The Empire Club of Canada, established in 1903, in Toronto is recognized as one of Canada’s oldest and largest speakers’ forums with a membership comprised of some of Canada’s most influential leaders from the professions, business, labour, education and government. Over its history it has been addressed by more than 3500 prominent Canadian and international leaders – men and women who have distinguished themselves in many fields of endeavour.
The Empire Club’s luncheon meetings attract audiences of 200 to 1,000 and usually take place on Thursdays at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel from September through June. Consult their events page for a detailed listing of this year’s events and links to their reservation forms. The addresses are broadcast on Rogers Television and many attract newspaper reports and editorial comment.
Honourable William Finlayson, Ontario Minister of Lands and Forests, Toronto, Ontario – December 8, 1927
The Vice-President introduced the speaker, who was received with loud applause. He said: “It is a pleasure to come to Southern Ontario and talk about Northern Ontario, because the people here are prepared to support any legislation properly designed to develop the North country”; yet I do so with a good deal of hesitation, because I see so many people here who have done far more work in Northern Ontario than I have been able to accomplish.
I see here Sir William Hearst, who knows Northern Ontario not only from the administrative standpoint, but from having lived there and helped to develop one of its important centres. Other men here have done perservering and effective work for the north country, men like Mr. Stapells and Mr. Gibbons, who are prepared to devote not only personal energy but business organization to assist in particular enterprises we may have in view up there.
The people of Toronto and all Southern Ontario think that civilization entered Ontario from the south, and that Cataraqui and Kingston are the oldest centres of civilization in this province; others say that Niagara was the birthplace of Ontario; while people in Toronto the “Meeting Place”-seem to think that civilization and romance and enterprise began here and spread through the province. But I would like to tell the people of Toronto at once, plainly and somewhat bluntly, that those ideas are all erroneous, and that the north, which is not only the source of present wealth but the hope for the future of Ontario, is the place where civilization and enterprise and business entered this province. Let me briefly prove this proposition.
Civilization entered Ontario in August 1615, when Father Recollet went up the Ottawa River, crossed Nipissing, and came down the French River and Georgian Bay. He was followed shortly after by the great Champlain.