outbreak of war did not find ILO unprepared. The Governing Body had made
the necessary arrangements to ensure that activities continued even in the
event of war. The fact that Switzerland was surrounded by German occupation troops nevertheless placed the Organization in a precarious situation and left it with no choice but to establish a centre of activity outside Geneva. The ILO Director, John G. Winant, was adamant that it should not become the instrument of totalitarian States.
In August 1940, the Canadian Government officially agreed to the temporary
transfer of ILO staff. Forty staff members from 18 countries were
transferred. Another group remained in Geneva to continue making the necessary
arrangements, while the rest returned to their countries as national
correspondents or were posted to branch offices with a view to collecting
information of interest to the Office in connection with labour matters.
A commemorative plaque was unveiled at McGill University in Montreal on 14 September 1950: “To this campus the International Labour Organisation transferred its wartime headquarters in 1940 on the generous invitations of the Government of Canada and McGill University. From here the I.L.O. directed its work of furthering world peace through social justice until 1948. This tablet records the lasting gratitude of the I.L.O.
to McGill University” (see Unveiling of a plaque at McGill University, Montreal