Canada in the National Setting
TODAY I am going to bring back to Queen's a little of the patriotic culture which I received here, particularly from Dr. Skelton and his colleagues. About twenty years ago, when I first came into contact with Queen's, it was quite a discovery for me to find that your University was even then not only one of our most advanced educational centres, but that it was a great national institution. Even before the last war, Queen's had become in every respect a truly Canadian university. I cannot insist too much upon that expression, because Queen's is a thoroughly Canadian university. Its teaching maintains the highest standards, borrowed in part from all the intellectual sources of the world; but Queen's has admirably adapted its curriculum for Canadians. It has fully taken into account our national needs and our national resources. Your courses here are fundamentally based upon a broad and sound national point of view, a point of view which should become the basis of all education in this country.
These remarks may seem a digression. In fact they serve as an introduction to my present study on the attitude of my people towards Canada as a whole, an attitude of loyalty to Canada first, always and everywhere. What then is the proper share of "French Canada in the National Betting"? What part can we play? How do we interpret our mission? First of all, what do we mean by "French Canada"?
While I was an Oxford undergrad, thirty years ago, when I was asked what was my "nationality," I always replied, "French-Canadian." This very undiplomatic answer of mine was necessarily followed by two other questions: "What! Is there not only one Canada, and also justly called British America? At all events, what is your mother tongue?"
To you here, I need hardly explain that constitutionally French Canada forms part of this great British Dominion. The expression French-Canadian only serves to describe those who, like myself, descend from the first settlers of New France. We were here two-and-a-half centuries before Confederation. We have kept our traditions as transplanted from France; we have jealously preserved our language and our faith. French-Canadians thus remain a distinct ethnic group in our Canadian mosaic. In Quebec, we represent the vast majority of the population, eighty per cent. But, in addition to that demographic factor, we possess our own political and legal institutions. The Legislature of my province is, to all intents and purposes, a French-Canadian Parliament. On the floor of our Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, French is spoken practically all the time.
Our legal system is still French Civil Law, codified from the old Coutume de Paris. In all our schools, our colleges and our universities, French is still the vehicle of instruction and French culture is still paramount. Quebec can thus be quite adequately called French Canada. It is a French-Canadian province, or a state, in the American sense of this word.
But Canadians of French origin are not found only in Quebec. In the whole Dominion, we number about three millions. I may remark that about three million Franco-Americans. are citizens of the United States. Our brothers and sisters of the great neighbouring Republic have ceased to share our common allegiance. But they still preserve as a sacred inheritance our faith, our language and our ideals. Thus, in the broadest sense, the French-Canadians represent six million people, or one hundred times the number of habitants of New France ceded to Great Britain in 1763.
As I am to deal only with the part of French Canada within Confederation, I will limit my observations today to my fellow citizens of French origin, still inhabiting the Dominion. Of those, more than two million and a quarter are Quebecers. More than three hundred thousand inhabit this great Province of Ontario. In New Brunswick, one-third of the inhabitants are of French descent and in that French-speaking population of about one hundred and forty thousand, the vast majority are descended from the old Acadian stock. About sixty thousand Acadians are also found in Nova Scotia, the land of Evangeline. The Acadian descendants in Prince Edward Island number about thirteen thousand.
Acadians and French-Canadians form a single great family of the same extraction, with the same creed and the same language. But under the French regime, New France and Acadia were two different colonies. From the depth of their tragic past, our brothers and sisters from the Maritimes have thus emerged with a distinct type of Canadianhood. In each of the three central provinces, approximately fifty thousand French-Canadians represent our nationality and with admirable tenacity remain faithful to our culture and to our religion. Even in British Columbia and in the North-West Territories, about fifteen thousand of my people evidence our power of colonization and continue our legendary role as settlers, missionaries and explorers.
It is not necessary for me to insist very much upon the fundamental fact that French-Canadians form a distinct nationality.
