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Highlights of William Stephenson's life and career
as recorded in books, on websites, etc.


(1) From the book 'The True Intrepid' (by Bill Macdonald of Winnipeg) -- [view the website The True Intrepid] :


This book is considered to contain the most authorative account of the life and career of William Stephenson. Read this Canadian Press review .

        (a) born in Winnipeg on Jan. 23, 1897 as William Samuel Clouston Stanger to a Scottish father & Icelandic mother
        (b) as a youngster, was raised by an Icelandic-Canadian family named Stephenson
        (c) Right throughout the war the more confidential channels of communication between the Prime Minister [Churchill] and the President [Roosevelt] ran through Stephenson's office.
        (d) A Toronto Star 1979 interview asked Stephenson if he felt like the prophet who is without honour in his own land ... He responded, "My personal balance sheet with Canada is much in Canada's favour"
        (e) In a patent specification entitled Improvements relating to Apparatus for transmitting .. Electrically Scenes or Representations to a Distance, it is stated "We, William Samuel Stephenson and George William Walton ... do hereby declare the nature of this invention to be as follows: .. This invention relates to apparatus for transmitting pictures .. to a distance electronically and to apparatus for dealing with the problem known as television.”

        (f) About a dozen people left Winnipeg in the spring of 1943 to join Stephenson's British Security Coordination.  
        (g) Peter Worthington wrote about The Forgotten Canadian and said Stephenson was "isolated, forgotten, ignored" .. "is proud of his nationality and goes about his business expressing neither dismay nor rancour at being unrecognized in his own country."
        (h) From the Manchester Guardian Weekly, "Ian Fleming was one to serve under him, and there's not much doubt that elements in Bond's make-up were derived from Stephenson, not least his love for fancy gadgetry.”  

        (i) Stephenson established training facilities ... on a parcel of land at Whitby, Ontario ... North America's first spy school ... Camp X .. North America agents were versed in self-defence ... safe blowing ... explosives ... codes and ciphers -- The ... camp became a communications centre linking Washington, Ottawa, New York, and London ..
        (j) In 1983, Stephenson was awarded the [USA's] William J. Donovan Medal. It is bestowed to an individual who has rendered distinguished service in the interests of the democratic process and the cause of freedom, by the veterans of the OSS [Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.)].
        (k) In regard to Stephenson's business ventures in Canada after WWII, John Pepper was quoted as stating, "He is a great Canadian and has done more than any other man to bring Canada's enormous potential to the notice of international investors."

        (l) Marion de Chastelain, mother of Gen. John de Chastelain, thought that Stephenson had not received appropriate credit. “But then there's something about Canada that doesn't like heroes. I don't know why. Can you imagine if he had been an American citizen. He would have been full of glory ..."
        (m) Stevenson worked for no salary and financed many of the undertakings himself.
        (n) His years with BSC [British Security Coordination] cost him in the region of $3 million of his own money.

        (o) Supplies that Stephenson was instrumental in obtaining for Britain : included a hundred Flying Fortresses (aircraft) for the RAF coastal command, and over a million rifles for the newly formed home guard.
        (n) Walter Winchell ... used to write quite good columns concerning these Canadians who were in New York.
        (o) Stephenson partnered with Alexander Korda as owners of Shepparton Studios (motion picture production) in England.


Each and every statement recorded in (2) to (18) below is not claimed to be accurate and true. If a statement is found to be inaccurate, it will be amended or removed.

(2) From the website of the Town of Whitby, Ontario [site of Camp X] :
                (after accessing, press F3 and enter "Stephenson”)

        (a) Between 1941 and 1946, British Security Co-ordination under the leadership of Sir William Stephenson, known as Intrepid, trained agents who parachuted into Nazi occupied territory to not only lead the resistance movement, but to provide valuable information to invading Allied Armies.


(3) The Churchill Foundation website states :

        (a) ... one of Canada's most courageous sons, was a bold friend of freedom
        (b) He lacks a worthy monument in his native land.
        (c) Churchill, recommending him for a knighthood in 1945, wrote: "This one is dear to my heart."


