Diplomat Row

Canada’s new status as a rising world power is reflected in the presence at Ottawa of a corps of diplomats representing 19 nations great and small

KENNETH R. WILSON November 15 1943

Diplomat Row

Canada’s new status as a rising world power is reflected in the presence at Ottawa of a corps of diplomats representing 19 nations great and small

KENNETH R. WILSON November 15 1943

Diplomat Row


Canada’s new status as a rising world power is reflected in the presence at Ottawa of a corps of diplomats representing 19 nations great and small


FEW THINGS in our war experience have mushroomed so fast as Canada’s Diplomat Row. Come to Ottawa on high days and holidays and you may now see the flags of a score of nations flying from flagpoles of diplomaticresidences in various parts of the city. Before the war there were a scant five.

The first move on Canada’s part toward Big League diplomacy was in 1927, when Vincent Massey presented his credentials at Washington and the United States reciprocated by sending the Hon. William Phillips as its first Minister Plenipotentiary to Canada. A year later Britain sent Sir William Clark to Canada as her first High Commissioner. France established an “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary” in Canada the same year.

In 1937 the present “Dean” of the DiplomaticCorps—Baron Robert Silvercruys, of Belgium, came to Ottawa. The Baron holds this title by reason of being the diplomat with the longest tenure of office in Canada. Were he to be recalled by his country the honor would fall on Dr. Liu Shih Shun, of China, who presented his credentials in February, 1942.

In 1939 the Dominions began sending High

Commissioners to Canada when Australia’s representative arrived. In 1940, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland named High Commissioners to Canada.

Today diplomatic representation at Ottawa has been sought by the leading countries of the United Nations world. In alphabetical order these are:

Argentina: Dr. Araya is Charge d’Affaires ad interim. Eduardo L. Vivot who was named Argentine Minister to Canada last August is expected to arrive in Ottawa shortly. Dr. Vivot has been Chief of Protocol at the Argentine Foreign Office; has served in Washington, Rio de Janeiro and The Vatican City. He is a declared admirer of Canada and her institutions as well as a true Argentine patriot who, significantly, has survived the recent revolution in that country.

Charge d’Affaires ad interim Dr. Araya has three boys, two of whom were born during the two years he has been in Canada. He is an expert in international law; joined the Department of External Affairs shortly after graduating from the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in his native Rosario. His flashing brown eyes light up when he starts talking about his native Rosario. Two years ago he came to Canada from Buenos Aires unable to

speak a word of English; today he speaks English well.

Australia: Sir William Glasgow, Australia’s

High Commissioner to Canada, likes nothing better than to refight the last war as compensation for the fact that he cannot actively participate in this one. Born in Gympie, Queensland, he served with great distinction in the South African war (including the relief of Kimberley); served in the Australian Imperial Forces in 1914-19, rising from the rank of Major to Major-General in charge of the First Australian Division. Mentioned in dispatches eight times, he holds the Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre with Palm, and Queen’s Medal (Boer War) with five clasps.

Besides a political career extending from 1920 to 1932, he developed and owns a cattle station “Sanders,” near Dingo in Queensland, almost on the Tropic of Capricorn. His “station” is 40,000 acres, held on “pastoral lease,” and carries 4,000 head of Hereford cattle.

Belgium: Dean of Ottawa’s Diplomatic Corps by reason of longest tenure of office in Canada is distinguished Baron Silvercruys, Belgian Minister to Canada. He presented his credentials to Lord

Tweedsmuir on Jan. 11, 1937. Prior to that he had been for five years Counsellor to the Belgian Embassy in London.

Son of a former Prime Minister of Belgium, the Baron is a bachelor who started his diplomatic career a quarter of a century ago; was first assigned to the Belgian Embassy in Washington in 1918. Other appointments include two years in China in 1929 and 1930. He has a talented sister whose sculpture has won high acclaim. A bust of Lord Tweedsmuir which she executed is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The Baron himself is a keen student of Chinese art. He is an acclaimed gourmet—as famous for his dinners as for his impeccable taste in clothes.