A few words will suffice. We are not a nation because the French-Canadian population is not a distinct political entity possessing complete independence and sovereignty. In international law, I am a British citizen domiciled in Canada. It is only within the limits of Canada, for internal purposes, that our Constitution recognizes French-speaking Canadians as a separate group or nationality within the Canadian nation. Though the expression "French-Canadian race" is often used, it is incorrect because we still belong ethnologically to the same racial stock as the people of France; in the same way, Canadians and Americans of English origin are still members of the Anglo-Saxon race.
I use the words French-Canadian nationality in the same sense as William Henry Moore in The Clash (1918 edition, page 4). In this unsurpassed study of my people, the author admits that "we cannot define nationality satisfactorily" (at page 3), but he is of the opinion that the French-Canadians undoubtedly possess all the characteristics of a nationality. The seven factors thus required to constitute nationality are according to W. H. Moore the following:
1. Ethnical identity,
2. Identity of language,
3. The unity of religion,
4. Common economic interests,
5. Habitation subject to common geographical conditions,
6. Common history and traditions,
7. A uniform theory of government.
There is no doubt that the French-speaking inhabitants of the Dominion fulfil all the conditions set forth in The Clash as being required for nationality. Let us sum up in a few words how we possess all those requisites.
Three million of us live in this Canadian land of ours, descended from the same French stock and thus showing complete ethnical unity. We possess unity of language and unity of religion as much as they can possibly be achieved. Our economic interests are sufficiently similar. We inhabit a common territory. Not only in Quebec, but in all the other provinces, French-Canadians are grouped together with a remarkable degree of cohesion. We have our own history and we are justly proud of our Canadian background dating back to the discovery and foundation of New France and Acadia. We have developed here our own national traditions, inherited from France, but evolved through three centuries of natural growth among these Canadian surroundings. Finally, it is as a separate national entity that we entered Confederation as one of the original parties. About 1867 there was a parliamentary deadlock in the so-called "Union of Canada." It is difficult to imagine a country more perfectly disunited (if I may use that expression) than Upper and Lower Canada in the sixties of the last century. Economic and political necessity gave birth to Confederation. The adoption of federalism was a compromise. French-Canadians, under the leadership of Cartier, were absolutely opposed to legislative union because they considered that it would mean the disappearance of our distinct ethnical group. The French-Canadians accepted the Federal system because it expressly recognized our French-Canadian nationality, not only in the Quebec Legislature, but also in the Dominion Parliament. Quebec is assured of a fixed number of members in the House of Commons and in the Senate. In the Federal administration and in the Federal courts, English and French are both official languages. In the Province of Quebec French-Canadians were given the fullest measure of provincial autonomy.
Our constitution was thus designed to achieve national unity and at the same time preserve two distinct ethnical groups. The guarantees which were given to us have not always proved adequate. But the spirit of Confederation leaves no doubt about it; federalism was chosen for the purpose of ensuring the existence of two nationalities within the Canadian nation. It is with that object in view that French Canada entered into the Dominion. National unity has never meant for us uniformity. Since 1760, we have successfully defeated all attempts to assimilate us. We are confident that nobody plans now to denationalize us by trying to build national unity upon unity of language, unity of race and unity of faith. The French-Canadian fact is accepted by all political thinkers. Our survival is one of the corner-stones of Confederation and we are determined to preserve intact our national characteristics. I do not know a single French-Canadian or Acadian who believes that our nationality is likely to disappear eventually. We do not belong to a vanishing race, condemned, to die because it has no faith in its survival. We are no defeatists. Since 1760 we have been dominated and animated by an unconquerable will to survive, true to ourselves and to our past, such as God has made us.
