Canada’s Intelligence Agency Reveals Years of Captured Spy Equipment

August 12, 2014 Updated: August 12, 2014

OTTAWA, Canada—The spy business has changed a lot over the years and for its 30th anniversary Canada’s national intelligence agency is putting some of that history online. The service posted a collection of espionage artifacts on its website that give a glimpse into the history of spy craft.

These are relics of the Cold War, and show the battle of wits the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) fought with the Soviet Union.

Toy Truck

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One intelligence agent coming from Eastern Europe crafted a toy truck for his son that had a hidden compartment inside for a microdot reader. The reader is capable of viewing microdot images, which are pictures the size of a period crammed with information. (Courtesy of CSIS)


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Some of the artifacts are notably low-tech, like this hollowed out stick used to hold messages. The stick could be left in plain site in a park or neighborhood and could be picked up by other intelligence agents without attracting notice. (Courtesy of CSIS)

Table Lighter

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This cigarette table lighter was a common household object in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and this one contained a camera to photograph documents. Besides an ultra-miniature camera, this one held a film canister, film disks, and a detachable lens. The agent would shine a light on the documents and adjust the lens’ focal length without a viewfinder. The small images it took could be easily concealed and handed off. (Courtesy of CSIS)


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This hollow battery was the perfect every-day item that could be passed between intelligence agents without arousing suspicion. It could hold film or paper messages, which became invisible once the battery’s top was screwed on. (Courtesy of CSIS)