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Fraser's Scottish Annual
The Earl of Dundonald in Canada


BY ALEXANDER FRASER, TORONTO.

WHEN one is ushered into the presence of the Major-General commanding the Canadian militia, in his office in the Parliament Buildings, one is impressed, at first, not so much by the occupant of the room as by the extreme plainness of the chamber. A table, a chair, a few shelves there are, but, of garniture, of comfort, none. The simple appointments, nevertheless, do not seem out of accord when you bow to Earl Dundonald, and come within the range of his earnest eye. You are in the presence of a man, and if you can appreciate that fact, are soon fully absorbed in contemplating a rare personality. Before you are aware of it he is leading you; you are conscious of a personal magnetism which holds you to his, eye, and there is little for you to do but to gracefully surrender. At his home, at Crichton Lodge, also, his library speaks the soldier. The maps, plans and books that are studied refer not merely to Canada, nor to the scattered British possessions, but extend over the globe. One obtains an insight into the vast scope of British military interests, and into the strenuous life required of an active general officer. That life is one of labor and devotion to duty, of hard and constant study, for there need be no limit to the information that may be mastered and utilized. From South Africa to Canada is a far cry, but no farther than from Australia to India, from India to Great Britain, from Britain to China, or from China to St. Petersburg. No matter where a British officer may, for the time being, be stationed, he is qualifying himself for whatever place he may be called upon to occupy, and for any duty he may be called upon to perform, and there is no limit to the possibilities of his career, except his own. The ideal soldier lives for his country, and in the broadest view of his profession —when statecraft is combined with military knowledge—through his country he serves mankind. Earl Dundonald is an ideal soldier. Practical, thorough, devoted, humane— no one of his character and calibre has ever been given before by the homeland to the Canadian militia; and few British generals of today anywhere could be classed higher for soldierly qualities.

That Earl Dundonald takes a broad view of his duties in Canada is shown by one of the first addresses he delivered on arriving in the country. It was at the National Club, Toronto. "I suppose," he said, you have considered the safety of your country, and of competent militarism. First of all we must have highly intelligent officers—that is, men who will not learn lessons from the dead bodies of those they lead. . . . It is necessary to have brains above all things in the selection of our officers, and, of course, as much military training as possible. And I look tpon it as one of the most responsible duties I have to advise the responsible minister of your country as to who shall be selected for promotion in the militia of your country. ....I see plainly that here are many men who cannot give up the time to become efficient soldiers as far as drill is concerned, but are ready to become efficient rifle shots. What we ought to go for is the skeleton of trained men, who, under good officers can become the flesh and blood of good rifle shots in the time of war. I think if that is done, that if all the wealth and prosperity I see around me is very seriously threatened, there will be a force sufficient to defend it, and I am sure it has been proved over and over again in the past war that it is the quality of the troops upon which success largely depends, and not upon their numbers. ....I look with great hopefulness for the Canadian forces being made practically efficient for the purpose for which they are needed and as regards their courage and sense of duty, no man can speak with more knowledge and certainty than I."

These remarks were made on assuming his command in Canada —only a few months ago. But already the Major-General has achieved a great deal. One has only to glance over the surface of things to observe the substantial improvements he has effected, examples of which will be found in the supply of modern quick-firing guns of position; the improved fifteen pounders for field artillery; the impetus given to practice; the prominence given to the mounted infantry idea and its practical development. These are examples which can be quoted by the onlooker: they can be put in one sentence, 'tis true, but they mean firm purpose and influence to achieve, for they involve much more than at first glance might appear. There is always the weight of established usage to remove ; the prejudices of officialdom, and sometimes unprogressive political jealousies are brought to bear upon the department, Persistence, tact, and a good case are necessary elements to progress, and in these Earl Dundonald is fortunate, and he knows how to use them. His ideas of what the training of the militia should be can only be gathered from cautiously expressed opinions now and then given to gatherings of military men. It is well-known, however, that they are quite in advance of what has been attained to in Canada It is said that he has reported fully to the Government, but that on account of the drastic changes proposed, the report has been in the meantime, at least, held in abeyance. One point is known—he is in favor of a large central training ground in each province, for tactical manoeuvres—a township, where practicable—but at least on large enough. a scale to permit of extensive movements of troops, and military authorities throughout the country are at one with him, as far as is known, in this desire, for the grounds at present used for camp purposes are totally inadequate for the higher training of the assembled troops. In the advocacy of his plans the Earl has shown policy and broad qualities of mind. He is not merely a soldier; he is a diplomatist whose patience, persistence and- never-failing courtesy go hand in hand.