- We, French-Canadians, were the first to settle this northern part of North America and to make it our homeland. We were the first to become Canadians. We believe that our patriotism is broad enough to embrace, in common with English-speaking Canadians, the half of this continent which is our national legacy. We hope, with all our heart, that our patriotic ideal is acceptable to all Canadians as Canadian patriotism in the widest sense of that term. Canada is not only the country of Canadians of French origin, but for the three last centuries, Canada has been our only country. At the time of the Conquest, the habitants already formed a nationality quite distinct from the people of the mother country, les Français de France as we still say. In 1760, our ancestors had already been firmly rooted for many generations in the Canadian soil. In these North American surroundings, our forefathers had developed their own habits, their own peculiar ways of understanding and of doing things in times of peace and in times of war. The Capitulations of Quebec and of Montreal, as well as the Treaty of Paris, have recognized the habitants as a distinct nationality. Under the military regime, under the Quebec Act, under the Constitution of 1791, 1840 and 1867, the French-Canadians have continued to survive and to grow as a special national group, having but one country, Canada. In many centuries, the world will turn to us and say: "This people belongs to a race that cannot die." It is not without emotion that we listen to those words of Louis Hémon, author of Maria Chapdelaine. We "belong to a race that does not know how to perish." God has put in our blood "the splendour and the primitive force of a new country, where an ancient race has renewed its youth."
To you, to the Dominion as a whole, we French-Canadians bring that strength which has endured here for three centuries and which has identified us completely with this land of ours. We offer to you the hearty and loyal co-operation of a people of pioneers and settlers, farmers and fishermen, workmen and traders, members of the professions, founders of cities and creators of industries. But, for what occupations are French-Canadians best suited? Most of our people are still engaged in agriculture, in Quebec and also in the other provinces of the Dominion. Yet the proportion of farmers is diminishing from decade to decade. There is a tendency for French-Canadians, like others, to leave the land and flock to the industrial centres, particularly Montreal. Means must be taken to prevent this desertion of the country. But at the same time we must realize that Quebec long ago ceased to be solely an agricultural province. We do not deplore that fact. It results from the nature of our soil and of our natural resources. By our destiny, we are not called to be and to remain farmers or lumbermen. Nobody dreams of restricting our future just to agriculture and the lumber industry. One of our main concerns at the present time is to adapt our population to the particular conditions of each region which it inhabits. Where the land is good, we want agricultural methods and conditions of life to be improved in such a way that the farmer and his family will be satisfied with their lot and will remain on the land. Generally speaking, some secondary industry can be pursued with great advantage by those primarily engaged in farming. An outstanding example is the lumber industry. Instead of surrendering our timber limits to powerful companies, the day must come when the forests of Quebec must be exploited for the benefit of our own people. Through some co-operative system, our farmers can cut their wood for their own needs and sell the surplus with profit. Some such plan deserves the encouragement of the Provincial Government. It would mean the development, on a, small scale, of industry of one kind or another by the people of each different region. It is the policy of adapting our people to their particular surroundings or milieu. The wide variety of such physical environment even in Quebec alone is not sufficiently realized. Nobody has explained such essential facts with more scientific accuracy and more patriotic fervour than Mr. Esdras Minville, the Principal of our Faculty of Commerce at the University de Montreal. Thus, Mr. Esdras Minville has remarked that, in certain parts of our Province, the soil is very poorly suited for agriculture. The land can sustain its population only in part and our forests must offset that deficiency. This means, of course, that our timber limits must be exploited rationally and conservatively. A policy of reforestation has to be developed so as to preserve for the years to come the only possible means of subsistence for certain sections of French Canada. Mr. Minville, himself a Gaspésian, has also laid proper stress upon the fact that the fishing industry is the natural occupation of a large number of the good people of the Gasps peninsula. To try and convert them all into farmers would be an error. Such fishermen must be given greater and better facilities for fishing purposes; they must also be supplied with cold storage for preserving their fish and with adequate means of carrying it to the city markets. In our setting we have our own part to play in agriculture and in the various extractive industries.
The development of our great mining resources in Quebec has been given a great impetus during these last years. The same is also true of water-power. We believe that French-Canadians are entitled to have their full share in the exploitation of our mines and of all our natural assets. In fact, we want French-Canadians to occupy a more conspicuous place in all our industries and also in trade and commerce. But to achieve this, we must first struggle out of our present economic inferiority. This condition is described by Hémon, when he explains how "almost all the power was seized and almost all the money was acquired" by others than the French-Canadians. Indeed we are rich only in spiritual values.
