Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Media History of Camp X

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.  And the truth is so precious, it needs to be guarded by a bodyguard of lies. And...

Anyway, tonight CBC-TV launches a new drama series, X Company, with the press duly repeating all the usual announcements about Canadians' lamentable ignorance of all the great stories from our history that historians have kept from us, but which will now be revealed by these groundbreaking filmmakers
The real history lesson behind X Company will be telling Canadians that this spy camp existed. “It’s a national treasure,” says Morgenstern, “and our best kept secret.”
'Course, most of the secret that has been kept from us is legend. There was a Camp X east of Toronto, at which some North American intelligence officers did some preliminary training between 1941 and 1943. But most of the Camp X legend is drawn from the largely fictional A Man Called Intrepid, in which pretty much everything that happened during the Second World War was attributed to the secret heroics of a Canadian-born British liaison officer in New York, William Stephenson.

The Canadian Encyclopedia entry on Camp X notes the popular account and calmly says of it: "Most of this is untrue." Realistic appraisals of Camp X are available, as in Camp X: SOE and the American Connection (1986) by historian David Stafford,  But promotion and press reports on the television series suggest Stafford's sober account is not going to set the tone, not when all this great stuff is around, and it's such fun to diss the moronic historians who have never told us.

So expect the usual: a fictional drama attended by loud statements about how important it is for Canadians to know their history.

The CBC says
CBC's new drama series, X Company, may do for a secret Canadian spy training camp what the Oscar-nominated film The Imitation Game did for Britain's code breaking centre Bletchley Park  
Now that sounds about right.  The Imitation Game ain't exactly a documentary, either.
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