Ambassadors of Note

It is a distinct privilege and honour to be able to represent and serve one’s country abroad as a member of Canada’s Foreign Service.

While Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867, it remained a subordinate territory within the British Empire and had no department for managing its international relations. Only in 1880 was a High Commissioner named to London to pursue our interests there. This was followed by a Canadian representative to Paris in 1882. The Department of Trade and Commerce was created in 1892 and Canada’s first trade commissioner was appointed (to Australia) in 1894.

In 2019 to mark the 110th anniversary of the creation of the Canadian Department of External Affairs in 1909 and the institutional beginning of a distinct Canadian foreign policy optic on the world, the Retired Heads of Mission Association (RHOMA), decided to highlight the careers of twenty significant “Ambassadors of Note”, with the objective of enhancing the public’s understanding of the vital role diplomacy plays in the pursuit of Canada’s national and international interests.  In 2021, the newly named Canadian Ambassadors Alumni Association (AMBCANADA) announced ten additional former heads of mission to be named Ambassadors of Note, bringing the total to thirty thus honoured.

AMBCANADA 2020Ambassadors of Note Awards Video:

The large number of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls General with distinguished careers and meriting consideration, made selection a challenging task.  Nominations, averaging a total of ninety in each year, were sought on two separate occasions from the AMBCANADA membership and advice proffered by a “kitchen cabinet” of outside persons with extensive foreign policy knowledge and experience. In the end, the AMBCANADA Ambassadors of Note Committee, chaired by Gary J. Smith and its members, Gaston Barban, Richard Kohler, Anne Leahy and Louise Léger, made the final selections.

The criteria for inclusion were as follows:

  • Had to have been a Head of Mission (HOM).
  • Could be living or deceased but no longer serving as a Canadian diplomat.
  • Was involved in an ongoing activity or a single major event as a HOM which was out of the ordinary and had a significant impact on Canadian foreign policy or on how Canada was seen in the world.
  • Set a precedent as a HOM in a way that set the stage for other diplomats to come.
  • Was an individual who, by dint of their life-long accomplishments in the field of diplomacy and beyond, merited inclusion to highlight how Canadian diplomats as a profession have made a difference for Canada at home and abroad?

It should be noted that in making this selection, female foreign service officers were accepted into External Affairs only in 1947 and the first woman to become an Ambassador did so in 1958.

The AMBCANADA Board intends to expand the current list of thirty as resources permit.

The 2019 profiles herein were researched and written by Steve Marti (PhD), a Canadian historian and previously with the Historical section, Global Affairs Canada (GAC), while the 2020 cohort was researched by the award winning  historian Brendan Kelly (author of The Good Fight: Marcel Cadieux and Canadian Diplomacy) with translations by Danielle Vinette and Anne Leahy

All texts and photos of Ambassadors of Note are the property or for the exclusive use of the Canadian Ambassadors Alumni Association (AMBCANADA). Permission for their use, duplication or reproduction for any purpose must be obtained in advance from the Association in writing.



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