Our economic inferiority is easy to explain. In 1"60 our ancestors had little worldly riches. They were a conquered people, a mere. handful of poor settlers, sixty thousand in all, men, women and children. Thus our country was developed after the conquest by British capital and afterwards, to an exceedingly large extent, by American investments. Under such conditions, it is in no way surprising that very few French-Canadians have made large fortunes. The exploitation of our own resources has not been directed by ourselves. We have supplied only the labour, and to much too great an extent, unskilled labour.
Our upper classes have neglected industrial and commercial careers, giving their preference to the liberal professions. Canadians of French origin have succeeded very well in law and medicine, for instance. But these callings are now overcrowded. We should develop more industrialists and more business men. One of our most distinguished scholars, Professor Edouard Montpetit, has devoted his life to convince our people that in addition to our spiritual values, we must acquire money and capital, that we must excel in intellectual matters, but that we must also train adequately our future captains of industry and leaders in the business world. We must produce technicians of all kinds and skilled labour suited for any purpose. It is our ambition to see more French Canadians occupying the higher positions in the great industrial, commercial and financial organizations and also in the Dominion Civil Service. With this aim in view, we want to develop more and more competent men, including experts so well qualified that the great companies will be glad to ask for their services. In our present system of instruction, idealism is given the most important place. W e do not want to sacrifice our lofty ideals. But we believe that we can preserve such ideals and yet give a more practical education to our children. It is even our conviction that we can secure the maintenance and the progress of our culture only by arming our sons more efficiently to meet the material necessities of life. Without abandoning any of our essential traditions, we want French-Canadians to obtain their just share in the riches of this country, the land of unlimited possibilities.
To achieve this end, it is our earnest desire to obtain throughout the Dominion the recognition of the diplomas granted by our French-Canadian universities. We claim equal rights and we must, of course, fulfil equivalent conditions. Changes in our programmes may be necessary; if it is so, the sooner those reforms are achieved, the better it will be for every one of us.
We, Canadians of French origin, believe that we are at home, chez nous, everywhere in Canada, we are entitled to be treated by the British majority as partners, upon a basis of equality and fair play. We claim equal rights and acknowledge equal duties. We do not take the position that we are asking for privileges or concessions. We consider that it is for us an inborn right, as well as a constitutional right, that French be given the place which belongs to French and that we should keep our language and our culture. We do not seek to dominate and to impose upon others our French culture. But we are resolved not to be dominated by any other ideal than our own. This is why, to quote Louis Hémon, "we have forgotten nothing" of all those sacred things which our ancestors have carried to this new continent; those sacred things, "although they are intangible, we are convinced that they will endure even unto the end. For ourselves and our destinies, we have apprehended this sole duty: to persist, to hold our own." Thus, "in the country of Quebec, nothing shall die and nothing- shall be changed."
But, of course, it is an error to believe that we look to Quebec alone as being our country. Quebec is that part of Canada where our French-Canadian nationality enjoys the greatest measure of self-government. Quebec, no doubt, is French Canada, but we are entitled to be at home also in every province of the Dominion. Everywhere in Canada, we want the children of Canadians of French origin to be given the full opportunity to learn both languages. We want to preserve and to develop our French culture everywhere and we believe that it is an asset for the whole country. At the same time, we are glad to acquire an adequate knowledge of English. We know the practical advantages and the intellectual satisfactions which can be derived from our knowing English as a second language.
We are anxious to continue to improve our teaching of English and to develop our knowledge of English literature. Thus, we will appreciate more and more the spiritual legacy of your British culture, just as we are glad to see that a much larger number of English-speaking Canadians now realize the importance of knowing French and of appreciating our position. We respect and admire your different cultural tradition. The fact that our origins and our creeds are different does not prevent the growth and development of a truly Canadian mentality, reflecting our two great civilizations, the French and British ideals which it is our double mission to perpetuate here. Yes, our Canadian soul is drawn from two sources; it is derived from a two-fold principle.
