2006 Annual Inspection
Reviewing Officer's Address
We were privileged to have The Hon. Edward Roberts '57, ONL, QC, Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland & Labrador as our Reviewing Officer for the 101st Annual Inspection.We know that you will enjoy his address to the Corps, shown here (at left) under the command of Cadet Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Simpson '06.
"Forty-nine years ago, almost to the day, I stood on this Quad as a member of the St. Andrew’s College Highland Cadet Corps. It never crossed my mind as I marched and counter-marched that afternoon that I might some day be the Reviewing Officer. And I suspect that my comrades in the ranks - and Aubrey Holmes, our chief instructor - would have thought me a most unlikely prospect to do so. Thank you for asking me to be with you today. I consider it a great honour. And I assure you that it is a very great pleasure.
I was a member of #2 Platoon, commanded by my friend and classmate Noel Roberts, known officially in those days as Roberts Primus. We were both in the Upper Sixth that year, but he was the older of the pair and thus Roberts Primus. I became Roberts Secondus.
Noel died four years ago, one of the three from our Graduating Class and the eight from the Class of 1957 who have passed on. We’re celebrating our 50 year reunion. There were only 31 of us in the Upper Sixth that year, and so we’ve combined forces this weekend with 1956 so that there are enough of us to make a respectable showing. Thirty-two of us are here today, 19 from my year and 13 from the Class of 1956. We took dinner together last night. We had a wonderful evening, beginning of course with the grace that ends “per Jesum Christum Dominum Nostrum”. I never did learn all of the words, but those five words were the ones that counted, because they came just before the meal was served!
As a Lieutenant Governor, and as the Honorary Colonel of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, I am often invited to parades and other military events, and I act as the Reviewing Officer at several Annual Ceremonial Reviews each year - that’s a new name for Inspections, in the jargon. They are always well done, and often very well done. But I must begin by telling you that I’ve never seen a better performance by any cadet corps or military unit than that carried out here today by Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Simpson and the other officers and cadets on parade, led by what is beyond argument the finest student Pipes and Drums Band anywhere. I congratulate every member of the Corps, from the Commanding Officer to the most junior private, on their accomplishments. You have every right to be proud of yourselves today. This Corps, as we know, is 101 years old. There are 455 Army cadet units in Canada today. Most are much younger: only 11 of them are older. None is better.
I shall speak in a moment or two about my own connection with the School, but first let me remind you that young Newfoundlanders have been coming to St. Andrews from almost its very beginning. I am told there are four here this year. Perhaps the high water mark came early in 1972, when Andreans made up a full 10% of the Members of Newfoundland’s House of Assembly, our Legislature. Four of us - James Chalker, John Crosbie, Frank Moores and myself - wore the Old Boy’s tie. Frank and I - like the elephant and the mouse - shared leadership positions: he was Premier and I led the Opposition.
Notwithstanding those links, I was startled - when I began to prepare these notes - to realize that this is only the third time I have been back to the School since I left it in June 1957. But I can tell you that although I’ve only been here twice in half a century, there hasn’t been a day in those years that the School wasn’t with me. Had anybody told us 50 years ago that St. Andrew’s would shape our lives, I would have scoffed at the notion - and every one of my classmates would have done so, too. But I can tell you that it did, and it does. My years here have had a lasting effect - and it has been a beneficial one, I hasten to add.
It would be foolish of me to tell you that my military career as a member of the Cadet Corps was noteworthy. Promotion in those days was a consequence of competition: I hope it still is, because it should be. I rose to the exalted rank of Corporal in the fall of 1956, my last year at the School. I might have made Sergeant, if only I hadn’t ordered the platoon I was guiding through a drill exercise to “Left Wheel” instead of telling them to make a “Right Wheel”. My friends and classmates heeded the order, and marched straight into the wall of the gym in Dunlap Hall (now the Wirth Art Centre). Always willing to oblige and to help a comrade in need, they didn’t even mark time: they just piled atop each other.
By one means or another, we all learned much at St. Andrews. Some of us did well academically, some excelled in sports and others learned to lead by becoming officers in the Cadets. Some of the knowledge we gained was tested by examinations, but most of it has been tested by our lives throughout the years. Those were the most valuable lessons of all in my judgement.
I’m passionately interested in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Soldiers and sailors are an important part of that history, and since coming to Government House I’ve learned a great deal about the role they have played in our past. I cherish my appointment as Honorary Colonel of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, a military formation which celebrated its 211th birthday ten days ago with a church service and a parade to commemorate the Gallipoli campaign. The Newfoundlanders, as a regiment in the British Army, were the only North American unit to fight there, alongside the Australians and the New Zealanders of the famed ANZAC Corps and several British regiments. The Newfoundlanders won imperishable glory on the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, at a small French hamlet named Beaumont Hamel. Eight hundred of them attacked that morning: 69 were able to answer the roll call the next day. Two months later, the Newfoundlanders were back in the front line, in the Ypres Salient. Their neighbours were Canadians. That was the first time soldiers from the two Dominions fought side-by-side since the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencibles came to Upper Canada in the War of 1812-14.
In recent years, many thousands of my fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have volunteered for the Canadian Forces. I am told that somewhere between 15 to 20 percent of the men and women serving in overseas deployments today have family connections with our province. I’ve learned, too, that Canada’s Armed Forces are a superb group of professional, dedicated men and women. They deserve the support of every one of us. And I am happy to be able to say that more and more Canadians are standing up to say so. Most of you on parade today will choose careers other than the Armed Forces. But I say to those who will “follow the Colours” that it is an honourable way to live one’s life, and to serve your fellow Canadians.
Thank you again for giving me the honour of being with you today. There’s no military performance as glorious as that of a Highland Regiment marching well, with pipes playing and drums beating. You’ve added lustre to the laurels won by all the young men who have marched in the ranks of this Corps over its century-long history. You are a credit to yourselves, you are a credit to your families, and you are a credit to your School - to our School.
Let me close with a traditional invocation of my fellow Newfoundlanders, a people who have been bred to the sea. The foremost sail on a schooner, as many of you will know, is the jib. And when we want to wish a friend a good voyage, with fair winds and a safe harbour, we say “long may your big jib draw”. And so I say to you today, “long may your big jib draw”.