TB Macaulay’s Speech

On TB Day, 18 June 1929, TB Macaulay of the Sun Life Assurance Company, Montreal, visited Valtos and was presented with an illuminated address by Rev Malcolm Maclennan, on behalf of the people of Uig.  Rev Maclennan gave a speech, and TB followed, as reported by the Gazette:

Mr Macaulay, acknowledging the presentations, said it was not an easy thing to reply to such an address as he had been listening to, and to express his thanks for such as welcome as they had been kind enough to give him.  He would have been glad naturally to come to Valtos, but as he had realised the warmth and enthusiasm of their welcome he felt humbled and overwhelmed, because after all he could not help asking himself why he should be so signally honoured.  there was only one reason that would not apply to scores of other right there in that crowd, and that was that he had been blessed by providence with the means that enabled him to do some things that many others present would have been willing and glad to do if they had the opportunity.  After explaining the ways in which he had first become interested in Lewis, Mr Macaulay said that, beginning with his reply to the appeal in connection with reconstruction of the Stornoway Municipal Buildings, he got into it, and the more he got into it, the more he felt the call of the blood.  (Applause.)  And he felt that, as he had been blessed financially, he wanted to give away something, and he decided that he should give it, first, where he would be interested, and second, where it would do good.  (Applause.) 

That was the beginning of his interest in Lewis, and since then he had got in deeper and deeper, and gradually got visions of what might be done to improve conditions in the Island.  He did not need to tell them what he had endeavoured to do, for they had recounted very kindly in the Address some of the things he had done.  Scotsmen and Highlanders, and Islanders even more so, he continued, had a feeling of affection for their old home, and somehow he felt, standing in the home of the Macaulays, as if he had been there before.  (Applause.)  The place seemed to him to be inhabited by the spirits of his ancestors.  (Applause.)  These forebears of theirs had looked around on these same hills that he was looking at now, n the same scene of beauty that was all around them there.  He was really more happy than they could possibly imagine to feel that he had a claim in that place, and that he was not just like some visitor, some Englishman, looking round and saying, “This is a beautiful spot.”  So it is a beautiful spot, said Mr Macaulay, but it is more, it is your spot, and it is my spot.  (Loud applause.)

Proceeding, Mr Macaulay spoke of his plans for the betterment of conditions on the island, emphasising that they were put forward merely as suggestions, and that he wished them to be taken as suggestions coming from one of themselves.  If they did not think the ideas good – if they could be improved upon – he wished them to say so frankly, and so help him on to the right lines.

As a Canadian, Mr Macaulay continued, he would say to any young people desirous of emigrating, “Come to Canada,” but n one could make him enthusiastic over any proposition to depopulate the land of his ancestors. (Loud applause.)  If in co-operation together they could set on foot some practical schemes which would provide the young people of the Island with opportunities, right at their own doors, as good as they could get in Canada, he would be delighted to help in every way possible.  (Renewed applause.)  In conclusion, he again expressed the delight it gave him to meet the people of Uig in that way and in that place where his own forefathers had lived.  In a sense, it was almost a sacred spot to him (applause) and he could not sufficiently express his appreciation of the wonderful welcome they had given him and of the Address with which they had presented him.  He would prize it as one of his most treasured possessions, and it would occupy an honoured place on the walls of his home.  (Applause.)

Mr Angus Smith, Chairman of the Lewis District Committee, expressed the pride and honour the peopleof Uig felt in having Mr and Mrs Macaulay and party among them, remarking that Mr Macaulay, so far as he knew, was the first who ever received an illuminated address from a crofting community.

Tea, for which excellent arrangements had been made by a committee of local ladies, was, with the assistance of many willing helpers, then served.  It made a welcome and appropriate termination to a very pleasant function, and the vote of thanks to tladies, proposed by Mr Duncan Macdonald, Sandwick, was heartily accorded.

TB Macaulay took, according to reports, “very near the whole graduating class from the Nicolson” to Canada later that year to work for Sun Life, though some returned.