Canadian History for Kids!

Canadian History for Kids: William Stephenson

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and Canadian History for Kids have assembled 31 remarkable stories about incredible people, places and events which helped shape our amazing nation.

A grateful nation never forgets a hero.

There are many significant stories to be told about the ‘war to end all wars’.

And this Canadian hero may have been the original super spy, James Bond!

Sir William Stephenson was born William Samuel Stanger on January 23, 1897 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was adopted early and given his foster parents’ surname. He was a businessman, inventor, a Canadian solder, fighter pilot and some believe a spy.

While a student at the University of Manitoba he invented the wire photo and then a radio facsimile method of transmitting pictures without the need of a telephone or telegraph wires. He moved to Britain in 1921 to develop and market this invention to newspapers making his fortune.

In 1916 he volunteered for Winnipeg’s 101st Overseas Battalion and left for England on the S.S. Olympic. There he was transferred to the Canadian Engineer Training Depot. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1917 and granted a commission to the Royal Flying Corps. In 1918 he was posted to 73 Sqaudron where he flew Sopwith Camel biplane fighter. He was shot down, captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war at the Holzminden Camp until he escaped.

By the end of World War I, he had become a Captain, and earned both the Military Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In World War II he was placed in charge of British Security Co-ordination in the Western Hemispher with headquarters in New York City. Activities at the headquarters including such things as censoring transatlantic mail, breaking letter codes and forging diplomatic documents. He was also responsible for training allied agents at Camp X near Whitby, Ontario. One famous graduate of Camp X was Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.

Many people believed Sir William Stephenson to be the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Ian Fleming has indicated that James Bond was a “highly romanticized version of a true spy” and that “such a man is Sir William Stephenson”.

Lest We Forget, a Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!
 

Other Canadian History for Kids Sketches of Canada