The Day the Ku KIux Klan Came to Smiths Falls

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Author’s Note–A 12 foot cross was erected near Chambers Street on April 28,1926. A month later a second cross was burned on the outskirts of town and a third cross a week later at Rideau Heights. In mid June a  fourth cross was burned on Franktown Road, a mile and a half north from town.–These notes are files from —Smiths Falls by Glenn J. Lockwood–also available at Heritage House Museum in Smiths Falls ( open seasonally)

CROSSES BURNED AT SMITHS FALLS

Ku KIux Klan Demonstration Attended by Several Thousand

With files from the Almonte Gazette– Sept. 24 1926

That the Ku Klux Klan- of Canada is strongly organized in Smiths Falls was evidenced at a mammoth Klan demonstration there Sunday afternoon and night in *McEwen‘s open field. Impressive demonstrations were given, concluding before midnight. It is estimated that between *six and seven thousand people were in attendance at the demonstration, Hundreds motored to Smiths Falls from Kingston, Belleville, Brockville, Perth, Ottawa and the whole countryside. Klansmen and Klanswomen were also from Kingston, Brockville and Smiths Falls which exemplified the degree work in initial meetings.

The celebration was given over the initiation of 22 local candidates.  During the ceremony 6 huge crosses burned while the demonstraton proceeded. Programs held both afternoon and evening were under the chairmanships of a Klan’s knight leader from London, Ontario. A brother Klan leader, who is known with the local movement gave the addresses and told them that the Klan was part of Scottish legacy and insisted that only the stores of white Protestants be patronized.

The square in which the services-were conducted were marked off with British flags, as well as an elevated platform for the speakers. On another platform was stationed a twelve piece orchestra under the leadership of Mr. Wm. Yarwood which led in the singing of sacred and patriotic selections.

All taking part in the ceremony were gowned in white, with white hoods and masks. The horses used were likewise draped. A noticeable feature was the omission of names of knights or those taking part. Against a beautiful moonlit sky the evening service was most impressive and included the full initiation and obligation. For the evening service crowds most were assembled before six o’clock and automobiles formed a long procession from the town to the field.

An impressive part of the service was the announcement given by the London speaker about a railway accident the previous night. A former Smiths Falls resident, a C.P.R. engineer, and one of the first to join the Klan in western Ontario, had been dangerously injured.  A two minute silence was observed and prayers offered. The injured man, whose three comrades were killed outright, had expected to be at the Smiths Falls demonstration that day.

At the afternoon meeting the speaker informed thousands that the Klan had received 150 new local members of which 22 members were women. At its first meeting in Smiths Falls some time ago,  the Klan had steadily grown in numbers until today- with a large membership of several hundred. A cloud of secrecy entirely surrounded all proceedings and numbers of Klansmen fully robed from out-of-town stationed themselves among the crowd. The Vice Wizard spoke to the crowd many times on the evils of white women marrying outside their race and contaminating the blood line.

Author’s Note–So what did it bring to the then depressed town of Smiths Falls?  They received more than their share of sensational media and Protestant unhappiness with the local Orange Lodge. Half the folks were from out of town and the only reason it was held in Smiths Falls was because it was easily accessible by train as it was a hub. There never was another Klan meeting that anyone knows of in the area, and no evidence to say how long the Smiths Falls membership met in secret. Luckily, the Klan was on their way out in Canada by 1927.

historicalnotes

*McEwen‘s Field became the Rideau Regional Centre now OPP Centre

*It was estimated there were actually 12,000-15,000 people not 5 or 6 thousand.

comments

Hannah Munro-Wright– Growing up in Smiths Falls this was something not taught to me by teachers in school but by class mates who found it in history books… also my parents and their friends knew of this. A lot of them believed the burning of the crosses at the 4 corners of town put some bad karma on the town.

 

Related reading

The Ku Klux Klan Rally in KingstonThe Ku Klux Klan Rally in Kingston

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

 

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

14 responses »

    • I find a lot of unsettling things that happen in history. It happened and let us hope things like this never happen again. I don’t go looking for things like this.. trust me.. but the story needed to be told.

  1. If they come back, I will personally wring their necks and the necks of their parents, siblings and offspring, just to halt their geneological line because it is so defective.

  2. “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” – Sir Winston Churchill. And talking about and studying history is necessary to avoid repeating past mistakes. So ya, we really need to know about this $hit Mike.

  3. Linda, very cool read, ty for posting this. I was surprised yet also satisfied to see such a short lived following. I’m currently reading the volumes of “Whiskey and Wickedness” in Smith Falls. What an info packed read they are, just love the history of this area and try to gleen every word I can via any way possible, within reason of course. I had no idea of this being in the falls as any documents I’ve read have not even dropped a single clue of such. Keep on keepin on and you now have another that will look forward to your future and past articles as well. Cheers. Jon.

      • So true Linda, history in itself is so important, yet I see there seems to be limited interest in the young today. Now having said that, I too in my early years had a limited focus on such, so perhaps as years pass on by the young will gravitate more towards adopting an interest, perhaps on common ground where they can associate with different aspects of it. I do metal detecting on close to a daily basis with allowances form a few Ont, Gov groups and also homesteads etc etc. It’s the research to find these places that brings about so much interesting fact and then times when digging something up tells such a good story of what was, as well as at times what happened. It’s like sitting on the edge of my seat at times waiting for the next cool find that’s lurking below the soils lol.

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