On August 4, 1915, Canada commemorated the first anniversary of Great Britain’s declaration of war on Germany. On that date 12 months had passed, and in that time the City of Brantford, Brant County, and the Six Nations responded nobly towards this war to end all wars.
During that first year, scarcely a home had not been touched by the war, whether by providing men and women for active service or in the contribution of money towards patriotic endeavors. Every demand which had been made on this county by the call of King and country had always been met.
One hundred and one years later, we present to you the addresses made that day by some of our most prominent citizens.
BX August 4, 1915
Pride in Britain’s Honor Realization of Duty’s Call, Optimistic Belief in Future – Brantford’s Citizens in Symposium on “After a Year of War, the Situation as I see it,” Express Confidence that Every Canadian Will Answer Duty’s Call and right Will Finally Triumph Over Might – Every One Must Do All That Lies In Their Power at This Critical Time
A righteous feeling of pride that the honor of the British Empire had been kept untarnished and bright, through the ready response of the Empire to Belgium’s call, an optimistic belief that now that the seriousness of the situation is realized, proper and adequate steps will be taken to meet the needs of the day, and a realization of the fact that the duty of every Canadian is to do all in his or her power possible, whether by enlisting, by working at munitions and the harvesting of the crops, or by contributing of their money, even at a sacrifice, towards the increasing of the efficiency of the Canadian soldiers or their comfort and maintenance while in the field or in hospital – these are shown by the citizens of Brantford on the subject, “After a Year of War – The Situation as I see it.”
Emphasis is laid on the fact that Britain was caught unprepared, simply because the Germans have, for the past 30 years, prepared with all their strength for the coming conflict, while the other nations, pursuing the paths of honor and truth, had not lain by stores of war munitions. Confidence is expressed on the final outcome of the war, because Britain and the allies have realized that the danger of Prussian militarism must be met and crushed, because Right is Right, and must prevail, and because heroic Belgium, crushed, mulcted and bleeding, must be placed on its feet again, victory over the boasting autocracy and militarism of the German Kaiser and his dupes, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. The symposium on the subject named follows:
Harry Cockshutt – President Cockshutt Plow Company
“Little did we realize a year ago that war would still be taking toll from the allies in such a merciless way as it is doing at the present. The future is obscure and there appear to be many dark days in front of us before we can claim victory, which is and will be the only goal at which the allies will stop.
“The changes that have been brought about by this great calamity are stupendous, and today Canada thinks only of the Empire and victory. We are a unit in thought – our ideals are changed and perhaps altered forever by the horrible conditions that was forced upon our land.
“We are true to our Empire’s cause, believing it stands for justice, liberty and righteousness, and we unite in one prayer that God will bless our armies and carry our banners on to victory and a lasting peace for the whole world.”
Joseph H. Ham, M.L.A.
“Because of the ambition, pride and haughty and covetous spirit of the German Empire and the military caste supporting her, the British Empire and Europe alike was plunged into the vast devastating war the world has ever known, one year ago today.
“The fact was scarcely realized that for years the Germans were preparing for a war of conquest, in which they would trample underfoot the weaker nations, and act upon the non-Christian principle that “Might is Right.”
“Not till the spring did the Allied nations fully realize the enormity of the task imposed upon them if they were to be successful in preserving the liberty of Europe. It appears that orders placed for munitions and arms this spring should have been placed last fall. It is gratifying, however, to know that the allies are now thoroughly aroused to a full sense of the gravity of the situation, and in a short time let us hope, will be fully equal to the task.
“The present situation is serious, but not hopeless. Germany and Austria have gone their limit, while the allies have not yet got into their stride. Russia, while suffering temporary reverses will come back.
“But in order to bring about that decisive victory which we hope for – nay, which we must and will have – every young man possessed of the sporting, fighting British blood should go to the front; those unable to go must play their part at home in the making of war supplies and contributing to the support of those in the field. This is a contest between the Sprit of Liberty and worn out Autocracy, and is, therefore, every man’s fight. I believe that Canadians, one and all, will be equal to the demands made upon them.”
