Vancouver Feature: KKK Moves into Shaughnessy Mansion

An ornate Shaughnessy mansion, home to a hospice for sick children supported by the Vancouver Canucks hockey team, was once the headquarters of the British Columbia branch of the racist Ku Klux Klan.

The house was built in 1911 by the Scottish-born sawmill owner William Lamont Tait (1850-1919), who called it Glen Brae. Palatial by any standards, it contained one of the city’s first elevators.

Following Tait’s death the house was briefly taken over by the Kanadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who used it for their “Imperial Palace”. From this rented premises, Klansmen agitated for a ban on Asian immigration to Canada. Neighbours said they used to parade around the gardens carrying crosses of red electric lights. But the city passed a bylaw banning the wearing of masks in public and when the national organizer absconded with the treasury the local Klan faded away.

During the 1930s, Glen Brae was known to local wits as Mae West House because of its prominent domes. Later a private hospital, it was converted to Canuck Place in 1995.