Canada Scores Again at Wembley
It is not alone the commercial side of Wembley with which Mr. Nelson deals in this inspiring article, but also with those larger aspects of loyalty and mutual cooperation between the widespread nations under the Union Jack, which are the hope and the glory of the British Empire.
WEMBLEY the Wonderful which for six months last year was the Mecca of the British world, is to be repeated this summer.
The Canadian government, whose exhibit was, in the opinion of many, the most beautiful in the exhibition of last year, will again be represented, but on a scale even eclipsing that of 1924, which was the subject of so much gratification and pride to every Canadian who visited the grounds. “The interior of the Canadian Pavilion, which would dwarf any railway terminus in London,” declared the Sunday Pictorial, “is without doubt the most beautifully decorated, the most artistically conceived and in many respects the most charming structure in the Exhibition.” The cumulative advantages which this year’s effort will furnish, to capitalize the benefits of last summer, are keenly appreciated, and the various official departments concerned are now busily preparing for the event.
The reason for Wembley 1925 is Wembley
The realization of the incalculable benefits resulting from the display of last year is leading all the Britannic nations to lively co-operation and rivalry in preparing for the forthcoming exhibition. The Motherland, and all the Dominions and Colonies are entering it with the same enthusiasm as before. All are preparing fresh displays, and a
healthy spirit of rivalry prevails among their organizers. Canada set a hot pace in 1924, and it is an open secret that some of her sister states are determined that they will not be outdone this year. This is stimulating Canada in turn, and the joint result is likely to be a Wembley greater and more memorable than its predecessor.
Some Changes Are Made
THE British government, the mother nation, will again be At Home in the great concrete pavilion guarded by its two massive lions. The Palace of Engineering which actually covers fourteen acres, and has five lines of railway running through it, this year becomes the Pal-
ace of Housing and Transport and will be given premier place. A great housing display is being organized by the Rt. Hon. Neville Chamberlain, Minister of Health, and a committee. Its purpose is to show the practical use to
which the various new methods and materials now recommended in the building of homes, can be put, and the devices now available for household convenience and comfort.
The year 1925 being the one hundredth anniversary of the first steam train used for the transport of passengers in England, large transportation exhibits will display the results of a century of progress. This will include an illustration of how the steam train is standing the effects of electricity and motor transport. The big steamship lines will do a similar service for water transport. The Stadium will again be the theatre for athletic events and spectacular displays, and the Amusement Park the resort for those who desire recreation.
In the Palace of Industry there will be an extension of the idea of composite exhibition, last year’s experience having converted many individual firms to the idea of uniformity in both design and decoration. The arts of the Dominions will be shown along with the cream of the various municipal galleries of Great Britain. English life from the earliest days will be shown jpto 1851. The civic periods of the great provincial centres will be displayed, and a whole gallery will be devoted to pictures of Empire builders. The Civic Bureau will form a convenient trade liason by which Dominion visitors will be put in touch with the industrial centres in the Old Country, in which they are interested.
The general setting will be greatly improved. The wonderful rock gardens will be more delightful than ever, while trees, herbaceous borders, shrubs, and flowers, are now firmly established, and will for that reason be the more effective. Roads have been surfaced, and re-conditioned, footpaths re-made, and many of them finished off with red ash. Illumination will be on a more
ambitious scale than ever. The Stadium will have a repetition of its famous military tattoo, one of the immense successes of last year, and of former and new events.
Canada’s Interest in Wembley
CANADA has a special interest in Wembley. It was the conception of the late Lord Strathcona, and was broached by him at a meeting which he called at the Mansion House before the war. He felt that such an exhibition would serve several useful purposes. It would help the people of the whole Empire to realize their undeveloped resources. It would tend to extend trade within that Empire. It would make the
British people better known to one another, and would reveal to the outside world a fuller realization of the meaning and measure of Imperial unity.
The outbreak of the World War prevented the project materializing when first conceived, but the close of that war furnished a fresh incentive for it. Various members of the British Commonwealth of nations, having fought together for the realization of an ideal, felt there should be some common rallyirg point afforded as a vantage ground from which to survey the
whole field of peaceful endeavor which stretched before them. The Prince of Wales, that indefatigable elder brother of the overseas members of the Imperial family, became president of a general committee to launch the project. The Home government made a grant of £100,000. The proposal was taken up with an enthusiasm which showed its timeliness.
All parts of the Empire, even where interests seemed to conflict, worked loyally together for the general success.
The Dominions and the Colonies alone spent over £2,000,000 on the project. The “forty frenzied acres” at Wembley became the theatre in which was expressed all the activities of an Empire which occupies one quarter of the earth’s surface, and contains one quarter of the entire population of the world. Each of the nations vied to outdo one another in the beauty and effectiveness of the buildings in which their products were housed.
The success of the exhibition for a time, partially threatened by unfavorable weather, exceeded all expectations. The attendance which had been estimated at 15,000,000, actually exceeded 18,000,000. Over 4,000,000 school children from the various parts of the British Isles, attended. Two hundred excursion trains were run to it in one day. The daily attendance equalled that for a record football cup final, and on the leading day there were three times as many people present as at the biggest cup final.