His Honor Judge Hardy
“After a year of war, one aspect of the situation has become clear above all others. This is a war to the death. Every other feature is subordinate to this. We have had forced on us the stupendous issue ‘Do or Be Done.’ No moral consideration of any kind whatever will intervene, for the enemy has abandoned all, such like an armed criminal at large, who seeks to kill or intimidate all who would curb him. Of his powers the year’s doings afford abundant evidence. Therefore the duty for us is to prepare every resource at our command, to be prepared for every sacrifice, to count as nothing in the scale all material considerations, and to put forth every fibre of the nations being to the end that the Empire may be saved and freedom not perish from the earth.
“We have been slow to realize the peril, but it is here. Special ignominy awaits the British and Canadian peoples if this monster of scientific barbarism is permitted to triumph. The British Empire, once thoroughly aroused, will prove the guardian and stay of liberty as in the days of yore, and in the unparalleled sacrifices she is making is now writing the most glorious page in the history of mankind.”
Mayor J.H. Spence
“When the war started in August of last year, the people of this county had such confidence in the power of the navy and army of the British Empire, along with those of our allies that it was generally supposed a short time would bring the war to a successful finish.
“On this, the first anniversary of the declaration of war, all this has been changed. True the British navy has performed its duty in clearing the seas of the enemy’s ships, but the Empire is just now realizing the seriousness of the task before it and the sacrifices of men and material it will be necessary to make to accomplish the desired end. The men and women have demonstrated, however, their willingness to make these sacrifices and will continue to do so till the desired end is obtained in a lasting and honorable peace to the world.
“Brantford and Brant County and our neighboring town of Paris, have stood nobly back of their King and Country, and flag, and I have no doubt will continue their efforts, if it takes the last man and the last dollar. We have just reasons to be proud of the men and women of this community, in these tiring times.”
J.H. Fisher M.P., Paris
“At the close of the first year of the war there are two outstanding features that must be apparent to everyone, and that are especially gratifying to every loyal subject of Great Britain.
“First – The wonderful solidarity of the Empire as demonstrated by the manner in which at the first sign of trouble all the overseas dominions rushed to the assistance of the dear old Motherland, cheerfully placing all their vast resources at her disposal.
“And second – The undisputed right of Great Britain to still claim the proud title of ‘Mistress of the Seas.’ While the much vaunted fleet of the enemy is either bottled up in the Kiel Canal, afraid to venture out, or is dismantled and interned in different parts of the world, the grand old flag of Britain is still found proudly floating on every sea.
“And while the allies are making substantial gains in the western theatre of the war, the forcing of the Dardanelles, which we have every reason soon to expect, will greatly improve the situation in the east, and increased munitions, which will now be forthcoming will have a marked effect both east and west.
“Altogether we have every reason to feel encouraged by the year’s progress and to look forward with renewed confidence, feeling that our cause is a righteous one and that with God’s help it will end in ultimate victory and in the crushing out for all time of Prussian militarism. ‘God is in His heaven, all’s right with the world.’
W. Norman Andrews – Conservatory of Music
“When I was a student in Leipzig, Germany, the present Kaiser came to that city to open the German law courts. The Emperor arrived, arrayed in all his military pomp and glory, with an escort of a regiment of his favorite Uhlans. The streets were crowded from the station to the courts, but to my surprise no cheers escaped the lips of his majesty’s subjects. This incident illustrates the feelings of the Saxon people at that time towards this Prussian Kaiser. After twelve months of war the apparent unity of the German people under this inhuman Prussian monarch is a tribute to the power of education, for with their state educational system all human qualities have been destroyed, and a national spirit of hatred, deception and brutality has been bred, the like of which the world has never before known. Germany proves to the world today that education without the ethical teaching of our Christian religion, does not make character, but degrades a nation below the level of the savage.
“Today there is every evidence of a complete awakening of the British people to a true sense of the situation, and with this a rigid determination to fight to a finish, and that finish nothing less than a final triumph over our enemies.
