Fonds MsC-191 - Edward McWhinney fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Edward McWhinney fonds

General material designation

  • Textual records

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Titles are based on those designated by the creator. Where files had existing titles, these titles were maintained. Where there was no title for a file, or the creator’s handwriting was indistinguishable, a title was created by the archivist based on the contents of the file; such titles have been placed in square brackets. In cases where the original title needed additional information, the supplemental information has been enclosed in square brackets.

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Dates of creation area


  • 1926 - 2015 (Creation)
    McWhinney, Edward

Physical description area

Physical description

6.8 m of textual materials;
339 photographs, col. prints;
265 photographs; b&w prints

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1924 May 19-2015 May 19)

Biographical history

Edward (Ted) Watson McWhinney, the youngest son of Matthew McWhinney and Evelyn McWhinney (neé Watson), was born in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia on 19 May, 1924. He attended secondary school at Lismore High School, where his father taught, and later at North Sydney Boys High School. He married Emily Sabatzky in 1951, herself a distinguished economist and financial planner. They chose Canada as their adopted home and both became citizens, eventually settling in Vancouver, British Columbia. Emily died in 2011, just a few weeks before what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary. Ted died on his 91st birthday in 2015.
During World War II Ted served as secretary to William McKell, Premier of New South Wales and then received permission to enlist in the armed forces. He earned a commission as a Pilot-Officer in the Air Force and was sent to Canada for training, where he remained for the duration. His elder brother Joseph also served in the Air Force but was killed in a bombing raid over Germany in 1944. On returning to Australia after the war, Ted resumed his studies at the University of Sydney and graduated with an LLB in 1949. That same year he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. He passed the New South Wales Bar in 1950 and, in 1951, was appointed as a visiting lecturer in Law and Political Science at Yale University where he also attained his doctorate.
Being fully fluent in several languages including French, German and Russian, Ted conducted post-doctorate research and work throughout Europe, including The Hague, Berlin, Pisa and Geneva. Over the course of his extensive career he became an expert in constitutional and international law, as well as space and aviation law. He held full chairs at the University of Toronto Law School, the Centre for Russian Studies at McGill University (also Director of the Air-Law Institute), Indiana University (as Director of International and Comparative Law) and Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. In addition, he collaborated with and guest-lectured at numerous other institutions such as the University of Paris (Sorbonne), the University of Heidelberg, the Max-Planck-Institut, Meiji University in Tokyo, The Hague Academy of International Law, the College de France, the University of Madrid, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Institut Universitaire of Luxembourg, Institut Gosudarstavo I Pravo in Moscow, the Jagellonian University of Cracow, the Chinese Academy, the University of Peking, the Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, and other world centres and institutes.
In 1967, McWhinney was elected to the Institut de Droit International – the first Canadian to gain membership - and from 1999-2001 served as President of that organization. He was also a titular Member of the Academie de Droit Compare, a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitrations at The Hague from 1985-1991, and a Member and Special Advisor of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly for three years. Over the course of his career he served as a Crown Prosecutor, Royal Commissioner of Enquiry, and Consultant to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s he served as Constitutional and International Law Advisor to several Quebec Premiers (highly specializing in matters relating to the Meech Lake Accord and Quebec sovereignty), to the Premier of Ontario, the Federal Government of Canada and to a number of foreign Governments. Some other areas of law he specialized in included the Iran vs. USA aerial incident in 1988, the return of property following seizures during wartime, Canadian federalism and constitutionalism, the role of the Governor-General in Commonwealth nations, legal contexts of terrorism and the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples.
In 1993 Ted was elected as a Member of Parliament for Vancouver-Quadra, representing the Liberal Party. He served two terms and was, successively, Parliamentary Secretary (Fisheries) and Parliamentary Secretary (Foreign Affairs). Following his retirement in 2000 he and Emily became heavily involved in the establishment of the Edward and Emily McWhinney Foundation for International and Comparative and Federal Law which, to date, has provided numerous scholarships and grants to students all over the world.
Ted was the author of 30 books (two in French, one in German), co-authored a further 14 books, and wrote approximately 500 papers which were published or translated in nine languages. He also contributed to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, served as a guest columnist in op-ed pieces for various Canadian newspapers, and appeared as a frequent commentator on national television and radio programmes in both French and English.
Ted and Emily had no children. He was survived by his elder sister, Evelyn, and several nephews.

Custodial history

This collection was donated to Simon Fraser University by the family of Edward McWhinney. Previous donations of books were made by Ted McWhinney himself, as well as his wife, Emily McWhinney

Scope and content

Edward McWhinney was an international authority on constitutional and aviation law, a prolific author, member of multiple academic and professional organizations, a Member of the Canadian Parliament and a lecturer at universities around the world. In his later years he actively supported numerous institutions, including the charitable foundation he established with his wife, Emily McWhinney. He routinely travelled, and this collection reflects the diverse range of his careers and interests.

Consisting primarily of records created in the course of his extensive professional and political careers, this collection contains correspondence, newspaper and magazine articles, handwritten notes and cards, photographs, published materials, books, photocopies, and ephemera. The fonds has been split into 4 series: Politics and law (1943-2015); Publications and reviews (1956-2015); Associations, conferences and academia (1940-2015); Personal (1914-2015).

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The material was received already separated into distinct boxes and files by the creator, this original order was largely maintained by the archivist. Arrangement was primarily imposed by the archivist based on file titles. Most file-level titles were assigned by the archivist based on the titles assigned by the creator but were either unclear or illegible, these titles are indicated by the presence of square brackets. The creator’s method of filing was predominantly, although not consistently, alphabetical to the file level and reverse chronological within the file; this system has been maintained by the archivist.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Some material in this fonds may be restricted due to the personal nature of the files. Please consult staff if access is required.

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A file list is available in addition to a fonds-level description.

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No further accruals are expected

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created 26 July 2017, JMH
Revised 03 Dec 2018, JMH

Language of description

  • English

Script of description


[Bibliographic Sources:;; personal biographical notes from McWhinney fonds (52-2 and 52-5).]

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