Recently I made the mistake to referring to my local petrol station, “Circle K”, as ‘Triple K’, I suppose it could be considered a Freudian slip.
I remember back in 1998 there was talk about a KKK chapter in Ennis, Ireland. Thankfully that appeared to be a false claim.
However there is this notion that the Ku Klux Klan, or KKK, is a racist group that only operates in the USA. It might surprise some of you to find out that the KKK also had a presence in Canada.
In March 1922, an African American man named Matthew Bullock fled North Carolina after the Ku Klux Klan had stated he was a wanted man, accusing him of inciting riots.His brother had been killed by Klansmen, who the Toronto Star reported at the time had “threatened to send robed riders to fetch Bullock and whisk him back to the American south”.
The invasion that the Star worried about in 1922 didn’t happen until 1924, when an official path for the Ku Klux Klan of Kanada was drawn up by two American wizards and Toronto resident James L. Cowan, who rented an office on Toronto Street near Adelaide Street, and set about recruiting. By 1926, a Barrie newspaper reported that there were gatherings of hooded men in more than a dozen Ontario towns, including Barrie, Sault-St-Marie, Exeter, London, and St. Marys.
One of the most prominent groups was the Ku Klux Klan of Kanada, whose main principles of white supremacy and nationalism required members to pledge that they were white, gentile, and Protestant.
Organizers stated that the Ku Klux Klan was a Christian organization with “first allegiance to Canada and the Union Jack”, disqualifying Jews from membership because they are not Christian, and Roman Catholics because their first allegiance is to the Pope in Rome.
There were cross burnings all across southern Ontario, southern Alberta, in the Maritimes, and the primary targets were Black people, Catholics, Jews and the French. In 1926, there was an explosion at a Roman Catholic church in Barrie, Ont.; three perpetrators were sent to prison.
In the 1930s, some Klan members and leaders had moved towards fascism and Nazism, and some of the early members popped up again in fascist and Nazi-like organizations in Canada.
Although the KKK operated throughout Canada, it was most successful in Saskatchewan, where by the late 1920s its membership was over 25,000. Historian Allan Bartley states that this success was a result of opposition to liberal Government of Saskatchewan policy established by the entrenched Saskatchewan Liberal Party, which had held power in the province since its inception in 1905.
Although the Kanada Klan, many of whom even embroidered maple leaf insignias on their robes, billed itself as a kinder, gentler mob, it was responsible for violent domestic terrorism, most frequently in attempts to burn down or blow up places of worship—notably in Quebec City, Barrie and Winnipeg, the latter incident causing 10 fatalities. In Oakville, a mob of 75 hooded men burned a cross while parading through the town en route to their targeted victim, a white woman about to marry a black man, which they tried to prevent by kidnapping her. (They married anyway and lived happily ever after.) None of this even gets close to the power and fear the KKK wielded in Saskatchewan, where an extremely virulent Moose Jaw chapter thrived, influenced by aggressive franchisers from South Bend, Indiana.
T.J. Hind, the reverend of First Baptist Church in Moose Jaw, stated that one of the purposes of the establishment of the Ku Klux Klan was for the protection of the physical purity of current and future generations.
By the end of the 1930’s, however, the Klan was as good as dead as an organization in Canada, During the Second World War, fascism and Nazism became the enemy for many Canadians.
“By the time you get into the 1940s and 1950s and 1960s, the only echoes you see of the Klan in Canada are basically echoes from the United States,” according to Bartley .
After a couple of decades of dormancy, the Klan made yet another resurgence in the 1960s and ’70s, spurred on by the Black civil rights movement in the U.S. and by the official adoption of multiculturalism in Canada.
David Duke, who led this resurgence in the U.S. as the Klan’s grand wizard, was also amassing a number of followers in Canada. These followers established a new Ku Klux Klan of Canada, led by James Alexander McQuirter, who became the group’s grand wizard.
Canada, like the United States, had a history of segregation. But unlike the U.S., where Jim Crow laws were officially on the books, Canadian segregation was less formal.
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