“Britain, at first unprepared, is rapidly catching up to Germany which has been preparing for the last 30 years. We have now learned how to carry on the war. We have organized labor and our factories are making the kind of shells; we are building a mighty fleet of aircraft, we are adding to our navy; we have millions of men all over the Empire; every day we are becoming stronger and better equipped for the struggle, and we are financing our allies as well as ourselves. The Germans, on the other hand, are bleeding to death, in men, in commerce, in finances and in the loss of her foreign possessions. We have every reason to be optimistic; our Empire is now more closely drawn together than ever before and no power on earth can stand against it. ‘Are we downhearted? No!’”
T.L. Wood – Dominion Flour Mill
“Twelve months of war have, in my opinion, demonstrated two things. We underestimated the strength of the enemy at the outset, but we also underestimated our own strength and today we are more proud than ever of our resources as an Empire, both from a standpoint of men as well as our marvelous financial position. The road to Berlin today looks long and hard, but without question we are right, and Right must ultimately prevail. One result of the war is the creation of a great bond of sympathy for our fellow creatures, something that will mean much to the world in years to come.”
Dr. Charles W. Leeming
“In response to your request that I give my views on the war situation at this time, after one year of the gigantic struggle has elapsed, I will say that the German nation has demonstrated to us that it is an enemy to be greatly feared. We hear but little now of the cries ‘On to Berlin!’ ‘On to Vienna!’ but with uneasy hearts ask, How long can Warsaw hold out? Can the Grand Duke withdraw his army without another Sedan? What will happen on the Western Front when two or three millions of troops can be withdrawn from driving back the Russian army and added to those now battling against the allies on the Western Front?
“This change in our view of the situation demonstrates at least the folly of underestimating a foe, and teaches, as it has taught England and her allies, the necessity of putting every ounce of force they possess to work; not only in men to go to the front, but men to work in the factories, on the farms and in every branch of industry; to provide munitions, provisions and money, in addition to men, for the stupendous task of battering down the power of this mighty and ruthless enemy of liberty.
“I believe that Great Britain and her present allies will ultimately succeed, but they will only do so by putting into the conflict all the resources of men and money that they possess.
“There is one feature of the struggle and it concerns Canada that I wish to speak about, however, more specifically at this time. I give place to no man in loyalty to our mother country, but yet I say that I think Canada is making a grave mistake, and laying herself open to grave danger by depleting herself so greatly of her strength in men and equipment for war as she is doing.
“We are, of course, convinced that we are protected from attack from Germany by the mighty fleet of Great Britain and I think this is true. But has it not been evident how Germany has, with apparent folly, been flouting the United States? How she seems most determined to bring about a state of war between that country and herself by her atrocious acts and her provocative attitude on questions under dispute between the two countries?
“We also know that there are about seven millions of Germans and German-Americans in the United States; that the cities on our border are filled by a population largely of German extraction. Is it not possible, even probable, that in the 40 years of preparation for mastery of the world that there are tens and hundreds of thousands of Germans, and so-called German-Americans, who have been quietly and thoroughly prepared and equipped for a situation that it was the intention to bring about in order to strike at Canada through the Germans in the United States.
“I venture the statement that there are in the United States today more trained German soldiers than there are in the whole United States army. Many of the German-Americans would be very slow to take up arms against their adopted country, but there are few who would not eagerly join in a movement to strike at Canada as a colony and great supporter of hated England.
“Could such an attack be made in force? I think it could and that right easily. With the German silent system of rapid mobilization and her thoroughness in preparation for carrying out her plans, what more easy than to suddenly seize, with overwhelming force, the bridges over the Niagara and the tunnel under the Detroit River and pour an army into our country and province?
“I have been informed through my Chicago office that there is a large plant near Chicago running 24 hours a day, in three shifts, manufacturing shells on an order for the German government. The owners of this plant are all Germans. Where do these shells go? They cannot be shipped into Germany.
“I think it is the duty of our government to encourage and promote the formation of militia regiments for home defense throughout the length and breadth of the land, to devote themselves to providing rifles and munitions for this militia, to arrange for training and drilling all plans and preparations possible to meet a contingency that would be fatal to us should it arise with no such preparation having been made.
