The thirsty days of Prohibition in Alberta began at midnight on June 30, 1916, but many had been drinking so hard that the booze had long ago run out. Suddenly, the rumrunner was king, and backyard stills popped up everywhere. Even though the government introduced new laws and set up a new police force, liquor was still being made, sold and consumed by those who could outwit the law.
Here is Frank W. Anderson’s rollicking account of the Prohibition years:
• the schemes by temperance and moral leaders to convince the government to pass a Prohibition bill to halt the use and trafficking of liquor
• the loopholes in the law that rumrunners could easily drive their product through
• the escapades of Emperor Pick, the Bottle King, whose lucrative bottle-collecting business was a front for his more secretive liquor trafficking business
• the covert operations of John Greenburg and Mike Segal, whose backwoods still was never found
• Mr. Big’s many hideouts along the Crowsnest Pass road where he could cache the liquor if the police was chasing him or his cohorts
• and stories of ordinary citizens across the province who risked their lives and livelihoods just to be able to lift a glass.
The question remains: Did Prohibition really serve its purpose of preventing crime or did it have the opposite effect?