At the stroke of one minute past midnight, January 17, 1920, the National Prohibition Act was officially declared in effect in the United States. From 1920 to 1933 the manufacture, sale, importation and transportation of alcohol and, of course, the imbibing of such products, was illegal. Prohibition was already a bust in Canada and it wasn’t long before fleets of vessels, from weather-beaten old fish boats to large ocean-going steamers, began filling their holds with liquor to deliver their much-valued cargo to their thirsty neighbours to the south.
Contrary to popular perception, rum-running along the Pacific coast wasn’t dominated by violent encounters like those portrayed in the movies. Instead, it was usually carried out in a relatively civilized manner, with an oh-so-Canadian politeness on the British Columbian side. Most operated within the law. But there were indeed shootouts, hijackings and even a particularly gruesome murder associated with the business. Using first-hand accounts of old-time rum-runners, extensive research using primary and secondary documentation, and the often-sensational newspaper coverage of the day, Don’t Never Tell Nobody Nothin’ No How sets out to explain what really went down along the West Coast during the American “Noble Experiment.”