The Ku Klux Klan [Gk kuklos, "circle"] is an ultraconservative, secret fraternal organization dedicated to the supremacy of an Anglo-Saxon, Protestant society. Formed in Pulaski, Tenn, in November 1865 by six ex-Confederate soldiers, it was outlawed in 1871 because of violent and outrageous acts against blacks and northerners. Revived in November 1915 in Atlanta, Ga, it drew its support from middle- and lower-class Americans who feared the loss of conservative and rural values. In 1921 the Klan was reported active in Montréal; by 1925 "klans," or locals, had been established all across Canada. Like their American counterparts, Canadian Klansmen had a fanatical hatred for all things Roman Catholic and feared that the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race was being jeopardized by new immigration. Moreover, they were not averse to stepping outside the law to achieve their goals.

The Klan appealed to few Canadians and remained relatively obscure, except in Saskatchewan. After American organizers absconded with approximately $100 000 of Klan funds in 1927, the Saskatchewan organization regrouped and, at its height, just after the 1929 provincial election (in which it was influential in ending 24 years of Liberal rule), it boasted of having 40 000 members.

Thereafter the Saskatchewan Klan declined rapidly, as did the organization in the rest of Canada. In the late 1970s the Klan attempted once more to organize in Canada, notably in Ontario, Alberta and BC. The organization's avowed white-supremacist stance and further outrages committed by the American Klan during this period have done little either to increase membership or to establish the Klan's credibility in the eyes of the Canadian public.

See also Prejudice and Discrimination.