But we do not laugh a few years later when one of those lonely pioneers rides up to us, the mayor of his city—no mean city—and well on his way to be a millionaire. We laugh still less when his city writes to our dearest rival and wishes to know how soon he can deliver a million and three-quarters city water-mains, with pipes and sewers, as per specification appended. Then we mourn. Then we grieve. Then we say to ourselves, if we had only known, had only guessed, that that dear little jumping-off place to nowhere was going to be what it is, we would have paid it some attention; we would have had more faith in it; and now we should be sharing the contract! But we have only to meet another man, and we go straight away and make the same mistake, laughing at this man on another pony, hailing from another collection of houses which will be another city. Is it possible that any of you as individuals have made that mistake?
Then the question is, are we not in time of peace a little too prone as nations to repeat that blunder in our relations to our fellow-nations throughout the Empire? Put it this way: Are we not each a little too occupied in our immediate present—in time of peace a little too occupied with our immediate present, to take an interest in the potentialities of our neighbours’ future? I say in time of peace, because all the world remembers when one of our community was in distress Canada went to her aid, as Australia went, as New Zealand went, as the Crown colonies went, without one thought of present interests, or politics, or pocket.
And out of that great gathering of our men on the plains of South Africa there was born, I think, a treaty of mutual preference between the various members of that Empire which—I am no diplomatist myself—I think regular diplomatists will find it difficult to annul.
It may be for reasons of her own that, for the time being, Canada will judge it expedient to make her court with older civilisations, to deal, for the time being, with nations of a more amazing present than that which belongs to Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. But I am sure, gentlemen, that if you as business men send out or investigate for yourselves you will find in those countries that I have named the promise of markets worthy of your serious attention. Were I a business man I could show you that as regards our mutual trade we are no more than children playing store on the thresholds of our real markets.
I can put my hand on the map and point to certain countries that I know, and I can show you how the natural resources of such and such areas must create vast and stable industries, rearing up a power on a larger scale than the world has yet witnessed. And the plant for all that power has to be imported from somewhere! I could prove to you how the junction of certain railways and the conditions of certain ports must result in huge commercial centres, clamorous for the luxuries of all the world; how the inevitable growth of population must make a sub-continent of pleasant and luxurious homes in all their varied nature.
I can show you the sites of a chain of cities in the future fed by thousands and thousands of mills. And the plant for the whole of that development has to be imported from somewhere! But I can show you, moreover, in those countries that I have named, the same superb faith in the future, the same audacious handling of time, space, and material, the same humorous, fearless outlook on problems that would make older communities turn grey with hysterics; the same joyful acceptance of the apparently impossible, the same lighthearted victory over it, and, above all, the same deep delight in life and work that Canada has revealed to the world. And how could it be otherwise? The men of these lands have worked out their salvation under skies as bright and with hearts as large as yours.
They have developed and settled, they are developing and settling, vast areas with much the same machinery, moral and physical, as you use. They face the five great problems—I prefer to call them Points of Fellowship—Education, Immigration, Transportation, Irrigation, and Administration. They face them on the same lines as you do. Who, then, in the long run, can better or more understandingly supply their wants than you? Who in the long run can better or more understandingly supply your wants than they? Am I looking too far forward? I think not. A young country must take long views, the same as a young man must take long, very long, views. Our four young nations—the Big Four—have a long, an uphill, and a triumphant road to tread. Go you out, gentlemen, and make sure for yourselves that our roads lie together.