THE Canadian exhibit will this year be again housed in a pavilion which is one of the outstanding features of the display. Lovat Fraser wrote last year of “the subtle grace which is apparent the instant one enters the Canadian building. Under the warm Italian skies of Australia a very distinctive school is developing in painting, decoration and architecture, but I was not aware that
austere Canada was much attracted by the arts. This time Canada has beaten everybody, and puts the plain interiors of our British palaces to shame. I defy anybody to visit the Canadian building without wanting to rush off to Canada by the next boat.”
The building is of NeoGreek style, and is splendidly located. It is 400 feet long by 300 feet wide.
One half of it is devoted to the natural resources of Canada and the remaining half to national industries.
The wisdom of this course became increasingly apparent day by day last season, and will be kept in view in this year’s arrangements. Practically all lines of industry were represented and it was amazing to note how interested the visitors were to know that Canada had such a diversity of manufactures. Previously they had looked on the Dominion as a grain growing country. Over two hundred and fifty manufacturing firms in Canada displayed their products, and the amount of business done and the connections made, were not only in the British Isles, but also in I,ndia, South Africa,
Australia, New Zealand and other countries. One fact may be cited as illustrating how quickly the
Canadian manufacturers became alive to their opportunities. Of those which exhibited, thirty-two previously had representation in Great Britain, while over 100 now have connections there, and many have formed additional connections in other countries as well.
Some interesting illustrations of the way in which
Canadian manufactures became known through the exhibit are told by some of those in attendance at it. One owner of a small Canadian manufacturing plant had its representative in England for two or three months in an unsuccessful attempt to make an Old Country connection through which to market his product. Finally through the facilities which the exhibition afforded he found a large English firm, ideally adapted to assemble and market in finished condition the article which the Canadian was specially equipped to produce in its elementary form. The English firm dispatched a man to Canada, made an inspection of the Canadian plant, carefully checked the financial status of the company, and in the end placed an
order covering several years for the entire output at an interesting profit to the local producer.
The Minister of Trade and Commerce, Hon. J. A. Robb under whose department the exhibit is being made has taken the precaution to assign one or two of his chief officers to Wembley, whose special task it is to assist
exporters in making the proper connections.
The canners of one of the provinces had carried over from a previous year 143,000 cases.
Wembley furnished them the advertising and the outlet they required for the entire consignment. There was a similar reaction on the Canadian butter trade.
“We want to see a little less of ‘best Danish’ and ‘best Dutch’ and a little more of ‘best Australian, Canadian and New Zealand,’ ” said Sir Joseph Cooke, the High Commissioner of Australia. And the practical results have been in keepingwith that aspiration.
While Canadian Manufactures are receiving attention in a manner never be-
fore secured, the departmental officers are not relaxing the emphasis so long placed on Canada’s importance as the bread basket and the granary of theEmpire. Agriculture, horticulture, dairying, mining, fishing—the products of all are attractively displayed. The newer assets of water power and national parks, in which Canada is so rich, bring the elements of romance to the display. The cataract of Niagara never fails to enthrall, while the imposing figure of the Prince of Wales, mounted, with his Alberta ranch in the background, was always surrounded by admirers. There were three and a half tons of butter used in this figure.
“Canada must be a great country if the Prince goes and lives there,” was a frequent comment. The fact that the Prince, while he has his ancestral castle and seat in Wales, has his productive estate on Canadian plains makes of him a Prince of Canada as well as of Wales, and justifies the oft-quoted dictum that “the Old Land has
given the race its past, but the New promises it its future.”
Millions of visitors were attracted last year, as they will be this by the display of the Canadian universities. An exhibit showing the thoroughness of Canadian higher education, and its low cost, seemed to be especially reassuring to those who contemplate making a new home for their families in a new land.
Canada and Empire Settlement
TO CANADIANS the lessons which Wembley afforded in Empire settlement was one of its most attractive features. Notwithstanding that the Empire settlement act, which made £4,500,000 available for the encouragement of migration within the Empire, had been passed some years before, less than half a million of it had been spent up to the time of the opening of the exhibition. This, too, in the face of the fact that in 1923 over 14,000 skilled British artizans had gone to the United States. The seriousness of that situation was realized not alone by the Baldwin Ministry, but by the Labor administration of Mr. Ramsay Macdonald which was in power when the exhibition took place.
The members of his government eagerly identified themselves with the proposed remedy. Hon. J. H. Thomas, expressed the view that Wembley had disabused the minds of many people of the illusion that they were encouraging or driving men out of the country. It showed an Empire so comprehensive that, as he expressed it, “it was a common sense bit of organization to transfer one section to another section to obtain the maximum of advantage.” He pointed out that the foundations of Empire, as too many people forget, were laid not alone by traders and explorers, but “by humble men and women of British stock, who left these islands for distant parts of the world, seeking only a livelihood which was denied them at home. These men and women, toiling in far places, brought prosperity to these lands as well as to themselves, and made them, as it were, part of the Homeland.
