Tag Archives: Crescent Heights

Everett returns to Crescent Heights

The Crescent Heights Community Association (CHCA) embarked on a mural project last year to rehabilitate a local eyesore—an unloved retaining wall on Centre Street on the hike up from downtown Calgary. The wall is immediately north of the the iconic centre street bridge and its emblematic lion statues.

The artist trio of Sydonne Warren, Tyler Lemermeyer, and Cory Bugden, were selected by a community jury. The mural was conceived to honour the people, places and history of Crescent Heights. Part of their proposal was to include a portrait of Everett Klippert, whose story they had researched. They were particularly impressed by his role in the human rights struggle of the LGBTQ2 community in Canada.

Artists Cory Bugden, Sydonne Warren, and Tyler Lemermeyer stopping traffic on Centre Street.

The Klippert family lived in Crescent Heights from 1934-1942 and they worshipped at Crescent Heights Baptist Church. The artists contacted the Klippert family and received consent to memorialize Everett in this way.

Sandra Neill, the CHCA’s Engagement Director wrote: “You will see our beloved lion who overlooks the City from Rotary Park, and the portrait is of Everett Klippert who lived in Crescent Heights as a teenager. The lion is symbolic of Everett’s bravery who was a catalyst for change towards the decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults. The Rollerblades [on another panel] represent the different ways of travelling up and down the hill. The pants in rainbow represent fashion and an inclusive element to the LGBTQ2S+ community.”

In September 2020, with the help of many volunteers, the artists made the mural manifest and named it #yycmagicwalk. Everett passed away in 1996; perhaps he would be tickled to know that he has moved back to Crescent Heights—just a few hundred metres from his childhood home.

CBC Calgary: How Calgary artists turned the “walk of doom” into the “magic walk”

{On a personal note, I graduated from Crescent Heights High School in 1988; the community has a soft spot in my heart. I’m delighted the mural is there! – Kevin}

{KA}

Everett Klippert’s Personal Papers

The family of Everett Klippert have shared a box of his remaining personal papers with the Calgary Gay History Project. We are ever so thankful and are in the process of digitizing them for posterity. Klippert’s documents were also used by playwright Natalie Meisner in developing her play Legislating Love, which had a very successful run at Sage Theatre last month.

Here are some treasures we have captured:

Klippert Dairymen's Conference

Everett Klippert (circled) worked at Union Milk Co. Ltd. from 1943-1952.

Klippert Report Card

Note: Movies were discouraged on weekdays on this 1940s report card.

Klippert Aug 26 69

One of Everett’s notes from inside the Prince Albert Penitentiary. On August 26th, 1969 homosexuality was no longer a criminal offence in Canada (some conditions applied).

Klippert Cradle Roll

This Crescent Heights Baptist Church document is 90 years old this September.

{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}