“I do not wish to pose as an alarmist, and it may be that there is no foundation in fact for the danger I have pointed out, but I am convinced that there is more than a possibility of such a danger, and that therefore it is the first duty of Canada to make provision against.”
J.B. Detwiler – Steel Company of Canada
“Twelve months of war have brought us face to face with conditions that probably even those at the head of our nation were previously not fully aware of the unpreparedness of the allies and the reverse condition of the Teutons enables us to place the responsibility of starting what in history will be known as THE WAR at the door of the Kaiser, notwithstanding his recent utterances to the contrary.
“One great evidence of the determination of the allies to win is the large way in which manufacturers are being induced to enter into the manufacture of shells and war munitions. Kitchener’s great drive will take place when ammunition and other supplies are adequate.
“That not familiar with what is involved in the manufacture of shells and the many complicated problems connected with it, may be disappointed in the results obtained up to date, but the present situation is very encouraging. Manufactures have experienced that it takes from three to four months before machinery can be installed and equipped with tools, and workmen properly instructed to begin regular production, the result of which will be that the production from now on will increase at an enormous rate, so that our armies will soon be supplied with the much needed ammunition. Then the real war will begin, as far as Great Britain is concerned, and we then can confidently look for victory. In the meantime the situation is serious, and our hope is that the allies will be able to prevent anything in the nature of a signal defeat to any one of them until the supply of ammunition is adequate. When the tide once begins to turn against the Teutons, the collapse may come more suddenly than we now anticipate. This condition, however, cannot be expected to take place before another 12 months at least.
“This is a war of endurance, and it will require the utmost effort, whether in the shop or at the front, on the part of every citizen of all the allied nations to bring about ultimate victory.
“As a British subject of the third generation and a descendant of U.E. Loyalist stock, I glory in the past of the British Empire, and I am proud of the stand she is now taking in fighting for the liberty of her weaker and smaller neighbor and for the freedom of humanity from the tyranny and oppression of the Prussian military party.”
Rev. W.E. Bowyer – Pastor Calvary Baptist Church
“First I am impressed with its persistence. At the outset many said: ‘The present war is far too deadly to last. It is far too costly in human lives, in money, is great treasures of art, architecture, in relics of literature and history, the weapons of the present warring nations are too deadly for long continued fighting’. Yet after a year, great guns belch forts their deadly contents, and rivers run red with human blood. How long will it all last?
“Second: I am impressed with the unity prevailing among the allies. Who would have dreamed that such widely convergent types of humanity as are represented by the phlegmatic Russian, the volatile Frenchman, the romantic Italian, the heroic Belgian and the dogged Britisher, could so long maintain relations such as now exist? Only a belief in the righteousness of their cause, and the grave peril of a common foe could have inspired and kept such a union.
“Third: I am impressed with the absolute determination in the part of Great Britain to fight on till a final victory is assured. A democratic and honest people, they have been misled by the perfidy of Germany and have been caught unprepared. Slow to take up arms, their smoldering wrath has been fanned to flame by the insolence and ruthlessness of the results of the boasted ‘Kultur.’ Men and munitions will be augmented until the initial advantage to Germany will be overcome.
“Finally: I am impressed by the quiet, thoughtfulness of the Canadian people. We are realizing the horrors of war. Let us learn the lessons that war teaches. It is for us to do our part with calm resolution, unshaken fortitude and unfaltering faith. Might is so right, but right is might and right must prevail.”
Rev. M. Kelly – Pastor Congregational Church
“We will not accomplish our ends unless we meet the situation face to face, and with serious minds. The situation is serious. I believe that the allies will win, but we must face the issue. Before we get the reserves of men and munitions, of which we are in need, the public authorities will have to take the public into their confidence, and the sooner the authorities do this, the better it will be for the armies at the front. The talk of the need of machine guns, for example brought forth a hearty response from Canadians – a response which is gaining strength daily, and it might be duplicated in all parts of the Empire, if the need were laid before the public, not alone for machine guns, but for other necessary munitions and comforts, as well as men.”
E.B. Crompton – E.B. Crompton & Co.
