Humphrey Hume Wrong

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Humphrey Hume Wrong c. 1915

Humphrey Hume Wrong (September 10, 1894 – January 24, 1954) was a Canadian historian, professor, diplomat, and Canada's ambassador to the United States. He was born in Toronto and died in Ottawa.

Background and early life[edit]

Wrong was part of Canada's true aristocracy. Grandson of labor party leader Edward Blake and son of historian George MacKinnon Wrong, Hume Wrong graduated from high school at Ridley College and was a graduate of the University of Toronto where he joined The Kappa Alpha Society, and served in the British Expeditionary Force shortly after. He later went to the University of Oxford for graduate study, and became a history professor at the University of Toronto in 1921. Hume was one of five siblings: Margaret Christian Wrong (1887–1948); historian, Oxford academic, and Magdalene College Don, Edward Murray Wrong (1889–1928); British Army officer Harold Verschoyle Wrong (born 1891, killed in action in the 1916 Battle of the Somme during World War I); and Agnes Honoria Wrong.[1][2]

Diplomatic appointments[edit]

Wrong was first secretary in the new Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, starting in the late 1920s, and served in the League of Nations. In 1938 he represented Canada at the Evian Conference. Wrong went to Washington as ambassador in 1946 and held that post until 1953. He was one of the key architects of the North Atlantic Treaty, which would give rise to NATO. He later rose to become the Canadian Secretary of External Affairs was named undersecretary to NATO, but died before he could take up the post. Wrong devised and honed the idea of functionalism, a principle which argued that in those areas in which Canada had the resources of a great power – food, minerals, air power – she should be treated like a great power. Functionalism became the basis of Canadian wartime policy, and to it must be credited much of the gains in Canadian influence and prestige.

Quotation from "The Gentle Nudge: The Canadian Department of External Affairs and the North Atlantic Treaty, 1948–1949" by Michael W. Manulak:

Wrong was the “the most incisive of the senior officials” in his thinking and the “crispest” in his writing. He was long described by Norman Robertson as “the most able man in the service.” Wrong was considered “brilliant” although “somewhat on the assertive side”. This assertive side could border on impatience or waspishness. In diplomacy, Wrong was of a very practical and organized nature, seeking clear Canadian interests with fewer abstract notions or moral preoccupations. Wrong was extremely well-connected with the State Department and highly respected. Hickerson described him as “one of my best friends.” Wrong was also a close personal friend of Dean Acheson (US Secretary of State from January 1949)in a relationship that dated back to their childhood.


Wrong is buried at Maclaren Cemetery in Wakefield, Quebec with his fellow diplomats and friends Norman Robertson and Lester B. Pearson.[3] He is the father of renowned sociologist Dennis Wrong.


  1. ^ Personal knowledge of a niece. Wrong joined the newly expanded Canadian Department of External Affairs in the late 1920s, around the same time as fellow future star diplomats Lester Pearson, Norman Robertson, and Hugh Keenleyside; this expansion was engineered by Oscar D. Skelton.
  2. ^ Shadow of Heaven: The Life of Lester Pearson, volume 1, by John English, London 1990, Vintage publishers
  3. ^ MacLaren Cemetery. Retrieved on 2014-05-26.

External links[edit]