Friday, December 12, 2014

Russians and Americans

Peters wasn't the ONLY international spy to come to Vancouver. Douglas MacArthur II, nephew to the legendary general, was assigned to Vancouver in 1935. His assignments were mundane tasks such as stamping visas but the labour situation on the west coast made his life a little more interesting.

While I was doing this work, the old Seattle-Alaska line went on strike. They were controlled pretty much by Harry Bridges’ left wing union on the West Coast. There were several strikes, stranding a ship in Vancouver… The shipping job was interesting, particularly the discharge of a striking crew. There was the usual tough-minded labor union labor on each ship, if the crew was unionized, as they were on the West Coast. The union leader always wanted to be present when a crew member was questioned so he could intimidate any seamen not favoring a strike. I got involved in what the French call a prise de bec, a nose-to-nose, with union representatives, saying the seamen had the right to speak alone with the consul and the captain when he was asked the question of whether he accepted the discharge voluntarily or not, or why he was striking.

The same year, General MacArthur made changes to the "War Plan Red", which was a contingency plan to invade Canada if relations with Britain soured. Now, he considered Vancouver to be a “priority target comparable to Halifax and Montreal.” Was this amendment inspired by the possibility of Communist success in B.C.?

Was General MacArthur being paranoid about Communists in Vancouver? Well, in 1934, a police spy - Operator #3 - had this to say:

“I learned that the World Hotel 396 Powell Street is quite a hang out for Reds, and a lot of the waterfront workers are now using it for their red element to gather,”

A man by the name of Charles Hanson, is now using this Hotel for his headquarters. I learned from a most reliable source that this man Hanson has in the last fourteen months made two trips to New York to get money and instructions as to carrying on of the Communistic movement in Vancouver.

A later report stated there was a large fund in New York from Russia and its sole purpose was to fund strikes. As well, Hanson handled some of it.

a lot of grief can be expected from Charles Hanson. This man is continually talking among the men and is telling them there is no doubt but the Reds will pull off a big strike in May or June 1935, he claims there won’t be much difficulty as its a cinch to get the lumber industry tied up, and that is where it will start.

There wasn't a general strike in Vancouver in 1935 though there was Communist-led labour unrest in 1935. None of that seems to have been funded by Russia.

Are there spies here today? Probably. If you ever had the opportunity to watch the television show "Intelligence" with Ian Tracey, which was filmed in Vancouver, one of the story lines was CSIS - Canada's spy network - had been infiltrated by US spies. Could it be?

This is my last post for 2014. Usually I would end next Friday but I have a lot to do in order to get ready for a sale starting on Christmas day. My book, On The Right Side, My Story of Survival and Success will be on sale for 0.99 in the US and the UK from December 25 to December 31, 2014.

First, I want to thank Past Tense Vancouver website for the information on the spies. Second, I want to thank all of you, my readers, for continuing to support this little venture of mine.

The Vancouver Vagabond blog started July 6, 2010 because there was construction on the suite above me and I didn't want to stay home and put up with the noise. So I started walking and taking photos then learning about the history of the places I'd seen. It snowballed from there. Now, 688 entries later, over 159,000 page views and the Vagabond is still going strong. Next year, I will continue to show you awesome photos of the area I live in and tell you why I love Vancouver so much.

May you stay safe and secure this holiday season. As always, I hope you find the beauty around you.

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