Asa R. Hill’s speech and the Governor General’s Response during The Unveiling of the Bell Memorial at Brantford, Ontario, October 24, 1917

Transcript Care of the Bell Homestead National Historic Site

Bell Homestead National Historic Site

Asa R. Hill, Secretary of the Six Nations’ Council of Chiefs, who appeared attired in full war regalia, making a striking picture against the more somber costumes of the men, was formally presented to His Excellency and read the following address:

The Warriors of the Six Nations extend to Your Excellency a most hearty welcome.  May the great Spirit watch over you and protect you and return you safe to your land.  We, the men and warriors of the Six Nations, welcome you within the neighborhood of our Reserve.

The Government of Canada has passed a law calling the men to military service.  Therefore, we ask you, as the representative of our father, the King, that you will intercede for our young men that they be exempt from military service for overseas.  We have several reasons for this request.

1st, The population is very small

2nd, Our warriors to the number of about 300 or more are now in the firing line in Flanders, some having already paid for supreme sacrifice for King and Country.

3rd, We do not ask a total exemption from military service, but ask that our warriors be drafted and kept in Canada for home defence.  By reason of our warriors being taken away, the foreign element may disrupt our domestic homes.

4th, That we wish to have our warriors near us to till the land which is essential in this time of need.

We pray the Great Spirit may give you wisdom as head of the Government of Canada, and we pray you may give our petition your earnest consideration.

Reply to Address of Welcome: His Excellency, the Duke of Devonshire, Governor-General of Canada

Mr. Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have to thank you most cordially for the welcome you have extended me today.  It is a great pleasure to have this opportunity of taking part in the interesting proceedings of the day.  Although the weather is not altogether that which should be desired, the warmth of the welcome you have already extended to me makes up for and deficiency if that respect.  I can only trust that there will be a pleasant culmination of one of the most interesting stories, not only in Brantford or Canada, but the whole of the civilized world – the invention of the telephone.

I thank you as the Chief of the Six Nations Indians for the address you have given me on behalf of your warriors, and I assure you I appreciate on behalf of His Majesty your expressions of loyalty and devotion.