Rum Runners

In my last post I was talking about a ship, the M.S. Hurryon, which sank off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1935 while officially carrying herring heading for the United States, but was actually, secretly carrying illicit rum.

The 1930's were the days of 'prohibition' when alcohol consumption was illegal in the United States, Prince Edward Island, and later the rest of Canada. While I was researching the story of the Hurryon and rum running in Nova Scotia, I got to wondering something that I had sort of taken for granted, and that is, "what exactly was prohibition, and was it just in the United States, or was Canada involved. What got me wondering was, where was the booze coming from if it was illegal in Canada as well as the States.

As luck would have it, I completely and accidentally came across some information today that answered those questions, and finally made sense of it for me. One of my questions was, where was the booze made? and if it was illegal in Canada, how did the breweries and booze makers continue to survive?


As it turns out, prohibition in Canada only outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol. Production was allowed to continue as long as it was obstensibly for the export market, and the export market was huge, considering the liquor was being shipped to ficticious destinations outside of Canada, but actually not going all that far away. The larger vessels would head straight for waters outside of the control of the authorities, where it would be off loaded to smaller craft who would take it back ashore all along the eastern seaboard of North America.

Along the way, many Nova Scotians became very, very wealthy. In fact, although tehy would probably never admit to it, some prominent families owe their wealth to the illegal rum trade of the 1930's. This was dangerous, but lucrative business, the money was big, and the danger exciting, and to a person who knew opportunity when it came knocking, rum running was opportunity with a capital 'O'

Now I realize that rum running is not exactly along the lines of the Masons, the Priory de Sion, Knight's Templars and other secret societies that we talk about here, but it was a secretive business and I thought worthy of at least a mention. I also believe that rum running and prohibition was quite possibly a grand scheme, very secret society like, that enabled some people to make large sums of money while the rest of society struggled through the troubled times of the 1930's.

Trade in illicit booze made millionaires out of people who were 'in the know' ready and able to step up to the challenge of making or obtaining booze to sell. They quickly had connections all over the coast, folks ready to provide a hideout, or a place to off load their illegal cargoes before disappearing back into the fog of the Atlantic Ocean. Regardless of the illegal aspect of their business, to most, rum runners had a sort of flare as folk heroes, men who weren't afraid of authority, and were willing to risk much to bring booze to those who wanted it.

In many ways, the illicit drug trade of today, although perhaps not as well tolerated as rum running of the 1930's , is not all that different. Like the illegal rum trade of prohibition, it is making money for those in the know, who manage to stay out of jail. Even some of the smuggling methods remain the same. Larger ships off loading illegal cargo to smaller ships who bring it to shore along deserted, desolate, rugged areas of coastline, often under the noses of authorities who try in vain to stem the flow, usually with a less than perfect success rate.

It also speaks of our governments, and conspiracies and so on. What better way to make money, than to make something hard to get, making those who have it, whatever it is, able to command whatever price. Why on earth, if a government was determined to remove booze from the hands of it's citizens, allow it to continue to be manufactured? Because, number one, those same producers were wealthy, powerful Canadians, and there were many others, many prominent, connected people, making huge sums of untaxed money on the profits of rum running.

So...was prohibition and rum running a staged situation, one designed to make money for a certain few? By declaring war on booze, were government's actually creating empires, and were they doing it on purpose? I suppose we will never know...but I for one will always wonder.....

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