Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address in Quebec, Canada.

July 31, 1936

Your Excellency, Mr. Prime Minister, my friends and neighbors of Canada:

From the very moment I received the hospitable invitation of your Governor-General, I have been filled with the most happy anticipation of this all too brief visit. Canada and its people have ever had a real hold on my affection; and I am happy again to be able to assure you of this fact in person and to express my grateful appreciation of the warmth of your welcome.

That I am not a stranger may be illustrated by the fact that since the age of two I have spent the majority of my summers in the Province of New Brunswick, and it may be proved also by my recent most refreshing cruise along the beautiful shores of the Maritime Provinces where once more I have found friendship, relaxation and deep contentment.

Nor am I ignorant or unmindful of the charms of other sections of this great Dominion—Ontario and that great empire which extends west of it to the Pacific.

But to many of my countrymen, and I am no exception to this rule, Quebec has a fascination all its own. The Plains of Abraham and the cliffs which lead to them are eternal memorials to brave French, to brave British and to brave American colonials who fell in battle, be it in victory or in defeat.

Yet there is a nobler monument. For on these fields of battle was born the living miracle which we are privileged to see today—two great racial stocks residing side by side in peace and friendship, each contributing its particular genius in the molding of a Nation. That is a monument worthy of those who gave their lives; this is an example from which all thinking men draw deep satisfaction and inspiration.

While I was on my cruise last week, I read in a newspaper that I was to be received with all the honors customarily rendered to a foreign ruler. Your Excellency, I am grateful for the honors; but something within me rebelled at that word "foreign." I say this because, when I have been in Canada, I have never heard a Canadian refer to an American as a "foreigner." He is just an "American." And, in the same way, across the border in the United States, Canadians are not "foreigners," they are "Canadians."

I think that that simple little distinction illustrates to me better than anything else the relationship between our two countries.

On both sides of the line we are so accustomed to an undefended boundary three thousand miles long that we are inclined perhaps to minimize its vast importance, not only to our own continuing relations, but also to the example which it sets to the other Nations of the world.

Canadians and Americans visit one another each year by the hundreds of thousands—but, more important, they visit one another without the necessity of a passport. And, within recent months, another significant action speaks louder than words, for the trade agreement which I had the privilege of signing with your Prime Minister last autumn is tangible evidence of the desire of the people of both countries to practice what they preach when they speak of the good neighbor.

In the solution of the grave problems that face the world today, frank dealing, cooperation and a spirit of give and take between Nations are more important than ever before. The United States and Canada, and, indeed, all parts of the British Empire share a democratic form of government which comes to us from common sources. We have adapted our institutions on both sides of the border to our own needs and our own special conditions, but fundamentally they are the same.

The natural sympathy and understanding that exist between us were, I feel, demonstrated in the universal feeling of grief when the news of the death of the late King George was received in the United States. We felt not only that the head of a friendly Nation had been removed, but that a friend whose voice had penetrated into almost every home in the United States had been taken from us—a great king and a great gentleman.

It has also been my privilege in bygone years to know his Majesty, King Edward, and we look forward to the day when, finding it possible to come again to the Dominion, he may also visit with his neighbors in the United States.

Monsieur le Premier Ministre de Quebec, Monsieur le Maire:

Ces aimables paroles que vous venez de m'adresser au nom de votre grande province et de votre belle ville, et que vous adressez, par moi, au peuple des Etats-Unis, me touchent profondement, et je vous prie de croire que je suis tres sensible a la chaleur de votre accueil.

Que de scenes de valeur et d'heroisme ce nom de Quebec evoque en nous, et que de noms illustres s'associent a ce noble roc!

C'est pour rendre hommage a ces heros que viennent tous les ans a Quebec des milliers de mes compatriotes. Ils y prolongent leur sejour, seduits par la beaute merveilleuse de ce site, le doux charme de ses campagnes et l'accueil hospitalite de ses habitants. Cette hospitalite canadienne, si douce et si franche, est devenue une tradition dans mort pays. C'est par ces echanges de visite, par ces contacts repetes entre Canadiens et Americains que nous parviendrons a resserrer encore les liens deja etroits qui unissent nos deux peuples.


Mr. Prime Minister of Quebec, Mr. Mayor:

The words of kindness which you have addressed to me in the name of your great Province and of your beautiful City and which you address through me to the people of the United States touch me deeply; and I beg you to believe that I am deeply sensible of the warmth of your welcome.

What scenes of valor and heroism this name of Quebec stirs in us; what illustrious names are associated with this noble rock!

It is to pay homage to those heroes that thousands of my compatriots come every year to Quebec. Here they prolong their stay, lured by the great beauty of this site, by the soft charm of your countryside and by the hospitable greeting of your inhabitants. This Canadian hospitality, so simple and so open, has become a tradition in my country.

It is by these exchanges of visits, by these continuous contacts between Canadians and Americans that we shall come to tighten the close bonds which already unite our two peoples.

And Mr. Mackenzie King, you already know the path to Washington. I hope that you will come and visit me and revisit me again.

And Your Excellency, we are looking forward, as you know, to a visit from you and her Excellency to Mrs. Roosevelt and myself at the White House as soon as it may be convenient for you. May we speed the day when the heads of the Canadian and American Nations will see more of each other, not as foreigners, but as neighbors and friends.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address in Quebec, Canada. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives