A Franco Ontarian originally from Windsor, Joseph Caron attended a Francophone high school. Upon finishing high school, a choice presented itself to him. However, one pre-university year at the University of Windsor, where he knew no one and was located in an Anglophone area, was enough to convince him he was not in the right place.
He found himself in Ottawa in 1966 at the Faculty of Social Sciences, where he met Denis Carrier and talked for over an hour about nothing and everything. This meeting turned into much more than a discussion alone, since he soon after enrolled into political science, where he met professors James Hurley, James Dickinson and Théofil Kis.
He has fond memories of Professor William Badour, a sinologist who greatly influenced him, as well as his classes which sparked an interest in China and Asia. His years spent on campus were very happy ones, and he knew to benefit from the many tourist attractions in the area, including ski trips to Camp Fortune.
Joseph and his classmates, Jamie Kelly and Ian Green, who together formed ‘The Prestigious Conferences Committee’, knew they had made a great move when the invitation they had extended to John Kenneth Galbraith to participate in a conference was accepted. On October 25th 1969, in Southam Hall at the National Arts Centre, Joseph Caron presented world-wide renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith to a crowd of 2300 people attending his conference entitled ‘The Industrial State: The Case and the Criticism’.
It is undeniable today that the University of Ottawa allowed Joseph to evolve on a francophone campus and residence, reading Voltaire and amongst political figures – he participated in the Liberal Congress that chose Pierre Trudeau as leader – and to begin studying Chinese and Japanese. It was also at this time that he formed the basis of his economic and political foundations. Four years later, a diploma in hand, and he was already considering enrolling into law school.
It was around the same time that Joseph ran into an old friend at the campus pub, where he learned about a Foreign Service Exam. Two weeks later, he wrote the exam, in which he was successful of course, and law school was quickly put aside.
In 1972, Joseph Caron began working for Foreign Services in Vietnam, followed by Turkey – where he met his wife and life partner, Kumru, the daughter of a diplomat. In 1975, he moved to Yokohama, where he did two years of MA studies in Japanese, and which marked him profoundly. Joseph spent 17 years in Japan, part of his time spent at the Canadian Embassy, the other part in the business sector.
From 2001-2005, he was the Canadian Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, with double accreditation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Mongolia. Since 2005 he has been the Canadian Ambassador in Japan where he lives with his wife Kumru Caron, also a University of Ottawa graduate. He has three children who are pursuing their studies in Europe and Canada.
His passion for Japan, which has developed over the last thirty years, was recently rewarded by the University of Meiji Gakuin in Tokyo, which awarded him with an honorary doctorate last April.
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