Gouzenko Deciphered

Warm memories of a Cold War family with Evy Wilson.

Interview by Brendan McShane

Posted September 8, 2020

Seventy-five years ago, on September 5, 1945, Russian cipher clerk, Igor Gouzenko, left his workplace at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa for the last time. Unknown to Soviet officials, Gouzenko carried with him numerous secret documents detailing a Soviet spy ring rooted in Canada operating completely under the radar of Canadian officials.

Three days after the Japanese signed their official surrender, ending the Second World War, Gouzenko’s walk from the Soviet Embassy to the offices of the Ottawa Journal were the first steps towards the Cold War.

Evy Wilson remembers the stories, courage, and impact of Igor and Svetlana Gouzenko — not only as historical political figures, but as soldiers, artists, and family. Svetlana was seven months pregnant with Evy at the time of the family’s defection. Two months later Evy was born at Camp X, the Allied spy camp in Canada, where the Gouzenkos were kept safe until the family could begin a new life elsewhere in Canada.

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Brendan McShane is the third Nobleman Scholar at Canada’s History. The Nobleman Scholar Program is a graduate level internship for young historians.

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