Arthur Currie's Return to Canada
Byng of Vimy; General and Governor General, Jeffery Williams, 1983
Despite the obvious satisfaction of the public, there were politicians in Ottawa who viewed Byng's appointment [as Governor General of Canada] with misgivings. The flowering of national spirit which began at Vimy and continued until the end of the war had been inspired by the unbroken successes of the splendid Canadian Corps. As the commander who shaped it and led it to its first major victory, Julian Byng's popularity was unparalleled. In the words of Gen McNaughton, 'The Canadians literally adored Byng.'
Arthur Currie, who succeeded to its command, was not regarded with the same warmth of affection, but his men would contend that he was without doubt the best general on the Western Front Canadian politicians had no experience of popular soldiers and were apprehensive that they might turn their popularity to political advantage. So abject was this fear of 'the man on horseback' that when Currie, returning from the War, arrived in Halifax in August, 1919, no one met him when he stepped ashore. Eventually an official arrived to escort him and his wife to a drab little civic ceremony. When it was over one of his former officers came forward, saluted and said, 'Welcome home, Sir'. For a moment he lost his self-control. His eyes moistened and his lips trembled as he placed a hand on the officer's shoulder and hooked two fingers of the other in his Sam Browne belt, then quietly shook him for a moment, saying not a word. His reception in Ottawa was an even more pointed rebuff. No publicity was given to his arrival and he was greeted officially on Parliament Hill by a cold and non-committal speech given by a junior cabinet minister. The Prime Minister was out of town.