A downtown street has a new name to honour Winnipeg's spymaster supreme.
Water Street has been renamed William Stephenson Way in honour of Winnipeg's celebrated Second World War intelligence operative.
Sir William Stephenson, who was born in Point Douglas in 1897 and died in 1989 at age 92, ran an elaborate spy operation for British prime minister Winston Churchill during the Second World War while co-ordinating classified information passed between Britain and the U.S. and breaking enemy codes. He was codenamed Intrepid after the telegraph address of his wartime office.
City council recently approved the change of name for the downtown street. Dignitaries, relatives and members of the intelligence community gathered yesterday for the renaming ceremony.
"I thinks it's great and that it's going to start more conversations about him and his life and about his importance in the history of Canada and the world," said Kristin Stefansson, a first cousin twice-removed of Stephenson.
Intrepid was the inspiration for James Bond, the fictional Agent 007 of author Ian Fleming's spy novels and movies, and he also established Camp X, a secret spy school in Whitby, Ont., where about 2,000 Canadian, U.S. and British agents were trained during the Second World War before being surreptitiously sent into Nazi-occupied Europe. He is also credited for playing a role in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency in the U.S.
"I had the good fortune of knowing Sir William before he died and he was quite a remarkable guy in many ways -- in American history as well as in Canadian and British history," said retired CIA member and U.S. Army Col. Cordell Hart. "Thank goodness Winnipeg remembers Sir William."
Winnipegger Bill Macdonald, author of The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents, said it's great to see Intrepid getting his due.
"I think it's great he's finally getting recognition in Winnipeg," Macdonald said. "He was from here, and many people didn't know he was. He was a very important character to the world we live in today."