Sir Archibald Nye:
Mr. Speaker and gentlemen, may I just say briefly that it was 25 years ago when the government of the United Kingdom acquired "Earnscliffe" as the residence, and in the first instance the office, of the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom who had just been appointed.
We were aware at the time that it was a very historic residence, so much so that the high commissioner of the day was instructed from London that before he went ahead with the purchase he should go to the prime minister of Canada and say that we were proposing to buy this house, but that if the Canadian government themselves wished to buy the house either as a residence for the prime minister or for any other purpose, we would withdraw from the transaction and give priority to the government of Canada.
The prime minister of the day, having considered the matter, very kindly said that the government of Canada did not wish to enter into any negotiations for the house, and that left us free to buy it, which we did, and it has been the residence of the High Commissioner ever since.
You will see that we have been conscious from the very first of the fact that we were occupying what I think might properly be called an historic monument in Canada, and we have been conscious, therefore, that there was a duty and responsibility upon us to try and maintain this residence in the state which we feel is appropriate to its history.
I found when I came here that there was no very adequate history of this house. We all know that Sir John A. Macdonald, who was the first prime minister of Canada and the father of confederation had occupied this house, that he had lived there, and that he had died there; but we did not know very much more about it. So I asked one of my officers, Mr. Reddaway, who is here today, if he would, in his spare time and during his leisure, write for us the history of "Earnscliffe".
I was not aware at the time that his father was an historian and that he had an interest in history in his blood, so to speak, and that he had also, so to speak, the nose of a foxhound in nosing out anything of interest.
He has spent an enormous proportion of his leisure-I hope only his leisure-at work on this history of "Earnscliffe", and he has produced two things: one is a written history which is being printed in England now, and which will shortly be available, and the other is a history of "Earnscliffe" in pictures.
We have made an endeavour not merely to give the book character, but to try to bring it to life by giving the story of the people who lived there, with pictures of them, what sort of people they were, and what were their interests and their activities.
It is for other people to judge, but if I may say so, it seems to me that something of extreme interest in our modern active world of a pattern during the last 100 years has emerged as a result. And I felt that since 100 years had passed, this was an appropriate time to do it. I was not unaware of what event is celebrated tomorrow, and I thought this might be a suitable occasion to ask you if you would accept it.
I have already said that Mr. Reddaway did all this work, but wherever he went he found willing helpers. People came more than half-way to meet him and to give whatever information they could. People in every government department; people too numerous for me to mention individually were largely responsible for producing the information on which this is based. A very large number of private residents also came forward with their recollections. It was only in this way that we were able to compile this history.
I felt that since this was so largely concerned with Sir John A. Macdonald and a part of his private life it seemed only appropriate that parliament should have a copy of this very restricted issue of pictures, and I felt too-and I hope this will not be regarded as impertinence on my part-that if this little effort in research on our part led others to desire to imitate it and to carry out research elsewhere, then we would not have lost anything in the doing of it.
If I may say so, I am very touched and very gratified that so many of you gentlemen have found the time to come here on this happy occasion to meet me, and it is, sir, with the very greatest pleasure that I hand to you on behalf of the library of parliament, this book of photographs.