High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom
|High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom
Haut-commissariat du Canada au Royaume-Uni (French)
Canada House in 2004
|High Commissioner||Janice Charette|
The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom in London is the diplomatic mission of Canada to the United Kingdom. Until mid-December 2014, it was housed in two separate buildings in central London – Canada House on Trafalgar Square and Macdonald House in Mayfair – with an additional Regional Service Centre at 3 Furzeground Way, Stockley Park, Uxbridge. Additionally, the Government of Quebec maintains a representative office on Pall Mall.
The Canadian high commission in London is Canada's oldest diplomatic posting, having been established in 1880. Canada House, in Trafalgar Square, became the site of the mission in 1923. In 1962, Canada also acquired the former American Embassy at 1, Grosvenor Square in London's Mayfair district, and it was renamed Macdonald House. Macdonald House was the official residence of the Canadian High Commissioner until the building was vacated in mid-December 2014, after having been sold for redevelopment.
Canada's presence in London goes back to 1869, when Sir John Rose, 1st Baronet was appointed as Canada's informal representative in Britain. This was the first Canadian diplomatic posting and the first from any British colony to the motherland. Since Canada did not have a foreign ministry, Rose acted as the personal representative of Canada's prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Rose's position was retained despite a change of government in Canada, and his position was given the title "Financial Commissioner for the Dominion of Canada". Additionally, in 1874, the government of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie named Edward Jenkins, a British Liberal Party Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom who had grown up in Quebec, as Canada's Agent-General in London. His duties in that role were clarified to the Canadian House of Commons in May 1874 by the Canadian Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, who said that Jenkins would have surveillance of the Canadian emigration business in London, would occasionally be asked to attend to other business of a confidential nature. He would also be "expected to give some little attention to Canadian gentlemen sojourning in London". He held the post for two years. Mackenzie then appointed former Nova Scotia premier William Annand as agent general in 1876; he held the position until Mackenzie's government was defeated.
When Macdonald returned to power in 1878, he wanted to elevate the office of Financial Commissioner to "resident minister", but this was disallowed by Britain, who offered the title of high commissioner instead. This was the origin of the practice whereby members of the Commonwealth send high commissioners rather than ambassadors to each other, which continues to this day.
The first official high commissioner was Alexander Tilloch Galt, appointed in 1880. The office remained the most important in Canadian diplomacy and was always filled by political appointees rather than career diplomats, even after Canada created a Ministry of External Affairs in 1909.
As the high commission's role grew, it needed to expand its facilities, and on 29 June 1925, King George V and Queen Mary officiated at the dedication of Canada House on Trafalgar Square. The mission's needs continued to expand, however, and Canada acquired the former American embassy on Grosvenor Square and renamed it Macdonald House, in honour of Canada's first prime minister. Macdonald House opened on Canada Day (1 July) in 1961.
Canada House was refurbished in 1997-98. After years of operating from two buildings, in mid-December 2014, all of the activities of the High Commission were regrouped in the expanded and fully refurbished Canada House on Trafalgar Square. In order to expand the historic Canada House, the Government of Canada had purchased the adjoining building at 2-3-4 Cockspur Street, originally built as the British head office of the Sunlife Assurance Company of Canada in 1927. It is remarkable that the Sunlife building had been built to match the architecture of Canada House. For that reason, it does look, from the outside, as if the building was built from the start as an extension of Canada House, although this is not the case. The historic Canada House and the former Sunlife head office now form a very coherent ensemble.
List of Canadian High Commissioners in the United Kingdom
|Representative of the Prime Minister/
Financial Commissioner of the Dominion of Canada
|Start of term||End of term|
|Sir John Rose, 1st Baronet||1869||1880|
|Agent-General||Start of term||End of term|
|High Commissioner||Start of term||End of term|
|The Hon. Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt||1880||1883|
|The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Tupper||1883||1896|
|The Rt. Hon. Donald Alexander Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal||1896||1914|
|The Rt. Hon. Sir George Perley||1914||1922|
|The Hon. Peter C. Larkin||1922||1930|
|Lucien Turcotte Pacaud (acting)||1930||1930|
|The Hon. Howard Ferguson||1930||1935|
|The Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey||1935||1946|
|L. Dana Wilgress||1949||1952|
|Norman Robertson (second time)||1952||1957|
|The Hon. George Drew||1957||1964|
|The Hon. Lionel Chevrier||1964||1967|
|The Rt. Hon. Paul Joseph James Martin||1974||1979|
|Jean Casselman Wadds||1979||1983|
|The Hon. Donald Jamieson||1983||1985|
|The Hon. Roy McMurtry||1985||1988|
|The Hon. Donald Stovel Macdonald||1988||1991|
|Fredrik S. Eaton||1991||1994|
|The Hon. Royce Frith||1994||1996|
|The Hon. Roy MacLaren||1996||2000|
|James R. Wright||2006||2011|
- "Canadian Heads of Posts Abroad from 1880". Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
- "The London Diplomatic List" (PDF). 13 December 2013.
- "The Canadian Parliament". The Times. London. 26 May 1874. pp. 4, col C.
- "John Edward Jenkins". The Quebec History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 4 December 2010.