It is true that we did not all carry across the seas to our new homeland here the same prayers, the same songs and the same language. But we all worship the same God. In this land of freedom and liberty, we can pray to the Almighty "to our Father who is in Heaven" in different temples, we can speak both English and French; and yet we all have the well-settled determination to continue to live and to grow together as one nation, including in our great family all the Canadian-born offspring of our mother countries. Is it not true that we are all ready to give our lives to defend sad to preserve the immense territory which we have inherited from our Canadian ancestors, whether they were British or French or of any other extraction? Yea, Canadians of all origins and of all creeds, we all have the same firm will to continue to inhabit and to develop together this great Confederation of ours. We want Canada to remain a harbour of religious and racial toleration, where the rights of every one are respected, where a spirit of brotherhood, of partnership and co-operation reigns between all ethnical and religious elements. We want to transmit to future generations not only our physical assets, but also the spiritual and intellectual legacy, which we have received from our British or French forefathers. Yes, we want all Canadians to accept our French and British traditions, which have become our common Canadian ideal through almost two centuries of historical association. British and French-Canadians, in the past, we have already done great things together. We are all united by the strong resolution to continue to do great things together and to be the worthy sons and daughters of our sires in these tragic days as well as for all times to come.
We claim equal rights. But we know very well that equal rights entail as a necessary consequence equal duties. Unhesitatingly, we acknowledge those duties towards our country as the primary and fundamental obligations of every Canadian citizen. Because we say we are at home in every part of the Confederation, we are also ready to make every sacrifice to protect Canada's essential interests everywhere, to give our life to defend every inch of our great national inheritance from coast to coast, a mari undue ad mare. We are willing to assume our full share in the conflict which is now raging in Europe and on the Seven Seas of the globe, because we consider that the future of our country is at stake.
But such sacrifices can only be sought from us in the name of our country. We, Canadians of French origin, believe today as we have believed for three centuries that a Canadian's first loyalty is to Canada. We believe that our country is a sovereign state and that as such it must fashion its own attitude to world problems from a purely Canadian point of view.
In our hearts, Canada comes first, always and everywhere. It mast be so in our exterior affairs. The first duty of Canadians is to Canada. We all want to serve our King and our country. We all know who our King is and where our country. So we are willing to serve with complete loyalty His Gracious Majesty, Icing George VI, as Sovereign of Canada.
This is the only doctrine which is acceptable not only to Canadians of French origin, but also, I believe, to the immense majority of all Canadians. It is very clear that this doctrine of Canadian loyalty does not entail any undue relaxation of our Imperial connection. It does not tend to diminish our allegiance to the Crown. On the contrary; it means that we co-operate with the sister nations of the British Commonwealth whenever our national interests are identical with theirs, and broadly speaking they usually coincide. But I ask you, how could we be called upon to act otherwise and to sacrifice Canada for the sake of any other country? I repeat that we are ready to make every sacrifice required, in any way whatever, for the safety of this Dominion. In this manner, we fulfil our full obligations as one of the partners of the Commonwealth. There cannot be any conflict of loyalty between our duties to the Crown and our duties to our country. For instance, our participation in the present war is fully justified as being necessary for the defence of our country and the protection of our own national interests. It is a policy of co-operation upon a voluntary basis with the other parts of the British Commonwealth. It is a truly national policy because Canada, through its own Parliament and its own Government, declared that a state of war existed and decided to participate in a struggle which is for us a just war. Our Parliament, by this free decision, expressed the practically unanimous will of the Canadian people. The attitude of the Federal authorities was not dictated by any exterior influence. It was of our own free will that we chose to co-operate with Great Britain and with France. We made this choice because it was the duty of Canada to do so from its own national point of view.
