1916 Fredericton Encaenia

Graduation Address

Delivered by: Walker, Thomas

"Address to Graduating Class" University Monthly 35, 7 (June 1916): 7-9. (UA Case 67, Box 1)

As I understood the invitation of the Chancellor to address you, the address was to be short. It will be short. For some time I have advocated the shortening of all the encoenia addresses, and surely I should begin with my own. If I can I wish to set an example of brevity which I hope may be followed.

It has fallen to my lot today to address the graduating class, and to extend to you the congratulations of the senate that you have gained the prize for which you have been striving for the last four years. I do congratulate you very heartily, and in doing so wish you every success and happiness in whatever vocation you may choose for your life's work.

We do sincerly hope that while within these walls you have been fitted to become estimable citizens, builders up of this great country, helpers of your fellow-men, and a credit to this University.

An eminent English divine said, "The wealth of a nation consists ultimately not in its exports or its imports, but in the number of noble lives being lived therein. The capital of a country, whether to use at home or to export abroad, is ultimately the character of its citizens." Have you ever fitted yourselves, or rather have we fitted you, to take your part in this ideal? Are you ready to take up your life work along these lines?

It was sixty years ago last January since I matriculated at King's College. I need not say how much the character and teaching of this school has expanded during that period. Sixty years ago you could get here the foundation of a good liberal education. Now we are making in addition civil engineers, electricians, foresters, etc. This serves to show the trend of education in these times to be education for occupation. Time will not allow me to follow along this line; but I would commend to your consideration a quotation from an address of Dr. James Robertson, delivered to the Dominion Educational Association at Ottawa in 1913, and prior to the present war:

"At this stage of our national growth if we men and women who are here, and who are represented here, become seized with the conviction that the adequate education of the young people of Canada is the one thing that matters most, and if we ardently seek to make our own vision the common view of all people, then no one of us will have lived and labored in vain."

I have one admonition in conclusion. Germany is lauded now because she is rich and great and dominant. In conversation her own best men express to you a fear that the days of her decline have more than dawned; that the people's feet are already on the downward path; that Germany has gone past the zenith, and follows the Roman Empire on the road to ruin. Why? Because her people have grown rich in a generation, have become arrogant, and have begun to think that wealth and power have better meanings than the training of the young. When Germany was poor and menaced the leaders of her people said, The salvation of our people, the salvation of our land, the salvation of our nation is through the training of the young. They devoted their means to that end and achieved results in part. Their educational leaders discern that they have neglected the formation of individual character on high standards; and they are now seeking to save Germany from its degeneration by bringing back into its schools the old idealism and the old purpose. We are just at the stage in Canada when we have the unparalleled opportunity to take that wide and glorious path of vocational education for all the young people. From thirteen
to eighteen you can make a nation strong in intelligence, ability, good-will, and character; or you can debase a nation into all kinds of sordid neglect of the best things in life. Let us choose the better path.

I would commend to you the value of self-reliance. The man who is not self-reliant is weak, hesitating and doubtful in all he does. I would strongly urge upon you the cultivation of self-reliance.

I would beg of you to be loyal to your University ; to remember with pleasure the days that you have spent within its walls and to always look back with regret to the day that has severed the ties which have connected us during the last four years. When opportunity offers commend the U. Í. Â. to your juvenile friends. Press the claims of the small university. It brings about a closer intimacy between the teachers and the pupils, and enables the teachers to study the peculiarities of different members of his class. I beg of you to consider it your duty to join the Alumnae and Alumni Associations, and help them in the work they are doing now, and have been doing in years past, towards the building up and encouragement of the University, that you may be able to extend to others those advantages which have benefitted your own lives.

I am speaking to you as New Brunswickers, certainly as Canadians. Hold fast to your love of this your native country and strive for its good, labor for its uplifting, and believe that what was said by the Psalmist is just as true now as the day it was written, "Put thou thy trust in the Lord, and be doing good, dwell in the laud and verily thou shalt be fed."

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