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The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) or Other Nativists

Canadians who looked down on anyone who wasn’t born in the country, known as nativists, certainly existed before the Doukohors arrived in 1899, but in the years following nativist hatred burned more intensely. A country that prided itself on its Britishness saw a massive influx of people from eastern and southern Europe, India and China in the early 1900s. More than a few people in the host community resented it, and those in Western Canada particularly resented the Doukhobors, who insisted on keeping their own distinct culture. In parts of British Columbia, locals began to label the newcomers “Douks,” while calling themselves “white men.” World War One, 1914-1918, only raised the level of antagonism. As a condition of them coming to Canada, the federal government had exempted Doukhobors from military service. But Union-Jack waving Canadians resented what they saw as cowards and shirkers who benefited from the wartime economic boom. World War One also brought on the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Now ethnic discrimination was compounded by suspicion of these Russian immigrants gathered into their commune. Were they just disguised Bolsheviks? Nativism also meshed perfectly with the message of the Ku Klux Klan. It had roots in the racist environment of post-Civil War America, but by the early 1920s Canada also saw Klan recruiting drives, and the name itself had come to convey a violent message. A news article from Grand Forks in March 1925 declared that “citizens are talking of Klan methods” following school fires that were linked to Doukhobors. Angry enough to threaten “Klan methods” in March1925, had some British Columbians been agitated enough to use “Klan methods” in October 1924 against Verigin?

Verigin’s purchase of land in Oregon in January 1924 focused much attention on the prospect of a mass exodus of Doukhobors from B.C. to the US northwest. The KKK, present in a small way in Canada, had considerable influence in Oregon in the 1920s. Were Klansmen deeply enough opposed to such a migration that they would kill Verigin? And were their methods consistent with the use of a sophisticated bomb to kill a political opponent?


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