Tag Archives: RCMP

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.


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.”

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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!



Klippert Month – Week 2

It was (Inter) National Coming Out Day this week, which makes it timely to discuss Everett Klippert and his repeated disclosures. Despite homosexuality being a criminal offence in 1960s Canada, and his multiple convictions of gross indecency, he was always frank and truthful in his interactions with the state, even though he paid a severe penalty for that honesty.

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Young Everett Klippert (right) in Klippert Family Photo.

When Calgary Police questioned him about the 18 names in his little black book, which was also his dating record, he confessed to having had homosexual relations with them all.

In Pine Point, NWT, local RCMP brought Klippert in for questioning and threatened him with an arson charge of which he was innocent. Using it as leverage to open Klippert up about his sex life, he readily confessed to having had intimate relations with four men there.

In every court case, he pled guilty. A court psychiatrist reported that Klippert told him his “homosexual behaviour had existed since the age of 15; that to him homosexual activity [was] his only satisfactory sexual outlet. He found the thought of heterosexual conduct abhorrent. He told me that he never had heterosexual relations.”

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Hand-scribbled judicial annotations in Klippert’s 1960 conviction in Calgary. Source: Provincial Archives of Alberta.

Gay activist and lawyer Douglas Saunders interviewed the incarcerated Klippert in December 1967 in what he described as the “fortress-like Penitentiary at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.” His unjust treatment gave his convictions a certain resolve. Klippert told Saunders: “If I meet someone on the outside now and he asks me, I’ll say sure I’m a homosexual, what are you? I’m not going to be ashamed of it anymore.” Klippert who grew up Christian took comfort in his prison bible and noted Psalm 22:24 to Saunders: “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

Coming out cost Klippert much. We can thank his candour for prompting Canada to change its draconian laws around sexual orientation in 1969.



Canada’s Shameful Harvest of Queers in the 60s

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The Fruit Machine at the War Museum in Ottawa (Picture – Fran Rilley)

In the 1950s and 1960s, gay men and lesbians were seen as more than just a social problem, they were also viewed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as a national security threat. Cold War paranoia was high in Canada, and anything that resembled ‘otherness’ was deemed a threat to security. Homosexuals were labeled as such because of their ‘character weakness’. This weakness, according to the RCMP, was that they were unstable, self-deceiving, defiant towards society, and should not be entrusted with any government work which required secrecy. Therefore, homosexuals working with the federal government were easy targets to blackmail by Soviet agents, and could potentially reveal state secrets to the enemy.

This translated into reporting on men and women in the civil service, the majority being in Ottawa. The RCMP were looking for a more thorough way to detect homosexuals, or in the old slang ‘fruits’. In 1962, Professor F. Robert Wake, of Carleton University, created a report on a “fruit machine” said to be an efficient and scientific way of detecting homosexuals. The machine would detect the pupil response, breath and heart rates of a subject viewing naked or semi-naked images of women or men. Based on arousal levels, the participant was determined to be either gay or straight.

It was hoped that this would become part of a myriad of homosexual detecting tests for those applying to the government. Starting in 1963, it was used on unsuspecting volunteers who were told it was part of a research study. It was a failure: there were few volunteer test subjects, and the machine was hard to use as it has to be adapted for people with different heights, as well as differently sized pupils and eyeballs. Information about what the test was actually for was leaked and volunteering stopped all together. The “fruit machine” project was ultimately abandoned in 1967.

However, the anti-homosexuality campaign continued, and the negative effects on gays and lesbians cannot be overly stressed. Over 9000 People, including gays, lesbians and some straight civil servants, were harassed, questioned and targeted by the RCMP. Many lost their jobs in government or were demoted. Others were blackmailed into revealing others who were gay or lesbian.  They lost friends and respect from co-workers, or worse.   The Fruit Machine is a relic now of our nation’s shameful treatment towards a group of its own people.


Further Information:

Gary Kinsman, “Character Weaknesses” and “Fruit Machines”: Towards an Analysis of the Anti-Homosexual Security Campaign in the Canadian Civil Service, Labour / Le Travail, Vol. 35, (Spring, 1995), pp. 133-161.
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25143914

CBC archives: http://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/society/crime-justice/mounties-on-duty-a-history-of-the-rcmp/rcmps-fruit-machine-to-detect-gays.html

Gary Kinsman and Patrizia Gentile. The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010