Ooty Centenary (June 1, 1923)
Ootacamund June 1. The following is the reply of H.E the Governor ( Lord Willingdon, who later became the Governor General of Canada) to the address presented by the Hill tribes.
Members of the Hill tribes of Nilgiris, I thank you for your interesting address to which I have just had the pleasure of listening. I particularly glad to see you here today for I fear that you and your communities are socially qualified to take part in such celebrations as these since you above all others as age long residents of these hills, have been in a position to mark the gradual growth and development of this town. You too, through traditions handed down to your families, will have clearer impressions of what the spot was like a hundred years ago when the pioneer of modern Ootacamund first made his way up from the plains and discovered the salubrious nature of these cool Hill tops. It is clear too from what you told me that active assistance of your ancestors was not lacking in those early days to help the founder of Ootacamund in making their roads through virgin forests and I am glad to think that you have had no cause to regret the cooperation and good will which you showed to the stranger in your midst. You acknowledge with gratitude the benefits of education and efficient administration which you have received and the knowledge you have gained of modern methods of raising crops and I take this opportunity of assuring you continued interest which my government takes in your welfare and advancement. I am confident that the progress you have made will be steadfastly maintained and I trust that long before the next century of Ootacamund you will have attained the high place to which you aspire among the peoples of this district. In conclusion let me thank you most warmly for the cordial good wishes to Her Excellency and myself with which you close your address and express again the pleasure which we both feel at joining with you in celebrating the centenary of Ootacamund in the amenities of which we all share.
Reply to Address
(Associated Press of India)
The first centenary of Ootacamund was fittingly celebrated today by the residents of Ootacamund both European and Indian enthusiastically taking part in the celebrations. His Excellency received three addresses in the course of the afternoon from the Station Municipality, Nilgiri District Board, the Hill tribes of Nilgiris respectively and made suitable replies. There was a distinguished gathering at the Stonehouse where the first two addresses were presented and their Excellencies planted two oak trees in front of the building in commemoration of the occasion. After refreshments the whole party moved on to the Breeks Memorial school playground where there was a huge crowd consisting of school children, hill tribes and others. Here there was a demonstration of girl guides and boy scouts. After inspecting the Governor received an address from the Hill tribes on the same ground and thereafter switched on the electric current at a spot arranged by the Municipality. Thus the town is partially lighted with electricity from today and the lighting scheme will be compete in a month or so.
Ootcamund June 1. The following is the joint reply of H.E. the Governor to the addresses presented by the Ootacamund Municipal Council and the Nilgiris District Board this afternoon at Stonehouse in connection with the centenary of Ootacamund.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me in the first place in my capacity as one of your hosts offer you on behalf of all my colleagues a very hearty welcome and express the pleasure we feel at your presence here this afternoon to join with us in celebrating this important occasion in the history of Ootacamund.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Municipality, I thank you most warmly on behalf of my wife and myself for the address which you have just presented and for the charming, and I fear, all too flattering references which you have made to our work amongst you since I became the governor of this Presidency. This much, I can very truly say, that we have done our best to increase the amenities for the enjoyment of life for all classes and communities who permanently reside in or visit this Hill station. As you suggested, if we have in any way succeeded in our efforts, I can sincerely assure you that the most generous remarks you have made to us today have amply repaid for any labours we have undergone. Let me recall to your minds an occasion about four years ago, soon after my arrival as the governor of Madras when I paid my first visit to Ootacamund and was officially welcomed and received an address from the Municipality. On that occasion you demanded from the new governor three things as urgent necessities. Those three things were electric lighting, a Town Hall and a Modern Dairy Farm and, though the major portion of my term of office has passed without seeing the materialization of these three projects, it is , believe me, not for want of trying , and I assure you it is a great source of satisfaction to me to think that through the wonderful energy and financial genius of Her Excellency we have now a flourish hall in the shape of the Assembly Rooms, that we are, I think I can safely say, assured of a supply of electric power in the near future, and that our enterprising Municipality has approved a scheme for a Modern Dairy Farm on the Wenlock Downs which will , I trust, ere long do much to improve the health of this town. So though you may think we may have been slow, we have been at least persevering and I hope you will agree when I repeat we have done our best.
I thank you too Mr. President and members of the District Board , for the appreciative reference which you have made to Her Excellency’s work in this district and on behalf of myself and my Government for your expression of gratitude for the help we have been able to accord you in the administration of local affairs. Let me also, on behalf of the residents and visitors, alike express our appreciation of your efforts to do all you for our comfort and convenience. Indeed, I think we may truly, congratulate the District Board and the Municipal Council on the part they have played and are playing in the development of Ootacamund and Nilgiris. We are met here today to celebrate the centenary of Ootacamund as a hill station of the government and I feel it to be great good fortune that this occasion should have fallen during the period of my official life as the Governor of Madras. I am glad that you have mentioned the name of Mr. Sullivan, whose oak tree will, after this ceremony today, no longer stand alone of its kind on Stonehouse Hill. Up till now I think I am right in saying that very few of those who enjoy the amenities of the place have realized how much they owe to Mr. Sullivan. Indeed, I doubt if many were even aware of his name ( now his name is a household word) and it is only fitting that on this occasion we should honour his memory and acknowledge the debt we owe to the pioneer of Ootacamund. We can claim without fear of contradiction , I speak with some experience of Hill stations in this country, that she well deserved the name of the Queen of Hill Stations. I go further and claim for her that she is one of the most beautiful spots in the British Empire to whose wonderful climate jaded Governors and Officials have for long years owed much for the refreshment in body and mind they have received here to help them carry on their arduous duties for the welfare of the people.
To commemorate this auspicious occasion in a few minutes my wife and I have been bidden to plant two oak saplings beside, their centenarian brother and we express the hope that 100 years hence when my successor in the Governorship of Madras is engaged in a similar task when celebrating the second century , my wife and I may be here in spirit and find that recollection of our humble efforts while living amongst you are still remembered at Ootacamund.
In conclusion let me thank you once more for the graceful and generous references in your addresses and express pleasure I feel at meeting you all here today. Our purpose is to express our high hopes for the future of Ootacamund and our conviction that for long years to come our two races will be found cooperating , working together as they are now to make it and keep it the Queen of Hill Stations.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre
Photo : DC