Aug
22
2011

Experience Winnipeg like James Bond

The inspiration behind James Bond was a Winnipeger. Now you can enjoy the city in secret agent style.

Winnipeg is mostly famous as the Slurpee capital of the world, or perhaps the city that gave Winnie the Pooh his name. But for hard-boiled spy hunters, Winnipeg is the birth place of Bond, the real one.

The story of Bond—the real James Bond—began here, in an unassuming clapboard house in the working-class Point Douglas neighbourhood. On Syndicate Street, of all places. The man whom writer Ian Fleming based James Bond on was born in 1897. His name? Stephenson. William Stephenson.

Stephenson left Winnipeg to fight in the First World War; after just five hours of flying instruction, he shot down 26 enemy planes before ending up in a German POW camp. Between the wars, he made a fortune in radio and steel. But his real genius lay in spycraft.

As Hitler advanced towards London, this quiet Winnipegger became British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s most trusted confidant, shuttling repeatedly to Washington to convince US President Franklin Roosevelt to secretly join the Second World War.

Later, he led the team that broke Enigma, the essential German coding machine. He even cozied up to Greta Garbo—yes, that Greta Garbo—and convinced her to spy for him. Stephenson referred to his heroics as “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” but Churchill preferred his code name for him: Intrepid.

Stephenson, the man, is long gone (or so says a headstone in Bermuda that claims he died in 1989 at the age of 93). But Bond is immortal. Bond is timeless.

Bond is in Winnipeg.

Eat, drink and play in Winnipeg like James Bond

Eat in the sculpture garden at Storm Restaurant on the Penthouse level of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (300 Memorial Blvd.; 204-948-0085)

 

 

 

Watch the award-winning, internationally renowned Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. (308 Graham Ave.; 204-956-0183)

Royal Winnipeg Ballet photo by David Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep at the Fort Garry Hotel. Don’t let the fact that it’s (probably) haunted stop you from enjoying this stately former Grand Trunk Pacific Railway hotel. (222 Broadway St.; 204-942-8251)

 

 

 

Shop for gourmet wine, cheese and cognac in the newly renovated mercantile district known as The Forks. (1 Forks Market Rd.; 888-942-6302)

 

 

 

Dance to roots, folk and blues music at Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club. (234 Main St.; 204-957-0982)

 

 

 

Find Bond in the rest of the world

GoldenEye Hotel and Resort, Oracabessa, Jamaica

Ian Fleming actually lived here while writing the Bond novels. Jamaica was also the setting for the book and film Dr. No.

Rosewood Tucker’s Point Hotel, Bermuda

This hotel was once owned by William Stephenson himself.

Fontainbleau Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida

An architectural treasure where parts of Goldfinger were filmed.

One&Only Ocean Club, Bahamas

Where Bond played poker (and indulged other desires) in the 2006 film version of Casino Royale.

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Zac Unger

Zac Unger is a freelance writer, paramedic and firefighter in his beloved hometown of Oakland, California. His book, Working Fire, was published in 2004.

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