John Deutsch was born in Quinton, Saskatchewan in 1911. The eldest of 17 children in a Prairie farm family, Deutsch worked his way through college. He won a scholarship to Queen’s and graduated in 1934 with a degree in commerce and economics. He continued postgraduate work in economics until, in 1936 at age 25, he became a research assistant at the newly formed Bank of Canada. A year later he was lent to the Rowell-Sirois Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations and soon became the Commission’s research director.
He later served as secretary of the newly formed Canada-United States economic committee and wartime assistant to Deputy Minister of External Affairs. In 1953 he became Director of the International Economic Relations division of the Finance Department, a role that gave him the rank of Assistant Deputy Minister. Later the same year he became Secretary of the Treasury Board in Ottawa.
In 1959 he returned to Queen’s as Vice-Principal, Administration. Four years later he returned to Ottawa as Chair of the newly created Economic Council of Canada. He stayed with the Council until the fall of 1967 when he became principal-elect of Queen’s. In 1969 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Professor Deutsch retired as principal in 1974 but continued on as a professor of Economics, a post he held until his death in 1976.
He is commemorated in the John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy (the JDI) and in the John Deutsch University Centre.