The people of Quebec have recently and unmistakably marked their approval of this policy of national defence advocated by our leaders. French Canada has shown once more that it believes in National Unity and that it considers the whole Dominion as its country. Yes, we look to all the Confederation, not only to our province, as being our country. We believe that it is a great country, your country as well as our country, and we want to keep it one and indivisible, while preserving the diversity of our different groups. This doctrine of unity, without a rigid uniformity, was the patriotic creed of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. It is also the same patriotism that animates the distinguished statesman, who has succeeded to Laurier as the recognized leader and spokesman of the French-Canadians in the Dominion Parliament, the Right Honourable Ernest Lapointe. At the present time, this great patriot, this devoted servant of his country, whose name is revered in all our nine provinces, Ernest Lapointe is the best illustration of what French-Canadians can achieve in the national setting. Lapointe is a living lesson of patriotism and he is entitled to rank with the founders of Confederation. "National co-operation" is the motto of Mr. Lapointe. , Such a policy requires a true spirit of brotherhood. In the past as well as at the present time, the leaders of Canadians of French origin have always been willing to co-operate. We are proud to have given to Canada men like Lafontaine, the friend of Baldwin, Cartier, the partner of Sir John A. Macdonald, an illustrious resident of Kingston. But it is even with more pride that I have evoked the memory of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, because we all consider it an honour and a duty to remain his disciples under the guidance of Mr. Lapointe and to continue to be faithful to his ideal of co-operation between our two nationalities. This ideal cannot be fully realized without overcoming serious difficulties. Yet, it can be done and it must be done. If we turn to Europe, we see that it has taken many centuries for Great Britain and France to conclude the entente cordiale. Our two mother countries, once engaged in perpetual rivalry, are now bound by the links of a military union, with unity of command. They have also concluded an economic union for the successful pursuit of hostilities. The blood shed for the common defence of the land of our ancestors, has cemented their friendship and their alliance. May such generous blood cement also the union of our two nationalities here, keeping them for ever united though distinct, as they are now.
Our country is a great country and we have before us a great future. Canada, a British Dominion with one-third of its population of French origin, has the role of interpreting to the New World the ideals of Great Britain and France. By its constitution Canada is a democracy and it is our logical destiny to have closer commercial and intellectual relations with the other democracies of the two Americas.
Geographically Canada belongs to the North American continent and it lives in perfect peace and intimate friendship with its great neighbour to the South. The majority of the populations of the two countries on each side of the line have the same origin. Economic conditions and industrial and commercial methods are practically identical. Many of our larger cities, outside of Quebec, are so much like American cities that we find very little difference between them. There is much in common, in many ways, between Canada and the United States.
On the other hand, between French-Canadians and all Latin nations, there is more intellectual similarity than among such nations and the Anglo-Saxon group. Thus, we can help Canada to develop contacts with Latin communities. French-Canadians can very well serve their country in foreign trade and also in our consular and diplomatic service. Of the capacities of French-Canadians as diplomats the most conspicuous example is Honourable Senator Dandurand. Indeed, this distinguished statesman has done great honour to all of us at Geneva as President of the Assembly of the League of Nations and also in most of the capitals of Europe. Senator Dandurand continues to carry on his task with all the enthusiasm of his eternal youth and his name is known all over the world.
In international affairs, Canada has a great part to play. First of all, our sincere desire to live at peace with the whole world is universally recognized. Thus, Canada is welcome everywhere, because we have no desire for conquest and because we believe in fair play and justice for every one.
Moreover, Canada's complex character qualifies it to promote friendly relations among most countries. Geographically we belong to North America. Economically, we are also very distinctly a North American unit and one of the great industrial countries of the world; but agriculture is equally important. Politically, we are a democracy, an American democracy, which is at the same time one of the finest gems of the British Crown. In international law, we are a British Dominion; but ethnically, one-third of our population are of French origin and use the civil law. Thus in the eyes of foreigners, we do not belong too exclusively to the Anglo-Saxon group. We represent Latin culture as well as Anglo-Saxon civilization.
