CNE Opening Day Remarks by
His Excellency Julian Hedworth George Byng
Governor General of Canada
Mr. President and Directors of the Canadian National Exhibition:
I feel that it is my first duty to thank you for extending to me the invitation which has brought me here today. I received it within a few days of my appointment to be Governor General and it gave me the greatest of pleasure to seize such an opportunity for my first visit to Toronto.
On first assuming office, I have found in the multitude of new activities of this great Dominion, many which I have known very little, about, but, Ladies and Gentlemen, your Exhibition did not come within this category. Without exaggeration it can be said that the Canadian National Exhibition is famous throughout the British Empire, and the Continent of America, and when I look at this splendid site, stately buildings and excellent organization, I feel that this reputation is well deserved.
The Canadian National Exhibition has indeed a unique record and one to be proud of. Every year since 1879 the people of the Province of Ontario have gathered to see the progress that has been made, and to assimilate new ideas for the future. Steadily year by year, the Exhibition has grown in importance and influence; each Opening has seen new countries represented, so that the value of its work has been proportionally enhanced. It is my privilege today to address twelve thousand veterans of the Great War, a living witness of Canada’s devotion to the British Empire and to the liberties which are the Empire’s birthright.
I cannot express in words to you, my comrades of the War, my gratitude for the warm welcome you have given me today. It has been a happiness I shall not easily forget, and I see before me during my term of office, many happy days amongst old friends.
Talking to you now I cannot help drawing a comparison in my mind between the times when we met before and the present occasion. I cannot imagine a greater contrast than you will find here. War, however just, however necessary, is destruction of the past efforts of civilization and the mortgaging of the inheritance of its future generations. The war we have just passed through was just, was necessary, was in defence of our ideals and liberties, no one, I think will deny. We have won it and kept our freedom, but we have to pay the price all the same.
But today we are celebrating the opening of an exposition of every branch of man’s constructive genius. We see around us his inventions to bring all the resources of nature under his command for the betterment of mankind and its improvement of our civilization. In fact this Exhibition teaches us through increased and more efficient production how the effect of four and a half years destruction can best be eradicated.
If we are to gain the full benefits from the great struggle through which we have just passed, the Nations of the World must try to read its lessons.
Commerce is the basis of all international relationship and it is obvious that a national exhibition of a country’s products both agricultural and manufactured, such as we see today, visited by people from almost every part of the World, must materially assist in the promotion international trade and a better understanding each of the others requirements and aspirations.
You of the Province of Ontario may well be proud of your great annual festival. Every man will find here a true picture of what Canada is doing towards the development of the great inheritance which is hers, and an inspiration to stick true to the ideas of the succeeding generations of her citizens who have built up in less than a century since the incorporation of Toronto as the Capital of Ontario, a City worthy of this great position in a great Province and true to the meaning of its name --- “a place of meeting”.
Field Marshall Julian Hedworth George Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy, Commander of the Canadian Corps from 1915 to 1917 and Governor General of Canada from 1921 to 1926 (Born 11 September 1862 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom; died June 6, 1935 in Essex, United Kingdom).
Byng led the Canadian Corps to victory at the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War.
As governor general, he is best known for his role in the King-Byng Affair, when he formally refused Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s advice to dissolve Parliament and call a federal election.