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The Ku Klux Klan in Canada
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The Ku Klux Klan in Canada

A Century of Promoting Racism and Hate in the Peaceable Kingdom

By Allan Bartley

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The Ku Klux Klan came to Canada thanks to some energetic American promoters who saw it as a vehicle for getting rich by selling memberships to white, mostly Protestant Canadians. In Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the Klan found fertile ground for its message of racism and discrimination targeting African Canadians, Jews and Catholics. While its organizers fought with each other to capture the funds received from enthusiastic members, the Klan was a venue for expressions of race hatred and a cover for targeted acts of harassment and violence against minorities.

Historian Allan Bartley traces the role of the Klan in Canadian political life in the turbulent years of the 1920s and 1930s, after which its membership waned. But in the 1970s, as he relates, small extremist right- wing groups emerged in urban Canada, and sought to revive the Klan as a readily identifiable identity for hatred and racism.

The Ku Klux Klan in Canada tells the little-known story of how Canadians adopted the image and ideology of the Klan to express the racism that has played so large a role in Canadian society for the past hundred years — right up to the present.

The KKK was active in most Canadian provinces in the 1920s and '30s, using violence, intimidation and lobbying to promote a white supremacist, Protestant order. Klan members targeted and terrorized Black Canadians, Asian Canadians, Jews, Catholics and, increasingly when the Klan returned in the 1970s and ?80s, Indigenous peoples. While the Klan originated in the American South, leaders adapted their racist aims and tactics to the context north of the border and pledged loyalty to Canada and Britain. The Ku Klux Klan in Canada is the first book to tell the story of the Klan in Canada from its origins to the present. The Klan's kidnappings, festivals and cross burnings, street beatings, church bombings, election campaigns, media manipulation, meetings at secret compounds and a scheme to invade a Caribbean nation are pieces of Canadian history that need to be understood and confronted.

"There's a commonly-held view in Canada that crude and overtly violent forms of racism are a uniquely American phenomenon, which stops at the Canadian border. The Ku Klux Klan in Canada challenges that myth head-on, demonstrating that white-hooded racist terror found fertile ground in Canada as well. Anything but marginal, the Klan tapped into a deep-rooted vein of white supremacy in this country, just as its successors in the alt-right are doing today. Bartley has done a masterful job of mapping the rise, fall, and powerful connections of the uniquely Canadian iterations of the Ku Klux Klan."

- Jon Milton, journalist, winner of the Canadian Association of Journalists Online Media Award for exposing activities of white supremacists in the Canadian military

Canadians like to believe that the KKK is an American phenomenon. In fact, though their influence has waxed and waned, the Klan has had roots in this country for a century. Allan Bartley's The Ku Klux Klan in Canada illustrates how this hate group that emerged from the ashes of the Confederacy has been able to adapt its message of intolerance to the existing prejudices that have always found fertile soil in this country, whether the targets were Eastern European immigrants and Roman Catholics in the 1920s or Jews, FNMI, and racialized Canadians today. From helping to topple the Liberal government in Saskatchewan in the 1929 provincial election to the Keystone Cop's farce that was the planned armed take-over of the Caribbean Island of Dominica, Bartley tells an engaging story that makes visible the Invisible Empire's activities in Canada.

- Kurt Phillips, founder of Anti-Racist Canada and board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network

"A thoroughly detailed and timely account of how the Klan capitalized on Canada's deeply entrenched racism to establish a decades-long legacy of terrorizing anyone the group deemed a threat to their white supremacist goals."

- Canadian Dimension

"An important value in Bartley's work is his nuanced look at the role of racist ideas and organizations within Canada, linked to but also independent of the KKK and other U.S. imports." 

- Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Monitor

"One of the strengths of Bartley's book lies in the pungent, incisive thumbnail descriptions he provides of the swindlers, grifters and con men who successfully monetized hatred in the Klan's many pyramid schemes."

- The Vancouver Sun

"The book draws connections between Canada's past KKK activities and the contemporary hatred propagated online by and for Canadian audiences who are interested in the same sort of division, racism and bigotry. At the same time, Bartley describes the cultural forces that can challenge Canadian racism today."

- Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Monitor

"Books like Bartley’s are important tools for helping us understand the history of racism and hate in Canada, and how it connects to contemporary incidents of violence and intolerance against some Canadians, merely for their skin colour or cultural background."

- Atlantic Books Today

"The Ku Klux Klan in Canada is a fascinating and detailed Canadian history of a hate organization strongly associated with the United States of America, its long history of slavery and its ongoing tense race relations despite its melting-pot creed."

- Atlantic Books Today

"This book helps readers gain insight into the fundamental role racism has played in Canadian society and the cultural forces that can challenge it."

- Spring Magazine

ALLAN BARTLEY has researched the history of the KKK in Canada for over a decade. In 1995, he published the article "A Public Nuisance: The Ku Klux Klan in Ontario 1923-27" in the Journal of Canadian Studies. He is also the author of Alexander MacNeill: A Political Life and Heroes in Waiting: The 160th Battalion in the Great War. A former intelligence analyst for Canadian security agencies, he is an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University. Allan lives in Ottawa.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 320 pages
Publication Date: 13th October 2020
ISBN: 9781459506138
Format: 9in x 6in

Binding: Electronic book text, 320 pages
Publication Date: 13th October 2020
ISBN: 9781459506145
Format: EPUB

BISAC Code:  HIS006020, HIS029000, HIS056000, SOC031000, SOC051000
Imprint: Formac


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