Today’s theme is pirates and bad guys. Two from the 1000 Island region and one who might have slept here. I just thought they all kind of tied in together—and it felt like a pirate sort of day.
There is no doubt that Al Capone spent some time in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, and even near Barry’s Bay. Heck, they even spotted him in Kemptville! The rum runners created a tunnel system in Moose Jaw so the bad folks could shuffle from one building to the other without their derrieres freezing off off in the dead of winter.
There is legend (and even been advertised) that some local residents have claimed they saw Capone and Jack Demsey frequent Lake Park Lodge and even the Queen’s Hotel. Seeing the man sold tons of illegal liquour from Canada, there is probably some slight truth to the rumour.
There is a story that has been told to me several times the past few weeks now of a possible tunnel that existed under the Queen’s Hotel. I asked Tina Miller of the Carleton Place Miller family who has historic ties with the Queen’s Hotel and she said no one knew about anything about that possibility But then again, for more than 75 years, Moose Jaw city officials denied rumours of a network of tunnels located under their city. Access to these tunnels was usually gained from the basements of buildings. The tunnels acquired a whole new purpose in the 1920s, when the United States and much of Canada was embarked on Prohibition.
The tunnels were used for gambling, prostitution and warehousing illegal booze. Some tunnels went right under the local CPR stations and opened into a shed in the rail yards. That way it was possible to load and unload rail cars without any risk of being seen by the police. Rotgut whisky was made locally, but all the good stuff came from the Bronfman distillery in Montreal. In the1970s, Moose Jaw local officials denied the existence of the tunnels one last time. The denials became difficult to maintain when part of the Main Street collapsed, leaving an unsuspecting motorist planted in a deep hole. I have found nothing to the fact in the media archives about Al Capone being in this area, except the stories I have been told . Unlike most stories, this particular message content never changes. One has to ask themselves if such tunnels once existed.
UPDATE: Dusty Pettes from Ballygiblins just told me: “I remembered to ask about bootlegging tunnel in the Queens. Apparently there is a bricked over area in the basement that could be a tunnel.”
Stay tuned we might be doing a report from the Queen’s basement..
“I don’t even know what street Canada is on,” American mobster Al Capone famously told police, claiming that he had never visited, nor knew anything about, the country to the north
Some photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
This story reminded me of another Canadian story that happened in 2012