This episode: The Klan Query. Rebecca Jade asks whether we can put a plaque where the Ku Klux Klan used to publish their newspaper in Edmonton – The Liberator. Along the way we learn about the mayor and premier who lent support to the KKK, a fiery picnic, and what the point of a plaque is anyway.
We posed our question to the Edmonton Historical Board’s Barbara Hilden, chair of the Plaques and Awards committee.
As we found out in William Peter Baergen’s history The Ku Klux Klan in Central Alberta, The Liberator was a newspaper published in Edmonton in the 1930s, when the KKK had a slightly different obsession than today. In addition to their hostility towards blacks and anyone with an accent, they were viciously anti-Catholic.
Local KKK leader JJ Maloney encouraged Edmontonians to vote out Mayor Douglas in 1931. His opponent Daniel Knott won with 58% of the vote. In celebration, KKK members lit a fiery cross on Connors Hill. (By the way, in the podcast I did not know offhand Edmonton’s population in 1931. According to Stats Canada, it was 79, 059).
In 1932 and 1933, the KKK requested permission to use the Edmonton Exhibition Grounds (now known as Northlands) for a picnic and fiery cross burning. Both times, Mayor Knott approved their request. The second time around, the fire chief lodged concerns about the size of the fire.
The letters between the City of Edmonton the KKK (below) are fascinating.
- 1932 Correspondence (City of Edmonton archives RG-11 7-2 76)
- 1933 Correspondence (City of Edmonton Archives RG-11 7-2 77)
We discovered that the Liberator was printed at a building that no longer exists. Their address was #13, 10105 – 100th St. Barbara Hilden met us at that site,
which is now a parking lot between The Westin and the World Trade Centre (home of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse).
Correction: After publishing this podcast, we learned more about the building, and it seems more accurate to say it was roughly where the World Trade Centre stands today (to the right of the yellow circle in the picture). Learn more in this Mini-Update.
Barbara told us that the board would indeed be interested in looking into a plaque for this site, but a good first step would be to put an article up about it on the Edmonton’s Architectural Heritage website, which the Edmonton Historical Board has used to capture stories about other buildings that no longer exist.
Barbara asked Rebecca to come to an upcoming board meeting to present her case. I will be attending too, and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
- Read more about how the Edmonton Board of Trade/Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, The Orange Lodge, and the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire petitioned the federal government to block Black immigration (page 322)
- Viola Desmond’s Canada by Graham Reynolds
- White Civility by Daniel Coleman
- The Ku Klux Klan in Central Alberta by William Peter Baergen