Fonds F2020 - George Ignatieff fonds

Identity area

Reference code



George Ignatieff fonds


  • [ca. 1911]-1989 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

9 m of textual records
Approximately 770 photographs
5 scrapbooks
24 audiovisual records

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

George Ignatieff, diplomat and educator, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1913 and died on 10 August 1989 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. He was the son of Count Paul Ignatieff and Natalie Ignatieff (née Princess Mestchersky). The family fled to England in 1920 and came to Montreal in 1928. George Ignatieff entered Trinity College, Toronto, in 1932 and graduated with a B.A. in political science and economics in 1936. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and received an M.A. from Oxford in 1938. At Lester B. Pearson's suggestion he wrote the Department of External Affairs examination in 1939, and in that year he began working at Canada House in London. He returned to Canada in 1944 and then went to New York City as a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations. He was ambassador to Yugoslavia from 1956 to 1958, assistant undersecretary of state for external affairs from 1960 to 1962, permanent representative to NATO in 1963, and ambassador to the UN from 1966 to 1969. In 1970 he became permanent representative of Canada to the UN at Geneva, a post he left in 1972 to become ninth provost and vice-chancellor of Trinity College for the period up to 1979. From 1980 to 1986 he was chancellor of the University of Toronto. He was the chair of the National Museums of Canada Board from 1973 to 1978, and in the 1980s was active in Science for Peace. He won the Pearson Peace Prize in 1984 and in 1985 the University of Toronto Press published his memoirs, "The Making of a Peacemonger."

George Ignatieff married (Jessie) Alison Grant (1916-1992) in 1944; the couple had two sons, Michael (b.1947) and Andrew (b.1952). George Ignatieff died on 10 August 1989 in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The first donation of materials was received directly from George Ignatieff. Following his father’s death, Andrew Ignatieff donated the remainder of the material in various accessions.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records pertaining to George Ignatieff’s professional career and personal life. Genealogical information about the Ignatieff family documents their lives in Russia and immigration to Canada. Some records relate to the Parkin and Grant familes. Family records include memoirs, diaries, photographs, student records, journals and correspondence. Ignatieff’s professional life as a diplomat with the Canadian government is documented by correspondence, subject files, speeches, reports, newspaper clippings and photographs.
Records from 1972 to 1986 are mainly from Ignatieff’s career as an administrator at the University of Toronto. These records were generated during day-to-day operations of these offices and include correspondence, subject files, speeches, writings, clippings and notebooks. In addition, there are documents associated with other organizations and activities in which he was involved, as well as documents relating to his honorary degrees and awards. Extensive background material and drafts trace the evolution of Ignatieff’s published memoir, The Making of a Peacemonger.

Correspondence and photographs can be found throughout the fonds. Researchers are encouraged to search broadly.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


None expected

System of arrangement

The material has been arranged by the archivist following the original order whenever possible.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing reproduction

Various copyright holders, it is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the fonds.

Language of material

  • Bulgarian
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Latin
  • Russian

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

The fonds is described to the file level. A fully searchable electronic copy of the finding aid is available, as is a paper copy

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Library and Archives Canada holds other Ignatieff papers. Michael Ignatieff fonds, F2327 contains considerable material relating to the Ignatieff and Grant families. The Sonja Sinclair fonds, F2223, contains interviews and research creating during the writing of The Making of a Peacemonger.

Notes area


Throughout this document, George Ignatieff is referred to as "GI" and Alison (Grant) Ignatieff as "AI". Some early documents refer to her as "JAG" (Jessie Alison Grant) "Ignatieff" is also spelled as "Ignatiev" In some documents. "Defence" is sometimes spelled as "defense." "Dima" refers to Vladimir Ignatieff.

Alternative identifier(s)

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Description control area

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Dates of creation revision deletion



  • English



Accession area

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