Tag Archives: speakeasys

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?


Gambling in Carleton Place — Viva Old Las Carleton Place



In 1872 Napoleon Lavalee built the Mississippi Hotel now called the Greystone Hotel on land that was originally deeded in 1824 to Carleton Place, Ontario settler, William Morphy. Lavallee operated it as a hotel and the town council meetings were held there until 1883. Of course as any small-town hotel in those days, there was a room in the back where gentleman played cards complete with an automatic cigar lighter. There was said to be three deaths in the hotel during the Lavalee ownership even though no records can be found. Some thought they had occurred when it was a TB hospice or from an argument over gambling debts,

However in 1874 – (you knew that all had to end!)

Members of the Carleton Place Council were John Graham, reeve, and William Taylor, John F. Cram, Dr. William Wilson and James Morphy. Public billiard and pool tables were prohibited. The next year’s Council permitted their operation under municipal licence. A press report stated the Council of Carleton Place have passed a by-law prohibiting the keeping of billiard, bagatelle and pigeon-hole tables for public resort in that village, under a penalty of not less than $25. The reasons for this stringent step as set forth in the preamble to the bylaw are contained in the following paragraph : As gambling is a vice of a very aggravated nature, which encourages drunkenness, profane swearing and frequently causes the ruin of both body and soul of those addicted to it, and not infrequently murder, it should therefore be discountenanced and suppressed within the Corporation of Carleton Place.

Howard Morton Brown


The Queen’s Hotel was owned by Wm Miller’s daughter Isobel and then by his grandson William for several
decades. Photo sent to be by Joann Voyce– more coming about The Millers soon.