- 1762-1995, predominant 1898-1950 (Creation)
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George MacKinnon Wrong, the son of Gilbert and Christina MacKinnon Wrong, was born on a farm at Grovesend, Elgin County, Canada West on 25 June 1860. In 1886 he married Sophia Hume Blake, the eldest daughter of Edward Blake, chancellor of the University of Toronto and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. They had five children, Margaret (Marga), Murray, Harold, Hume and Agnes (Polly). His wife died in 1931 and two years later he married Elizabeth Durgwynne, an Englishwoman with extensive nursing experience who had come to Canada two years earlier.
Wrong was educated at Wycliffe College and the University of Toronto (BA 1883, MA 1886), taking post-graduate work at Oxford and Berlin. He was ordained a minister of the Church of England in 1883 and from 1883 to1892 was lecturer in history and apologetics at Wycliffe College. In 1892 he was appointed lecturer in history at the University of Toronto and promoted to professor and head of the department in 1894. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1927 and was recognized as a superb lecturer. He introduced Canadian history into the curriculum and in 1904 founded the University of Toronto Historical Club, with its dominant interest in public affairs. His three sons were all to be members of the Club, though never at the same time. In retirement, Wrong devoted himself to writing, community and educational causes. In January 1929 he was elected president of the Ontario division of the Canadian Red Cross Society. Later that year he represented Canada at the 3rd Institute of Pacific Relations Conference in Kyoto, Japan.
He founded, in 1897, the Review of Historical Publications Relating to Canada, predecessor to the Canadian Historical Review. In 1905 he helped found the Champlain Society, was its editorial secretary until 1922, and its president from 1924-1928. Besides several text-books on British and Canadian history, he was the author of The Crusade of 1383 (1892), The Earl of Elgin (1906), A Canadian Manor and its Seigneurs (1908), The Fall of Canada (1914), Washington and his Comrades in Arms (1921), The Rise and Fall of New France (1928), Canada and the American Revolution (1935) and The Canadians (1938). He edited for the Champlain Society Sagard's Long Journey to the Country of the Hurons (1939) and was co-editor with H.H. Langton of The Chronicles of Canada (32 volumes, 1914-16). For a complete list of his publications see W. Stewart Wallace, “The life and work of George M. Wrong” Canadian Historical Review, 29, 3 (Sept.1948) 238-239.
Wrong was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1908 and received the honorary degree of LLD from McGill University in 1919 and University of Toronto in 1941. In 1936 his portrait, painted by Sir Wyly Grier, was presented to the Department of History at the University. In 1944 he was elected an honorary member of the American Historical Association, the third person to receive that honour. Professor Wrong died in Toronto on 29 June 1948.
The Wrongs had residences in Toronto at 467 Jarvis Street and later at 73 Walmer Road, where they were generous and hospitable hosts. After the death of Edward Blake, George bought property that included a miller’s house on a pond at Canton north of Port Hope. In the summer of 1929 he offered to sell the rights to the mill and dam to his former pupil, Vincent Massey, but no agreement was reached until the early 1930s, when George was suffering financially from the stock market crash. Vincent Massey then erected his residence, Batterwood, on the property.
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The youngest child of George and Sophia Wrong, Agnes (known as Polly) was born in Toronto on 31 March 1903. She attended Havergal College and the University of Toronto, graduating with a BA in modern history in 1925. In 1928 she married Charles Harold Algeo Armstrong (BA 1911, LLB 1915), a Toronto barrister who, in 1921, had been principal private secretary to Prime Minister Arthur Meighen. (Charles had attended the U of T at the same time as Agnes’ brothers and his brother, Paul, was killed in World War I.) The Armstrong's had three children, Julian (O’Brien), Paula (LaPierre), and Christopher. Charles died in 1961.
Following graduation, Agnes worked for Eaton’s Shopping Service until her marriage. She then served with a number of community organizations, including the Junior League of Toronto. She was appointed managing editor of the Junior League Mail in 1934 and president of the League in 1936. In 1940 she was elected Canadian representative to the board of the Association of the Junior Leagues of America and, in 1942, its secretary. She was also an active member of the Havergal Old Girls’ Association. She died in Toronto in December 1995.
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Murray Wrong, the eldest son of George and Sophia Wrong, was born on 4 April 1889. In 1904 he contacted rheumatic fever which affected his heart, leaving him with “an aortic regurgitation sufficiently gross to cause a ‘water-hammer’ pulse which moved his chair with each heart-beat,” and brought on periodic health crises throughout his life. He attended Ridley College, St. Andrew’s College, and University College at the University of Toronto, from which he received his BA in 1911 in English and modern history. He was vice-president of the Historical Club (1910-1911), an associate editor of the Varsity and editor of the Evening Blast (1910-1911), and a member of the Letters Club (1909-1911). He also played tennis.