Brazil: Scion of one of Brazil’s most distin-

guished families is Caio de Mello Franco, named Minister to Canada in August, 1942. His great grandfather served as Ambassador at the Court of Vienna; his father was Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and for a time President of the League of Nations; a brother is also in the diplomatic service. After receiving his Doctorate of Laws at Rio de Janeiro in 1918, he joined the diplomatic service; has served in the Vatican, Paris, London,

Maclean's Magazine, November 15, 1943

the Hague and Ecuador. He was also for a time Chief of Protocol in Rio and has served on a number of highly important missions and international conferences.

Mr. Franco is the author of several books, both prose and verse. His wife is Yolanda Monzer von Forstenegg de Mello Franco.

Chile: Dr. Eduardo Grove, Minister for

Chile, is known to thousands of Ottawans as the distinguished surgeon who donates a large part of every week to the Red Cross Blood Donors’ Clinic. He came to the clinic last fall to make a blood donation himself; is now one of the most popular and punctual of the assisting practitioners.

Most affable, agreeable and understandable of the Latin-American diplomats in Ottawa, Dr. Grove looks like an Irishman, which is not surprising for his grandfather came from near Cork and migrated to Chile in 1845, after serving as a surgeon in the British Navy. Dr. Grove himself served 22 years in the Chilean Navy as a sailor and surgeon; now holds the rank of Commander. He entered the diploContinued on page 41

Diplomat Row

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matic corps four years ago. His three sons attend Ashbury College in Ottawa.

China: Scholarly, spectacled Dr.

Liu Shih Shun, first Chinese Minister to Canada, lives at the lovely Sir Robert Borden estate. His wife and four children are now at Chungking. For a long time they were held in occupied China.

Dr. Liu’s grey hair belies his 43 years. He is happiest when in the company of fellow scholars; has at all times a gracious smile and manner that endear him to Canadians. His English is eloquent, and carefully chosen as many Canadian audiences have been charmed to discover.

His hobby and passion is international law. He has held important posts in China’s Foreign Office, which he joined in 1927.

Czechoslovakia: Before he entered the Government service in 1918, Dr. Frantisek Pavlasek, first Minister for Czechoslovakia to Canada, was a professor of Czechoslovakian languages in Prague. He came to Montreal in 1924 as Consul-General, eager to warn Canadians of the coming European holocaust which his country sensed was inevitable. He was given the rank of Minister in August, 1942.

A lawyer by profession, he studied economics, law and philosophy; has served his Government in Berlin, Vienna and London. He has a son at McGill and a daughter, in Ottawa, who graduated from the Montreal General Hospital.

Full-faced and spectacled, Dr. Pavlasek is kindly and of gentle disposition. An ardent conversationalist, he likes to show you the heirlooms, pictures, clocks and other family possessions he has preserved as souvenirs of what he left behind in far-off Prague.

Greece: You ring the bell at Suite 110 in the Chateau Laurier to call on George S. Depasta, first Minister to Canada from Greece. This is the fabulous suite which Lord Bennett occupied when he lived in Ottawa. Now, on state occasions, the Greek flag hangs from a sunlit bay window overlooking the Rideau Canal.

Following the footsteps of his father, Mr. Depasta was trained from boyhood for the diplomatic service. A brother is also a diplomat. Born in Athens, and educated there and in Paris, Mr. Depasta holds a Doctor of Laws degree. He started his diplomatic career in Constantinople more than 30 years ago. Much of his life has been spent at Washington but autographed portraits in his legation tell of service in half a dozen European countries. Besides autographs Mr. Depasta collects fine china and porcelain; has many rare and valuable pieces in his apartment. He himself is a dapper, small-scale version of Anthony Piden, with steel-grey hair, twinkling eyes. His favorite sport used to be tennis but he hopes it will be golf when he gets time to learn the game.

Ireland : When John J. Hearne was called to the bar in Ireland, 1918, after a brief, unsuccessful flutter in politics, the late Tim Healy said to him: “Your career has been short, brilliant and disastrous.”

A charming, cultured and scholarly Irish wit, the High Commissioner arrived on one of the last boats to leave ' Europe before the Athenia was sunk in September, 1939.

