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“Great” Moments in Racism

December 7, 2011 | by  |  Photo Journals

Circa 1925. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

That’s right, this is exactly what it looks like. The Ku Klux Klan was very active in the Vancouver of the 1920s, working from their headquarters at Glen Brae (pictured on the right), holding rallies, and parading about in public in masks. In March of 1925, they kidnapped houseboy Wong Foon Sing, and kept him captive for nearly two weeks, subjecting him to beatings and torture for his alleged involvement in the death of a Shaughnessy maid.

Circa November 1925. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library.

Amongst the Klan’s ranks in Vancouver were two police commissioners, as well as J.A. Paton, Mayor of Marpole, and owner of the Point Grey Gazette. The Klan would later dissolve after the passing of a civic bylaw banning the wearing of masks in public. Paton would go on to become a provincial MLA, the Gazette would one day become the Vancouver Courier, and Glen Brae would eventually become the home of Canuck Place. Three cheers for civic institutions!

Cartoon from the B.C. Saturday Sunset, August 1907. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library.

Because nothing’s funnier than widespread prejudice. The B.C. Saturday Sunset wasn’t the most balanced turn-of-the-century publication; in fact, the only way it could be less balanced would be if it were a pebble counterweighted by a slavering, two-headed manatee standing on the back of an elephant. Whether these were meant to be funny is something lost to the mists of antiquity – perhaps fencing off thousands of Asian stereotypes meant something totally different back then, but one thing’s for certain: cartoonist N.H. Hawkins had such a knack for this type of material, the Saturday Sunset commissioned a second knee-slapper on the same subject:

Cartoon from the B.C. Saturday Sunset, August 1907. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library.

Vancouverites thought it was so funny, they celebrated less than a month later with a race riot.

Circa 1942. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

The Second World War really brought out the best in people. These tender lasses are urging a boycott on Japanese, German, and Italian goods. The gal on the far left is especially dedicated, featuring a racist caricature of a Japanese merchant. Completely unfounded suspicions regarding Japanese citizens will lead the federal government (after repeated and vehement petitions from Vancouver politicians – including the illustrious J.A. Paton) to intern most of B.C.’s Japanese population.

Circa 1942. Image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.

All of their belongings, including their homes, and their cars (pictured here, abandoned outside the PNE after they had been loaded onto transport trains for the interior) would later be auctioned off to white people for below market value.

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3 Comments


  1. Just discovered your site. Great stuff! Love the look. Which WordPress theme is it? Or customized perhaps?

  2. That’s ok, soon there will be so few whites left in Vancouver.

    Maybe the KKK realized something before the rest of us did?

  3. Yeah, maybe. Then again, maybe you’re just an asshole.

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