Yet the history of the KKK in Alberta society and politics is
fascinating, the stuff of satire or tragicomic theatre, and bears
important, even urgent, warnings.
Entering "Ku Klux Klan," into the Provincial Archives of
Alberta database calls up nearly 50 articles from Alberta's daily
and weekly newspapers up to 1935. They report on 25 incidents over
a ten-year period.
The first mention of the Klan appears in the Calgary Albertan of
September 21, 1921-a warning that the KKK is organizing in the
U.S. and will try to move west into Alberta. There's "no room
here," for the Klan opined the Albertan, a sentiment echoed
by Calgary police chief David Ritchie on August 1, 1924. Chief
Ritchie declared that there was no Klan chapter in Calgary and
none was expected. "An organization of that sort would not be
tolerated for a minute," he insisted.
Barely four months later, on December 6, 1924, the Albertan ran an
all-caps headline, "KU KLUX KLAN ALREADY HAS STRONG
FOOTHOLD" over a story based on an interview with an
anonymous informant who said the Klan had 300 members in Calgary
and chapters in three communities within 25 miles of the city.
Which may (or may not) account for the story that appeared in the
Albertan on April 13, 1923, before the good chief claimed the Klan
had not yet appeared in Calgary:
A letter, "written in block letters and signed 'Ku Klux Klan'
[had] been received by police and Roman Catholic authorities
threatening the burning of Catholic buildings in the
city." The Albertan noted that "authorities prefer to
believe [the] letters were written by a crank," and they
could have been right. Those were still early days for the KKK in
Alberta, though not too early for its name and reputation to be
used by anti-Catholic activists to frighten Catholic leaders and