In the first place may I say that I experienced sincere personal regret when I found that I would be unable to express to the members present at the annual meeting my sense of the honour done me in electing me President of the Canadian Author’s Association. Parliament was in session and unfortunately some engagements had been made for me which it was not possible to cancel. In these circumstances the opportunity to address the members now afforded through the Bulletin is indeed welcome.
I consider myself particularly fortunate in assuming office to find that my distinguished predecessors and the energetic committees that have worked with them have so organized the Association that my chief duty will be to “carry on.” I may assure you, however, that I shall endeavour earnestly to maintain the present position of the Association and to further its interests in every possible way. My view as regards the literary and artistic societies at present organized and working in this country is that they are pioneers and this work will not bear its full fruition until this side of our national life becomes more fully developed. When that time comes the workers of those days will find these organizations which we have founded and promoted, of great value, and will in justice feel grateful for our efforts.
Even in the oldest and richest countries a high proportion of the best writing is done by men and women who do not and often cannot make their living by authorship alone. In this country at present, with its small population and its literary class proportionately small, the need of a strong national organization to protect the rights and foster the appreciation of literature is peculiarly acute. [page 424]
An organization of anything like adequate strength for such an object, composed of professional writers alone, is here and now impossible. Our founders accordingly decided (and after ten years’ experience must be confirmed in their resolve) to impose no arbitrary or narrow standard of the “recognized position” which would qualify a writer for regular membership, and to welcome as non-voting members those who had a keen enough interest in our objects to come in and increase our strength.
Our constitution was expressly designed to include, and does include, workers in other arts besides the literary,—musical composers, painters, illustrators and sculptors, for instance. We welcome them as we welcome writers; and our Association is likely to be particularly useful to them in localities where they may have few other means of coming into contact with intellectual effort.
It will be my objects to make the Association generally useful to the membership. With this object view, our Society will be glad to be informed of individual difficulties that might be overcome by sympathetic advice, and the National Executive will give attention to all such matters. [page 425]