Wrong, Humphrey Hume

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Wrong, Humphrey Hume

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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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