London Letter

How Canadians are taking over in Britain

BEVERLEY BAXTER October 26 1957
London Letter

How Canadians are taking over in Britain

BEVERLEY BAXTER October 26 1957

How Canadians are taking over in Britain

London Letter


Let us admit at the very beginning of this letter that England—and I do not mean Britain—is a country that has been invaded again and again. The ancient Romans set the fashion. The Piets and Scots— especially the Scots — persistently crossed the border and made war

against the feckless Saxons, or, as

they eventually became known,

the English.

It is true that the Germans failli ed to get here, but they had a

| dashed good try. If it had not been ¡I for the vacillations of Herr Hitler, they would almost certainly have || arrived, although there is no proof || they would have enjoyed the exil perience.

But in modern times there has || developed a steady infiltration from

p Canada, which Hows like a river

| and never recedes. In fact, I can

| almost visualize Prime Minister

| Macmillan rising in his place in

| parliament and saying, "In moving

| the motion on the order paper I

| am sure that I shall have the sym-

pathy of the whole House. As one who had the honor to be ADC to the Duke of Devonshire at Rideau Hall, it is specially painful to have to ask the House to accept this measure of restraint on Canadian II immigration to England. Mr.

P Speaker, this is a sad hour in my

p political career, hut owing to the

persistence with which Canadians

come here and refuse to return to || their native country, I have no option but to introduce a restrictive quota.” Û

Mr. Aneurin Bevan (rising to his |j feet): “I am grateful to the prime |

minister for giving way. We on this side of the House recognize that some such legislation is long overM

due. hut may I ask him two quesjjl

tions? Will the prime minister be content merely to introduce a já

quota for incoming Canadian immigrants. or will he take measures j

to deport to their native country a number of Canadians who have |j

been here a long time?”

Mr. Gaitskell: “A very long jj

time.” 1

Mr. Speaker: “Order! Order!

This is a delicate matter and I urge honorable members not to make interjections.” jj

Mr. Macmillan: "As you say,

Mr. Speaker, this is a delicate matter. I must inform the House that I have been in touch with the Canadian prime minister concerning the possibility of sending home some of the Canadians who have been here for a very considerable period, but I regret to say that Mr. Diefenbaker’s reply has not been encouraging.” p

Mr. Ted l eather: "May 1 as one of the—”

Mr. Speaker: “No. you may not.

The House continued on page 82

continued from page 12

“Will the growing Canadian influence in Britain end? Might as well ask if the Thames will stop”

will now proceed with the orders of the day.”

You may think that this is a subject that could have been left to a more delicate pen — such as the one wielded by Lord Altrincham—but in case you think I am exaggerating, let me, as a subject of Great Britain (albeit with a Canadian passport), describe the events of one day in my life at the end of this summer.

An invitation reached me to attend in Battersea Park (on the south side of the Thames), where in the Festival Gardens 1 could gaze on the new Iroquois Turbojet engine, designed and developed by Orenda Engines Ltd., at Malton, Ont. The invitation said that Lt.-Col. George Drew, the new Canadian High Commissioner, would probably be there if the ship bringing him from Canada arrived in time, and that Air Vice-Marshal D. M. Smith, chairman of the Canadian Joint Staff in London, would also be among those present.

Well, it was quite a do, with George Drew arriving dramatically just at the right moment. The marquee was full of London Canadians, but 1 think the maple leaf was carried just a little too high when the whisper went round that the champagne was also Canadian. Loyalty is a splendid thing, but I mean to say . . .

That night my wife and I sat down to enjoy, or at any rate to endure, the television program of the BBC. Hardly had it got under way when it was announced that we would have a film made in Canada. Thus by the alchemy of science we were wafted to the Canadian west where the local authorities, including the mayor, were insisting upon turning a stubborn old man out of his house because it was in the direct route of a new railway line.

That was the plot, but unfortunately it was so true to life that it became rather tedious. The stubborn old man was so dashed stubborn that we hoped against hope the train would demolish him and his house together. By contrast, the British are still talking about the Canadian television play, Flight Into Danger, by Arthur Hailey, which was shown on film here a year or so ago — a drama that takes place in an airliner on which the crew is knocked out by food poisoning during a flight over the Rockies, bound for Vancouver. It was a terrific play and deserved London’s acclaim.

But the BBC had a special card up its sleeve on this night following the party at Battersea Park. With a note of triumph in his voice, the announcer broke the news to us that no less an authority than Mr. Clyde Gilmour, the cinema critic of Maclean’s Magazine and the Toronto Telegram, would give us his opinion on some of the latest releases from the British studios. It was decent of Mr. Gilmour and, what is more, he did it very well.

