Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Klan

When I wrote on the death of Janet Smith, someone commented to me that they hadn't been aware that the Klu Klux Klan was in Canada. Well, they were and probably still are.

According to the History of Metropolitan Vancouver website, it was in the fall of 1925 that the Invisible Empire of the Kanadian Knights of the Klu Klux Klan paraded along Granville Street. The members walked in a large group up the street to their new, luxurious headquarters - Glen Brae Manor.

On October 30, 1925, the Klan held an informal reception at their new home. Hooded figures in white robes, carrying crosses lit up with red electric lights made quite an impression on the neighbours in this elite district.

There are reports that KKK membership in Vancouver was around 8,000 at the organization's peak but that could be an exaggeration. The number dwindled to about 200 once a bylaw was passed prohibiting mask wearing. The sheeted figures were out of Brae Glen in less than a year.

However, the KKK was obviously here before their grand entrance in 1925 because the Klan figured prominently in the Janet Smith affair a year before this. Of course, we know that the men dressed in sheets that grabbed the unfortunate Wong Foon Sing were not actual KKK but rather various citizens hired to kidnap the Chinese man.

An Internet search didn't supply me with a lot of information on the Klu Klux Klan in Vancouver but I found a few mentions of how the organization started in Canada. I did find this essay, which supplied some helpful facts.

The KKK first attempted to organize in Canada in 1921. In September of that year, the Montreal Daily Star reported that a secret meeting had been held by a group of 'masked, hooded and silent men'. (If no one was talking that would make for a very boring meeting don't you think?) There was Klan activity throughout the 1920s in Montreal though and British Columbia appears to have been the next province infected by this organization.

However, it appears that it wasn't until 1925 that the real organization of the Klan began with the importation of three Klansmen from Oregon - Major Luther E. Powell, Captain W.B. Laycock and Dr. Keith Allen. Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Duncan all had local organizations established within a short time.

In North Vancouver, a Klan rally attracted five hundred people and Klansmen in full dress addressed the crowd.

I have a lot more to tell you about the Klu Klux Klan in Canada. Which I will do in future entries. 

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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