A new interview: “Everybody loved Everett!”

In an effort to prime Calgary Gay History Project readers for the world premiere of the play, Legislating Love, next month, we have new information about Everett Klippert. We consider this an addendum to last Autumn’s Klippert Month: our deep dive into the story of the Calgary bus driver whose Supreme Court case sparked the movement for decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.

A few weeks ago we spoke to Robert (Bob) Johnson, aged 93, who was Everett Klippert’s boss in the Northwest Territories. {Thanks to his daughter Liz, who contacted us through Facebook regarding her family’s Klippert connection.}

In the 60s, Bob was a mechanical foreman for heavy equipment at the Pine Point mine, and his department serviced a wide variety of equipment. He explained that they found their employees through the Chamber of Mines in Edmonton who would send labourers. If they asked for ten men, for example, ten would be interviewed and sent up. Everett was hired this way.

N-1987-021-0063

Everett Klippert worked in the garage at Pine Point from May 1964 until he was arrested in August 1965. Photo: Pine Point Revisited.

He said: “Everybody loved Everett: he was such a damn nice guy!”

Bob and his co-workers knew Everett was gay, but in those days it was not discussed.

He remembered: “There was a salesman who came up from Calgary shortly after Klippert was hired, who told me that Klippert was a queer and that he had been in the news. I told him ‘we didn’t talk about stuff like that here’ and that ended the subject.”

“Not everybody had a car there, but Everett did, so he was popular. Guys would go to Hay River, 40 miles down the road, to go to the movies or to get drunk at bars. Everett would gather up a bunch of guys and go – that was the way it was then.”

The local RCMP officer was initially friendly to Everett too. When his jeep broke down, he would borrow Everett’s car on weekends for patrols. Bob said: “At one point he told me he was going to have to arrest Everett. I told him, ‘that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.’ But he went onto arrest him.”

Klippert copy

Everett Klippert in stripes. Source: Klippert Family Photo.

At the trials in the Territories, many of Everett’s co-workers attended, including Bob and, his wife, Clara. Bob said, “the mechanical crew would show up, to support Everett – it was a sad situation.” Clara Johnson and the mine manager’s wife, Esther, were so offended by the trials that they went on a letter writing campaign to just about every politician, lawyer and bureaucrat they could find, to complain about what they felt was a great injustice.

We thank you, Bob, for sharing these memories!

{KA}

 

One response to “A new interview: “Everybody loved Everett!”

  1. Pingback: Canadian History Roundup – Week of February 18, 2018 | Unwritten Histories

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