Tag Archives: Ian Fleming

James Bond, Winston Churchill and Adolph Hitler – The Canadian Connection

What are the first things that spring to mind when someone mentions the word “Spy”?  Well, in my mind images start to appear, men in trench coats, stolen and falsified documents, secret codes and spy gadgets.  Not to be forgotten is the legendary drink of fictional super spy James Bond a perfectly poured vodka martini.

Now imagine just for a second that all of these things have a basis in fact and that the man at the center of it all was a real person who inspired the greatest fictional spy of them all Ian Fleming’s Commander James Bond of the Royal Navy.  You would think that I’d been staring at my computer screen just a tad long, wouldn’t you?

Well friends gather round and I’ll continue the story of William Stephenson.  In my last installment I told you all the story of William’s birth in turn of the century Winnipeg, Manitoba, his exploits as a child and his daring as a World War One fighter ace.

The rest of the story picks up back in Winnipeg with a can opener that William had stolen from the Commandant’s quarters while he was imprisoned in a German POW camp.  The design was revolutionary for the time leaving a clean edge on the can lid where other models of the day simply hacked off the top leaving a sharp jagged edge. Since North American patent law did not recognize German patents, William registered the device in North America and went into business forming the Franco-British Supply Company with friend Charles Wilfrid Russell in 1919. Soon after the young business men incorporated the company as Stevenson-Russell Ltd. raising money through selling shares in the community.

The post war period was hard for business and Stephenson-Russell was failing by 1922. William lost face in the Icelandic community he was raised in by not paying back the debts he had incurred while trying to grow the company.  He fled to England while members of his extended family set up a hardware store with the remains of the failed venture.

William Stephenson sends the first image via radio. July 6, 1924.

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Are you my mother?

I am going to deviate just a little bit this morning from my normal routine.  I had promised all of you the next installment in the William Stephenson story about how he became a key inspiration for Ian Flemming’s master spy James Bond.  To be honest though I really haven’t had the time this weekend to hit the books and do the research required to write a top notch history.

This weekend I spent with my darling daughter who lives a couple of hours out of Winnipeg.  It was her 14th birthday last weekend so I took the chance this weekend to spend a fun filled day with her bowling and generally having a good time.

In any regard that got me thinking about my own situation, as many of you may know I am an adopted son to my late father and globe-trotting mother.  It’s the only life that I have ever known so please don’t feel badly for me.  I really couldn’t have asked for better parents and the childhood that I had was a very happy one in most regards, but there has always been a hole in my heart that I have never been able to fill.  The one left by my birth mother when I left her arms and was taken into foster care.

Are You My Mother by P. D. Eastman

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William Stephenson the quiet man that would inspire 007.

James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy.  The real thing is… William Stephenson. – Ian Flemming

The Times of London October 21, 1962

It is accepted that Canadians are quiet people, we are not full of random boast or ecstatic praise without good meaning.  This post is an example of a quiet man  who made it to the very top of the silent services before there was a silent service to speak of.

Nothing deceives Like a document. – William Stephenson

William Stephenson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to immigrant Icelandic parents just before the turn of the 20th century.  Orphaned by his father at around the age of three, his widowed mother had little choice but to surrender one of her children to an extended family of other Icelandic immigrants.  Historians on the subject often over look this fact and in many sources have quoted an incorrect birthday and indeed an incorrect surname.  Sources have him attending a high school that never existed.  It seems that either the researchers did not attend to proper diligence or the trail has been intentionally made confusing.

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