Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Nest of Spies!

Mysterious Man Named Peters, Ostensibly a Barber, Left City Yesterday on Receipt of Cipher Message

For Months he Spent Most of His Time on the Waterfront, Carefully Noting Nature of Cargoes for the Orient

Those headlines appeared in the Vancouver Daily World on January 7, 1905. Here's the rest of the article:

Yesterday afternoon a well-furnished barber shop in a down town hotel was closed and Charles Peters, the erstwhile proprietor of the shop, sailed on the Aorangi, having in his possession a ticket for Honolulu.

Charles Peters arrived in Vancouver some four months ago and his actions while here were something of a mystery to those with whom he came into close contact. His first move when he reached the city was to rent the barber shop in question and then he hired a man to look after the business. It was soon learned that Peters was a native of Russia, although he gave a name that would indicate he came from one of the English speaking countries. He was a man of about 26 years of age, had a college education and spoke several languages fluently.

It was noticed by those who had patronized the barber shop that Peters spent little of his time in working at his trade. He put in hours on the waterfront and, although he paid little attention to the movement of freight, close observers say that he seemed to take a particular interest in freight consigned per the Oriental liners. It was further noticed that he met Russians who happened to pass through Vancouver and that while in his rooms overlooking the waterfront, he spent many hours in writing and that occasionally bulky packages were mailed from the local post office, carrying letter rates of postage.

 A cipher telegram from the Russian diplomatic headquarters at Washington D.C. apparently accounts for the hurried closing of the barber shop and the departure of Mr. Peters on the first boat sailing from this port after the receipt of the message.

The young Russian was a splendid conversationalist and while here he made many friends. He had thrilling tales to tell of adventures by land and sea, but when the subject of the Russian-Japanese war was broached he had nothing to say. The conclusion drawn by the men who knew Peters best is that he was an attache of the Russian diplomatic service and that it was found that his services would be more valuable to his government in some other part of the world than in Vancouver.

What a stir that report must of made! On the International front, Japan was on the verge of defeating Russia in the Russo-Japanese war. Soon jubilant, local Japanese were celebrating the victory in the streets. This was the first time an Asian power had defeated a European power.

Intriguing, don't you think? At the very least, mysterious. But Mr. Peters was not the first, nor the last spy to make Vancouver their home. Friday, I will tell how a famous US general is connected to Vancouver and its nest of spies.

I want to thank Past Tense Vancouver website for the information above.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Spies. What a wonderful idea for the blog. Fascinating subject for sure. I don't think I would be a very good spy, my anxiety and paranoia would take over and I'd probably have a nervous break down. Nerves of steal. Fear nothing. I don't know to many people like that. Nice blog Karen.

    1. I have too big of a mouth - I would tell everyone the secrets!