He is a Scotsman who needs not be discovered. Perhaps it would be nearer the mark to say that he is an Imperial Scotsman. His hero is the Scot who has contributed most to the glory of the Empire. Nor is he narrow in his sympathies. For instance, with him the army is a means to an end; so, also, the public service, trade and commerce, etc., and that end is the upbuilding and sustaining of the Empire. Yet he is justly proud of his Scottish ancestry. It may be that his life has been too crowded to allow of a minute study of all the great names on his ancient family tree, but he thoroughly understands the historical obligations which his ancestry has imposed upon him; and modestly, but determinedly he discharges all his duty to the past and the present to the best of his ability. It is safe to say that the portion of his life given to Canada will not detract from the glory of an illustrious name, nor fail in accomplishing high service for the state.

Earl Dundonald has appeared several times before his fellow-countrymen in Canada. He gave rein to his feeling at Montreal when old memories were stirred by the sound of the bagpipes; he received a hearty welcome from the Toronto Scots, and more recently a Scottish gathering in historic Glengarry, which he attended, developed into a Dundonald demonstration. Wherever he has appeared he has captured the hearts of the people of Scottish descent, and to-day no man occupying a high position in the country is more popular or more unreservedly trusted. He bears a message to the Canadian Scot. He struck its keynote when replying to an address of welcome from the Combined Societies of Toronto. It is that a connection should be effected between the Scottish Societies of Canada and the Clan and County Societies of Scotland, with the main object of maintaining a living link between the mother and daughter lands; and furnishing a sure agency by which the surplus rural and urban population of Scotland now seeking homes in foreign lands, should be diverted to Canada to win fortune and to further strengthen the bond of Empire. He then urged, and he has repeatedly urged since, that some means of correspondence should be established between the Canadian and homeland societies whereby the heads of families should be helped to obtain positions for their children in the Dominion. In some places in Scotland it was not, he said, as easy to obtain profitable employment as it was in Canada, and perhaps the Scottish societies could find a way to work along the line referred to. Scotchmen should not want to send their kinsmen— their splendid Highlanders and hard-headed Lowlanders—to live under an alien flag; to give to that flag and that army the strength that was needed in the Empire. The surplus of the Scots was needed in Canada, and he hoped some means should be adopted to secure it more largely than now. He was, he said, Scotch by birth, and intensely Scotch by sentiment; his mother was a MacKinnon of Skye, but while in Canada his feelings and sympathies were strongly Canadian. Here we have the practical man of affairs: one who takes the tide at the flood; who desires that his day's darg shall realize something definite and lasting; whose moments are not thrown away; who sees his opportunity and avails himself of it. That he will leave a substantial record, when the call comes for higher service elsewhere, may be taken for granted.

While the earl is impressive he owes not that quality to his stature. Above medium height, he is slight, smart, soldier-like and well- proportioned. His expression is that of a thoughtful, earnest student. A tendency to gravity is relieved by a luminous eye, and a kindly cast that bespeaks geniality. He has a fund of dry humor at command, and is bon camarade among his fellows. He has fair gifts of speech, is direct, logical and magnetic, a clear thinker, an earnest speaker, his words go home and are unusually effective. He fills a difficult position with admirable tact and if he should not altogether subscribe to the motto of this sketch, his comportment bas been such that the amenities between the military and the civil have not been disturbed.


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