(4) From the website of The New York Times website (Feb.3, 1989 edition -- by Albin Krebs) :

        (a) became British Security Coordinator for the Western Hemisphere"[WW II]
        (b) operating out of a suite [Room 3603] in Rockefeller Center in New York, Sir William sometimes served as a go-between for Churchill and Roosevelt
        (c) helped in the organization of the United States' wartime [WW II] intelligence operation, the Office of Strategic Services , whose head, Maj. Gen. William J. (Wild Bill) Donovan, later said: "Bill Stephenson taught us all we ever knew about foreign intelligence." [the U.S. Office of Strategic Services was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.)].


(5) From the book 'Room 3603 ...' (by H. Montgomery Hyde) [American version of The Quiet Canadian...] :

        (a) Ian Fleming stated,"People often ask me how closely the hero of my thrillers, James Bond, resembles a true, live secret agent. To begin with, James Bond is not in fact a hero, but an efficient and not very attractive blunt instrument in the hands of government, and though he is a meld of various qualities I noted among Secret Service men and commandos in the last war, he remains, of course, a highly romanticised version of the true spy. The real thing, who may be sitting next to you as you read this, is another kind of beast altogether. .....

... But the man sitting alone now in his study in New York is so much closer to the spy of fiction, and yet so far removed from James Bond or 'Our Man in Havana' that only the removal of the cloak of anonymity he has worn since 1940 allows us to realise to our astonishment that men of super- qualities can exist, and that such men can be super-spies and, by any standard, heroes.

Such a man is the Quiet Canadian, otherwise Sir William Stephenson, M.C., D.F.C., known throughout the war to his subordinates and friends, and to the enemy, as 'Little Bill.' He is the man who became one of the great secret agents of the last war, and it would be a foolish person who would argue his credentials; to which I would add, from my own experience, that he is a man of few words and has a magnetic personality and the quality of making anyone ready to follow him to the ends of the earth."

        (b) In 1922, Stephenson invented a substantially improved method of transmitting photographs by radio (wireless). In Dec. of 1922, The London Times hailed Stevenson as 'a brilliant scientist' and his discovery as 'a great scientific event'. -- It wrote that "Wireless photography is now an accomplished fact."


(6) From the book 'The Quiet Canadian' (by H. Montgomery Hyde) [British version of Room 3603...] :

        (a) In his letter to Stephenson in 1983, Ronald Reagan wrote "Your career through World War I, World War II, and the postwar years adds up to one of the great legends, one of the great stories of personal valor and sacrifice for the sake of country and fellow man. -- All those who love freedom owe you a debt of gratitude ... there will be a special place in our hearts, our minds, and our history books for the 'Man Called Intrepid.'
        (b) The back cover shows a plaque that states "Presented to Sir William Stephenson by his friend The Honourable Erik Nielsen, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada ... as a small token of the esteem and affection in which Sir William is held by all Canadians in general and by the Intelligence Corps, The Canadian Forces and the Government of Canada."

        (c) In recruiting staff for the British Security Co-ordination office in New York City, "Stephenson turned in the first instance to his own country for recruits to his organization. ... Thus Canada supplied him with specialists in many fields, including an admiral, a general and an air-marshal. ...the devoted and hardworking female secretarial and clerical staff was also largely Canadian. "


(7) From the Wikipedia website:

        (a) Ian Fleming wrote in The Times, October 21, 1962: "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is... William Stephenson".
        (b) Character Inspirations .... [regarding James Bond] Most notably was William Stephenson, who was a Canadian spymaster, best known by his code name, Intrepid.


(8) From the book 'The Order of Canada' (by Christopher McCreery)

        (a) Stephenson was knighted at the insistence of Winston Churchill.
        (b) .. he always kept his Canadian citizenship
        (c) Stephenson moved to the West Indies and became influential in that region's development.

        (d) In the Canadian House of Commons, Erik Nielsen stated, "This House urges the Government to consider the award to William Stephenson of an appropriately high Canadian honours, perhaps a Companion of the Order of Canada or honorary membership, in belated recognition of the singular and significant contribution made by this outstanding Canadian to the cause of the Western world during the Second World War."


