Shades of Right: Nativist and Fascist Politics in Canada, 1920-1940


372 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-6892-8
DDC 320'.0971




Reviewed by W.J.C. Cherwinski

Joe Cherwinski is a history professor at the Memorial University of


The growing racist backlash against Canada’s visible minorities
confirms Robin’s unspoken objective: to show that Canada’s
reputation for acceptance of minorities is unearned. For support, this
veteran political scientist points first to the Ku Klux Klan, which came
to Canada in the 1920s to recruit new members and raise funds. Before
their departure under a cloud of scandal, they burned numerous crosses,
set resident against resident, and helped elect a right-wing
Conservative administration in 1929.

Robin next takes aim at the Quebec journalist Adrien Arcand and his
L’Ordre Patriotique des Goglus, who camouflaged their anti-Semitism
with color, and ritual. Following several setbacks, the Goglus
experienced a renaissance in 1934, under the name of the blue-shirted
National Social Christian Party, as they played to conservative fears of
socialism and Bolshevism as well as more traditional bogeys. In
Robin’s words, “Arcand’s Canadianized Fascism promised a Christian
ethnocracy,” which he and his misguided followers worked long and hard
to deliver.

Shades of Right brings together much of what already is known from
other sources about racism between the wars, and for this readers should
be thankful. In a work that seeks to consolidate, however, what is sadly
lacking is a meaningful explanation as to why racism was so pronounced
during the interwar period. The second problem is one of tone, as Robin
habitually resorts to using a cute turn of phrase to describe his
characters. The noted racist Arnold Spencer Leese is described as “a
teetotaller with a soft heart for camels,” while Arcand and his
accomplice, Joseph Menard, become “the Katzenjammer Kids of Quebec
journalism.” Robin’s characterization of most interwar hate-mongers
as “kooks” with a penchant for masquerade trivializes men and women
who were deadly serious in their hatred of those who were not part of
the dominant culture.


Robin, Martin., “Shades of Right: Nativist and Fascist Politics in Canada, 1920-1940,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 4, 2023,