“While there are so many features in connection with the carrying on of the war which the lay mind fails to grasp, as well as being to a great degree uninformed upon, it is a difficult matter to give an intelligent opinion as to the probable length of, or the degree of success that may crown the operations in any given areas.
“One thing more than all in my view that must ultimately bring success to the allies, and disaster to the enemy, is the superb position taken from the first – and held – by the British navy.
“With the trade routes kept open and her ships on every sea Britain is still making ‘war’s sinews,’ while, reversely, the commerce of her enemies is strangled; her ships bottled up and rotting, her markets being taken by neutral nations, and her manufacturers losing their foreign connections.
“Disaster to them must result from this as certainly as day succeeds night. May that day soon come, when Might must succumb to Right, and when the smaller and weaker nations shall feel that they can live their own lives, happily, fearlessly and without let or hindrance on the part of any, is the hope and prayer of the writer.”
Rev. D.E. Martin
“During the past year the civilized world, with a compelling interest, has been watching the mightiest drama of all human history.
“From the beginning it represented a gigantic conflict of ideals – autocracy against democracy, might against right, a false philosophy against the true. On the one side we have seen deliberate and long continued preparation inspired by an ambition for world power; on the other an almost easy-going sense of security that under the circumstances carried with it national danger. It has taken the British Empire nearly a year to get aroused to the situation.”
“There is fighting blood in the British nation and she is fast girding herself to do her part in carrying forward this titanic struggle to a successful issue. The womanhood of the nation has entered the area and that counts for much. The English fleet standing guard has done a great service in maintaining control of the seas. The whole situation as precipitated is a challenge to the school and the church. The school must stand for right-thinking and the church for right living.
“The brave Belgians occupy a front rank among the world heroes. They were perhaps the saviours of our liberties and many of our noble Canadians have fallen in the same worthy cause.
“As a nation we must fight as if all depended upon our soldiers and sailors and then we must pray as if all depended upon our prayers. God has always been on the side of truth, and with Him we are bound to win.
“The struggle has already cost unspeakable sacrifice – and the end is not yet. The world has been cast into the crucible, and a new future is being moulded into form, and in the fiery process each of us before God must decide what his or her personal contribution will be.”
Rev. D.T. McClintock – Pastor Alexandra Presbyterian Church
“Three things sadden us as we look back over this year of war. First there is the appalling loss of human life and all this means to loved ones left alone. Hundreds of our brave men have died on the battlefield. Their struggle is past and they rest from their labors. Those left behind must bear the pain on into the desolate lonely years. One might conclude from the lavish way in which they have been poured out that human flesh and blood were cheap. But it is not so. The mothers and wives will tell us how precious human life still is, and how terrible the sacrifice has been.
“Second, there is the saddening fact that after one year of fighting the allied armies have not accomplished more. A layman must not judge, but it does seem almost a tragedy that the armies of France and Britain, because of lack of munitions, have not been able to drive back the Huns and relieve the terrible pressure on the brave Russians. This lack is being met, however, and we believe a brighter day dawns.
“The third thing that saddens is the revelations of sordid selfishness of men, in both the Old Land and here, who for selfish purposes would sell our nation for gold. At the unveiling of the monument to Hugh Price Hughes, Lloyd George said, ‘We need his courage at this time when the British parliament trembles before a few brewers and publicans,’ and in our own country we have not been free from some things which cause the blush of shame.
“But there is a brighter side to the picture – we were never prouder of our Empire than we are today. The British nation was never mightier than now and each day adds new strength to her arm. And at this time of blood and tears, this Gethsemane of our Empire, we have the comforting consciousness that our cause is just, and that for that fair cause our men have fought fairly and not as barbarians. The great source of the national virtue of the Anglo-Saxons is the sense of duty, the power of pursuing a course which we believe to be right, independently of all considerations of sympathy we favor. It is the merit of the Anglo-Saxon race that it has produced men of the stamp of Hampden and Washington; men careless indeed of glory, but very careful of honor, who made the supreme majesty of moral rectitude the guiding principle of their lives. A woman said to me, ‘How can we believe any longer in a God?’ My answer is, ‘With our Empire ready to bleed her last drop of blood for truth and honor how can we not believe in God?’