(9) From the book 'Canadian Scientists and Inventors' (by Harry Black)

        (a) His most famous invention, the wireless photograph transmission system, helped to revolutionize the modern communications field.
        (b) .. became the interservice light-weight boxing champion on the same program that Gene Tunney became the heavyweight champion
        (c) He wrote a paper on "Television" in 1923.

        (d) .. it has been suggested that .. Stephenson was the prototype for "M", the master spy in the Bond series.
        (e) So the next time you use your television or fax machine, think of Sir William Stephenson and his pioneer work in developing the precursors of these modern machines that most of us today believe we could not possibly live without.


(10) From the book 'The Irregulars (Roald Dahl ...)' (by Jennet Conant)

        (a) To the best of Dahl's knowledge, the only "absolutely secure" telegrams between the United States and England during the war were the ones sent by Stephenson from New York using his "fantastic coding machines".
        (b) (Ian) Fleming was completely captivated by Stephenson's elaborate setup and the vast array of sophicated equipment he had accumulated, particularly the mechanical ciphering machines.
        (c) In Stephenson, he (Ian Fleming) had finally found someone whose passion for sophisticated weaponry surpassed even his own, and his frank admiraton led to a quick rapport and a rapidly developing friendship.

        (d) Fleming came to regard the Canadian as "one of the great secret agents" and a man who had "the quality of making anyone ready to follow him to the ends of the earth."
        (e) He (Stephenson) realized that the same technology used to reproduce a still picture could be used to broadcast a moving picture ... and worked on experiments that demonstrated that broadcasting moving images would soon be feasible.
        (f) He (Stephenson) poured money into the burgeoning movie business and started Sound City, one of England's first major film production companies, home to Shepparton Studios ..."


(11) From the book 'The Life of Ian Fleming' (by John Pearson)

        (a) Stephenson was a master of the technology of subversion.    Station M., the laboratory he had set up in Canada ... specialized in all known forms of forgery.
        (b) For Fleming, Stephenson was almost everything a hero could be.
        (c) Stephenson said, 'Ian was always fascinated by gadgets and equipment. In those days, we were building up our mechanical coding equipment ... and he used to spend hours watching exactly how we did it.'
        (d) Fleming.. wrote in Casino Royale ... (of) the shooting of a Japanese cipher agent in Rockefeller Center in New York. ... The death of the Japanese was a highly exaggerated account of the adventure in which Fleming took part with Sir William Stephenson.
        (e) He (Fleming) stayed with the William Stephensons at Hillowton (Jamaica) ... drove out to inspect the land at Oracabessa (Jamaica) and (to) decide on the name for the house ... settled on Goldfinger.
        (f) Stephenson ... was carrying on a discreet promotion campaign of his own for the book (Casino Royale) before its appearance in the following January.


(12) From the book 'Ian Fleming' (by Rosenberg & Stewart)

        (a) We do know that Fleming had been in Rockefeller Centre when William Stephenson's men entered the Japanese Consultate to copy the codebook there: in Casino Royale Fleming transforms that reality into an assassination in which James Bond ...


(13) From the book 'Donovan -- America's master spy' (by Richard Dunlop)

        (a) Winston Churchill ... had given Stephenson a critical mission to the United States.    He (Stephenson) was to attempt to obtain destroyers, aircraft, and military equipment and supplies to replace those ... (that) had been left behind on the beaches of Dunkirk.
        (a) In the foreword by William Stephenson, Stephenson states, "From the beginning, I had discussed with Donovan the necessity for the United States to establish an agency for conducting secret activities throughout the world, an agency with which I could collaborate fully by virtue of its being patterned after my own organization."


(14) From the book 'Codebreakers' Victory' (by Hervie Haufler)

        (a) Even the code name Intrepid, according to (Nigel) West, ... was the name not given to Stephenson as an individual but to the New York City operation (that) he headed.
        (b) He helped negotiate the deal by which fifty mothballed U.S. destroyers went into service for the British.
        (c) ... he did much to carry out Churchill's scheme to delay Hitler's Russian adventure as long as possible.


