Holmes, John Wendell
1910 - 1988
Graduate (MA) University of Toronto
Visiting Professor (International Relations), UofT
Honorary Fellow, Trinity College (1983)
Order of Canada (1969)
John Wendell Holmes (JWH), diplomat, administrator, educator, and writer, was born in London,
Ontario, on 18 June 1910 to William Wendell Holmes and Helen Morton. He received his BA from
the University of Western Ontario and his MA from the University of Toronto and thereafter
pursued graduate studies at the University of London (England). From 1941 to 1943 he was
national secretary of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs.
In 1943 Holmes joined Canada’s Department of External Affairs. While in the foreign
service he was first secretary in London, England, chargé d’affaires in Moscow, acting Canadian
representative to the United Nations in New York, External Affairs member of the directing staff at
the National Defence College (Kingston), and assistant under-secretary of state for external
affairs supervising the work of the Far Eastern, United Nations, and Commonwealth Divisions.
In 1960 he left the public service to become president (a title later changed to director
general) of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA). He relinquished that position in
1973 but remained associated with the Institute as counsellor until his death.
Holmes was a visiting professor of international relations at the University of Toronto
(1966-1988), a professor of international relations at Glendon College, York University (1971-
1982), and a visiting professor at the University of Leeds (1979, 1985).
Holmes was the author of numerous articles and book chapters as well as several books:
Some Aspects of Mediation (1970), The Better Part of Valour (1970), Canada: A Middle-Aged
Power (1976), The Shaping of Peace: Canada and the Search for World Order 1943-1957 (2
vols. 1979 & 1982), Life with Uncle: the Canadian-American Relationship (1981).
In 1969 Holmes was made an officer of the Order Canada. In 1977 he became a Fellow
of the Royal Society of Canada and in 1986 received the society’s Tyrrell medal. He was the
recipient of eleven honorary degrees, an honorary fellow of Trinity College (1983) and a member
of Pickering College’s Class of 1842.
He died on 13 August 1988 in London, Ontario.