“It is gratifying also to know that we have been developing the virtues of a military nation. Nothing could be finer than the cheerfulness, courage and endurance of our men as they have passed through their baptisms of blood. We hope that as the war progresses we will avoid all the vices, as we develop all the virtues of a military people.
“We believe also that this war has brought our nation closer to things Divine. Before the war the music of the word ‘Eternity’ had ceased to mean much to this generation. To many it now means everything. So many have gone and so many are going in the springtime of promise, those on whom we have lavished our call to whom we looked to take our place, do better than we have done the work of God in this world, are entering in before us. And what shall we say? The unseen land to which we hasten gives meaning to the fair and transient world of our time. So we press forward to eternity – our refuge. We press forward to meet the great realities, to grapple with them, to hold them till we know our name. Death is the entrance to eternity, the giver of life, the angel of fulfilled humanity.”
W.G. Raymond – Postmaster
“The First Year of war has passed. Who knew when the last year of war shall begin?
“In 12 months we have increased our army from 170,000 to 20 times that number. Our navy is stronger than it was and the personnel has been doubled. The overseas commerce and colonies of our enemies are no more. The Kaiser’s ambitious military plans have only been partially successful. In the meanwhile the spirit of our people is roused, our colors are nailed to the mast, the signal for ‘closer action’ is flying. Our motto is the words of Premier Asquith, ‘To the last farthing of our journey, to the last ounce of our strength, to the last drop of our blood.’”
C.H. Waterous – Waterous Engine Works
“You ask me for an expression of opinion of the war. It is difficult for Canadians living under a free democratic government to comprehend the condition at present existing in Europe. This horrible condition unquestionably due, primarily, to the long premeditated designs of the ruling classes in Germany to extend and perpetuate their control.
“From my personal knowledge of the German people (gained by living among them) I am convinced that had they the liberty and control of their government that English-speaking nations enjoy, this terrible war would never have been enforced upon the world. Now that the world has learned just what is meant by Germany’s long preparation, the allies will unquestionably conquer definitely and aggressively, and put it out of the power of insane rulers to again ever plunge the world into war.”
“The year ending today, August 4, covering the period in which our Empire has been engaged in the world’s greatest war, has taught the nations involved many lessons which were not thought of before, and has made every citizen and subject do considerable thinking on his own account.
“The reorganization of the government in Great Britain in relieving Lord Kitchener of the accruing and supplying of munitions, giving him the opportunity of concentrating on the great task of organizing a great army, of which, I do not doubt, he is eminently capable, is a decided change for the better.
“There can be no two opinions about the marvelous work accomplished by Great Britain on the sea. Can we imagine what the result would be today if Germany were ‘Mistress of the seas’ instead of Great Britain? Germany is off the map so far as sea commerce is concerned and marvelous results have been attained. The opposite would be the result if Germany had this proud position.
“Another result which has been forced upon the mind of the world is that the system of government of Great Britain is allowing her colonies to be self-governing, has produced a united and universally loyal people. The striking example of this is in South Africa and all British colonies in every part of the world have demonstrated this principle.
“We are all proud to be subjects of Great Britain in loyal Canada, whose subjects are loyal to a man. Canada has volunteered the flower of her young manhood in defence of the Empire, and we who do not go to the front can do our part. The troubles of the world are not yet over. A review of the past year’s events shows that very much yet remains to be done and every subject of the British Empire requires not only to think, but to act and to do what lies in his power to assist in bringing this war to a satisfactory conclusion, and in establishing a permanent and lasting peace on an equitable and right basis.
“We are apt to spend our thought in reviling the enemy. We would be better employed in exercising our abilities and using our means toward the end we all so much desire and have the confidence that the end must be in the triumph of the allies and in the vindication of our cause. It s a time for heart searching to see that we approach our cause in a prayerful spirit, in support of a cause which we feel and know to be just and right.
“Our Empire and the allies have made a good start and have accomplished much so far as the sea is concerned and with organized effort to supply munitions and equipment for land operations, another year should see a decided advance towards accruing the rights and liberties of the world’s nations, for which our Empire is striving.”