(15) From the book 'Uncommon Courage -- Canadian Secret Agents in the Second World War' (from Veteran Affairs Canada) [view the website Veteran Affairs Canada] :

The following is the foreword to this publication that was written by William Stephenson. In 2009, this writing of Stephenson's was forwarded to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg (projected opening in approx. 2012) for their consideration for possible display at the museum. This action was taken as I believed that some of the text harmonized with the theme of the museum, especially those portions that I chose to italicize.

                                  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"These are the stories of gallant people whose names deserve to be engraved forever on Canada's roll of honour. Some of them did not survive – were captured, tortured by the Gestapo and then executed. These are stories, simply told, of real heroes, hitherto unsung but no less inspiring despite the passage of time.

Many Canadians fought behind the enemy lines in the Second World War as agents for the British organizations that, stealthily, slowly at first but with growing effectiveness, operated escape routes and sabotage networks in occupied countries. Of these whose names are know, details of their activities are often sketchy, but, as this account points out, all were people of rare courage and dedication. They all knew, without exception, that, if captured, they could not look for the smallest protection from the Geneva convention. And they knew, also, that the risks of capture were high.

Modern warfare, as exemplified by the Second World War, is something the human race has never before experienced. No longer confined to professional armies with rules for conduct and surrender, whole populations are now caught up and engulfed in its toils and agony – men and women, the young and helpless, aged and infirm. Terrorism is a weapon deliberately conceived and put to use. In their blitzkriegs against Poland and the low countries, the German Army drove masses of terrified civilian refugees ahead of them so that they would clog the roads and impede the advance of the Allied forces coming to engage them.

As one country after another fell to the Nazi occupation, a darkness and silence descended, followed shortly by the curfew, the pre-dawn round-up, and mass deportations – all in the name of the new order.

But the leaders of the new order did not reckon with the indomitable courage of the individual. The urge toward freedom is irrepressible. Multiplied many times, it generates a force which cannot be measured in terms of tanks or machine guns firing hundreds of rounds a minute. Many times in the past it has slowed the onslaught of a tyrant and help bring about his downfall. Tolstoy in War and Peace referred to it as the mysterious force of X.

I was priveleged (sic) in World War II to have played a role in helping this force to be generated and brought into play. Those who went forth did so as individuals, knowing they would receive no quarter. Most of those who were captured perished after ghastly tortures. But more and more stepped forward to take their places.

I am glad that this tribute to a rare brand of courage and heroism is being published by the Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs. It is testimony to the belief that wars will ultimately cease – not because war becomes too terrible to endure, but because no matter how terrible war becomes, the free spirit of men and women, as exemplified in these brief but moving records, will always survive and rise again like gleaming sparks from the ashes."

William Stephenson

WILLIAM STEPHENSON -- William Stephenson is a Canadian who was the chief of British Security Coordination – a world-wide intelligence operation set up by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War. With its headquarters in New York City, its aim was to challenge the spread of Nazism throughout the free world by engaging in underground warfare.

Stephenson, whose code name was "Intrepid," acted as an intermediary between Churchill and United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the crucial final years of the war. After a long period of continued secrecy, historians have now acknowledged that this operation provided an essential back-up to military and political measures in the fighting of the Second World War.

While the undertakings of the British intelligence agencies were traditionally cloaked in secrecy, the exploits of secret agents have long been familiar to the world through the James Bond series of spy novels, parts of which were based on activities of the intelligence operation headed by Stephenson. Their author, Ian Fleming, was an aide to the chief of British Naval Intelligence and actually worked with and received some training from William Stephenson during the Second World War.

Stephenson was knighted after the war for his role in the intelligence operation. His fascinating story is counted in the book A Man Called Intrepid, published by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich in 1976 and written by another William Stevenson who worked with Sir William but is no relation to him.


(16) From the book 'Why We Act Like Canadians' (by Pierre Berton)

Actually, I've (Berton) got to confess that Canada is not a country of hero-worshippers. It's common dogma, in fact, that we have neglected many of the great figures of the past.


