Q@Mackenzie King opened the CNE twice as Prime Minister, the first time is pictured here in 1927 (see his address below). The second was 20 years later in 1947, when the fair re-opened after having been closed during the Second World War.
This picture would have been taken in the second of his three terms as Prime Minister of Canada (1921-1926; 1926-1930 and 1935-1948).
Mr King (1874-1950) was Canada's longest serving prime minister. He steered Canada through industrialization, much of the Great Depression, and the Second World War.
By the time he left office, Canada had achieved a greater independence from Britain and a stronger international voice.
Under his leadership, Canada also implemented policies such as unemployment insurance in response to industrialization, economic distress and changing social realities.
View the Prime Minister's signature in the CNE's Opening Day book.
The Opening Day Address
delivered by the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King
Prime Minister of Canada
August 27, 1927
The Canadian National Exhibition of 1927, affording as it does a panorama of Canadian progress, and marked by the erection of an Eastern Gate commemorative of the Diamond Jubilee, constitutes a fitting climax to the memorable incidents which, in the history of our country, will ever be associated with this year. It has appeared to me that, at this time and in this place, it would be most fitting were I briefly to review a few of the features which have served tp give historic interest and value to the celebration we are now about to conclude.
During the last session of Parliament, as all present are aware, an Act was passed making provision for a National Committee to plan a suitable commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. From a nation-wide observance of the birth of the Dominion, it was hoped that the Canadian people would come to have a more intimate knowledge of and a deeper interest in the history of Canada, a new pride in their national heritage, and above all. a consciousness in larger measure of national unity. High as were the aims of the National Committee, it can be said today that the most sanguine expectations of its members have been surpassed in the memorable success of the celebrations throughout the Dominion. It is safe to predict that, through the general recognition it has afforded our country's attainment of the full stature of nationhood, the present year will be remembered as one of outstanding significance.
Let me make mention first of what the celebration, in one form or another, has brought forth by way of increased knowledge of our history. Foremost are the publications of the National Committee and the Departments of Government, both Federal and Provincial, which review the progress of Canada in the last sixty years, and which give in historical outline the main political, constitutional and economic developments. They are part of the permanent literature which, from now on, will serve as sources of ready reference. Next, there is the vast wealth of descriptive and historical material which has been published by the daily and periodical press. This has been supplemented in no small degree by individual publications, both of institutions and persons, touching upon many phases of our industrial, commercial and social life. in the universities and schools, special attention has been given to historical studies, and from one end of the Dominion to the other, there have been competitions in essay writing and oratory on Canadian subjects. Last, but by no means least, a special issue of Jubilee stamps has sought to convey its historical message through the medium of His Majesty's Post. When we begin to reflect on what all this has meant in the way of revived intellectual interest, the fruits of which have been permanently preserved, we begin to see how vast, in one of its phases only, has been the nationwide education effect of the celebration.
In two most important directions, the celebration has served to arouse a new interest in Canada as a country of one's own --- "our own, our native land." First, there is the influence of the celebration upon the children, the rising generation; and secondly, its influence upon the newcomers, especially those of foreign origin. The imaginations of both children and adults have undoubtedly been stirred, and their interest in Canada and its history deepened and broadened. The unprecedented extent to which the celebration was carried out by the voluntary effort in which all alike participated, was, in this particular, a factor of supreme importance. The National Committee was far-sighted in so largely encouraging voluntary effort, and seeking to lend only such guidance as would serve to give unity and harmony to the whole. The National Committee salary list merely covered a necessary supervision of routine. Practicall all the planning, organization and executive work was done by persons who were glad to offer their services as a patriotic gift.
At the time of the Tercentenary Celebration in Quebec, the planning for and direction of the pageantry was undertaken almost altogether by persons from outside Canada. In the Diamond Jubilee Celebration, pageantry on a considerable scale was carried out in almost every community, but the organization, artistic work, and direction of these pageants were undertaken locally. They were carried out extremely well. The whole accomplishment revealed an advance in artistic taste, organizing ability, and patriotic feeling, that is of the greatest significance. It is gratifying to notice that a pageant of Canadian progress will constitute the spectacular evening display of this year's Exhibition. Nothing finer could have been conceived in the way of an educational and patriotic appeal.
The National Committee was far-seeing also in seizing the occasion as an opportunity for placing patriotic plaques in our public and separate schools, emphasizing the idea of “Canada our country” and in distributing commemorative medals to all school children participating in the celebrations. It seems to me that this generation of school children will have a new and wholly different feeling and attachment to Canada. I am told that in the West, the commemorative medals are particularly valued, and they are looked upon by children of newcomers as a sort of passport to a common citizenship with the children of native Canadians. The extent to which adult newcomers, particularly in Western Canada, participated in the various celebrations was truly remarkable, and had a kindred effect. Some of the best celebrations were held in communities in which there were scarcely any persons of either Anglo-Saxon or French origin.
The consciousness of national unity, which the celebration had so greatly furthered, has been, perhaps, its supreme achievement. This was due in a large measure to the completeness of the organization of local celebrations and to the similarity of methods of commemorating the Diamond Jubilee as arranged by the Committee. Especially impressive and unifying was the celebration on Parliament Hill on July the first, with the broadcasting of the Ottawa programme over the whole of Canada, and the Service of National Praise and Thanksgiving on July the third which extended from sea to sea.
In its way, there has been nothing comparable to the nation-wide broadcasting of the proceedings on Parliament Hill, as effected through the co-operation of the railway, telegraph, telephone, and radio companies under the direction of the National Committee. For the first time in the history of Canada, the words spoken on Parliament Hill and the sound of its chimes and bells were carried instantaneously to, and heard simultaneously in all parts of this vast Dominion. Never before was a national programme enjoyed by citizens of any land over so vast an area. It is doubtful if ever before, the thoughts of so many of the citizens were concentrated, at one and the same moment, upon what was taking place on its capital, or those in authority brought into such immediate and sympathetic personal touch with those from whom their authority was derived.
in the Confederation debates in the Legislature of United Canada in 1865, the Honourable Christopher Dunkin drew attention to what seemed, at the time, an inevitable impediment to national consciousness on the citizens of Canada. He said: “We have a large class whose national feelings turn towards London, whose very heart is there; another large class whose sympathies centre here at Quebec, or in a sentimental way may have had some reference to Paris; another large class whose memories are of the Emerald Isle; and yet another whose comparisons are rather with Washington; but have we any class of people who are attached, or whose feelings are going to be directed with any earnestness, to the City of Ottawa, the centre of the new nationality that is to be created?” After many years, this doubt as been dispelled, and the question has been answered by the voice of the Canadian people united in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation.
On the morning, afternoon, and evening of July the first, all Canada became, for the time being, a single assemblage, swayed by a common emotion, within the sound of a single voice. Thus has modern science for the first time in the great nation-state of modern days that condition which existed in the little city-states of ancient times, and which was considered by the wisdom of the ancients as indispensable to free and democratic government, namely, that all the citizens should hear for themselves the living voice. To them, it was the voice of a single orator, a Demosthenes or a Cicero, speaking on public questions in the Athenian assembly, or in the Roman forum. Hitherto, Ottawa has seemed to Canadians far-off, a mere name to hundreds of thousands of our people. Henceforth, all Canadians will stand within the sound of the carillon, and within hearing of the speakers on Parliament Hill. May we not predict that as a result of the carrying of the living voice throughout the length and breadth of the Dominion, there will be aroused a more general interest in public affairs, and a increased devotion on the part of the individual citizen to the common weal?
(Speech in the process of being entered .... more to come)