Born in Waterford, Ireland, he is a

specialist in international law; has four children, one of whom was born in Canada. He thinks Karsh hardly did him justice in this picture; would have liked to use one taken in his wig and gown.

Jugoslavia: Genial, rotund Dr.

Izidor Cankar, Jugoslavia’s first Minister to Canada, is an authority on the history of European art in the Middle Ages. Dr. Cankar comes from Slovakia, top and western part of Jugoslavia nearest Italy. His father was a merchantman. Dr. Cankar studied in Germany, Belgium, France and England; received his doctor’s degree at Vienna. His schooling finished in 1914, he became a journalist; joined the revolutionary movement and ultimately was one of 12 who went to Belgrade, Dec. 1, 1918, to proclaim Peter I, King of Jugoslavia. He then forsook politics, became Professor of the History of Art in Lioublianka, 1920; joined the diplomatic service 15 years later and served in three South American capitals before coming to Canada.

Dr. Cankar (pronounced Tsankar) looks more like a successful European businessman than a professor or diplomat. He dresses comfortably in khaki shirt and brown suit when not attending official functions.

Netherlands: Tall, dark and handsome describes Charge d’Affaires G. W. Boissevain who has been representing the Netherlands until the newly appointed Minister, Jonkheer J. W. M Snouck Hurgronje, will arrive.

Mr. Boissevain was born in Montreal, in 1897, when his father was honorary Consul-General in that city. Another link with Canada is that Boissevain, Manitoba, was named after a banker relative who visited Canada on financial matters many years ago. The Charge d’Afifaires came back to Montreal as Acting Consul General in 1927; was later posted to Shanghai and interned for nine months by the Japs after Pearl Harbor.

New Zealand: R. M. (Bob) Firth, Acting High Commissioner for New Zealand, modestly describes himself as an “unsocial” fellow. He has been in the Government service since he was 17; was born in Christchurch, N.Z. He did publicity and promotion work for his Government in Australia; got into trade commissioner work when tourism was merged with that Department.

Mr. Firth came to America in 1935 to open a trade office in Los Angeles. Three years later he moved to Toronto; commuted to New York as Commissioner to the World’s Fair. In 1941 he was named director of the N. Z. War Supply Mission at Washington; came to Ottawa in June, 1942.

I His salty New Zealand accent has been tempered by long associations in Australia and the U. S. A rugby footballer in his youth, he makes no pretence now of being anything more than a mediocre golfer.

Norway: Daniel Steen came first

to Montreal as Norway’s ConsulGeneral to Canada; was raised to the Ministerial rank in April, 1942. He


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is the only one of Canada’s Diplomat Row who does not live in Ottawa; continues to make his headquarters in Montreal.

Mr. Steen is a native of Oslo; graduated from Oslo University with a law degree in 1910 and almost immediately joined the diplomatic service. He has served his country in diplomatic capacities in London, Paris, Washington and Buenos Aires as well as his native Oslo.

Neat, jovial and always immaculately dressed, Mr. Steen is an expert at fly-fishing; likes music, bridge and golf. He has two charming daughters. His wife is chairman of the Norwegian Branch of the Canadian Red Cross.

Poland: White-haired, athletic

Victor Podoski, Poland’s first Minister to Canada, rents General McNaughton’s house in Ottawa. In the 16th and 18th centuries his ancestors were Polish Ambassadors in Vienna and Turkey.

Mr. Podbski’s background for diplomacy included engineering in Glasgow; economics and political science in London. A particularly capable public speaker, he speaks six languages, understands 12 and is an accomplished amateur playwright, producer and actor. He served in the Polish cavalry in the war against Russia (1918-20), was later Assistant Military Attaché in London. Though he reached Canada at war’s outbreak with but a handful of luggage, his legation boasts exquisite woodcuts and tapestries from a Polish exhibition which was touring Canada in 1939 when war broke out. A cousin by the same name is a distinguished artist.

When he first arrived in Canada he was Consul-General; has been a fully accredited Minister since March 27, 1942.

