Thursday, January 09, 2014

1951: teen goes undercover for 4 years, busts Montreal Communists

 Maurice Boyzcum was a widely-feted anti-Communist infiltrator who spied on the Reds for four years, starting at age 15, in a mission that ended in many busts.
   Boyzcum quit the Boy Scouts and joined the Communists as a spy in 1947 under the name Morris Taylor.
   His father, John Boyzcum was second-in-command of the Montreal police squad's anti-subversive squad since its inception in the 1930s.
  The senior Boyzcum had been busting Commies since at least as early as 1931 and in later years was assigned such tasks as checking out if Lili St. Cyr's dances were immoral (they weren't) and busting a baseball team trying to raise cash for their lefty political party.  
Young Claire Benzvy watches raid
   The idea of Maurice infiltrating came when he was reading some of the Communist material his father had brought home.
   "My father warned me it was a Communist paper but I explained that's how I would get to know them," said Maurice in an interview.
 Maurice, then 15, vowed that he would replace his dad in his job on the anti-subversive squad if ever needed.
  So Boyzcum began infiltrating as Morris Taylor, son of a Polish dad and Jewish mom by becoming a delivery boy for the Red publication, the Daily Tribune.
   He then moved on to delivering mail and running errands from their office on Notre Dame W. to Quebec provincial headquarters of the Labour Progressive Party at 254 St. Catherine E. rooms 25 and 26.
   He dropped out of high school, the Boy Scouts, avoided his regular friends and quit his part time job. He wanted to leave discreetly, so he demanded a big raise, which was refused. His communist friends applauded him for standing up for his rights.
   Boyzcum then joined the Jewish People's Order's Youth Division in the fall of 1949 and quickly became the secretary and social director for that group.
  He even took his own apartment in the north end. and sometimes allowed his friends in the Communists to stay there with him.
   "It was a slim chance but with luck on my side, I succeeded in slowly climbing the ladder of the Red movement in Montreal," he later said.
   He became press and publicity director of the UJPO and in 1950 they promoted him to a full-member.
   "This meant I was pure Communist through my activities and tests I passed, including a course in leadership given by top party leaders," he said.
   He eventually was a member of the UJPO, NFLY, Civil Liberties' Union and Montreal Peace Council.
   The teenager even attended Communist summer school.
"I never knew my luck would last so long," he said. He was eventually brought up "paraded before a meeting and questioned for several hours."
  Suspicions of him being an undercover agent had risen so he was suspended and forced to leave.
  Cops, using his information, then conducted four simultaneous raids on Dec. 5, 1951, at 1539 Ducharme Outremont and busting Claire Benzvy, 19, at her parents home. They also raided 4900 Clark (Sydney Marknian),  5333 Hutchison, (Ann Lash) 7820 de l'Epee apt. 10 (Peter Peretz)
   Peretz owned a fur business and was polite and helpful as police carted off huge amounts of pamphlets and other materials. He and his wife Jane Little were the local leaders.
   Eight days later four more joints were raided under the Padlock Law, which was later ruled unconstitutional.
  "I've lost 22 pounds in less than a year while leading this double life. Now maybe I'll put on some weight," said Boyzcum.
  Days after the raids, his dad's home on Taillon was broken into at 2:30 a.m., presumably by his former friends in the Communist movement, hoping either to rough him up or get back some of the 8,000 documents seized in raids of the National Federation of Labour Youth.
   The Boyzcum clan doesn't appear to get mentioned again, ever, so it's likely that Maurice Boyzcum changed his name.
   We would definitely like to know what became of Maurice Boyzcum, who would be about 81 now, if still alive.
 *See also: Mtl Gazette Dec. 7, 1951 p. 17 - unlinkable on google.    

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Apparently there was a doctor named Julie Boyzcum, but she seems to have disappeared as well...or else they changed the spelling of their name because who wants to be called Boyzcum? The Boyzcum-Slutsky wedding...