Tradecraft Artifacts

Concealment devices

Toy truck

This homemade toy truck was brought into Canada by the young son of a foreign intelligence operative sent to Canada for the purpose of carrying out espionage tasks. The operative and family entered Canada from Eastern Europe in the early 1960s. As can be seen, the "toy truck" was a cleverly crafted concealment device for espionage paraphernalia. It contained a microdot reader, a special lens and a miniature code book called a One-Time-Pad containing a series of five digit numbers. Codes would be utilized once and then discarded, hence the name.

  • Picture of Toy Truck
  • Picture of Toy Truck and concealed items
  • Picture of Toy Truck with hood open

Table lighter

This table cigarette lighter (a very common household item in the 1950s and 60s) is hollowed out to conceal and transport an ultra-miniature camera, detachable lens, film disks and film canister. The lighter was smuggled into Canada by a landed immigrant who was recruited as an agent during an overseas visit. The camera was designed and used for photographing documents. Because the camera has no viewfinder, the user would adjust the lens' focal length, shine a desk lamp on the page and shoot. The small size of the film would permit the developed negatives to be easily hidden and/or mailed by the agent.

  • Picture of the table lighter
  • Picture of the disassembled table lighter showing camera

Hollow stick

This concealment device was made and used by a foreign intelligence service hostile to Canada. It was designed to conceal a message (or money) from an intelligence officer to his/her contact or vice-versa. It could be placed in an inconspicuous place and then retrieved without the individuals having to make direct contact.

  • This hollow stick containing a metal canister was used to conceal a message or money.

Hollow steel bolt

This item was made and used by a foreign intelligence service hostile to Canada. It was designed to conceal a spool of film ostensibly from a contact to his/her intelligence officer handler. Its design and appearance are such that it could be placed in certain locales (construction sites and the like) without arousing any undue attention. It could then be retrieved without the parties having to make direct contact.

  • A hollow steel bolt containing a metal canister with film spool.
  • A hollow steel bolt containing a metal canister with film spool.

Hollow battery

This item was cleverly crafted to resemble a very common item that would not arouse any undue attention. Its purpose was to contain clandestine messages or microfilm. Its foreign intelligence service designers planned to use it as a dead-letter box or for transporting concealed messages/instructions, etc.

  • Picture of Hollow battery
  • Picture of disassembled hollow battery

Communications devices

High-speed radio transmission (burst mode) decoder

This item was used in Canada by the agent of a foreign intelligence service. Encrypted messages were sent from abroad in very short bursts via short-wave radio and recorded by the agent on a tape recorder. The tape would then be fed through this device which converted the message to five-digit code. This enabled the agent to decrypt the message through the use of a One-Time-Pad.

  • This high-speed radio transmission decoder was used by a foreign agent to decrypt a message.

Short-wave radio(s)

These short-wave radios were both used as communication tools between intelligence services and their agents. The agents would know what band to tune in and at precisely what time a message would be transmitted. These messages, usually using some sort of code, would serve to relay instructions or warnings to the agent. The "Grundig" was used by a friendly intelligence service working on a joint operation with the Service against a hostile service. The "Barlow Wadley" was used by the agent(s) of a hostile service in Canada.

  • Short-wave radios. A Grundig short-wave radio.
  • Short-wave radios. A Barlow Wadley short-wave radio.

Technical devices

Contact microphone

This tool was used to hear conversations in an adjacent room when no microphones were in place. The device was held against the wall and sounds were transmitted to a headset that had volume and squelch control. It was only effective through hollow walls and when there were no other sounds (TV/radio/water pipes etc.) that would interfere.

  • The contact microphone was used to listen to conversations in an adjacent room.

Tape recorder (Nagra) in vehicle seat concealment bracket.

This bracket was designed to hold a tape recorder (Nagra type) and attach out of view under a vehicle seat. It could be equipped with an on/off switch that was activated when a target entered or left the vehicle.

  • The Nagra tape recorder could be concealed under the seat of a vehicle.

Photographic tool

Minox document camera

This small camera was built for photographing documents, plans etc. This type of camera was featured as a requisite "spy tool" in a number of James Bond and similar films. Film was advanced by pushing both ends of the camera inward and then back. Documents could be photographed in normal room lighting without a flash, and almost as quickly as the time it took to turn the pages of a book or file.

  • The Minox camera was conceived to photograph documents.

Miscellaneous historical items

Igor Gouzenko's gun

When GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) cypher clerk Igor GOUZENKO fled from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa on September 5, 1945, he went to Canadian authorities for asylum. Because he feared Soviet reprisal, Mr. Gouzenko carried a small revolver for protection. The gun, an 8mm Label 5-shot revolver, was made by the Spanish firm of Francisco Arizmendi sometime between 1900 and 1939. It is not certain whether Mr. Gouzenko obtained the revolver from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa or whether he had personally acquired it elsewhere.

  • Igor Gouzenko's gun.

Portable radio telephone

A mobile radio-telephone used for two-way communication between investigators/surveillants and base. This would have been used in those situations where camouflaging the radio was not required. A forerunner to the cellular phone.

  • This portable radio-telephone was used by RCMP Security Service investigators and surveillants.

Polygraph machine (analog)

Polygraph machines of this vintage were used by the RCMP Security Service since their development in 1974. Prior to that time, the various models of polygraph machines used around the world were strictly pneumatic. A model similar to this one was purchased by CSIS in 1985 when the Service implemented an in-house polygraph program for both administrative and operational applications. It was used continuously until 1994 at which time the Service switched over to digital or computerized polygraph technology.

  • This analog polygraph machine was used to determine whether a person was telling the truth.
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