In 1911 Murray went to Balliol College, Oxford from which he graduated with a first class honours in modern history 1913. In December 1914, he was elected to a fellowship at Magdalen College, the first Canadian to be so honoured. A month later he was awarded the Beit Prize for his thesis on colonial history, being the first Canadian to receive the whole prize. Rejected for military service, he was appointed vice-principal of the School of Technology in Manchester in 1916, where he remained until 1919 when he returned to Magdalen as tutor in history. He continued as Beit lecturer until 1924 when he became senior tutor. He was also vice-president of his college (1925, 1926) and in 1927 was elected junior proctor of Oxford University.
Murray wrote several books, including a history of the British Empire in Australia (1917?), The constitutional development of Canada (1918), Charles Buller and responsible government (1926), Crime and detection (1926), which he edited and for which he wrote an introduction, and History of England, 1688-1815 (1927). He also wrote frequently for the British press. At the time of his death he was working on a life of Lord Dorchester, the first governor-general of Canada.
At the end of 1915 he married Rosalind Grace Smith, the sixth daughter of A. L. Smith, fellow and tutor of Balliol, and herself a brilliant student. They had two sons and four daughters.
During the autumn of 1927 Murray overtaxed his heart and never recovered. He died at Oxford on 15 February 1928 and was buried in Holywell Cemetery.
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The second son of George and Sophia Wrong, Harold was born in Toronto on 1 December 1891 and attended the same colleges as his older brother. He played tennis throughout his undergraduate years, won the university tennis championship and his colours in 1911 and captained the team in 1912. He was also a member of the Historical Club (1911-1913), of the Classical Association of University College (1912-1913) and the Thirteen Club (1912-1913). He also wrote essays, short stories, and poetry, some of which were published in the student literary journal, The Arbor.
Harold graduated with a BA in 1913 and went to Christ Church, Oxford. After his first year, he devoted his time at Oxford mainly to the Officers’ Training Corps and was gazetted in December 1914 to the 15th (Service) Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He served in France from November 1915 and was killed on the first day of the battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, at Thiepval with much of his battalion. His body was never recovered.
After his death, Murray Wrong and Samuel Verschoyle Blake collected some of his poems, most of which were written before the summer of 1913, in a little volume, Verses, that was published by Oxford in 1922.
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Hume Wrong, the third and youngest son of George and Sophia Wrong, was born in Toronto on 10 September 1894. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Ridley College, and the University of Toronto, from which, in 1915, he received his Bachelor of Arts in classics. He was a member of the Classical Association of University College (1911-1912) and of the Historical Club (1913-1915), and was its president in his graduating year.
Hume was determined to follow his brothers into military service so, when rejected by the Canadian Army because of an eye injury suffered in childhood, went to England and joined the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He served in the Ypres area and the battles of the Somme, from where, in November 1916, he was invalided home with trench fever. When the Imperial Royal Flying Corps was organized in Toronto in March 1917, he was put in charge of its depot in the Engineering Building at the University of Toronto. At demobilization in January 1919, he was a captain in the RFC’s successor, the Royal Air Force, and adjutant of its Long Branch cadet wing.
He then returned to England with a Flavelle scholarship to take the post-war special course at Balliol College, Oxford, receiving a BLitt. In 1921 he was appointed a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Toronto and was promoted to assistant professor in 1923. One of his duties was librarian of Hart House. He wrote two books, The Government of the West Indies (1923) and Sir Alexander Mackenzie: Explorer and Fur Trader (1927).
In 1922 Hume married Joyce Hutton, the daughter of Maurice Hutton, professor of classics and principal of University College. Their daughter, Elizabeth June, attended University College (BA 1947) where she was heavily involved in the International Students Service committee.
In 1927 Hume was lured away by the fledgling Department of External Affairs, where he joined the secretarial staff of Canada’s first ambassador to Washington, Vincent Massey. He was appointed counsellor in 1930 and remained in Washington for ten years, where he acted as Chargé d’Affaires for several lengthy periods, the first being in 1928. In 1937 he moved to Geneva as Canadian Advisory Officer to the League of Nations; one of his first duties was to serve as technical adviser to the Canadian delegation to the Sino-Japanese conference in Brussels. Subsequently, he was promoted to Canadian Permanent Delegate. In October 1939, he was temporarily reassigned to London where he worked on plans for the economic liaison between Great Britain and Canada as a part of their joint war effort. Early in 1941 he moved back to Washington as senior counsellor to the Canadian legation and in June was designated Minister-Counsellor. The following year, he went to Ottawa as Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs where he was in charge of the Commonwealth and European Division; his responsibilities embraced most of the major problems of war and peace. In December 1944, he was appointed associate under-secretary for external affairs.
