Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 11 > Page 15 - Remembering Rum-Running Days

Page 15 - Remembering Rum-Running Days

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1975/6/1 (462 reads)

Duncan Campbell, RCMP Retired: I didn't work on the boats, the cutters. I was with the land force. We'd patrol the shorelines in a car. We usually went out about 9 or 10 o'clock in the evening till about 4 in the morning. Sometimes we were lucky and other times we weren't so lucky. Once in a while we would have information there was going to t>e a landing made. A schooner would corae into sorae cove and they would take the rura ashore in dories. I reraeraber one particular seizure, we had good information. Well the first night we went out they didn't corae in; and the second night • that would be a couple of days before Christraas, 1936. We saw the schooner corae in and there were raen there brought the kegs of rura ashore in dories. And they were pretty cute, too. They came up a little brook. There'd be 4 or 5 fellows and each one would have a keg of rum and they'd walk up the brook in their fishing boots, so that they didn't leave any tracks. And in the side of the embankment there was a wooden door, and it led into a cave in the side of the embankraent • and there'd be one fellow in? side taking the keg and piling it away. That went on for over an hour I suppose. And they never left any tracks. We were very close to thera. It was about two o'clock in the morning and we had on a big buffalo robe • they don't have them now. And when the job was finished we went down and declared ourselves. We arrested two of thera. There was 375 5-gallon kegs in there. Tony MacKinnon and Sgt. Churchill went back to North Sydney to arrange for a truck or one of the RCMP cutters to corae and take the rura back. They took the two prisoners. And the boat arrived about 6 in the raorning • and oh my God it was a cold night. We had to watch it all this tirae. It was taken to the customs warehouse in North Sydney. It was left there till the case was disposed of in the courts. And after the court proceedings were all over we would be instructed to destroy that liquor. No, it wasn't all destroyed. But I never knew any of the RCMP fellows being dishonest with it • selling it to others. In the wintertime we would make hot toddies. When we were ordered to destroy it, we would knock out the top and spill it out into the sewer. In the custoras warehouse. I used to think that was so foolish. They could give it to an old person's horae or soraething like that. Because it was good rura • it was 130 proof at least. It was the very best. You could take quite a few drinks and it never raade you sick. That tirae it was 375 kegs and it all went into the sewer. They've tried to hi-jack the stuff stored at the custoras ware? house, but they weren't successful. But when they learned we were spilling it into the sewer, I've heard stories afterward that they were dovm collecting it with cans and pails where it was running out into the sea. (Mrs. Duncan Campbell: "Yes, he'd corae horae and his boots would be full of rura. Many tiraes 1 can remember him spilling out his boots.") I didn't like liquor work. I didn't mind patrolling the coast at night or being in on a rum seizure where kegs were being landed; but searching houses and beds and looking for floor hides • I never cared for that at all. I just wasn't suited for that kind of work. And the penalty • you could find them with a tablespoon full of rum and the miniraum penalty was 100 dollars. You can be plastered drunk today and driving a car and the fine is about the same. Many of the bootleggers in those days they could not raake a living in any other way. They be cripples or a widow woraan or something like that. Life was pretty hard in those years. This one place, we had information they were storing liquor there • and Big Malcolm and I went up and searched the place, did quite a lot of searching • and then the woraan, she started to hura. And Malcolra said, "We must be getting near the spot." And sure enough we did come upon several kegs hidden under a lot of trash of some kind. But we had information they had a hide in the ground somewhere, and by jiminy we eventually found it. But it had all been eraptied. We went a second tirae to find it but it had all been moved two nights before. Vie learned through an inforraant there must have been probably 2-300 kegs there stored. The night we were there, it was full of water. Tony MacKinnon was with us that night. He probed it with a long stick • a big deep hole filled v;ith water- but never felt anything. We learned later that they could drain that dug out • and they could allow it to fill with water. To get at the rum they pulled the plug, so to speak. I went up with the sumraons for possession of several kegs we had seized at the first house and the raan wasn't horae, so I took a walk out the woods road to pass the tirae. Found another 7-8 kegs. The man didn't know they were there. A fellow work? ing for hira had been stealing thera on him. Those kegs went back into customs and af? ter th6 case was disposed of it was all destroyed and spilt. They were pretty good. They were never violent or anything like that, if you happened to catch thera. These fellows who were involved in that were all pretty decent. A Tradition of Welcorae and Corafort Pine Food by the Fire Telegraph House & Motel overlooking the Bras D'Or Lakes at Baddeck 295-9988 OPEN ALL YEAR 'ROUND CAPE BRETON'S MAGAZINE/15
Cape Breton's Magazine
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