Why I Was In the USSR

After I wrote about our apartment in Moscow, a few people asked why I was in the Soviet Union at all!

The short answer was that my father – Sergeant George Boyko – was posted to the Canadian embassy.

Canada has embassies in most countries. Embassies serve several functions, including serving their visiting citizens, working with local governments, and hosting diplomatic missions. One might argue that some embassies have more covert functions, but I wouldn’t know about that…

The Kremlin
The Kremlin

My father’s Canadian Forces service record shows “CFA OFFICE – MOSCOW P 29 JUL 77”. That means “Canadian Forces Attache office – Moscow, posted 29 July 1977”. He was posted for pretty much exactly two years.

This was actually our second posting overseas. My dad was posted to Belgrade, Yugoslavia from 1972 to 1974 and we went with him. My dad learned Serbo-Croatian before we went to Yugoslavia.

I guess my dad had a bit of a knack for languages, because he completed the “Russian (Attache) 7701 Language Course” on June 17, 1977. He also knew French and some Ukrainian (from his parents).

The posting came with a bump in salary for the posting, plus moving expenses. Today a Canadian sergeant’s salary starts at $73,356 but it was a lot less back then, even adjusted for inflation. My mother worked part-time on occasion, but our family didn’t have a lot of money. I’m sure the money was a big factor in taking the posting. We rented our house out while we were overseas for extra income.

My mom told me that a few people turned the posting down before my dad took it.

Steve Boyko cross country skiing
Cross-country skiing, January 1978

You might ask what my dad did in Moscow. In general, my father worked in staff / administrative positions. He didn’t talk about his job (to me, at least) while we were in Moscow, and he never did.

It’s funny that the embassy that my dad worked in is still the Canadian embassy in Moscow, some 45 years later. Canada signed a 20-year lease on a different building in 2008 but has never occupied it. The current (ancient) embassy building was built in 1898 and was leased starting in WW2.

More posts about the USSR

4 thoughts on “Why I Was In the USSR”

  1. Thanks again for sharing such an interesting childhood. I’m curious about the mundane day-to-day aspects of living in the USSR. Where did you do your grocery shopping, for example? Was it as the GUM store like everyone else? Did you have to wait in line to buy (the terrible) toilet paper?

    • I’ll have to write about the mundane stuff too! Honestly we were hardly ever in GUM but we did visit it a few times. As foreigners we were allowed to skip some lines so we didn’t have to wait too long for items, unlike native Russians.

Comments are closed.