‘ ‘Few labor men have been able to leave these shores,” he said. '“The exhibition brought these resources to them. Nothing is so calculated to correct that excusable ignorance. It permits millions to visit the Empire —to see its vastness and illimitable resources, its numberless opportunities for brains and muscles. They learn, for instance, that Canada is not only an agricultural country, but is also rich in industries; is expanding, but not as it might, because its supply of labor is not adequate. It is a shop window of the Empire. It brings new visions of hope to those who are tempted to despair when realizing that the solution of our own industrial problems is a slow progress, depending on the gradual restoration of Europe.”
Hon. J. RClynes was equally emphatic. His government he declared hoped to prove themselves in no way inferior to their predecessors in the encouragement of migration. They might indeed, as he said, feel a more definite class interest in the future well-being of those large populations whose transference they wanted to encourage.
“/"A VERSEAS settlement is a starting point, not a v/ winning post,” was the way a leading London daily sized up the situation. Another great newspaper pointed out the importance of the personal contacts afforded by the Exhibition, in facilitating this movement. From miners, and fishermen, sheep-shearers and farmers, metal-workers and cowboys, their comrades in the Homeland learnt first hand all about their conditions and their life and the opportunity awaiting new comers. They learned too how prosperity goes hand in hand with peace; how colonies and dominions have progressed and flourished far from the wars that have ravaged Europe, even though to that catastrophe they have paid their share of treasure and blood.
The Canadian Government Commissioner, Mr.
A. W. Tolmie, notes how public imagination has been affected by the exhibit from Canada, and public opinion impressed by the discovery of the Dominion, not alone as a great wheat field, but as a great seat of manufactures as well.
While Wembley stands in the eyes of the British Empire for a great concerted effort to tell the world what the British Empire is, in the eyes of the rest of the world, it stands as the first definite attempt since the war by any nation or group of nations, to start afresh the slow-moving wheels of commerce. Hon. Mack-
enzie King, premier of Canada, is “confident that the enterprise will assist in making clear to the world something of the capacity of Canada, not only to furnish new avenues of profitable trade and investment, but also to provide homes for countless numbers from the Old World.” Small wonder that Wembley has so strongly appealed
The Duke of York, in his address as president of the British Empire Exhibition characterized it as “the University of the Empire.” A fine phrase and undoubtedly justified, for Wembley has been a large factor in teaching a mighty Empire many of the vital things about itself.
to the imagination of men, or that there should be such a wide demand for its repetition. For it has been the great home-coming of a widely scattered race, where those who have come to know one another’s valor in the stern service and sacrifice of war, rejoice in the discovery of equal skill and craftsmanship in the arts of peace. Many a trench and fireside tale, told by men from far lands to those from the isles of home, has found verification in the display in the Canadian building. Ties of sentiment have found practical expression in trade arrangements which have grown out of the exhibition, where the resources of a worldgirdling Empire are comprised within the narrow limits of an English park.
To the people of the Dominions themselves, sometimes impatient of the Motherland, there has been at Wembley a reminder of all that her patient industry has achieved in the rehabilitation of the world since the war years. To those outside, who without full understanding have watched the changes in the structure of the Empire, and imagined they saw therein decay, there has been furnished the best proof of that vitality and courage which has raised the British people to new heights from the welter of war. Wembley is not a display of national wealth, nor of military or naval power. It is rather a physical expression of a union such as the world has not before seen, with local freedom existing to so large an extent as to make it substantially true that there is a League of Nations functioning with hardly any friction and suggesting the possibility of the larger League which is the vision of the lovers of peace and goodwill among men.
The Bond of Empire
THE sentiment behind it all is perhaps most suitably expressed in the new significance of Empire Day. That national festival came of age in the exhibition of 1924. As in all majorities attained, it marked a new . epoch in the life to be celebrated. It had long been observed in different climes, in different conditions, for supplication in time of war, for thanksgiving in days of peace. It had been the occasion for simple ceremonies in schools and settlements, and for stately reviews on land and sea. It had not lacked pomp. But its twenty-first celebration with which Wembley, 1924, was virtually opened, gave it a new significance, and made of it a halting place to express that inner spiritual meaning of Empire, so unlike the old conception of the term, so unrealized too often even by those of the Blood. The great pavilions became not only a show window of that Empire, but its shrine, and the little park, the natural and almost hallowed meeting place for its pilgrims.
Value of Co-operation to Empire
BOTH Empire Day and the Empire Exhibition hold in common the spirit, not of pride, but instead, tangible evidences and suggestions of the value of co-operation, and an example of the new kind of internationalism w h i ch may save the world from a recurrence of the calamity from which it is so slowly and painfully recovering. His Majesty, the King, whose knowledge of his realms exceeds that of any of his predecessors describes the exhibition as “co-operation between brothers for the better development of the family estates.”
It is in that welcome task that Canada is again about to participate.