Greg Donaghy: Remembering a Scholar, Mentor, and Friend

*Please post a comment or memory at the bottom of this page if you wish to write a short message about Greg.

By Asa McKercher, Royal Military College of Canada

On 1 July 2020, Greg Donaghy died. The director of the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History at the University of Toronto and the former head of the Historical Section at Global Affairs Canada, Greg was a remarkable scholar, mentor, and friend.

I first met Greg in 2009. I was a lowly MA student and assistant archivist at Library and Archives Canada, and yet he kindly invited me to attend a conference commemorating the centenary of the founding of Canada’s Department of External Affairs. He’d heard about me through my MA advisor, Galen Perras, who had been a fellow doctoral student with Greg at the University of Waterloo. Although Greg had a million things to do connected to the conference, he had a few minutes to chat with me about my work on Canada-US relations in the early 1960s. Since he’d written a book on the Lester Pearson-Lyndon Johnson years, he was naturally interested in my research on the John F. Kennedy administration’s dealings with Canada. We differed on some interpretations – I remain more sympathetic to Kennedy, a point we continued to argue about years later – but even so he suggested some sources for me to examine. What I was impressed with at the time, and since, was that Greg made time for me, a mere grad student. Furthermore, when we reconnected several years later, he remembered me and my work. And over the next few years, he went out of his way to create opportunities for me: an invitation to a conference and then to contribute to a collection that he was editing; and a discussion over a beer that morphed into a joint SSHRC-funded collaboration with Michael Stevenson examining Canada-US relations during the Eisenhower era.

My experience with Greg is not unique: many of my friends and colleagues within the small field of Canadian international history have similar stories of his helpfulness and eagerness to collaborate, especially with junior scholars. Indeed, while Greg did not have a cohort of graduate students who he trained through a formal supervisory role, he nonetheless leaves behind a legacy of supporting other scholars. This attitude is all too rare in academia. From offering advice about archival sources to providing feedback on written work, Greg was generous with his time. And while his edits could be brutal, a bruised ego was a small price pay for more concise prose. No doubt I’m not the only Canadian foreign policy scholar to now write their drafts in Courier New because of his dictum that other fonts – because they look like printed text – provide a false sense that one’s work doesn’t need to be edited. I also appreciated that Greg wasn’t a bullshitter. Both sociable and unpretentious, it was pleasant to be around him after conference sessions had finished and the patios beckoned. I’m saddened to lose his company, and sad too, because I’m not sure he ever wrote down his wild tales of working for the French consul general in Toronto.

Beyond his impact on other scholars, Greg will live on through his body of work. Not only did he edit several volumes of the Documents on Canadian External Relations series and publish a model biography of Paul Martin Sr., but he edited or co-edited a number of vital collections on various aspects of Canadian foreign policy. Moreover, his writing included important contributions:

  • on Canadian involvement in the Korean War, showing that there was in fact an effort by Ottawa to restrain the United States and bring about peace;
  • on Canada-US relations, with his emphasis on the two neighbours as “tolerant allies” of one another willing to overlook public recrimination and heated rhetoric in favour of private cooperation and conciliation;
  • on the realism inherent in Canadian foreign policymaking in contrast to the mythology of the honest broker, middle power, and postwar golden age;
  • and on Canadian interactions with the Third World/Global South, especially Asia

Below, I’ve drawn together Greg’s body of work, a corpus that speaks to his dedication as a scholar. He will be missed.


Greg Donaghy, Parallel Paths: Canadian-Australian Relations since the 1890s (Ottawa: DFAIT, 1995)

Greg Donaghy, Tolerant Allies: Canada and the United States, 1963-1968 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002)

Greg Donaghy, Grit: The Life and Politics of Paul Martin Sr. (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015)

John Hilliker, Mary Halloran, and Greg Donaghy, Canada’s Department of External Affairs, Volume 3: Innovation and Adaptation, 1968–1984 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017)

Document Collections

Greg Donaghy, ed. Documents on Canadian External Relations: Volume 16 – 1950 (Ottawa: DFAIT, 1996)

Greg Donaghy, ed. Documents on Canadian External Relations: Volume 17 – 1951 (Ottawa: DFAIT, 1996)

Greg Donaghy, ed. Documents on Canadian External Relations: Volume 20 – 1954 (Ottawa: DFAIT, 1997)

Greg Donaghy, ed. Documents on Canadian External Relations: Volume 21 – 1955 (Ottawa: DFAIT, 1999)

Greg Donaghy, ed. Documents on Canadian External Relations: Volume 22 – 1956-1957 Part 1 (Ottawa: DFAIT, 2001)

