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High Commission of Canada, London

High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom
Haut-commissariat du Canada au Royaume-Uni
Canada House.jpg
Canada House in 2004
LocationLondon, England
AddressTrafalgar Square
High CommissionerRalph Goodale
WebsiteOfficial website

The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom (French: Haut-commissariat du Canada au Royaume-Uni) is the diplomatic mission of Canada to the United Kingdom. It is housed at Canada House on Trafalgar Square in central London, with an additional Regional Service Centre at 3 Furzeground Way in Stockley Park, Uxbridge.


The Canadian high commission in London is Canada's oldest diplomatic posting, having been established in 1880. Canada House, in Trafalgar Square, became the site of the mission in 1923. In 1962, Canada also acquired the former American Embassy at 1, Grosvenor Square in London's Mayfair district, and it was renamed Macdonald House. Macdonald House was the official residence of the Canadian High Commissioner until the building was vacated in mid-December 2014, after having been sold for redevelopment.

Canada's presence in London goes back to 1869, when Sir John Rose, 1st Baronet was appointed as Canada's informal representative in Britain. This was the first Canadian diplomatic posting and the first from any British colony to the motherland. Since Canada did not have a foreign ministry, Rose acted as the personal representative of Canada's prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Rose's position was retained despite a change of government in Canada, and his position was given the title "Financial Commissioner for the Dominion of Canada". Additionally, in 1874, the government of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie named Edward Jenkins as Canada's Agent-General in London. Jenkins, a British Liberal Party Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, had grown up in Quebec. His duties in that role were clarified to the House of Commons of Canada in May 1874 by Canadian Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie, who said that Jenkins would have surveillance of the Canadian emigration business in London and occasionally be asked to attend to other business of a confidential nature. In addition, he would be "expected to give some little attention to Canadian gentlemen sojourning in London". Jenkins held the post for two years. Mackenzie then appointed former Nova Scotia premier William Annand as agent general in 1876; he held the position until Mackenzie's government was defeated.

When Macdonald returned to power in 1878, he wanted to elevate the office of Financial Commissioner to "resident minister", but this was disallowed by Britain, who offered the title of high commissioner instead. This was the origin of the practice, which continues to this day, whereby members of the Commonwealth send high commissioners rather than ambassadors to each other.

The first official high commissioner was Alexander Tilloch Galt, appointed in 1880. The office remained the most important in Canadian diplomacy and was always filled by political appointees rather than career diplomats, even after Canada created a Ministry of External Affairs in 1909.

As the high commission's role grew, it needed to expand its facilities, and on 29 June 1925, King George V and Queen Mary officiated at the dedication of Canada House on Trafalgar Square. The mission's needs continued to expand, however, and Canada acquired the former American embassy on Grosvenor Square, renaming it Macdonald House, in honour of Canada's first prime minister. Macdonald House opened on Canada Day (1 July) in 1961.

Evening view of Canada House

Canada House was refurbished in 1997–98. After years of operating from two buildings, in mid-December 2014, all of the activities of the High Commission were regrouped in the expanded and fully refurbished Canada House on Trafalgar Square. In order to expand the historic Canada House, the Government of Canada had purchased the adjoining building at 2-3-4 Cockspur Street, originally built as the British head office of the Sunlife Assurance Company of Canada in 1927. It is remarkable that the Sunlife building had been built to match the architecture of Canada House. For that reason, it does look, from the outside, as if the building was built from the start as an extension of Canada House, although this is not the case. The historic Canada House and the former Sunlife head office now form a very coherent ensemble.[citation needed]

List of heads of mission

Representative of the prime minister/
Financial commissioner of the Dominion of Canada
Start of term End of term
Sir John Rose, 1st Baronet 1869 1880
Agent-General Start of term End of term
Edward Jenkins 1874 1876
William Annand 1876 1878
High Commissioner Start of term End of term
The Hon. Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt 1880 1883
The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Tupper 1883 1896
The Rt. Hon. Donald Alexander Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal 1896 1914
The Rt. Hon. Sir George Perley 1914 1922
The Hon. Peter C. Larkin 1922 1930
Lucien Turcotte Pacaud (acting) 1930 1930
The Hon. Howard Ferguson 1930 1935
The Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey 1935 1946
Norman Robertson 1946 1949
L. Dana Wilgress 1949 1952
Norman Robertson (second time) 1952 1957
The Hon. George Drew 1957 1964
The Hon. Lionel Chevrier 1964 1967
Charles Ritchie 1967 1971
Jake Warren 1971 1974
The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin Sr. 1974 1979
Jean Casselman Wadds 1979 1983
The Hon. Donald Jamieson 1983 1985
The Hon. Roy McMurtry 1985 1988
The Hon. Donald Stovel Macdonald 1988 1991
Fredrik S. Eaton 1991 1994
The Hon. Royce Frith 1994 1996
The Hon. Roy MacLaren 1996 2000
Jeremy Kinsman 2000 2002
Mel Cappe 2002 2006
James R. Wright 2006 2011
Gordon Campbell 2011 2016
Janice Charette 2016 2021
Stefanie Beck (acting) 2021 2021
The Hon. Ralph Goodale 2021 present


See also

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