Motive for Spying

At least once a month my work [editing the armed forces magazine Canadian Affairs ] took me to Montreal where Canadian Affairs was printed and where, after a lengthy session putting the issue to bed, I would spend the night at home.

On one of these evenings Fred Rose turned up and invited himself to supper. He was by this time the Labour Progressive Party Member of Parliament and at the height of his popularity and political influence. He told a few sly anecdotes about fellow MPs and Ottawa mandarins who, it seemed, were eager to benefit from his powers of political analysis and prognostication. He then asked me about my job, who my co-workers were and my opinion of them, what I aimed to do after the war and so on. [...] I told Fred that I hoped to become a writer.

“You’re in Ottawa. You should meet some of the Russians. You’ll find them an interesting bunch. Lots to talk about. You know, they know bugger-all about Canada. They could use some help.”

They certainly could use some help, I said to myself, thinking of their Ambassador Gousev’s speeches delivered with stiff formality at some of our pro-war public events in almost unintelligible English. [...]

I was intrigued with the thought of meeting some Russians. The Red Army had liberated Warsaw and was sweeping towards Berlin. “Mike” Pearson, newly appointed Cana-

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dian Ambassador to Washington, made an eloquent speech in New York in support of international co-operation. Only days later the emotion passed from words to deeds at the Yalta meeting between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. It was an environment in which it seemed natural and logical to give a helping hand to an ally who, if the truth be admitted, was doing more and at far greater cost to win the war than all the others combined. I readily agreed with Fred Roses’s suggestion to meet the Russians and discuss matters of mutual interest. He said he would arrange for a meeting.


The meeting seemed to have been arranged with a convoluted sense of caution. It was initiated by a phone call one evening from a young woman who asked me to meet her in the lobby of the Chateau Laurier Hotel and told me how to identify her. We left the hotel and began walking a good clip along Sussex Street. A solitary man ahead was walking at a much slower pace. As we came abreast he said “Hello”. It was like a relay race. One moment I was walking down the street with one companion; the next moment I had picked up a replacement while the first went ahead without breaking stride. That is how I met Colonel Rogov — not that I knew his name or that he was a colonel. I was not impressed. A few inches over five feet tall, shabbily and rather oddly dressed, he certainly did not look like a military man.


This was not what I had expected — clearly no social encounter. [...]

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I had not been prepared for the strange behaviour of Rogov — the code names, the elaborate meeting arrangements, the lack of any truly human rapport — but I put this down to the Russians’ well-known paranoia, a strange mixture of arrogance and inferiority complex, bred of decades of fending off capitalist hostility, real or imagined. At no time did I feel beholden to Rogov. When he encouraged me to stay in the army, I laughed. No way, I told him, I‘m a writer. In spite of the Kafkaesque script, I felt in control, in fact, in an odd way, even sorry for this mechanical little man. Still, I was alarmed when on our second meeting he asked me for a photograph of myself and a biography, neither of which I gave him. I went to see Fred Rose.

“What gives with these guys? They’re treating us like puppets. They pull strings and we dance?”

“Mmnnyecch.” This is the closest I can come phonetically to Fred’s reaction, but it cannot convey the frustration and aggravation it expressed. “Yeah, sometimes they can act as though we’re Romanians”, he said. He persuaded me that we were in control of the situation, not to be intimidated and to use my own judgement. [...]

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When Fred Rose gave me the news in September that “one of the Russkies [Igor Gouzenko] has flown the coop”, I realized at once that life would never be the same again — not for me, not for Phyllis, not for our three-month-old daughter burbling away in her crib. Unlike Fred, who seemed unable to face the fact that he was about to be unseated as the left-wing political oracle, consulted by Norman Robertson, First Secretary at the Department of External Affairs, on the hidden significance of international affairs, I clearly saw prison bars in the future...

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Source: Gordon Lunan, "Motive for Spying" in The Making of a Spy: A Political Odyssey, (Montreal: Robert Davies Publishing, 1995), 142-154

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