Currently on display at the OPP Museum, these items were seized by OPP members during investigations. The grey Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) t-shirt was seized as part of the 1982 investigation into forged passports that turned into a killer for hire. (2020.23.1) The jacket patch (2021.51.13) and the black t-shirt (2021.51.5) were seized as evidence in a Hate Crimes Unit investigation. The visual impact is challenging – a Klan member in robes with a similarly clad horse. Donated by Bruce Burley, Hate Crimes Unit.
By Christine Johnstone, OPP Museum Curator
Many people would be surprised to learn that the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was operating in Canada in the 1920s and 1930s, and then actively returned in the 1970s and 1980s. The KKK’s goal in Canada was to embolden White supremist Protestantism using coercion, lobbying and on occasion violence to promote their cause. Their targets included Catholics, Jews, Blacks, Asians and Indigenous peoples. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) investigated and successfully prosecuted members of the Canadian chapters of the KKK during both of these periods.
When the OPP began what appeared to be a relatively straightforward forgery investigation, it led them to a murder plot they never would have predicted.
OPP Detective Inspector (retired) Paul Chaytor, with the assistance of fellow investigators, provided his recollection of Project Hydro to OPP Museum staff, edited and summarized here:
In 1982, I worked with a specialized unit that conducted physical, photographic, and electronic surveillance activities in support of criminal investigations for the OPP and Municipal Police agencies. I was assigned to assist fellow officers who were looking into criminal activities conducted by the Toronto based Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Canadian Branch of the Klan was led by James Alexander McQuirter who ran things out of a residence that doubled as national Klan Headquarters. It was suspected that McQuirter and associates were forging and passing certified cheques as well as obtaining Canadian Passports with fictitious identities on them. The passports were the most alarming as they were being issued from the Canadian Passport office.
Thanks to the assistance of informants within the Canadian Klan and contacts made via United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Agents with a U.S. source, we established grounds (Criminal Code Part VI Authorization) to intercept the private communications of six targets, including McQuirter.
Constable Gary MacDonald of the Kingston Drug Enforcement Branch was assigned as an undercover operator. We met with FBI Agent R. Mazarri, who then arranged for MacDonald to be introduced to McQuirter through his American source. MacDonald was portrayed as a “connected” person having multiple criminal contacts and involved in all sorts of criminal enterprises.
Armed with $1,000 in “flash money,” MacDonald then set up a follow-up meeting with McQuirter in a hotel in downtown Toronto where fellow officers could set up video and audio equipment that could be monitored from a nearby room. The meeting was arranged to allow the purchase of a Canadian Passport for MacDonald using a gaf (a false identity).
The meeting was going well and MacDonald ordered room service part way through. As McQuirter became more comfortable with MacDonald, he suddenly asked if MacDonald could “arrange a hit.” This came just as the room service waiter knocked at the door. McQuirter shot from his chair. MacDonald was not expecting to be asked about a killing, but because he was a seasoned undercover operative, he was not fazed. As he rose to answer the door, he told McQuirter to keep talking.
MacDonald knew he and McQuirter could not be considered conspirators, and he wanted more information to build a case of conspiracy in addition to counselling murder. As soon as the waiter left, they continued discussing the “hit.”
McQuirter confided that the Klan’s Chief of Security, Gary MacFarlane, was a “pain in the ass” as he was disruptive and drawing too much police attention to their Headquarters. McQuirter lived there with MacFarlane and MacFarlane’s common law spouse, Jean MacGarry, who owned the house.
MacDonald assured McQuirter the “hit,” a contract killing, could be arranged. However, the killer would have to know much more, particularly who else might be involved. They discussed price and additional information on why he wanted to eliminate MacFarlane. McQuirter then advised that MacGarry also wanted MacFarlane killed, and her involvement was proof of a conspiracy within the Klan.
That meeting ended with MacDonald making a down payment on his Canadian Passport and agreeing that they would meet again soon to further plan MacFarlane’s killing. The next meeting was in Peterborough where Corporal Bill Campbell joined the investigation as the “hit man.”