(17) Claims from websites (listed later) & books:

        (a) [i] born in Winnipeg on Jan.23, 1897 as William Samuel Clouston Stanger to a Scottish father & Icelandic mother
                [ii] as a youngster, was taken in and raised by a family named Stephenson
                  [iii] lived in Winnipeg during his youth, spending his summers in Lundar
        (b) in his youth, informed police that he had seen murderer John Krafchenko which resulted in the latter's arrest by police
        (c) in 1916, he volunteered for the 101st Battalion (Winnipeg Light Infantry), and was gassed in the trenches
        (d) in 1918, he won the Interservice Lightweight World Boxing Championship.

        (e) became a WW I fighter ace with approx. 20 downed enemy aircraft to his credit
        (f) escaped from a German prisoner-of-war camp during WW I
        (g) presented Britain's Military Cross, and Distinguished Flying Cross [WW I] -- the DFC was presented to Stephenson in Winnipeg by the future King Edward VIII
        (h) awarded France's Legion of Honour, and Belgium's Croix de Guerre with Palm. [WW I]
        (i) became a millionaire in the communications industry before the age of 30

        (j) set up Camp X, a spy school near Whitby, Ont., that listed among its graduates Ian Fleming, Kim Philby, & some future directors of the CIA
        (k) the Americans presented to him the Presidential Medal for Merit, at that time the United States' highest civilian award. -- The medal's citation, signed by Truman, said Stephenson "gave timely and invaluable aid to the American war effort."
        (l) J. Edgar Hoover, director of the F.B.I., wrote," I am quite certain that your contribution will be among the foremost in having brought victory finally to the united nations' cause."
        (m) Robert Sherwood, the American playwright and biographer, bestowed on Stephenson the title of ". . . a quiet Canadian."

        (n) played the role of Devereux in the TV biography of James Bond entitled Goldeneye. -- Ian Fleming also acted in the movie.
        (o) subject of the book & TV series, The Man called Intrepid
        (p) subject of the book and documentary The True Intrepid, by Winnipegger Bill Macdonald [2001]
        (q) subject of the book The Quiet Canadian, a.k.a. Room 3603, that contains a foreword written by Ian Fleming

        (r) in 1984, he established a $100,000 fund to benefit outstanding students at the University of Winnipeg.
        (s) co-founded the British-American-Canadian Corporation, a trading company heavily involved in rehabilitation and redevelopment in countries which had suffered during the war
        (t) was involved in the Igor Gouzenko affair, involving the defection of this Soviet spy living in Canada.
        (u) was the recipient of the The Venerable Knight of Order of St. John (KStJ)
        (v) Stephenson's World War One service number was 700758. -- Perhaps, the first four digits are of interest as regards James Bond 007.

        (w) The Sir William Stephenson Trophy is awarded to Canada's reserve intelligence unit with the highest score on a written test on intelligence theory and tradecraft.
        (x) Stephenson was the modern Intelligence Branch's first Colonel-Commandant.

        (y) Stephenson worked the Douglas Campbell government in the 1950's to help bring new industries to Manitoba..

        (z) Lord Louis Mountbatten stated, " It was always a great thrill meeting you and working with you and high time the world knew all about what you did." [University of Regina Archives]..

        (a') in awarding the Presidential Award of Merit, for the first time ever to a non-USA citizen, President Harry Truman wrote: "Some day the story must be told."


(18) Stephenson's business/political/educational adventures in Manitoba :

        (a) owner & operator of Franco-British Supply Company
        (b) co-owner & co-operator of Stephenson-Russell Ltd.
        (c) chair of the International Economic Advisory Council on industrial matters for the Province of Manitoba
        (d) others to follow


The accomplishments of Stephenson have been recognized in Manitoba as follows :

        (a) bestowals of the :
              (1) Order of the Buffalo Hunt, Chief Hunter, from the Gov't of Manitoba
              (2) Honourary Doctor of Laws [LL.D.] from the University of Winnipeg
              (3) Honourary Doctor of Science [D.Sc.] from the University of Manitoba
        (b) the Sir William Stephenson Library (contains three plaques and a statuette)
        (c) a plaque on the Scots Monument in Stephen Juba Park
        (d) a plaque on a bench in front of Deer Lodge Hospital
        (e) a plaque in Joe Zuken Park (containing some misinformation)
        (f) the book and documentary 'The True Intrepid' by Winnipegger Bill Macdonald
        (g) Winnipeg's Intrepid Society is responsible for :
                           (1) the Intrepid Award – inaugurated 2008
                           (2) a bronze statue in Memorial Park, created by Leo Mol
                           (3) a smaller-sized replica of 6b in Buckingham Palace
                           (4) a smaller-sized replica of 6b in CIA headquarters
                           (5) the re-naming of 'Water Avenue' in downtown Winnipeg to
                                 'William Stephenson Way' [2009]