If after the war the British Empire and the French Empire enter into some kind of a permanent union, as has already been authoritatively suggested, the mission of Canada will be exceedingly important. Then we would become more than ever a living link between Great Britain and France. Their ties to each other are their material interests, but our ties to each are of the spirit and of the flesh. A great future lies ahead of us; but to live up to our expectations, we Canadians must fulfil a single prerequisite condition, we must understand each other better.
Between our different ideologies in intellectual matters, there is, however, no conflict fatally preventing national unity. The soul of our country represents at the same time your Anglo-Saxon traditions and our Latin culture. Thus, for instance, we now cherish in common the same constitutional principles transplanted here and adapted from Great Britain.
We accept your English system of legislation in our public law and in our statutory enactments. At the same time, in Quebec, judges and jurists of British origin fully share with us our appreciation of the excellence of French Civil Law. A large part of the world is still governed by codes based like our own upon the Code Napoleon. Another part, a very large part, of the civilized world is ruled by the precedents of English Common Law. In Canada, we prove to other countries that those two great legal systems can exist side by side. In our constant practice, we see the relative advantages of these two different concepts. Such distinct juridical ideologies do not prevent national unity. The same is true of education in general. Anglo-Saxon culture is derived from Latin culture. Before the Reformation all universities of the Christian world were under the same influence. Oxford and Paris, for instance, were sister universities. Anglo-Saxon education has evolved, becoming more practical and more scientific. But our ancient classical ideal was the mother, the Alma Mater, of your modern British culture. Your British culture is a priceless treasure. We want you to preserve it and to continue to enrich it, by adapting it more and more to our Canadian surroundings. We want to share it also with you, more and more, as a complement to our own culture.
On the other hand, we, French-Canadians, represent the French school of thought in all our traditions. In a great art gallery, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the French school of art is found side by side with the British school. Their masterpieces are, in many cases, quite different, but they offer likeness as well as contrasts. They have derived from the same sources and they constantly have enriched each other. What is true of art applies also to all other intellectual fields for example, law or medicine. In everything we belong to the French school. "En tout, nous sommes de l'École française." Because we represent French ideals and French methods, we hope that English-Canadians will have closer contacts, not only with our French-Canadian literature and history, but also with all our other spheres of activity. Thus, Canadians of all origins, we will understand each other better. In this way, we will develop truly Canadian types of cultures for our two nationalities. Thus also, we will remain faithful to our two different sets of traditions, trying at the same time to borrow what is best from each other. In this matter, we will remain two separate nationalities united by the same patriotism, animated and guided by the soul of our country, one and indivisible.
That soul of our country we Canadians of French origin bear deep in our heart and we have transmitted it from generation to generation now for three centuries.
That soul of Canada, "l'âme Canadienne, l'âme de la patrie," is not only a symbol for us, it is a living reality. The soul of our country speaks to us in the beauty of our landscapes, immense and infinite in their variety. We feel its presence everywhere in Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The soul of our country inspires us in the Maritimes, in dear old Acadia, as well as in the younger provinces of the West. Every region appears to us always enriched by the memory of the great historical events which have taken place all over our Canadian land. The soul of our country, deeply imbedded in our history, is for us a principle of life and it gives to our patriotism a mystic strength. We want all Canadians to be more and more animated and guided by the voice and the inspiration of that Canadian soul.
May I, in conclusion, try to answer in a few words the question which is so often asked: "What do French-Canadians want?" We want to co-operate with you in maintaining and developing Canada as a free, self-governing Dominion, one sovereign nation with two distinct nationalities; a truly bilingual country where the offspring of the first settlers are able everywhere to learn and to speak French; a Canada possessing a true national unity, where Canadians of all creeds and of all origins realize that they are all the sons and daughters of the same mother Canada, their only country; a Canada, united physically, yes, but above all possessing one national soul.
Source: Senator Léon Mercier Gouin, "French Canada in the National Setting", in French-Canadian Backgrounds, Toronto, Ryerson Press, 1940, pp. 83-101.
© 2000 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College