Mulroney donates Roosevelt speaking notes to Queen’s

Marks 70th anniversary of speech delivered on eve of WWII


Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is donating to Queen’s University a framed facsimile of speaking notes for a speech that former U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered at the school when he received an honourary degree there on August 18, 1938.

The speech itself focused on Canada-U.S. relations, which seemed especially rosy at the time. Roosevelt spoke primarily about how both countries should stick together when facing common enemies, and added that “the people of the United States will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other Empire.”

Towards the end of the speech, Roosevelt focused on education. He closed with the following words:

“Mr. Chancellor, you of Canada who respect the educational tradition of our democratic continent will ever maintain good neighborship in ideas as we in the public service hope and propose to maintain it in the field of government and of foreign relations. My good friend, the Governor General of Canada, in receiving an honorary degree in June at that University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to which Mackenzie King and I both belong, suggested that we cultivate three qualities to keep our foothold in the shifting sands of the present—humility, humanity and humour. I have been thinking in terms of a bridge which is to be dedicated this afternoon and so I could not help coming to the conclusion that all of these three qualities—humility, humanity and humour—embedded in education, build new spans to reestablish free intercourse throughout the world and to bring forth an order in which free nations can live in peace.”

The framed copy of the notes were specially made for Mulroney and presented to him by former U.S. president Bill Clinton on Feb. 5, 1993, when the two leaders first met at the White House.

The full audio of the speech is available for download at iTunesU.

Filed under:

Mulroney donates Roosevelt speaking notes to Queen’s

  1. This is good news, these records belong in a place which the public can access them and it’s fitting they’re now stored at Queen’s.

    My question is where have these records been stored all these years and why didn’t Mulroney turn them over to the National Archives for safekeeping?

    These documents are important pieces of Canadian history. This speech has informed Canadian defence policy since WWII and been cited as a reason that Canada doesn’t need to worry about self-defence.

    Somebody gives the PM a letter-opener, fine let him keep it. A bottle of the local brew, let him drink it. A document of historical importance, it belongs to all Canadians and should be treated as such.

  2. Dear Macleans.ca. I am writing from Queen’s University and have been involved with this importatn anniversary event. Please note that Mr. Mulroney generously donated a copy of the FDR speaking notes for the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s University speech given to him, specially framed, by President Clinton, to mark the President’s first meeting with a foreign leader on Feb. 5, 1993. The original is held at the FDR Library at Hyde Park in New York State.
    That President Clinton chose to have this copy made for Canada’s Prime Minister, demonstrates the signficance of the speech. Queen’s made that distinction clear in our release. Can you please correct the story? Many thanks from Queen’s and we appreciate your interest in this anniversary event and donation to us by a former Prime Minister. Until today, Queen’s University Archives did not have such a facimile for our own records. Please see our release and the comments by University Archivist Mr. Paul Banfield at the importance of this donation by Mr. Mulroney to our University.
    Can you please confirm receipt of this at my email?
    Many thanks from Queen’s University.

Sign in to comment.