Tag Archives: Gay history

“Sorry,” the word we are waiting for….

{Firstly a plug for Tereasa Maillie from the Calgary Gay History Project. She is reading from her new work of personal fiction, Just A Walk, Friday, Nov. 24th from 5-7 PM at Loft 112. – Kevin}

Justin Trudeau announced recently that Canada’s historic apology to the LGBTQ2 community had been scheduled. He will deliver it on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 in the House of Commons. Research the Calgary Gay History Project amassed has been used by many authors in the lead up to this date, and we are grateful to have been a resource for this moment of national reflection and remorse.

One key event leading up to this apology was John Ibbitson’s Globe and Mail feature on Everett Klippert in February 2016. He specifically asked the Prime Minister’s Office for a posthumous pardon in advance of the article being published and got a surprise commitment to do so.

EGALE later launched in June 2016 the comprehensive Just Society Report on Canada’s criminal justice system providing detailed recommendations on provisions in the Criminal Code that have a discriminatory effect on LGBTQ2SI Canadians.

In November 2016 openly gay Member of Parliament (MP) Randy Boissonnault was named special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues to the Prime Minister. The advisor’s mandate includes rights protections as well as addressing both present and historical discrimination

The Government formed an apology advisory committee under MP Boissonnault which consulted broadly across the country.

The guiding questions for the apology were:

  1. From your perspective, why should the Government of Canada apologize to LGBTQ2 Canadians?
  2. Are there specific examples of wrongs that you feel should be addressed?
  3. What actions can the Government undertake in order to promote awareness of the issues LGBTQ2 people have faced and foster understanding going forward?
  4. What can the Government do to demonstrate ongoing commitment to promoting equality for LGBTQ2 people?

The apology input process was also non-partisan. Calgary MP Michelle Rempel participated, soliciting answers to these questions directly from the Calgary Gay History Project. We shared our preoccupation with the sad story of former Calgary bus driver Everett Klippert (see: Klippert month) and answered all of the guiding questions.

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Klippert Family Photo

The University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics recently hosted a symposium on the ethics of apologies and solicited some thought-provoking papers on Canada’s gay apology. Academic Steven Maynard challenges homonationalism and outlines our messy gay history in Canada and the problems in sanitizing our queer past. Lawyer Douglas Elliot, who also was a lead author in the Just Society Report, argues there are more compelling reasons to apologize than not, with much potential social good arising out of the Prime Minister’s efforts.

Locally the same thoughtfulness is fueling the YYC Legacy Project. How will we acknowledge and commemorate our LGBTQ2 history here in Calgary? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, we will be watching the apology with great anticipation next Tuesday.

{KA}

 

Klippert Month – Week 3

Everett Klippert was born in Kindersley, Saskatchewan in 1926, the youngest of nine siblings. His family relocated to Calgary when he was just 2 years old. Sadly, Everett’s mother died in May 1933 from kidney disease.

Everett’s 20-year older sister Leah took it upon herself to look after her eight younger brothers. The family was evangelical Baptist, and Leah made sure that the family regularly attended services at the Crescent Heights Baptist Church. There were so many brothers in the Klippert family that they were able to form their own baseball team with their father, called “the Klippert Nine,” which was once featured in the Calgary Herald.

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Everett (middle back row) with his father and brothers: The Klippert Nine. Source: Klippert Family, Photographer Lorne Burkell.

Everett’s siblings were discomforted by the police’s revelation of his homosexuality, but they stood by him – particularly Leah – throughout his drawn-out troubles with the state.

In 1960, after Everett’s first arrest, the Klippert family paid $9000 in bail: an equivalent of $72,000 in today’s dollars. For the trial, the family also procured a supportive reference letter from their Church Reverend, J. E. Harris. Although found guilty and incarcerated in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Everett’s siblings made efforts to visit him in the Penitentiary.

Leah worked as a legal secretary in the offices of J. D. Salmon, Solicitor for the City of Calgary. It was she who kept writing Everett’s legal correspondence, engaging lawyers, and appealing his court verdicts as unjust: ultimately pushing his case to the Supreme Court. In early 1967, she along with her brother Howard trekked to the Court of Appeal Case in the Northwest Territories.

Howard Klippert was brought forward as a witness for the defence. In the trial, he said: “to the best of my knowledge Everett has been well liked and well received with my friends and family. He has always been noted for his gentleness and willingness to help others. I have never known him to be violent – never. On many occasions when going to school together, I have had to protect him from others who would start a fight with him.”

