NOTE: This article originally appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, Friday October 10. Click here to see the complete original article.
In 1960 author Ian Fleming published his eighth novel featuring the fictional British Secret Service agent, James Bond. The novel was called For Your Eyes Only and it was a collection of five short stories based on script outlines he had created for a failed CBS Bond television series. For Your Eyes Only later became the basis of the 1981 film of the same name starring Roger Moore, but like many of Fleming’s Bond novels, there is little reference to the original story in the film adaptation and For Your Eyes Only is no exception since most of the original novel takes place right here in Ottawa.
The original book version uses locations in Canada and Vermont, most notably in Ottawa as he prepares for a mission to execute an ex-World War 2 Gestapo agent, Von Hammerstein, of whom Fleming based on the actual General Baron Kurt Von Hammerstein-Equord of Hitler’s Third Reich.
Fleming characteristically writes his Bond novels in great detail, using his own experiences as a British operative during the Second World War to give his stories an element of realism. In For your Eyes Only, Bond’s exploits throughout Ottawa and Quebec are thus carefully outlined in researched detail by Fleming which allows us to re-trace Bond’s mission exactly as it would have happened in the Nation’s Capital in 1959 by visiting the very same places as they exist today.
Follow Bond as we recreate his mission in Ottawa through images referenced to the original Ian Fleming story, For Your Eyes Only.
BOND IN OTTAWA
Bond’s mission to Canada begins in London when he boards a new 1959 “Jetliner” BOAC DeHavilland Comet, of which he dislikes because it is less relaxing than the old prop planes.
Bond’s Comet lands in Montreal since Ottawa’s Uplands airport would not be open to jetliner traffic until the following year, 1960.
Commander James Bond has to rent a car for the two hour drive to Ottawa. He does so from Hertz Car Rental at the Montreal Airport. This is an authentic 1959 Hertz car rental ad.
Bond rents a 1959 Plymouth 4 door sedan for his drive to Ottawa.
Behind the wheel of his rented Plymouth, Bond drives out of Montreal and onto Highway 17 to Ottawa. The 417 did not exist in 1959.
Bond remarks on the “broad highway 17 to Ottawa”. This is a section of the old highway 17 Bond wouid have travelled on.
It is not mentioned in the novel, but Fleming often puts Bond in motels when he travels within North America. Entering Ottawa, Bond most likely would have checked into “The Parkway” motel on Montreal Road (Hwy17) that was popular in the 1950s.
The Parkway Motel still exists, but is drastically altered from its original 1959 appearance. It is now an Econolodge.
After a restful sleep at The Parkway Motel, Bond probably went down Montreal Rd. and grabbed breakfast at the nearby restaurant, The Fontenelle, originally built in 1949, which is still there today.
The Fontenelle is truly a time capsule restaurant, with original booths and decor. Bond would have slipped in for a quick meal here before his meeting at RCMP HQ downtown.
Bond most likely enjoyed a coffee before his mission briefing downtown.
The original Fontenelle sign as it appears today.
Bond then had to meet with the RCMP Commissioner at their headquarters, which in 1959, was a building across from the Parliament Buildings.
“The Headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are in the Department of Justice alongside Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Like most Canadian public buildings, the Department of Justice is a massive block of grey masonry built to look stodgily important and to withstand the long and hard winters.” -Bond
“Bond had been told to ask at the front desk for the Commissioner and to give his name as ‘Mr James’. He did so, and a young fresh-faced RCMP corporal, who looked as if he did not like being kept indoors on a warm sunny day, took him up in the lift to the third floor…” – FLEMING
Through special permission, I was able to visit the old RCMP Commissioner’s office, which has since been converted into an MP office . This is the waiting room Bond would have sat in before his meeting..Fleming describes it as “a large tidy office which contained two girl secretaries and a lot of heavy furniture. The sergeant spoke on an intercom and there was a ten minutes’ delay during which Bond smoked and read a recruiting pamphlet..”
“When he was shown in through the connecting door a tall youngish man in a dark blue suit, white shirt and black tie turned away from the window and came towards him.”
This is the old RCMP Commissiner’s office as it looks today where Fleming described Bond being briefed on his mission to execute Von Hammerstein.
“Colonel Johns opened a drawer in the desk and took out a bulging file and opened it.”
