Bathtub Gin Makes Mr. Bubble Go Flat

Bathtub Gin Makes Mr. Bubble Go Flat



“I never knew my great grandmother but her husband died in the first world war leaving her with many children to raise on her own. Apparently she made booze of some kind in her bathtub and because they lived close to the railroad tracks they did a brisk business. My mother told me this little bit about her grandmother and said she was a scary lady. A real battle axe apparently but I guess anyone might be who had such a tough life. That’s really all I know about her. Not even sure where she lived at the time but it would have been in the Toronto area somewhere”.-Margo Hay Goodings– Almonte

Bathtub gin refers to any style of homemade spirit made in amateur conditions. The term first appeared in 1920, in the prohibition-era United States, in reference to the poor-quality alcohol that was being made.

The term bathtub gin often conjures up glamorous images of flapper girls, speakeasies and the Roaring Twenties. In reality, it was the end result of cheap grain alcohols and flavorings, such as juniper berries, allowed to steep in a tub for several hours or even days. Because the 18th Amendment specifically prohibited the sale or manufacture of distilled alcohol, many producers were forced to use denatured alcohol, which may or may not have been thoroughly processed. A number of party-goers died during the 1920s after drinking contaminated liquor.




Clipped from The Winnipeg Tribune, 30 Dec 1931, Wed, Page 9




“Helen from the village Lanark told the judge she hadn’t intended to start a large moonshine operation. She had just hoped to sell a few bottle for Christmas and then people liked it so they came back for more”. Ottawa Journal

By the 1960s the building had become known as the Rideau Ferry Inn and during this time became licensed for liquor sales. Up until that time people would smuggle in their own booze, particularly in the roaring twenties when rum-running along the Rideau had its hey-day.” From--Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story

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Almonte Gazette 1918

January 1 1918 –Smiths Falls has another liquor mystery. Five barrels of booze— over a thousand pounds— shipped in by express disappeared without a trace being left of who took it or where it was taken. – The party whose name appears on the express company record declared in court on Monday that he knew absolutely nothing about it and certainly had not ordered it and the case had to be dropped for lack of evidence.


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Related reading:

Did The Bootleggers in Lanark County Wear Cow Shoes?

Down by The Mississippi River with The Jessops

Desperately Seeking Information About the “Beckwith Copperhead Road”

Are You Sure that Isn’t Fusel Oil?

Did You Know Where Happy Valley was in Carleton Place?

Is There a Secret Tunnel in Carleton Place?

Not Happy in Happy Valley? Head up to the French Line for some Sweet Marie

Is There a Secret Tunnel in Carleton Place?


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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