Glencoe and the Ku Klux Klan

While it may seem hard to imagine, on November 18, 1925, there was a gathering of a group of men dressed in white robes and hoods even closer to home. A group of about 25 men gathered at one of the KKK members’ homes outside of Glencoe. It was never publicized in the local paper to any degree. The KKK was a very secret society in that no one ever knew their names. There was a burning of a wooden cross in the lot where the Old McAlpine House once stood at the corner of McRae and Main Sts., the location most remember as being home to the former downtown gas station.

Harold Carruthers explains: “About two weeks later, there was a parade of between 40 to 50 clansmen that paraded down Glencoe’s Main St. at about 2:00 a.m. It was said that about 20 members were from the Glencoe area with the rest coming from the London area. After about three to four months, there was not much heard of the Klan locally.”

A surprising 20,000 Canadians went south to take up arms on both sides of the conflict, while thousands of enslaved people, draft dodgers, deserters, recruiters, plotters, and spies fled northward to take shelter in the attic that is Canada. Many escaped slavery and found safety through the Underground Railroad.  There were also KKK organizers who fled north.  Confederate President Jefferson Davis along with several of his emissaries and generals found refuge on Canadian soil, and many plantation owners moved north of the border.

Here’s a shocker: Members of the Canadian Order of the Ku Klux Klan hold the first open air ceremony in Canada. 1925.

Despite all we know about the Civil War, its causes, battles, characters, issues, impacts, and legacy, few books have explored Canada’s role in the bloody conflict that claimed more than 600,000 lives.

On February 14, 2023, award-winning journalist Brian Martin shocked the audience at The Archives with stories about how our local citizens interacted with U.S. citizens during the Civil War and the troubled times that surrounded it. Filled with engaging stories and astonishing facts, From Underground Railroad to Rebel Refuge examines the role of Canadians in the American Civil War.   For those of us that don’t know the history of the Civil War, this is the book.  

A confederate living in London was abducted in London Ontario and returned to the United States.
Where the confederates lived in Niagara on the Lake
Uncle Tom’s Cabin at Dresden