Greg Donaghy, ed. Documents on Canadian External Relations: Volume 23 – 1956-1957 Part 2 (Ottawa: DFAIT, 2002)

Greg Donaghy and Michael Stevenson, eds., Canadian Diplomacy and the Hungarian Revolution, 1956-1957: A Documentary Perspective (Ottawa: DFAIT, 2004)

Edited Collections

Greg Donaghy, ed., Uncertain Horizons: Canadians and Their World in 1945 (Ottawa: Canadian Committee for the History of the Second World War, 1996)

Greg Donaghy, ed., Canada and the Early Cold War, 1943-1957 (Ottawa: DFAIT, 1998)

Stéphane Roussel and Greg Donaghy, ed., Escott Reid: Diplomat and Scholar (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004)

Greg Donaghy and Patricia E. Roy, eds., Contradictory Impulses: Canada and Japan in the Twentieth Century (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008)

David Black and Greg Donaghy, eds., Special issue on “Canadian Multilateralism: Past, Present, Future”, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 16 (2010)

Greg Donaghy and Kim Richard Nossal, eds., Architects and Innovators: Building the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010)

Greg Donaghy and Michael Carroll, eds., In the National Interest: Canadian Foreign Policy and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009 (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2011)

Greg Donaghy and Stéphane Roussel, eds., Mission Paris: Les ambassadeurs du Canada en France at le triangle Ottawa-Quebec-Paris (Montreal: Éditions Hurtubise, 2012)

Michael Carroll and Greg Donaghy, eds., From Kinshasa to Kandahar: Canada and Fragile States in Historical Perspective (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2016)

Greg Donaghy and Stéphane Roussel, eds., Special issue on “Canada and the Challenges of Globalization since 1968”, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 24 (2018)

Greg Donaghy and David Webster, eds.,  A Samaritan State Revisited: Historical Perspectives on Canadian Foreign Aid (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2019)

Jill Campbell-Miller, Stacey Barker, and Greg Donaghy, Breaking Barriers, Shaping Worlds: Canadian Women and the Search for Global Order (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2021).

Greg Donaghy and P. Whitney Lackenbauer, People, Politics, and Purpose: Biography and the Structure(s) of Canada since 1939, in peer review with a Canadian university press


Greg Donaghy, “Solidarity Forever: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and Its Search for an International Role, 1939-1949”, International Journal of Canadian Studies 5 (1992), 89-111

Greg Donaghy, “The Rise and Fall of Canadian Military Assistance in the Developing World, 1952-1971”, Canadian Military History 4 (1995), 75-84

Greg Donaghy, “The Politics of Indecision: Canada and the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission, 1941-47”, International Journal of Canadian Studies 13 (1996): 115-131

Greg Donaghy, “Domesticating NATO: Canada and the North Atlantic Alliance, 1963-68,” International Journal 52 (1997), 445-63

Greg Donaghy, “A Continental Philosophy: Canada, the United States and the Negotiation of the Autopact, 1963-1965,” International Journal 53 (1998), 441-64

Greg Donaghy, “Documenting the Diplomats: The Origins and Evolution of Documents on Canadian External Relations“, Public Historian 25 (1) (2003): 9-28

Greg Donaghy, “All God’s Children: Lloyd Axworthy, Human Security, and Canadian Foreign Policy, 1996-2000,” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 10 (2003), 39-58

Greg Donaghy, “‘Une visée altruiste?’ le Canada et la Révolution hongroise, 1954-1957,” Études internationales 37 (2006), 383-98

Greg Donaghy, “The ‘Ghost of Peace’: Pierre Trudeau’s Search for Peace, 1982-84,” Canadian Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies 39 (2007), 38-57

Greg Donaghy, and Bruce Muirhead, “‘Interests but No Foreign Policy’: Canada and the Commonwealth Caribbean, 1951-1966”, American Review of Canadian Studies 38 (2008), 275-94

Greg Donaghy and Michael D. Stevenson, “The Limits of Alliance: Cold War Solidarity and Canadian Wheat Exports to China, 1950-1963”, Agricultural History 83 (2009), 29-50

Greg Donaghy, “To Know and Be Known: The Department of External Affairs and the Creation of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, 1978-84,” International Journal 64 (2009), 1039-54

Greg Donaghy, “Le ministère des Affaires étrangères souligne son centenaire,” Revue parlementaire Canadienne 32 (2009), 9-13

David Black and Greg Donaghy, “Manifestations of Canadian Multilateralism,” Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 16 (2010), 1-8

