Igor Sergeievich Gouzenko, intelligence officer, author (b at Rogachov, USSR 13 Jan 1919; d near Toronto late June 1982). At the beginning of WWII Gouzenko took intelligence training and in 1943 was appointed cipher clerk at the Soviet legation in Ottawa, where he learned that Soviet intelligence operated several spy networks in Canada. Disenchanted with Soviet life and politics, he decided to defect when he learned in 1945 that he and his family were to be sent home. On Sept 5 Gouzenko left the embassy with documents illustrating Soviet espionage activities. Initially, no one in Ottawa took him seriously; only on Sept 7, following an abortive Soviet attempt to recapture him, were he and his family given protective custody. When it became evident that a widespread espionage network was operating, Mackenzie KING
's government authorized the arrest of 12 suspects. After interrogation, they were brought before a royal commission. Gouzenko's testimony and documents impressed the commissioners, who confirmed in July 1946 that a spy ring had been operating in Canada, aimed at, among other things, the secrets of the atomic bomb. A number of suspects were subsequently convicted and imprisoned.
Gouzenko was given a new identity, and for the rest of his life he and his family had police protection. He produced a memoir, This Was My Choice (1948), and a novel, The Fall of a Titan, which received the Gov Gen's Award (1954). From time to time he emerged from the shadows, always wearing a protective mask, which for most Canadians became his trademark. Even his death, apparently from natural causes, was surrounded in secrecy.
Igor Gouzenko on television, 1966. Over half of the convictions under the Official Secrets Act were a result of Gouzenko's defection (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/PA-129625).
Gordon Lunan, The Making of a Spy (1995).
Links to Other Sites
The Governor General’s Literary Awards
See an illustrated history of the Governor General’s Literary Awards that examines their importance to publishers, how winners’ books are marketed, and the effect of the awards on book sales. From the website "Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing", McMaster University.