Russian espionage in Quebec: a mysterious residence in Saint-Colomban

The Russian Federation has a rich heritage with buildings totaling more than $16 million in the Montreal area. These properties, all acquired during the Cold War, are related to espionage and counterintelligence operations.

Our Bureau of Investigations has uncovered several pieces of interesting information about these properties, some of which are shrouded in mystery. The consulate did not answer our questions about it.

A man of Ukrainian descent bequeathed to the USSR a small estate in the Laurentian village of Saint-Colomban in the early 1970s, and the Russian government has insisted on keeping it to this day, despite virtually no activity on it for years.

“The only people I saw were renovation workers five years ago,” explains Guy Perron, who has lived on the same street for almost ten years.

France Bergevin, who lived in the house next door for about 20 years, says that “twenty years ago” people seemed to live there permanently.

“But after that it was always going back and forth at the weekend, much less in recent years,” she says.

The mystery surrounding this property is fueling rumors in the small Laurentian town. Some speak of a former residence of Soviet pilots, others of a diplomatic chalet.

Even in the case of the community, we do not know the complete history of this house, which is described as “public service” in the assessment register.


Our investigative office found that the property had been rented by a member of the Soviet government as early as 1968.

That year, the Consul General of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in Montreal, Pavel Safonov, rented it for ten years at the symbolic price of $1 a year.

Pavel Fedorovitch Safonov, Soviet Consul General in Montreal from 1967 to 1971.

Courtesy photo

Pavel Fedorovitch Safonov, Soviet Consul General in Montreal from 1967 to 1971.

The diplomat had arrived in Montreal about a year earlier and ran the brand new Soviet consulate in Montreal.

During his previous foreign assignment, he had become involved in a spy story.

In 1963, as chargé d’affaires at the Soviet Embassy in Australia, Mr. Safonov had to put one of his colleagues, who had been captured for espionage by an Australian secret service double agent, on a fast flight to Moscow.


In 1974, the USSR became the owner of the building. In 1970, Simeon Kindelvich, an ethnic Ukrainian, signed a special will to bequeath it to the Soviet government.

We don’t know why he didn’t give it to his family who live here. His grandson didn’t want to give us an interview. And his great-grandson knew nothing of this story.

Mr. Kindelvich died in Ukraine in 1972, having lived here for most of his life. His wife Anna Shadko worked for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal.

The USSR was on the verge of losing its property in 1977 after failing to pay its taxes. A certain René Labelle bought it at an auction. But ten days later, an employee of the national airline Aeroflot came to settle the $215.77 bill.

The current house was built in 1991. When we visited last week not a soul lived there.

However, the flag of “Infomanistan” that Infoman show host Jean-René Dufort had placed on the garage a few weeks earlier was no longer there.

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