Israel Halperin

Mathematician, Academic

1911 – 2007


Who was Israel Halperin?

Israel Halperin, CM FRSC was a Canadian mathematician and social activist.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Russian immigrants Solomon Halperin and Fanny Lundy, Halperin attended Malvern Collegiate Institute, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, graduated from the University of Toronto in 1932, and later was a graduate student of John von Neumann at Princeton University, where he finished his doctorate.

He took a faculty position at Queen's University beginning in 1939. Halperin joined the Canadian Army in 1942, serving until 1945 in Ottawa with the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment. He then returned to Queen's.

In February 1946, he was arrested and accused of espionage in Canada, in connection with the defection of Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet cipher clerk, which occurred in Ottawa in September 1945. Gouzenko's defection and subsequent investigation showed that the Soviet Union was carrying on large-scale spying in Canada and the United States, including nuclear weapons espionage.

After some arduous questioning and confinement lasting several weeks, under a Royal Commission appointed by Justice Minister Louis St-Laurent, followed by a trial in early 1947, Halperin was eventually cleared and freed. He resumed teaching at Queen's, but not until 1948, following more legal hurdles which were raised by Queen's University leadership. Queen's Principal Robert Charles Wallace advocated his return.

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Jan 5, 1911
  • Canada
  • Princeton University
  • University of Toronto
  • Malvern Collegiate Institute
  • University of Toronto
  • Queen's University
Lived in
  • Toronto
Mar 8, 2007

on July 23, 2013


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