“The top document was a list. He put his pencil on the first item and looked across at Bond. He ran his eye over Bond’s old black and white hound’s-tooth tweed suit and white shirt and thin black tie. He said: “Clothes.” He unclipped a plain sheet paper
from the file and slid it across the desk. “This is a list of what I reckon you’ll need and the address of a big second-hand clothing store here in the city. “
in 1959, the used clothing/surplus store Bond would get his mission clothing items was most likely Irving Rivers, which opened in 1950 and was just down the street from the RCMP HQ.
“…khaki shirt, dark brown jeans, good climbing boots or shoes. See they’re comfortable.”
“Rifle. Went down myself and put it in the boot of your Plymouth while you were waiting. One of the new Savage 99Fs, Weatherby 6 x 62 ‘scope, five-shot repeater with twenty rounds of high-velocity .250-3000.”
“Now then, maps. Here’s a local Esso map that’s all you need to get you to the area.” -This is an actual 1959 Esso roadmap that Bond would have used.
“You take this route 17 back to Montreal, get on to 37 over the bridge at St Anne’s and then over the river again on to 7. Follow 7 on down to Pike River. Get on 52 at Stanbridge. Turn right in Stanbridge for Frelighsburg and leave the car in a garage there.” – Google map of the exact same route accurately described by Fleming.
Sketched map of Prohibition smuggling path across from Canada into the United States. “Colonel Johns went back to his chair and took two more pieces of paper off the file. The first was a scrap of pencilled map, the other a section of aerial photograph. “
Echo Lake that Fleming refers to in For Your Eyes Only actually does exist, right where he says it is in Vermont. Here is a current Google aerial image of it.
“He passed the day looking to his equipment and wearing in the soft ripple rubber climbing boots he had bought in Ottawa. He bought glucose tablets and some smoked ham and bread from which he made himself sandwiches. He also bought a large aluminium flask and filled this with three-quarters Bourbon and a quarter coffee.” -Fleming
Bond then leaves Ottawa and drives to Frelighsburg, QC. There he parks his car at a gas station. This is the gas station in Frelighsburgh as shown on Google streetview where Bond probably parked his rented Plymouth before heading to Echo Lake.
Bond then completes his mission of killing Von Hammerstein at Echo Lake with the supplies and information he got in Ottawa. With his mission complete, he returns to Canada.
Video: Bond In Ottawa (from the Ottawa Citizen)
‘For Your Eyes Only” Ian Fleming, 1960 Published by Jonathan Cape
Google Maps/Google Maps Street View
Office OF The Honourable Chris Alexander, MP Ajax-Pickering
This is fantastic! I had no idea that Fleming set one of his Bond novels in Ottawa. Did he have a Bond girl along for the ride?
Glad to have you along…Bond meets a girl in Vermont, who he later brings back to Canada with him.
Very cool…Have you visited the apartment building on Somerset St. where Igor Gouzenko lived in 1945? From the second floor hallway you can look out and see the same park bench, where William Stephenson sat watching when the KGB arrived and attempted to abduct Gouzenko. Intrepid, of course was one of the people on which Naval Intelligence Officer Fleming based James Bond
Hello… After WW2, at age 8 , in the 1940’s, I lived in Ottawa with my grandparents . My grandfather was an officer with RCMP. When my grandmother had her hair ‘done’, I would go along with him to wait in his big office where I looked through books with pictures of homicide cases. His secretary saved foreign stamps for me. Sometimes, I was invited to the stables to see the horses.
I thought someone might be interested that the beginning of interest in extra terrestrial activity in Shirley Bay started earlier that you state.
Also, we lived near the Russian embassy – I was told not to go near there
after the ‘suicide’ from a window there.
One afternoon he said we would drive to Shirley Bay – ( I remember the name
because it was also my mother’s name ). He said there was a report of UFO’s there
and maybe I would see one !
One didn’t turn up that night , but I have had an interest in this subject ever since.
Interesting story Sandra. My father was also an RCMP Officer, and he worked in a building they jokingly called “The Angel Factory” as it had formerly been the home of the Grey Nuns, and in the late ’60s was RCMP Headquarters. We used to go to Christmas parties there when I was a child. I always find Andrew’s Ottawa Rewind blog fascinating, including many of the comments and have the 2019 Ottawa Rewind book.