100 Years Ago: Sir Wilfrid Laurier Addresses Napanee Patriotic Meeting

The Intelligencer September 3, 1915 (page 1)

“Call for Recruits by Liberal Leader. Napanee, the central town of the historic U.E. Loyalist Bay of Quinte district, witnessed today one of the largest and most successful of all the patriotic meetings held in the past year in Canada. Special trains brought in large crowds from Kingston, Picton, Belleville and all the surrounding country. Fully 3,000 people were packed into the armories where the main meeting was held, while an overflow meeting was addressed in the market square. …

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, ca. August 1902
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, ca. August 1902
In a democratic country, Sir Wilfrid said, the opposition were quite within their rights in criticizing a war or the war policy of the government of the day …  but the war in which the Empire was engaged was altogether just. …  Discussing the progress of the war Sir Wilfrid said: ‘I am not a pacifist. We must fight this war to the bitter end. …  I say that Germany must be humbled, not because I have any hatred of the German people. On the contrary, our citizens of German birth are kind and good people, and we cannot associate them with the cruelties and outrages that have characterized the German armies on the field. …  I hear people say that we are disappointed and discouraged. I deny that. Disappointed we may be. Discouraged? Never.’ (Cheers).

In his closing words Sir Wilfrid appealed to the young men to enlist. Only the brave deserve the fair. He hoped every boy before him would go and enlist with the sweet image of a dear girl on his heart. He did not believe in conscription or in making military preparations the chief business of the country, but this present war must be fought to the bitter end, not for glory or for booty, but to redress the wrongs of Belgium, to compel Germany to respect treaties, and to ensure to the small nations of the earth the same right as the big nations, to possess the land and the sunshine that God had given them.”