In April and May of 1956, Lethbridge, Alberta, Social Credit MP John Blackmore gave two speeches over the radio to his constituents where he claimed that on recent versions of Canadian dollar bills, there was clearly the likeness of a demon hiding in the Queen’s hair. Blackmore related how a correspondent, William Guy Carr, had drawn his attention to this fact. Each man agreed that this was a sign that the agents acting behind the scenes of the “Anglo-Saxon Celtic administrations, British and American” and who had facilitated recent victories against “Christianity and the Bible, against the United States and the British Commonwealth, and the whole free world” (e.g. Communism spreading in Asia) had become bolder. Blackmore reassured his audience that this was serious; he would not listen to Carr if he were an “extremist.”
A first reaction to such claims is perhaps to laugh (as I did when I first stumbled across it while researching the federal Social Credit Party), to enjoy it from an ironic distance, or to dismiss it as part of the lunatic fringe. In other words: Who cares? By examining such strange ideas, do scholars not risk bestowing status upon them?
While these reactions are initially justifiable, they become less defensible with context. Blackmore was first elected in 1935 and was re-elected five times. There he sat in the House of Commons, discussing funding of public buildings on one day and emphasizing the need to strike a committee to investigate the “Mongolian-Turkic-Red” conspiracy behind Communism on another.
Carr was a respected and well-known Canadian navy man and author whose books were positively reviewed in the pages of the Globe and Mail in the 1940s. His retirement in 1945 elicited a glowing two column article by that venerable paper. Folklorist Bill Ellis, however, characterizes him as the key revivor of Illuminati-based conspiracy theory in postwar North America upon publication of his anti-Semitic screed Pawns in the Game in 1955. The Illuminati remains one of the foundational elements of conspiracy theory.
Blackmore and Carr are part of Canada’s conspiratorial heritage, a very real heritage that was/is constantly interacting with transnational currents attempting to explain the modern world. Continue reading