In 1946 Hume succeeded Lester Pearson as Canadian ambassador to Washington. In September 1949, he served as dean of the Canadian delegation to the trilateral (Canada, Britain, United States) conference of foreign and finance ministers in Washington on the sterling/dollar crisis. His contributions to public service were recognized in May 1953 when he received a Doctor of Laws degree from Queen’s University. The following month his appointment as under-secretary of state for external affairs was announced and by November he was back in Ottawa. Two weeks later he collapsed with coronary problems and died on 24 January 1954.
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The eldest child of George and Sophia Wrong, Margaret (Marga) was born in Toronto on 26 June 1887. She attended Havergal College and the University of Toronto, where she was an occasional student in Arts at University College in 1906-1907 and again in 1910-1911. She then attended Somerville College at Oxford from 1911-1914, where she was very active in the work of the Student Christian Movement. In 1920 she received an MA from the University of Toronto.
Back in Canada, she became secretary to the student YWCA, a position she held for three years. As a result of her work with students, she founded in 1916 the University College Women’s Union, as a social centre and residence, of which she became the first resident head. Later she founded Argyle House (1918) and Hutton House (1919), women’s residences associated with University College. From 1917 to 1919 she was also a temporary assistant (sessional) in the Department of English in University College and, from 1919 to 1921, a sessional instructor in the Department of History.
In 1921 Margaret resigned to take up the position of travelling secretary of the World Students’ Christian Federation, based in Geneva (her father acknowledged that she would never receive a permanent position in the department while he was head). Her duties took her first to Eastern Europe, where she helped organize student relief in Poland, Austria and the Baltic countries, and established a student YMCA, first in Riga, Latvia, and then in Austria. In all she spent five years traveling across Europe and the British Isles, attending conferences and helping to improve the organization of the WSCF.
In 1926 she moved to London as a missionary secretary of the British Student Christian Movement. Her first activity was a seven-month tour of Africa, traveling 18,000 miles to inspect Christian educational facilities. She also put down roots, buying a house in suburban Hampstead that she shared with her partner, Margaret Read. It was to be her base until her death. After Murray’s death, the two Margaret's took in some of his children.
In 1929 Margaret was appointed the first secretary of the newly established International Committee of Christian Literature for Africa, a position she held until her death. She spent much of her time in Africa, learning about literature needs and conferring with officials and missionary bodies to promote the spread of education. In 1932, she started Listen, a magazine for African school children, edited a quarterly called Books for Africa, and published a number of books, mostly on aspects of education in Africa.
Her advice was sought by the British Colonial Office and she served as a member of its Committee on Mass Education. She was also a member of the Linguistic Committee of the International African Research Institute. During World War II she served as a consultant on West Africa to the British Ministry of Information, and helped prepare scripts for the BBC’s African service. In 1948, Margaret had just embarked on a survey of educational institutions in East Africa when she died of a heart attack in Gulu, Uganda on 11 April 1948.
Margaret Read continued to live in their house in Hampstead, occasionally visiting the Wrongs in Canada. She died at the age of 102 in the late 1990s.
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This fonds consists of Professor Wrong's academic and professional papers as well as family records relating to George M. Wrong's family as well as those of his in-laws, the Edward Blake family. Among Prof Wrong's professional correspondence with fellow historians, and with politicians of the day such as Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Robert Borden, MacKenzie King; and others. Also included are the manuscripts of some of G. M. Wrong's essays and books, concerning Canadian and Commonwealth history. It also contains records relating to the Armstrong and Wrong families including postcards collected during trips overseas to Europe, England, China and Japan, photographs and family histories by G. M.Wrong ca 1938-1948 and by Dr. Norman Wrong in the 1970’s and donated in 1975.
Family records document three generations of the Wrong family predominantly, but also including Margaret Blake (wife of Edward Blake), her daughter, Sophia and wife of George Wrong, their children Margaret (Marga), Murray, Hume, Harold and Agnes, and their cousin, Gerald Edward Blake. Margaret Wrong was a leader in the student Christian movement and missionary educator in Africa. Murray Wrong was Commonwealth historian at Oxford University. Hume Wrong was lecturer in history at the University of Toronto and later diplomat and specialist in Canadian-American relations. Harold Wrong and, his cousin, Gerald Blake were students at the University of Toronto who died in World War I. Agnes Wrong Armstrong was a leader of the Junior League movement in Canada and the United States.
The records include diaries, certificates, correspondence, student papers, articles and poems, press clippings, photographs, and medals. Letters to and from the Wrong family members predominate, especially between George and Sophia and between them and their children. They document a wide range of family matters and the careers, activities, and ideas of the correspondents, along with letters of condolence and tributes on the deaths of some of them. Margaret Wrong’s files include the reports and letters she wrote while with the World Students’ Christian Federation and the International Committee of Christian Literature for Africa.