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Mackenzie King addresses Canadians as Britain declares war on Germany

The Story


In a solemn address titled "Canada at the side of Britain," Prime Minister Mackenzie King speaks to his country. Earlier the same day, King George VI declared war on Germany. Canada will follow suit a week later as a sovereign nation. With steely resolve, King makes obvious his intention to curb Germany's aggression. "To save one," he implores in this radio address, "we must make up our minds to save all."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio Special
Broadcast Date: Sept. 3, 1939
Guest(s): William Lyon Mackenzie King
Duration: 7:19

Did You know?


• On his way to the CBC, King was reviewing his speech and realized that page five was missing. In the rush to have his speech translated, the fifth page was lost and only found two minutes before the broadcast. In his diary, King recalled, "To my horror, before the missing page had reached me, Gladstone Murray [CBC's general manager] told me that this was to be the largest broadcast that had ever been made from Canada; that it was a worldwide broadcast."

• Canada remained neutral until Sept. 10, 1939, when Parliament approved King's recommendation to declare war. CBC announcer Austin Willis interrupted the NBC import Music for Moderns to read a Canadian Press bulletin breaking the news. Willis then threw the program back to Music for Moderns which was playing the song Inka Dinka Doo. The Financial Post criticized the CBC and commented "Incredible stupidity has been shown by Canada's state-owned broadcasting system... No sense of sober gravity of the moment seized by the CBC."

• CBC sent forth some of its best journalists to cover the Second World War. Reporters Matthew Halton, Peter Stursberg and Marcel Ouimet worked with soundman Art Holmes to produce stirring and passionate reports from the front.


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