Greg Donaghy, “Blessed are the Peacemakers: Canada, the United Nations, and the Search for a Korean Armistice, 1952-53,” War & Society 30 (2011): 134-46

Greg Donaghy, “‘The High Commissioner Who Wouldn’t Take Go for an Answer’: Paul Martin Sr., Public Diplomacy, and the Battle for Heathrow, 1974-1979,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 23 (2012), 517-32

Greg Donaghy, “Canadian Diplomacy and the Offshore Islands Crisis, 1954-1955: A Limited National Interest,” International Journal 68 (2013), 242-54

Greg Donaghy, “A Catholic Journey: Paul Martin Sr., Politics, and Faith,” Historical Studies 79 (2013), 24-40

Greg Donaghy, “Red China Blues: Paul Martin, Lester B. Pearson, and the China Conundrum, 1963-1967,” Journal of American-East Asian Relations 20 (2013), 190-202

Greg Donaghy, “In the Cold War’s Shadow: Canada and South Korea, 1947-1972”, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 21 (2015), 85-93

Mary Halloran, John Hilliker, and Greg Donaghy, “The White Paper Impulse: Reviewing Foreign Policy under Trudeau and Clark,” International Journal 70 (2015), 309-21

Greg Donaghy, “Diplomacy of Constraint Revisited: Canada and the UN Korean Reconstruction Agency, 1950-55,” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 25 (2015), 159-85

Greg Donaghy, “A Calculus of Interest: Canadian Peacekeeping Diplomacy in Cyprus, 1963-1993”, Canadian Military History 24 (2015), 183-204

Greg Donaghy, “‘A Perennial Problem’: Canadian Relations with Hungary, 1945-65,” Hungarian Studies Review 43 (2016), 5-21

Greg Donaghy, “Paul Martin Sr.: ‘A Good House of Commons Man’,” Canadian Parliamentary Review 39 (2016), 68-69

Greg Donaghy, “The Politics of Accommodation: Canada, the Middle East, and the Suez Crisis, 1950-1956,” International Journal 71 (2016), 313-27

Greg Donaghy and Stéphane Roussel, “Canada and the Challenges of Globalization: A Glass Half Empty, or Half Full?”, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal 24 (2018), 253-59

Greg Donaghy, “Pierre Trudeau and Canada’s Pacific Tilt, 1945-1984,” International Journal 74 (2019), 135-50

Book Chapters

Greg Donaghy, “The Road to Constraint: Canada and the Korean War, June-December 1950”, in Diplomatic Documents and Their Users, eds., John Hilliker and Mary Halloran (Ottawa: DFAIT, 1995)

Greg Donaghy, “Minding the Minister: Pearson, Martin and American Policy in Asia, 1963-1967”, in Pearson: The Unlikely Gladiator, ed., Norman Hillmer (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1999)

Greg Donaghy and Donald Barry, “Our Man from Windsor: Paul Martin and the New Members Question, 1955”, in Paul Martin & Canadian Diplomacy, ed., Ryan Touhey (Waterloo: Centre on Foreign Policy and Federalism, 2001)

Greg Donaghy, “Pacific Diplomacy: Canadian Statecraft and the Korean War, 1950-53,” in Canada and Korea: Perspectives 2000, eds., Rick Guisso and Yong-Sik Yoo (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002)

John Hilliker and Greg Donaghy, “Canadian Relations with the United Kingdom at the End of Empire, 1956-73”, in Canada and the End of Empire, ed. Phillip Buckner (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005)

Greg Donaghy and Neal Carter, “‘There Are No Half-Countries’: Canada, La Francophonie, and the Projection of Canadian Biculturalism,” in Handbook of Canadian Foreign Policy, eds., Patrick James, Nelson Michaud, and Marc J. O’Reilly (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2006)

Greg Donaghy, “Smiling Diplomacy Redux: Trudeau’s Engagement with Japan, 1968-76”, in Contradictory Impulses: Canada and Japan in the Twentieth Century, eds., Greg Donaghy and Patricia E. Roy (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008)

Greg Donaghy, “‘A Sad, General Decline?’: The Canadian Diplomat in the 20th Century”, in Canada Among Nations 2008: 100 Years of Canadian Foreign Policy, eds., Robert Bothwell and Jean Daudelin (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009)

Greg Donaghy and Mary Halloran, “Viva el pueblo Cubano: Pierre Trudeau’s Distant Cuba, 1968-78,” in Our Place in the Sun: Canada and Cuba in the Castro Era, eds., Robert Wright and Lana Wylie (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009)

