I've been reading a book called "Great Canadian Speeches". It has 60 or so speeches made by Canadians or about truly Canadian topics. I'm pretty sure they cover around the last 200 years or so.
It is a very interesting read, you can see a progression in the style of public speaking change quite drastically between the 1920's and 1940's. This is apparently due to the invention and wide spread use of microphones and radio. Imagine having to shout to the crowd in order to be heard. Having amplification devices would make it much easier to speak in a more personal tone.
I find that I am enjoying reading the newer speeches a little bit more than the older speeches, but I'm not sure if that is due to being a little more knowledgeable about the topics. It came as quite a surprise to me that among the best older speeches were two by native chiefs. Another particularly good speech was by Nellie McClung satirizing politicians who had been delaying giving women the right to vote. (As an aside, it's an interesting fact that no nuclear weapon had ever been fired before women had the vote.)
I just finished a speech by Trudeau announcing the war measures act and another by Tommy Douglas saying what a bad idea invoking the war measures act was and what a big screw-up the Liberals had made.
Finally, I am getting into debates and events that have happened within my lifetime and that I actually remember talking about, at least a little bit. Things such as free trade with the US.
I'm really glad I found this book, because I am learning a lot about Canada. Things that I would have never known before. It's really encouraging me to read more Canadian history.
Of all the speeches so far, I think Tommy Douglas (The Greatest Canadian according to the CBC) is definitely one of Canada's Greatest orators, whether you agree with the NDP or not.
I'll be giving my critique of Tommy Douglas's "Cream Separator" speech in an upcoming post.