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Description found in Archives

Office of the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs [textual record]. 

Series consists of

Date(s)

1908-1952

Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

12.4 m of textual records

Scope and content

Series consists of records that reflect the operations of the Department of External Affairs as a whole and the Office of the Under-Secretary of State in particular. Canada's external relations are covered in files on Imperial relations, the League of Nations, the Second World War, trade and immigration questions, Canadian-American economic and defence relations and the United Nations. The role of the Under-Secretary in Canadian domestic issues is shown in files on Dominion-Provincial relations and conferences, Japanese Immigration and the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, internal security issues and numerous files on the Canadian north. The Under-Secretary's administrative responsibilities are covered in the files on the operation of the department, personnel related questions and the establishment of foreign consuls.

Textual records
Microfilm reel T-1811
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel T-1769
90: Open
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Microfilm reel T-2204
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Microfilm reel T-1807
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Microfilm reel T-2201
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Textual records
32: Restricted by law
Volume
from 715 to 752
from 754 to 785
from 787 to 788
from 792 to 829
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Textual records
32: Restricted by law
Volume
753
786
from 789 to 791
from 2959 to 2961
3090
from 3102 to 3103
32: Restricted by law
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown. In order to protect the fragile originals, the microfilm copies of these records must be consulted rather than the originals.

Finding aid 25-3 is a typed file list. 25-3 (Paper)

Biography / Administrative history

In 1909 Sir Joseph Pope became Canada's first Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs. In the early years of the department, Pope and his staff of eight dealt with the issuance of passports, prepared documents for the use of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for Imperial Conferences, dealt with the accreditation of foreign consuls, and conducted research into the production of confidential despatches on immigration, trade, fisheries, imperial defence matters along with any other matters which were requested by the Prime Minister. The Department also helped Prime Minister Borden's attempt to conduct an independent foreign policy at the end of the First World War.

On April 1, 1925, O.D. Skelton replaced Sir Joseph as Under-Secretary. The Department of External Affairs expanded throughout the 1920's as Prime Minister Mackenzie King relied more and more on his Under-Secretary for policy advice on the League of Nations, Imperial and Canadian-American relations, trade problems, the growing number of foreign posts, defence, disarmament, the formulation of treaties and a number of domestic issues. After R.B. Bennett became Prime Minister in 1930, Skelton and the departmental staff handled more trade and commercial than international political matters. With the return of Mackenzie King as Prime Minister in 1935 the focus of the Under-Secretary's work was once again on domestic and international issues and, with the approach of the Second World War, the department dealt with the question of Canadian sovereignty in the event of the British declaration of war. This, along with preparing the responses and gathering information on the deteriorating European situation, formulating the means by which the government in general and the department in particular would respond to a war situation, occupied the Under-Secretary and his staff.

O.D. Skelton died suddenly on January 28, 1941 and was replaced by Norman Robertson. During the Second World War Prime Minister King depended on the department to deal with the myriad of problems, both domestic and foreign, faced by a wartime government. These included civil aviation, the combined boards with the United States and Britain, civilian internees, censorship, intelligence and security, and post-hostilities planning. These issues, along with the general management of Canada's foreign relations throughout the war, were handled by the ever expanding department.

Following the war Canada's international reputation increased and the department became involved with almost every international organization and conference. Canada's role in the United Nations and its many specialized agencies, the formation of NATO, the peacekeeping role in Korea and the Middle East, Canadian-American economic and defence relations were handled by various departmental units and the Office of the Under-Secretary. During the 1950's the office was responsible for not only the decision making process in Canada's foreign affairs but the Under-Secretary was also chairman of innumerable inter- departmental committees and also responsible for visiting diplomats and heads of state. RG25 General Inventory

Additional information

Source of title
Title is based on the contents of the series.

Availability of other formats note
See reels T-1745 to T-1771, T-1790 to T-1813, T-2201 to T-2209 for microfilmed copies of the records in this series. Researchers may view these microfilms in the Reading Room or order the originals.

Government

Related control no.

1. 1982-83/061 GAD
2. 1982-83/075 GAD
3. 1982-83/087 GAD
4. 1983-84/263 GAD
5. RG25-A-2