Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Invisible Empire Knights

The Klu Klux Klan from British Columbia moved into Alberta in 1926 and 1927.  They began recruiting members at ten dollars a head and it didn't take long to get a thousand members. Locals from Red Deer, Vulcan, Calgary, Milo, Rosebud, Taber and Edmonton - as well as other communities - joined the white robed organization.

All seemed to be going well with the order until the fall of 1927 when the organizers disappeared with the Klan funds. The Alberta Klan called a provincial convention on March 2, 1930 in Calgary where officers were elected and a course of action planned for the upcoming election. (I am thinking perhaps Provincial election?)

Two years later, the Klan made a revival in Saskatchewan. In fact, one article I read stated that the KKK was established in 100 Saskatchewan towns and claimed a membership of 40,000. These new Klan members were attracted by the Klan's attacks on the "unassimilable" immigrants from southeastern and central Europe and on the Roman Catholic Church for its 'subversion' of the public school system.

These attacks played on old prejudices of the people that had been dormant for years while spreading animosity and suspicion throughout the province. The Klan also threatened people who were friendly to the Liberal party.

Premier J.G. Gardiner led a counter attack on the Klan from the summer of 1928 onward, accusing them of not only disrupting social harmony in the Province but also of being a tool for the Conservative party. 
The Klan and the leader of the Conservative Party, J.T.M. Anderson, denied the charge. They pointed out that the KKK had members that were Liberals, Progressives and Conservatives. As well, there was no proof that the Klan was in alliance with the Conservatives.

Proof or not, the Conservative and Progressive parties raised issues during the 1929 election campaign which drew upon emotions aroused by the Klan. The politicians were able to get enough votes from the Anglo Saxon and Protestant sector to defeat the Liberals. (Just a note. This was the only election that Gardiner EVER lost.)

A Klan convention in 1930 applauded the Anderson government's amendments to the School Act and its new immigration policy. Some local Klans remained active until the Depression was at its worst. The Knights of the Invisible Empire really became invisible throughout Saskatchewan and did not reappear for another fifty years.

And Gardiner? He had the last laugh as he led the Liberals back into power in 1934.
For today's entry, I have consulted two articles I found on the Internet. One is the essay I have been referencing and the other is Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan.

I ran into the same problem researching this series of entries as I do with a lot of research. Different articles will give me different years. I wasn't there, so I can't attest to which years are right.

Friday, I want to look at the KKK in Canada today. I hope you join me.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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