The Ku Klux Klan in Canada

Recently I made the mistake to referring to my local petrol station, “Circle K”, as ‘Triple K’, i suppose this 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.[11] 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.[11] 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.

Sources

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/sunday/the-sunday-magazine-for-november-22-2020-1.5807350/the-rise-of-the-ku-klux-klan-in-canada-and-why-its-lasting-impact-still-matters-1.5807353

https://www.tvo.org/video/a-history-of-the-kkk-in-canada

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan_in_Canada

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When Lennon and Clapton played together.

On September 13, 1969, John Lennon performed with the Plastic Ono Band and Eric Clapton at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival.

Held at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, the festival itself was a bit of a glorious hodgepodge, with some of rock’s founders (including Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis) sharing a stage with some up-and-comers (Alice Cooper, Chicago Transit Authority), with the Doors as the headliners.

Toronto rock promoters John Brower and Kenny Walker organised a festival held at Varsity Stadium on 13 September 1969, around the notion of a revival of rock and roll stars from the 1950s, booking Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, and Gene Vincent.

On 12 September, Brower contacted Lennon, who was still a member of the Beatles, to ask him to be the master of ceremonies for the festival.Instead, Lennon offered to perform at the show with a new group, the Plastic Ono Band. Brower readily agreed, but since Lennon did not actually have a new group, he quickly began making phone calls to potential members to accompany himself and Yoko Ono. He initially approached Beatles band-mate George Harrison to play lead guitar, but Harrison declined, so Lennon turned to Eric Clapton, who had previously performed with Lennon in the one-off super group, the Dirty Mac. Bassist Klaus Voormann and drummer Alan White soon agreed to perform,[6][10] along with their assistants, Anthony Fawcett, Terry Doran, and Jill and Dan Richter. Voormann was a long-time friend of Lennon, but White, who was a respected session musician in London but did not know Lennon personally, initially thought that someone was prank calling him and only believed that the real John Lennon was on the phone when he called a second time.

They flew to Canada the next morning ,the day of the show, and rehearsed on the plane.

With so little time to prepare, they started out with three covers: Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)” and Larry Williams’ “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.” Then came three Lennon originals: “Yer Blues,” — which Clapton had played with Lennon at the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus a year earlier — “Cold Turkey” and “Give Peace a Chance,” for which Lennon improvised lyrics when he couldn’t remember the original ones.

The band played eight songs to a crowd of 20,000 people.

What makes it even more remarkable all of this happened during the completion of the Beatles album, ‘Abby Road’.

sources

http://www.geetarz.org/reviews/beatles/sweet-toronto-dvd.htm

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/john-lennon-toronto-concert/

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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The teenager Meyer Abramczyk

Meyer A

Usually when I write a blog which contains the word ‘teenager’ it refers to somene who was murdered during the Holocaust.,Meyer Abramczyk wasn’t. In fact he sadly passed away when he was aged 87.

Metaphorically speaking the teenager Meyer was killed during the Holocaust. He was born on July 24, 1926 in Belchatow, Poland. His parents were Herschel and Toba Abramczyk. He had six brothers and sisters: Zelda, Hinda, Moshe, Jankiel, Channah, and Paula. At that time.

Meyer was age 13 when the Nazis invaded Poland.  During the 1st week of the war ,Belchatow, was designated a Jewish town. The Abramczyk family tried to flee but soon discovered this was virtually impossible. They were stopped by the SS on the way and were harassed by them. In 1940 Meyer was send to a work camp in Poznan. He was still only 13 at the time.

Age 13 his first year as a teenager. The teenage years are  some of the most important years of a young man’s life. They are the years that transform you from a child into a man. In any normal circumstance a teenager will have his parents and maybe even older siblings around him for support  . It is this support that is needed to cope with all the physical,mental and hormonal changes that happen in those years and the anxiety that goes with that.

For Meyer this support was  taken away. He was left to cope on his own under the most brutal circumstances one could imagine. It later emerged that this support was killed,As were Meyer’s teenage years, they were killed too. A time where he should be playing, exploring ,discovering and enjoying life as much as he could, but that time was taken away from him. He never got to be that teenager. His aim was now survival, and he may not even have  known it at the time that would become his goal, but he did survive and left a legacy and testimony.

Meyer spent of all his teenage years fearing for his life, not knowing what happened to his family.

Meyer’s story as a teenager is remarkable in more then one way. He survived several concentration camps, the last one being Auschwitz Birkenau. He also survived the Auschwitz death march and the sinking of the The Cap Arcona. The ship bombed by the allies, Of the estimated 5,000(some sources put that number higher)  concentration camps inmates  on board only 250 survived, the then still 18 tear old Meyer was one of them.

cap

For years after the war he searched for his family he eventually found out  they were all murdered.