Greg Donaghy, “An Unselfish Interest: Canada and the Hungarian Revolution, 1954-1957,” in The 1956 Hungarian Revolution: Hungarian and Canadian Perspectives, eds., Christopher Adam, Tibor Egervari, Leslie Laczko & Judy Young (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2010)

Greg Donaghy, “Nukes and Spooks: Canada-US Intelligence Sharing and Nuclear Consultations, 1950-1958”, in Transnationalism: Canada-United States History into the 21st Century, eds., Michael Behiels and Reginald C. Stuart (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010)

Greg Donaghy, “A Wasted Opportunity: Canada and the New International Economic Order, 1974-82,” in Canada and the United Nations: Legacies, Limits, Prospects, eds., Colin McCullough and Robert Teigrob (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2016)

Greg Donaghy, “C’est la Guerre: The Diplomacy of Mike Pearson and Paul Martin,” in Mike’s World: Lester B. Pearson and Canadian External Relations, eds., Asa McKercher and Galen Roger Perras (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017)

Jill Campbell-Miller, Michael Carroll, and Greg Donaghy, “Tilting the Balance: Diefenbaker and Asia, 1957-63”, in Reassessing the Rogue Tory: Canadian Foreign Relations in the Diefenbaker Era, eds., Janice Cavell and Ryan Touhey (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2018)

Greg Donaghy, “A Voyage of Discovery: St-Laurent’s World Tour of 1954,” in The Unexpected Louis St-Laurent: Politics and Policies for a Modern Canada, ed., Patrice Dutil (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2020)

Online Publications

Greg Donaghy, “The View from Ottawa: Researching U.S. Foreign Policy in Canada,” Passport (December 2005), at

Greg Donaghy, “Coming off the Gold Standard: Re-assessing the ‘Golden Age’ of Canadian Diplomacy”, Paper presented to the symposium A Very Modern Ministry: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, University of Saskatchewan, 28 September 2009, at off the Gold Standard.pdf

4 thoughts on “Greg Donaghy: Remembering a Scholar, Mentor, and Friend

  1. Kevin Brushett


    Your remembrances of Greg are spot on with just about everyone who came into contact with him. He was an incredible and prodigious scholar whose output is outstanding both in terms of quantity and more importantly quality.

    But more importantly Greg was a mentor and a connector to so many in the field. I would say that in many ways he was very much responsible for making this group possible, not because he was a prime mover of it, but because he helped make the field vital again. He encouraged all of our work, as you note, whether he agreed with it or not. More importantly, he made it better through his mentorship.

    I would like to propose that if there is a CHA next year that we as a group put together something to honour Greg’s contributions. I would also suggest that if we do come up with a prize as other CHA committees have done, that it be named in his honour.

    Thank you again for sharing your memories of our esteemed colleague and friend. May he continue to run/bike with the wind at his back,

    Kevin Brushett
    Associate Professor of History
    Head, Department of History,
    Royal Military College of Canada


  2. John English

    Thanks Asa and Kevin for your memories of Greg. He was a remarkably generous person who made a great contribution in many areas. I will miss him greatly as will so many others.
    John English


  3. Kevin Spooner

    I could not agree more with the memories Asa and Kevin have shared. I was so very saddened to hear the news that Greg had passed away. His loss will be felt deeply by the community of scholars working in this field. Asa’s list of Greg’s scholarly contributions is certainly impressive, but many of us will readily acknowledge that his advice worked its way into much of our own writing too. The bibliography of writing he influenced would be enormous! Like others, Greg provided me with an opportunity, early in my career, to work on projects he supervised – the DCER collection. Then, and much later when we would occasionally cross paths at Library and Archives Canada, he was always generous with his oh so pragmatic advice about my research and writing. My next visit to LAC just won’t be the same knowing that I won’t have the lucky chance of running into him there. Naming a CIHHIC book prize after Greg is a wonderful idea!


  4. Jack Cunningham

    Fine tribute, Asa. Greg’s propensity to nurture younger scholars was very much in evidence during his all-too-short tenure at the Graham Centre. The first term he was in harness, we co-taught a seminar on Canadian foreign and defence policy. He informed me before the first session that I would probably have to carry the class for him. It didn’t work that way at all. He turned out to be a demanding yet approachable mentor to the students in the course, always happy to meet with them and discuss their work, and taking pride in their achievements. I well remember how happy he was when one of our best students first enrolled in Greg’s subsequent course on Canadian relations with a revolutionary Asia, and then gained admittance to NPSIA. I’m sure there are many students who will miss him. Best, Jack Cunningham


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