November 12, 1945 (20th Parliament, 1st Session)


Agar Rodney Adamson

Progressive Conservative


Perhaps the hon. member for Maeleod may not know-probably he does-that a great deal of the symbolism of this building was placed there by a Canadian who possibly is not so well known to the present generation. I refer to the very well known and greatly honoured gentleman who at one time was crown attorney of this county. I refer to "Dick" Ritchie, a man who had a great deal to do with the symbolism found in our peace tower. He was a man, essentially a Canadian, and one who was even more a citizen of Canada than a citizen of Ottawa. I do not know that any appreciation has been given to him, or made
on his behalf-he died some years ago-for the work he did in connection with the symbolism in these parliament buildings.
The architect of these buildings was John Pearson, another gentleman who, again, was peculiarly a Canadian. He came from Toronto, rather than Otthwa, and was recognized both on this continent and in Europe as one of the great architects of his time.
The last time this bill was debated I noticed that some reference was made to the plan to make Ottawa a national war memorial or a national shrine, and to the proposal to bring Mr. Greber to this city to carry out that plan. I take exception to this. It is not that I object to Mr. Greber, or to the fact that he is not a Canadian, but rather that I do not think the development of our national capital should be in the hands of any but a group of Canadians. I would be content to have opinions from abroad. Possibly the good Mr. Greber has done such work in the capital that he should be consulted. But to leave the whole thing in his hands is, to my mind, first of all a negation of Canadian citizenship and, second, something that amounts almost to a slap in the face of our Canadian architects and artists.
I feel that when this comes up for actual wprk a committee of Canadians should be appointed to assist Mr. Greber in the work of making this a great capital city. In this I am following two opinions, one of which is from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada which, in an editorial in their Journal states:
The highlight in the architectural news, this month, is a further indication of the government's or the Prime Minister's unwillingness to recognize Canadian professional ability. The Prime Minister has asked General de Gaulle, as a favour, to allow Mr. Greber to come to Ottawa for a further scheme of beautification. If town planning were involved for the complete reconstruction of Ottawa, we would be the first to approve the appointment, through competition or other means, of the best men available, from whatever country. He might be Mr. Patrick Abercrombie, Mr. Bar.tholemew or he might be a Canadian. It is unlikely that he would be Mr. Greber. That, of course, is the job that should be done for a capital city that is occupying an increasingly important position in world affairs. Actually the job proposed is a napoleonic one of window dressing in which buildings will be knocked down and squares formed, gardens will be laid out and trees planted. The poor will remain where they are, or wil. be squeezed more tightly, and the overall planning of the city will be made more difficult for the town planners who must inevitably be appointed in the present decade.
If that is the programme, there is no need to ask favours of General de Gaulle. We have no very high opinion of what has already been done in Ottawa. We speak, of course, as a Torontonian, but one who has seen Times square,
War Charities Act

the Brandenburg gate and the Etoile, and we know of no place that is such a hazard to life and limb, whether on foot or in a vehicle, than Confederation square in Ottawa. There are Canadians who would have done a better job, and there are Canadians who could handle practically and with greater dignity the programme that is, at present, contemplated.
This is a fair and a professional opinion from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, which points out some of the grave difficulties which will be in our way if we leave this planning in the hands of Mr. Greber alone.
I have one further opinion, that, of the head of the School of Seven. Perhaps it can be said that we in Canada have developed painting as an art. possibly to a higher degree than any other. Our painters have become world renowned. There are Canadian painters who are known and whose paintings have been hung in most European galleries. A particu-ularly interesting group, known as the group of seven, brought about a new concept of art, particularly Canadian art. I should like to read a short paragraph or two from Mr. Harris' letter. He says:
A master plan for this country's capital using the Canadian people's money is strictly a Canadian venture and demands the use of Canadian talent and competence. Not to use the talent of Canada, trained and highly efficient in tfe type of planning best suited to Canada, is a betrayal of its creative spirit.
Does the Prime Minister realize that he is denying his own people the use of their best creative minds ip planning what may be this country's most important national project? Does he realize that in so doing he is starving a need of the Canadian people as basic to pride and well-being on the creative level as food is on the physical level? Does he realize that a people establishes its symbols through its own creative life and work in the arts, translates thus its feeling for its country into clear and potent expression, clarifies its aspirations and so helps to shape its individuality? Does he realize that his own people cannot hope to rise to a decent and relf-reliant nationhood unless they create their own public works in their own terms before the world?
This Ottawa that we hope to see rise as the capital of a great Canadian nation must foe a Canadian city. It must not only be a Canadian city; it must be a city of government and be planned as such. Any city that is a city of government must be a peculiar city. It must have amenities for the machinery of government. It cannot be merely a planned town or a group of vistas; it must be able to house the various government structures and take care of the various government functions. It must be a show place to attract the people of the world. More than that, this city of ours should reflect Canada. I do not say that in any narrow provincial or nationalistic way. We
must develop this capital of ours as a Canadian city. The predominant feeling behind this city and1 this memorial must be Canadian.
Therefore, in these few words I wish to protest against the destruction of Canadian creative ability by the appointment of someone outside Canada, irrespective of the work he has done before, to plan our national memorial. I believe he should be part of the plan, but he should have a group of Canadian artists, Canadian sculptors and Canadian architects helping him in this truly national and what we hope will be a magnificent endeavour.

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