Our 'Tell Us Your Story' campaign goes international. James Alcock writes his contribution from a Canadian perspective.
I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada – a proud member of the British Commonwealth and a Dominion of the Crown. The UK Union of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland has been a huge benefit, not only to themselves, but to the world. The evidence of that exists in my country – and many others, like Australia and New Zealand.
Scots and English working together built my country, and many others. This can be seen with the names of the towns in the province of Ontario where I live – Perth, Stirling, New Dundee, Whitby, London, Newmarket, Windsor, Kingston, Grimsby and Chatham. Even the official residence of the leader of the opposition in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa is called Stornoway. Scots and English also mixed together and lived as neighbours – together as the British. Both Scots and English served as politicians and as Governors General, representing the Crown. The first Prime Minister was Sir John A. MacDonald, from Glasgow. The first Governor General was Viscount Monk, who was Irish. The Premier of Nova Scotia at that time was Sir Charles Tupper, an Englishman who worked with Sir John A. MacDonald to create the Canadian confederation.
Scots built the towns, laid out the roads, created many businesses, and the English financed them and administered them. The two needed each other and worked together. Canada has the Toronto Scots regiment in the army. Many English officers served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy.
Canada has become one of the world’s safest countries with a strong economy and a free society. Most importantly, it was built on British institutions – the Crown, a Westminster-style Parliament, Common Law and UK-style armed forces. It is a true free and stable democracy with a high standard of living – a great product of the success of the British Empire, created during the Victoria period – after the British Union had been in place where Scots, English and Irish could share and work together for a common result. Even French-speaking Canadians in Quebec had their rights, language and church respected and enshrined in the country’s constitution.
For most of its history, Canada has been a peaceful and successful confederation of provinces formed from a union of former colonies. It never declared independence from the United Kingdom, but gradually gained sovereignty by evolution with the UK Government transferring powers over a long period of time, with legislative sovereignty coming in 1931, judicial sovereignty in 1949 and constitutional sovereignty in 1982. However, remaining loyal to the Crown to this very day with a Governor General representing the Queen.
Today, 20% of Canadians are of English descent, 16% Scots, 13% Irish, 3% Welsh and 15% French. The remainder is made of people from many other parts of the world. We live in a very successful and peaceful country which is a product of Scots-English-Irish unity working towards a common goal. When they pull together, the British achieve great things - all over the world. The UK will always be our mother country – because all parts of it built us – together. Long live the UK and the Commonwealth. God save our Queen.
- James Alcock