Russia: Since Russia’s first Minister to Canada (Feodor Gousev) was posted to London, diplomatic responsibilities have fallen on stocky, blue-eyed, flaxen-haired Gregori I. Tounkin. Mr.

Tounkin preceded Mr. Gousev to Canada last year; established the Russian Legation in the big red-brick O’Brien residence, which overlooks the Rideau River and which the Russians bought from the Canadian Government for $44,000.

Born in Archangel, 37 years ago, Tounkin left his parental farm in 1932 to enter the University of Moscow as a law student. He took postgraduate work in the history of law, then lectured in Moscow before joining the diplomatic service in 1939. His first post abroad was at Iran. With him in Canada are Mrs. Tounkin (who comes from the Ukraine) and a three-year-old son.

Sweden: Newest arrival on Diplomat Row is tall, lanky Per (Peter) Wijkman—first Minister to Canada for Sweden. He, too, came to Ottawa via the Consul-General route, having held that office in Montreal for three years.

When stationed in Washington, in 1935, he met and married a blue-eyed young American girl—youngest sister of Vice-President Henry Wallace. They now have four lovely children, two of whom will attend public school in Ottawa when the family moves from Montreal’s Westmount.

Minister Wijkman (pronounced Veakman) is 48, graduated from the University of Upsala in 1917 and entered the Swedish Foreign Office the next year. He has been a career diplomat ever since in such cities as Paris, Geneva, Washington, Mexico and Helsingfors, Finland.

Polite, punctilious and intense about his duties and responsibilities this tall Wijkman towers over most of his diplomatic colleagues at Ottawa. Along with Argentina’s representative (when appointed) Wijkman is the only neutral diplomat in Ottawa

United Kingdom: Always hatless, Rt. Hon. Malcolm MacDonald, M.P., High Commissioner to Canada for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and

Northern Ireland, strides about Ottawa as seemingly carefree as when he was a schoolboy at Bedales in Petersfield, South England. He first visited Canada in 1924 as member of an Oxford debating team; returned to Manitoba in 1929 to visit his close college chum, J. King Gordon.

At 22 he ran for Parliament in Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, was defeated then and four years later. Today, by special Act of Parliament, he retains his seat in Ross-shire, Scotland, as well as his High Commissionership.

When a reporter once asked him if he wanted to be a politician, he said: “No. I would rather live in the country and write trashy novels.” Nevertheless, at 42, he has some real accomplishments to his credit, both here and in the important Cabinet posts he held prior to his Canadian appointment in April, 1941. Gymnastic accomplishment: he can walk on his hands.

United States: Tall, distinguished and usually bareheaded, Hoh. Ray Atherton is to the manner born a diplomat and cosmopolite. A 60-year New Englander, this newly named U. S. Minister to Canada has served his country in Tokyo, Peking, the Philippines, Athens, London, Bulgaria, Denmark and Washington.

In 1916 Walter Hines Page turned Mr. Atherton from a career in architecture to one of diplomacy; earlier he had studied at Harvard and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France.

A precise gardener, he paints, sketches and rides; but says he cannot equal the championship golf accomplishments of his wife. One job of interest to Canadians is his onetime chairmanship of the pre-war International Wheat Advisory Committee. Prior to his arrival at Ottawa, Aug. 3, 1943, he was Chief of the U. S. State Department Division of European Affairs. He is still U. S. Minister to Denmark. He speaks with almost an English accent; has one permanently raised eyebrow; raises the other when driving home a point.

South Africa: Woodcraft and

tennis are the hobbies of D. de Waal Meyer, Accredited Representative in Canada of the Union of South Africa since 1938. In his spare time he fashions desks, bedroom suites and all manner of furniture.

Mr. Meyer was born a minister’s son in Capetown, in 1897. His Boer parents had lived in South Africa for generations. He gave up ideas of entering the ministry himself, after two years at college; decided in the last year of his Masters’ Degree in classics to study economics because he had not enough work to do. Later in Rotterdam he took a postgraduate course in commercial economics; worked for a year in Hamburg and returned to South Africa in 1924 as a ministerial private secretary. He came first to Canada as Trade Commissioner in 1934. One of his two children was born in Canada.


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