Everett would not be released from jail until 1971 and went to live with his brother William in Calgary. Phyllis, Everett’s sister-in-law, said: “He was the funniest person you ever met. He lived with us for 17 years. When he was around, there wasn’t any dark cloud anywhere. He was part of our family for years.” Despite his sunny character, she added that his years in jail had left Everett feeling stalked, and embittered.

Walter Klippert said he and his brothers never talked about their youngest sibling being gay, but “we knew he was out with boys a lot. See, he was a transit driver for the city. He was a popular driver, very happy go lucky. He was really nice to everybody, anybody.”

Eventually, Everett would move to Edmonton and marry his good friend Dorothy at age 57 (she was 65). He reportedly was happy and content in his final years of life, but both he and his family did not talk about the past. He died in 1996 at age 69.

Documentary filmmakers in 2001 interviewed several members of the Klippert family, including Everett’s widow. Most were resistant to the idea of a film. Dorothy said: “I don’t think it is right to bring up the past when you have no concrete way of knowing how he felt about it.”

Everett was buried next to his sister Leah at her daughter’s farm. While she was alive, Leah’s attitude was that she loved Everett, full stop. How could the fact that he was gay, ever change that?

{KA}

Klippert Month – Week 1

We at the Calgary Gay History Project hope the Federal Government is still working on a posthumous pardon or equivalent for Calgarian Everett Klippert (1926-1996). November 7th, 2017, will be the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling, which fully criminalized gays, and precipitated the legislated decriminalization of homosexuality.

So to recognize that milestone in Canadian LGBTQ2 history, we are posting Everett articles all month!

One of the facts presented in his defence, at virtually all of his court cases, was his steadiness as an employee. Everett left school after grade 8 to work and to support his family. His older sister Leah ran their household and he and his eight brothers were required to hand over their wages to Leah for expenses.

Everett’s father operated a grocery store in Bridgeland, and Everett’s first job was working in the shop along with some of his older brothers. By the time he was 17, he was working at Crystal Dairy, the ice cream division of Calgary’s Union Milk Company. He said that it was when he started working there that he became sexually active with other men.

Crystle Dairy

The Union Milk Company at 130 – 5th Avenue SE in June 1950. Source: Glenbow Archives.

After nine years employed at the dairy, he got a job he loved more, driving buses for Calgary Transit. He was a favourite bus driver too. There are stories of his regular passengers skipping earlier buses to specifically ride home with him due to his friendly, congenial nature.

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Everett Klippert used to go attend bus driver coffee brakes like this one in Eau Claire. Source City Archives via Calgary Metro.

At his first trial in Calgary in 1960 his defence lawyer, W. P. Maguire noted that Klippert “had been steadily employed for 17 years and but for his weakness (sex with men) he would be, at 33, a normal run of the mill man, married with children.” For that reason, he urged a punishment of probation only and not incarceration

Sadly, he was sentenced and served a four-year jail term. When Everett was released in 1964, he quickly departed town both to start over and to spare his family any more shame. He made his way to a job in Pine Point, North West Territories on a lead from a friend and secured a position as a garage mechanic’s helper at the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada, Limited (which was renamed Cominco Ltd. in 1966).

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

He was arrested and tried again for homosexual activity in 1965. At his trial, Everett’s garage foreman, Melvin Logan, was called as a witness on behalf of the defence. When asked about Everett’s performance, the foreman said: “He was very good, a very willing worker, hard worker, easy to get along with, very cooperative. He got along with everyone in the shop very well – no trouble at all.” Furthermore, it was revealed that Everett was friendly with the Logan family. He would go over for supper occasionally and was trusted to babysit the two small Logan children.

During both times Everett was in the penitentiary, he worked in the shoe shop. One of the psychiatrists who interviewed Klippert in 1965 reported:

“I talked to the man in the shoe shop with whom Mr. Klippert worked, and he gave an excellent report; that he is a good worker; that he minded his own business; that he is a sensitive man. He spoke very highly of him. He also informed me that he found life in the penitentiary extremely painful to him because I think he is a sensitive man and some of his colleagues are, well less than that and I think they made life a little bit, considerably rough and difficult for him.”

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Everett Klippert in stripes. Source: Klippert Family Photo.

Tragically, this difficulty would be long-lived. Klippert would remain in jail until 1971 for no known reason, even though Parliament decriminalized homosexuality in 1969 as a result of his unjust prison sentences.

{KA}