Telephone interceptions revealed that MacFarlane was violent but gave no indication of the tumultuous living arrangement. The request for a contract killing came as a complete surprise. The focus of the investigation had shifted from false documents to murder.
This new focus required continual photo and physical surveillance of McQuirter to ensure MacFarlane’s safety. MacDonald needed MacGarry to attend this meeting with the “hit man” to ensure she was a willing participant in the conspiracy to kill MacFarlane. Campbell showed up to two more meetings, one in Peterborough and another in Toronto with New York State licence plates on his vehicle to lend credibility to his persona. MacGarry was present at both meetings and incriminated herself as a willing participant. At the second meeting, Campbell gave both McQuirter and MacGarry one last opportunity to back out of the killing. Campbell asked them to “make up your minds”- do you want him killed or not. They both agreed to have Campbell carry out the plot.
In the final meeting on August 13th, one day before the killing was to take place, McQuirter commented that they had almost killed MacFarlane at their home but chose not to as they did not know how to dispose of his body.
Plans were finalized with Campbell and MacDonald to meet MacFarlane, MacGarry and McQuirter on Saturday morning, August 14th. The plan was to have MacFarlane leave with Campbell on a ruse to buy some drugs. Once the two were alone, Campbell was to overpower MacFarlane, kill him, take possession of MacFarlane’s belt, belt buckle and knife sheath then dispose of the body. These items were so prized by MacFarlane that he would not give them up unless he was dead so they would serve as proof of the “kill.” They were assured MacFarlane would never be seen again.
While MacFarlane clearly didn’t trust Campbell, he was motivated enough at the prospect of obtaining some Percocet pills that he agreed to leave with him. As they drove away, Campbell identified himself as a police officer and revealed the plot by McQuirter and MacGarry to have him killed. Although skeptical, MacFarlane agreed to accompany Campbell to meet Detective Inspector Tom O’Grady, who further explained the plot and showed him some video of the meetings where MacGarry and McQuirter talked of wanting him killed. Now convinced the plot was real, MacFarlane gave over his belt, buckle and knife sheath.
That evening, McQuirter and MacGarry met MacDonald at a hotel where he produced the unique items as proof of the kill saying MacFarlane was gone and disposed of, never to be seen again. The three had drinks toasting the success of the kill. MacGarry and McQuirter were in a celebratory mood thinking their troubles were over.
When McQuirter and MacGarry left the hotel, they were confronted near their car. O’Grady stood in front of McQuirter, identified himself and formally arrested him on charges of counselling murder and conspiracy to commit murder. McQuirter looked to the sky as he was handcuffed behind his back. He offered no resistance and said nothing until he was in the car.
MacGarry was taken away by other arresting officers. O’Grady, who drove, and I took McQuirter to Downsview OPP for processing and questioning. While en route, McQuirter asked if we thought he would get bail when he appeared in Court the following Monday. Our answer was, not likely.
In an unexpected twist, a man named Armand Siksna, a Klan member and devoted acolyte of McQuirter, surrendered to O’Grady and confessed to being the third member of the plot to kill MacFarlane. There was no indication prior to his coming forward that he was part of this plot. There was no mention of him in any interceptions nor any mention of him in any of the meetings that he was involved in any way.
All three conspirators pleaded guilty and were imprisoned.
The team of investigators from multiple Branches of the OPP’s Special Services kept MacFarlane alive. The sense of accomplishment was crushed in April 1983 when MacFarlane and his new female companion killed Luigi Quintile in a vicious beating. MacFarlane was sentenced to life in the spring of 1984 for his role in this murder.
Detective Inspector (retired) Paul Chaytor joined the OPP in 1970 and retired in 2003. He served at the Shabaqua and Thunder Bay Detachments before transferring to the Intelligence Branch in 1977. He then worked in the Operational Services Branch, Technical Support Branch, Anti-Rackets Branch and Criminal Investigation Branch.
The OPP Museum in Orillia recently celebrated the opening of a refreshed Gallery space featuring all new exhibits. With so many great stories to share with visitors, the exhibit is well worth a visit to OPP General Headquarters where parking and admission are free. Open Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 4:00 (closed weekends and statutory holidays).