Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Arnold D. Heeney (1902-1970)

Teacher, civil servant, diplomat.

Born at Montreal on 5 April 1902, son of William B. Heeney and Eva Holland, he was educated at the University of Manitoba, and he taught at St. John’s College School before receiving a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford. According to school legend, he tore up his discipline book in front of the boys at St. John’s upon receiving the telegram about the Rhodes scholarship.

After practising law in Montreal, he became Mackenzie King’s principal secretary in 1938, and in 1940 became clerk of the Privy Council and secretary of the Cabinet. He was perhaps the most important civil servant in Ottawa during the Second World War because of his co-ordination of the Cabinet War Committee. He was appointed undersecretary of state for external affairs in 1949, subsequently serving as ambassador to NATO and the United States. He also served as chair of the Civil Service Commission and Canadian head of the International Joint Commission. He was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Manitoba in 1950.

His autobiography was published as The Things That Are Caesar’s: Memoirs of a Canadian Public Servant (1972). See also Brian Masschaele, Memoirs and Minutes: The Cabinet War Committee and the Establishment of the Canadian Cabinet (1996).

He died at Ottawa, Ontario on 20 December 1970.


“5 to get honorary degrees at U of M fall convocation,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 October 1950. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10, page 154]

“‘Quiet diplomat’ dies at 68,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 December 1970, page 4.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 26 July 2013

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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