that these pledges were not adequately fulfilled, yet, notwithstanding this fact, the Six Nations remained faithful in their adherence to the British Crown.
And now allow me to come down to the eventful times which more immediately concern us this afternoon. Let me at the outset briefly but most emphatically assert that in those troublous times no followers of the illustrious Brock, whose fall and victory we are this afternoon commemorating, fought more bravely than the Six Nations; their very admiration of that great and brave general was as a spur to their bravery.
I think I may truthfully say that had it not been for the bravery of the Six Nations the Union Jack would not to-day be waving over these historic heights.
The Six Nations have never had an historian of their own to record the brave deeds of valour of their warriors, and therefore get but scant justice in the historical records of this country; naturally the historians magnify the achievements of their own peoples, while I claim that more credit should be given my own people.
Let me instance one or two samples of justice doled out to my people in various lines. You know that in Ontario manhood suffrage prevails in political elections, so that any foreigner after six months' residence can have every privilege of a full citizen, although he may have no higher interest in the country than as a place in which to earn his bread and butter, and whose ancestors have never shed a drop of blood for its retention by Britain, and who himself may never fight in its defence, but who may go back to fight his own country's battles, perhaps even against Britain.
But the original owners of this country, proved to be men on many a battlefield, who fought and won Britain's battles, ceased to be men and became minors after the battles were won and British predominance secured, and therefore are not allowed men's privileges.
I contend that if Canada is to do justice (and I believe it will) to the Six Nations, it will have to give them representation on the floor of the House of Commons and also respect the treaty concessions made to them, instead of gradually curtailing their tribal rights and privileges. These blood-bought rights and privileges are just as dear to the Six Nations as similar ones are to any other nation.
I fear, Mr. Chairman, that I have already taken up my allotted time, so will refrain from giving all the examples of our loyalty I would have liked to present to this vast assemblage. Allow me, however, to say that as this is an influential gathering, so I hope that each individual of influence will go back to his or her sphere of usefulness and listen to the cry for justice on behalf of the Six Nations, fully appreciating the fact that it is "up to you" to see to it that justice is done this people who have rendered such inestimable service to this country and to Britain.
My remarks may not suit everyone, but I cannot help that. I am not courting popularity, for I am getting too old for that, and I am descended from too long a line of brave warriors to be afraid to speak the truth, whether it be pleasant or otherwise.
Thanking you, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, for the privilege and honour of addressing this influential assemblage and for the kind hearing and attention accorded to me.
Six Nation Indians
We are assembled to-day on this historic spot to commemorate the memory of a great soldier, a patriot and renowned son of the Empire of which we are a part.
I am pleased to note the presence of so many chiefs and warriors of the Six Nations who are here assembled on the basis of one common citizenship with you, to join with our white brethren to pay respect and homage to the late hero, General Sir Isaac Brock, who offered his life as a sacrifice in the cause he so gallantly defended. He was the brave leader who led the white man and Indian in the defence of our country, our flag, and all that pertained to the maintenance of British institutions.
Our act to-day is a noble one. It is of a kind that touches deep down into the heart that throbs with affection's glow. It is one worthy of emulation by our posterity. We as a people should never lose sight of the great importance that must attach to this occasion, and of the duty we owe to our children to do all we can to impress their minds with the precepts of loyalty to the king and crown, that should be ever steadfast and immovable.
As a member of the Six Nations it is not altogether my wish that I should be looked upon on this occasion as a mere representative of my nation, but rather as a representative of the noble native Indian race which has so conspicuously identified itself with British arms at critical periods in the history of our fair Dominion.
From this spot, almost, General Brock set out for Amherstburg to arrange plans of campaign, and there met and shook hands with Tecumseh, this patriot Indian giving the assurance to his chief in command of the forces that he and his united Indian tribes composed of the Shawanoes, Wyandottes, Chippewas, Ottawas, Foxes and others, were ready to go into the field of action in defence of the British cause.
Like General Brock, this noble red man, as a leader of his kinsmen, also sacrificed his life in the cause of his king and country. And sad is it to say that not even a heave of the turf marks his last resting-place.
It is not for me to laud or unduly magnify the important part the Indians have played in wars that have marked our country's history-making: but should such an emergency again present itself, I feel confident that the Indians will never be found wanting.
Honorary President of the Association of Canadian Clubs
I tender my thanks to the Committee for honouring the hundred clubs of the Dominion by inviting their honorary president to take part in the proceedings of this great day.
The real celebration of the centenary of the battle and the fitting remembrance of the hero who gave up his life for Canada one hundred years ago, has already taken place in the six thousand schools by six hundred thousand scholars of this premier Province of Ontario. By this vast army of patriots in the making there has been celebrated within the past few days in song and story the splendid heroism of the immortal Brock, and the work done by him for our common country a century ago.
In that great work he was nobly seconded by the brilliant young Glengarrian Macdonell, who, like his illustrious leader, fell on the slope of this sacred hill.
In this dread contest there fought side by side regular soldier and militiaman; the noble red man and the freed black man contended against a common enemy to that freedom and that constitution that every Briton loves so well.
It was indeed a proud thing for Canadians to remember that whilst there was a great Imperial officer to lead the little band, close beside him in the great struggle there ever stood a valorous Canadian aide-de-camp. Yes, for every regular that contended for the maintenance of British law and authority in this Canada of ours there were fighting by his side the farmer and the tradesman of those heroic days.
Was not this prophetic of that future co-operation between mother and daughter states? Was it not full of the deepest meaning for us of the twentieth century? Could we not say "Thy people are my people and my people thy people"? As in the days of yore, so in these days of Canada's abounding prosperity and increasing national greatness, there would be found men and means for any national or Imperial emergency that the future might have in store for us.
Our magnificently proportioned Canada must have a magnificently proportioned soul if she would fulfil her high destiny of eventual leadership in the band of sister nations within an Empire indissolubly bound by ties of love and sacrifice. In enlarging the soul of our people such celebrations as these have their sure and certain part, and the thrill of Brock's great name will stir this people's soul so long as Canada shall endure.
A brief and eloquent speech was also made by Mr. W. M. German, M.P., Welland, Ont.