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Camp Picton doubles as Camp X for super spies documentary

"Milo, you're dead. Everybody notice, I want it to feel real." - Assistant Director Jason Bourke giving direction to actors in the field.

“Milo, you’re dead. Everybody notice, I want it to feel real.” – Assistant Director Jason Bourke giving direction to actors in the field, including Taylor Terpstra, of Picton.

Canada has long been known for its super spies. Last month, Prince Edward County was a location for the filming of a two-hour documentary on Camp X: The School for Super spies (working title) to be aired in the spring of 2014.

Yap Films, commissioned by History Channel Canada, is documenting a selection of personal stories of agents who attended Camp X – the first spy training school of its kind in North America.

“The riveting stories of former Second World War special agents are to be brought to life through dramatic recreations,” said Sara Soligo, associate producer.

A portion of the recreation involved about a dozen actors from the County acting as spy trainees for filming at the former Camp Picton property now owned by Loch Sloy Holdings, on “the hill”. The former military camp was used for Bombing and Gunnery School training during the Second World War.

Fabian starting to be outfitted as a German officer.

Fabian Woehrer starting to be outfitted as a German officer.

Fabian Woehrer worked for two days as an actor and a language consultant.

“It was a very interesting time with a lot of great and funny people,” said Wohrer. “I played a German officer in two different scenes. People told me that I fit perfectly in the character and that I brought it a life.”

Woehrer was also part of the team as a language consultant to help improve German language skills of other actors.

“This was also a lot of fun. I could watch different actors playing their character and listen to them when they tried to speak a whole German sentence. The two days were very interesting and  I would to do it again.”

Picton's Taylor Terpstra listens director Robin Bicknell, and art director Peter Twist, discuss the scene.

Picton’s Taylor Terpstra listens director Robin Bicknell, and art director Peter Twist, discuss the scene.

Taylor Terpstra, of Picton, was delighted to be a spy trainee actor.

“My uncle was in the army and I had family in the war, but this acting the past two days has been lots of fun,” said Terpstra, who, when he’s not acting, works in construction.

“Yesterday I had to get kicked in the ‘you-know-where’ and pretend I was hurt while disarming someone of a knife,” he laughs. “It did vibrate a little even though I had a jock on but they said I did a good job of pretending to be really hurt.”

Camp X, a top secret Second World War spy training and radio communications site, was established Dec. 6, 1941 on the border of Whitby and Oshawa. The facility was conceived by Sir Winston Churchill and implemented by  Canadian confidant William Stephenson, head of British Security Co-ordination (The Man Called Intrepid). Stephenson estimated that up to 2,000 men and women graduated from the spy school before it closed in 1946.

Of the Americans at Camp X of particular interest was Maj.-Gen. William J. (Wild Bill) Donovan. As head of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, he dispatched operatives who would form the core of the post-war Central Intelligence Agency to train on the shores of Lake Ontario.  And, according to Camp X Historical Society president Matthew Batten, the nickname for the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va., “the Farm,” is a nod to the former farm on which the camp was built.
James Bond creator Ian Fleming who, as a commander in the British intelligence office, advised Donovan on setting up the CIA, is also said to have visited Camp X.  It’s believed he applied what he learned there to his famous 007 character.

Camp X artifacts – such as commando coveralls and a suitcase radio – are among the rare wartime collectibles from a private collection in Oshawa, that are now at Ottawa’s War Museum. Not included were James Bond-type gadgets such as a lipstick dagger and poison-gas pen which, although interesting, were not necessarily provenance to Camp X.

Jennifer Robb oversaw the wardrobe for the actors.

Jennifer Robb oversaw the wardrobe for the actors in the Flying Club building.

Hair stylist Jennifer Beam created the wartime haircuts for all the actors, incluidng Fabian Woehrer, who played a German officer.

Hair stylist Jennifer Beam created the wartime haircuts for all the actors, incluidng Fabian Woehrer, who played a German officer.

Filming took place at Loch Sloy Holdings - formerly Camp Picton.

Filming took place at Loch Sloy Holdings – formerly Camp Picton.

 

Camp X

Camp X, a top secret Second World War spy training and radio communications site, was located on the border of Whitby and Oshawa.

 

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  1. Myles says:

    When the scenes for the movie “Haven” were being filmed up there, I interrupted their shooting by accident! I was flying my R/C jet around when I noticed a whole gang of people running out to me waving frantically!
    The crew and director thought my jet was pretty cool. LOL So my flying ended for the day and no harm done 🙂
    Great place to film movies indeed.

  2. County Steve says:

    Coincidentally enough, Ian S. Robertson’s new book – Camp Picton: Wartime to Peacetime – is being released at Books and Co. Friday, Dec. 13 from 1-3 pm.
    It gives the whole complete history of Camp Picton, including this recent film, which he discovered at press time.

  3. Paul says:

    Takin one for the team huh Taylor..

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