Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ghosts Of The Past

Today I am back in Dundonald Park, with these views of this particular apartment building.


It's quite nondescript, but history happened here. A Soviet clerk working at the embassy lived here with his wife and children at the end of the Second World War. His name was Igor Gouzenko. His story can be found here and here. The short version is that in September 1945 he defected into Canadian custody with his family, armed with numerous files proving the Soviets were spying on Western nations. The evidence he brought was one of the triggers of the Cold War.


Gouzenko and his family lived out the rest of their lives in Canada, and he wrote two books. When he appeared in public on television, he always wore a mask. Several years ago this historical plaque and an information panel were placed in Dundonald Park across from the building.







41 comments:

  1. I would imagine that the old USSR would have been very happy to have found Gouzenko and his family in this building. Nice that they were able to reside her safely.

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  2. Always a mask when you are in public, brrrrr.

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  3. Spying on other nations? Imagine any country doing that today!

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  4. What an interesting story. Did anyone ever see him without the mask?

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  5. Those buildings are quite beautiful, and to be also remembered for an important historic event seems fitting.

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  6. Thank you William. Very interesting.

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  7. Yes those were the Cold War days, at least he had a pretty house to live in.

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  8. that indeed was very interesting. I would guess that his children are still alive and living in Canada, under assumed names. They all gave up a lot to help Canada.

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  9. These stories of war are normal in almost all cities.

    Tomás.

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  10. snowden before snowden was born.

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  11. The Gouzenko affair was a huge issue at the time. As a current affairs junkie I followed it when I was a teenager. You've got some great history here.

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  12. A brave soul with a strong moral core.

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  13. What a wonderful bit of history. I really enjoy stories like that. He is lucky to have lived at the time he did. I think today he might meet a tragic end like Alexander Litvinenko. Polonium 210 is a lethal weapon.

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  14. @Kay: as I recall, when the embassy officials realized what he'd done, they broke into his flat. Stalin certainly would have loved to get his hands on him.

    @Peter: I imagine he had some plastic surgery done to change his facial appearance as well.

    @Stuart: who'd have thought?

    @Halcyon: outside of his handlers and his family, no one who knew about his past. I imagine wherever the family lived, the neighbours had no idea.

    @Merisi: both the building and the house next to it have character.

    @Tanya: definitely. Gouzenko also is mentioned prominently in the War Museum.

    @Luis: you're welcome.

    @Marianne: and quite close to downtown.

    @Gill: yes, the children are still around. They attended the unveiling.

    @Tomas: true.

    @Tex: that's true.

    @Red: if not for the plaque and display, one wouldn't know its significance.

    @Linda: it took a lot of guts to do that.

    @Sharon: he certainly would have. No doubt Tsar Vlad would have done that if he'd been around.

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  15. He certainly could have borrowed my paperbag mask. He never asked.

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  16. These old buildings hold so much history. If walls could talk!

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  17. Well, imagine that! They say you can't tell what goes on behind closed doors.. It certainly adds a wee bit of interest to the apartments William.

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  18. It was fun reading part of history of the building.
    Building that old must have many stories!

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  19. Nice story! Good to know that sometimes the good guy ends up happy ever after!

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  20. Fascinating story; thank you. I hope we're not headed for another Cold War; and certainly not a hot one.

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  21. Interesting. And that house looks like brick Bauhaus style to me. I still like it!

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  22. It's a nice building. I also like that dark red brown colour.

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  23. Thank you for this very interesting piece of history!

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  24. That's a fascinating story, William!

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  25. @Birdman: hah!

    @Judy: looking at it, I find myself wondering if anyone ever put any listening devices in there.

    @Grace: one wonders if any of the tenants living there before the plaques were put up knew the history.

    @Revrunner: very interesting!

    @Tamago: I find myself wondering how old it is. Not more than a century.

    @Cheryl: others have met a rougher end at the hands of the Russians.

    @Mike: sometimes I wonder.

    @Ciel: it is quite an appealing house. The style does stand out.

    @Marleen: there are a lot of homes here in that colour.

    @RedPat: indeed!

    @VP: you're welcome.

    @Norma: thank you!

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  26. Fascinating stuff William, I love it, there's nothing like a good spy story...

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  27. That's agreat piece of history, William.
    This story made me think of Snowden

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  28. Now it seems so long ago. And now no one would be upset (except in public) because everyone knows everyone is spying on one another because they can.

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  29. That is so interesting William! Looking at that building, I never would have guessed.

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  30. Snow and red brick just seem to go together!

    Janis
    GDP

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  31. History can happen in ordinary places.

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  32. I learned something new today. Thanks.

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  33. Timely topic, William, since we now know for sure that even Canadians are into the spying "game." Quite frankly, I think countries have always ben spying on each other. The USSR didn't invent that! :))

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  34. Now that's an interesting bit of history.

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  35. In Ottawa there is still snow?
    I think everyone would like to have winter left.
    :)

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  36. Your timing of this post is impeccable. I will be teaching the Cold War to my Year 10 students after the Easter break. Their homework is to research the beginnings of the Cold War and the superpowers involved. I have now given them a link to this post. A fascinating read.

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  37. Isn't that intriguing?! Who knew? Well, you did!

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