The accomplishments of Stephenson have been recognized elsewhere in Canada as follows :

        (a) bestowals of the :
              (1) Companion of the Order of Canada [C. C.], the highest honour to be presented to a Canadian
              (2) Venerable Knight of the Order of St. John [KStJ]

        (b) Whitby, Ontario, the site of Camp X, has honoured Stephenson through :
              (1) the Sir William Stephenson Public School (opened 2006)
              (2) a plaque at the Camp X Society Memorial near Intrepid Park
              (3) William Stephenson Drive
              (4) Intrepid Drive

        (c) Oshawa, Ontario (near Whitby) possesses :
              (1) a museum at Oshawa Airport which features artifacts related to Camp X and William Stephenson.
              (2) the Sir William Stephenson Branch #637 of the Royal Canadian Legion

        (d) CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) :
              (1) at Camp Borden in Ontario, CSIS established the Sir William Stephenson Academy, a recruiting and training facility for intelligence officers -- this facility ceased operations in the late 1980's
              (2) a scholarship fund, entitled the Sir William Stevenson Award, currently exists for the children of the employees of CSIS


The accomplishments of Stephenson have been recognized outside of Canada as follows :

              (1) knighthood in the order of the Knights Bachelor
              (2) the U.S. Presidental Medal of Merit
              (3) the U.S. William J. Donovan Medal

              (4) knighthood of the Order of Malta
              (5) the The Venerable Knight of Order of St. John (KStJ)
              (6) honorary Doctor of Science [D.Sc.] from the University of West Indies


Websites used :

        (1)  Intrepid Society of Winnipeg -- newly revised website [Oct 2009]
        (2)  The True Intrepid
        (3)  The Churchill Centre

        (4)  The New York Times
        (5)  Town of Whitby, Ontario -- after accessing, press F3 and enter "Stephenson”
        (6)   Room 3603 ...

        (7)  Wikipedia
        (8)  Camp X Historical Society
        (9)   to be completed

        (10)   CIA website -- after accessing, press F3 and enter "Stephenson".
        (11)   The University of Winnipeg
        (12)    Well Known People Who Happen To Be Canadian

        (13)   IMDb.com
        (14)   The Manitoba Historical Society
        (15)   The Winnipeg Foundation
        (16)   a link on www.angelfire.com

        (17)   by J.M.S. Careless

        (18)   His childhood home in Point Douglas



Viewers' Comments


Alice Foster -- Univ. of Manitoba -- Graduation & Convocation

The Honorary Degree was indeed a Doctor of Science. The yellow trim on the stole indicated that it was Science. The LL.D. would have been white, and Doctor of Letters would have been slate blue.

from Paul --  View an image of Stephenson receiving his honorary degree from the Univ. of Manitoba


Univ. of Windsor, Ontario

He did receive an honourary degree from the University of Windsor.  He received a D. Sc. on Oct. 13, 1985 - in absentia.


Suzanne Burt -- Royal Military College of Canada

Sir Stephenson is listed for an honourary Doctor of Military Science from the Royal Military College of Manitoba in 1979.


Clare Woodcock -- University of Oxford

I can't find his name on my list of people awarded an honorary degree between 1900 and 2000. There is also no mention of it in his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography or in his entry in Who Was Who, which lists other honorary degrees (Hon. DSc, Univ. of West Indies, 1950; Hon. DScMil, Royal Military Coll.; Hon. LLD Winnipeg; Hon. DSc: Manitoba, 1979; Winnipeg, 1980; Windsor, Ont, 1985).


Louis Stubbs -- University of Manitoba -- Archives and Special Collections

There is no record of Stephenson having been in the employ of the University of Manitoba.


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