But where is this growing Canadian domination of the British scene to be brought within limits? Not long ago we had a terrific dinner at the Savoy to celebrate the early Pilgrims who left England and sailed out to America. Jock Whitney, the United States ambassador, proved once more that Americans can talk better than they can speak, and

Foreign Secretary Selwyn Uloyd proved that Englishmen can make good speeches even when they have nothing very much to say.

Yet who was the outstanding swell at this grand affair? It was Sir Campbell Stuart, resplendent with ribbons, who came over here in the First War and decided that England was good enough for him. He is the Big Boss of Anglo-American social relations and is almost as prominent a feature of the London scene as Nelson’s monument.

But the list in no way ends with Sir Campbell. What of that grand old veteran Sir Edward Peacock, who was a housemaster at Upper Canada College, in Toronto, from 1895 to 1902? Now at eighty-six he has decided to take it easy and is content with being a director of Baring Brothers (the bankers) and the CPR, a Lieutenant of the City of London, Receiver-General of the Duchy of Cornwall, a Rhodes’ Trustee Treasurer, and treasurer of King Edward’s Hospital Fund. In his serious moments he plays golf.

The case of Lord Beaverbrook is too well known to need elaboration, but it is an interesting fact that the dramatic critic of the London Evening Standard is no less a person than Canadian Milton Shulman, who succeeded Canadian Beverley Baxter.

But does the list end there? One might as well ask if the Thames stops flowing once it has passed the Terrace of the House of Commons. Who is doing the most exciting surrealist satire feature on British television? The answer is, Canadian-born Bernard Braden. So fiercely intelligent and satirical is his regular feature that it makes some of the British features look like entertainment for the kiddies. The fact that he is married to Canadian-born Barbara Kelly only adds substance to our argument.

Who is the Comptroller of the Royal Household? No, you are wrong. It is


The Doctor

The man engaged in medicine Concerns himself with health—not sin. Be maladjusted man must not:

It couldn’t matter less to what.

Our single aim must always be The maintenance of normalcy,

So that the human commonwealth May die off in the best of health.

Mavor Moore

Hendrie Oakshott. MP. who is all mixed up with the Hendries of Hamilton. Ont. Who sits for that most English of constituencies. the Isle of Wight? It is no less a person than Sir Peter MacDonald, who comes from the Maritimes. Who is the star tenor of Covent Garden opera? It is Jon Vickers, from Diefenbakerland in western Canada. Who is the young MP who has made an impression both on the House and on television? I refer, of course, to Ted Leather, of Hamilton.

Now all this is very odd because my son Clive, who was born in England but now works in the Montreal office of Maclean-Hunter, flew over here in September for the Farnborough air display and sang such songs of praise about Canada that the Baxter family almost decided to pull up roots and go back home.

According to Clive, each of the four seasons in Canada has a definite character of its own, whereas in Britain we sometimes have winter, summer, spring and autumn all in one day. Being much addicted to flying, he says that you can look down from a plane and see Canada growing like a giant. Listening to his tale it seems that life in Canada is vibrant, progressive, democratic, healthy and that there are excellent clubs in Montreal.

In spite of my son’s outburst of Canadiana. I must put on record that the best place in which to live is London, England. providing that you can afford to abide in the centre and not in a suburb thrown up overnight. For one thing, everybody—or nearly everybody—comes to London. For example I had the great honor a few months ago of meeting Messrs. Bulganin and Khrushchev, those amiable twins who seriously depleted London's available supply of brandy. It is true that 1 speak no Russian and B and K speak no English but they are the leading actors in the great melodrama of Communism and it is interesting to have seen them.

No one can deny the beauty of Vancouver and Victoria or the lovely lakes of northern Ontario, which you can watch from the train, but over here we have the beauty of the Lake District and the glory of the Scottish hills. Admittedly, you can hop to New York with its wondrous stores and its vaunting skyscrapers. but we can get in a plane and be at Le Touquet in fifteen minutes— and playing in the Casino an hour later. Or, if you want to spend a little more time in the air, you can get to BadenBaden (where, incidentally, so many Canadian airmen are now stationed) and play golf over a gentle course, dine at the Casino and chance your luck at the tables. Admittedly these diversions are not important to one’s well-being but part of the fascination of life in London is that Europe, with all its great and tragic story, is at our doorstep. Thus we can share its beauty and its tragedy as we pass through villages and towns and by rivers which gave names to the dreadful battles of two world wars.

I know that there is nothing more startlingly beautiful than the coming of the Canadian autumn (or, to give it the lovely Canadian name, “the fall”) with its mists and its golden sunlight. Nor is there anything more lovely than when the first frost turns the leaves red as if a giant knife had been plunged into the earth.

Autumn in Canada . . . that lovely voyage up the St. Lawrence . . . University Avenue and Queen’s Park in Toronto ... . the opening of parliament by Canada’s Queen . . . New Brunswick with its sturdy strength ... I must look up the CPR sailings.

Good-by, London! I’m off to Canada, but I’ll be back, if