There is a quote by George Herbert , it says ” Living well is the best revenge.” and Meyer certainly did that. He did move to Canada in 1956 and settled in Toronto . Where he married and had 3 children and 6 grandchildren.He worked as a butcher for 60 years and retired at the age of 80. One of his children is Toba, who I consider a friend, She once wrote a piece about her father called “Meyer Abramczyk-Our Hero” for the KehilaLinks Home Page for Belchatow. I do agree Meyer (aka Majer) was a Hero and an example for many generations to come.

Finishing this blog with a picture of Meyer and 3 Belchatow Survivors
in Föhrenwald Displaced Persons Camp, Germany, 1946.

DP

Thank you Toba Abramczyk for allowing me to write about your dad.

Sources

http://liebowitzes.com/belchatow/fohrenwald.htm

https://www.cambridgescholars.com/the-literary-representation-of-world-war-ii-childhood

 

 

Christie Pits riot

riot

There is a misconception that most people were appalled about Hitler coming to power in 1933, and that it was only the Germans who endorsed the Nazi policies. But that would be far from the truth.

Hitler’s rise to power was celebrated in many parts of the world, even in Canada.

It’s not hard to imagine Toronto was far  removed from the violence of antisemitism and  Hitler’s rise, but on an August evening in 1933, the hostility that troubled the streets of Berlin reared its ugly head in Toronto during a baseball game at Christie Pits.

In 1933, Jews and other minorities were subjected to  social and institutional bigotry in Canada. Quotas put a limit to the number of Jews who could sign up for  university programs. Social clubs and several corporations banned Jews.

At that time, the Jewish community in Toronto was mainly poor and working-class. During the hot summer months, Jewish families and youths in particular would  cool off by going to the predominantly Anglo-Canadian Beaches area to swim. The local residents were not too pleased about that.

At those Beaches , there weref young men walking down the boardwalk wearing swastika symbols on their bathing suits and shirts, patrolling for what they called “undesirables,” these groups were  called swastika clubs.On August 1, 1933, the “Swastika Club” were reported in the editions of Toronto’s Jewish Standard, which triggered  multiple protest from local Jewish residents.

On August 16, 1933, a gang  who called themselves the Pit Gang unfolded a banner with a swastika at a baseball game between St. Peter’s and  the Harbord Playground team at Christie Pits Park in Toronto. They were targeting the Harbord Playground team, a group of mostly Jewish, and some Italian men, who were playing a game that evening.

(The Harbord Playground baseball team in 1931. ‘City of Toronto Archives’)baseball

The night of the riot was the second game between Harbord and St. Peter’s. Two nights previously, at the first game of the series, another swastika had been displayed. The Police had been  warned in writing that there could be trouble at the second game, but the police did not heed those warnings. As the game ended, a St. Peter’s supporter opened up a large swastika flag as others chanted “Heil Hitler!”. This angered the Jewish supporters who rushed to the flag bearer.Supporters of both sides (including Italians who supported the Jews) from the surrounding area joined in, and a fight started.

A violent five-hour brawl broke out with each side wielding any weapon they could find, including bats, lead pipes, and bottles.

The following day The Toronto Daily Star reported on the riot.

“While groups of Jewish and Gentile youths wielded fists and clubs in a series of violent scraps for possession of a white flag bearing a swastika symbol at Willowvale Park last night, a crowd of more than 10,000 citizens, excited by cries of ‘Heil Hitler’ became suddenly a disorderly mob and surged wildly about the park and surrounding streets, trying to gain a view of the actual combatants, which soon developed in violence and intensity of racial feeling into one of the worst free-for-all’s ever seen in the city.

Scores were injured, many requiring medical and hospital attention … Heads were opened, eyes blackened and bodies thumped and battered as literally dozens of persons, young or old, many of them non-combatant spectators, were injured more or less seriously by a variety of ugly weapons in the hands of wild-eyed and irresponsible young hoodlums, both Jewish and Gentile”

News report

Although people were using baseball bats and knives to attack each other, no one died during the riot.

Mayor Stewart criticized the inadequate response of the Chief of Police to warnings of impending violence, and warned against displaying the swastika.

The riot did reveal the xenophobic attitudes toward Jews and other  immigrants (such as Italian immigrants) among some Anglo Canadians.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

CBC Radio

Times of Israel

Cities in Time

Myseumof Toronto