Rum Running Along the Lake (1920s) – Page


Quite possibly the last remaining unopened bottle of Champagne from the rum running days. Photo courtesy of Evelyn DeBadts.


I recently interviewed Evelyn DeBadts and she told me this family story of the rum running days during Prohibition along Lake Ontario:


During the days of Prohibition (1920s) times  were rough. Money could be made by what was called rum running although in most cases, the rum runners brought high end products such as Champagne and Wine. Since there were stills on the American side creating corn whiskey, hard cider and other types of “white lightning”, the rum runners from Canada mostly brought good quality unlabeled bottles of Champagne and Wine that was not being made here.


The run runners used to bring in their high speed boats from Canada at night and stop off the shore near North Centenary and Munson Roads. Their schedule was known ahead of time and those on the shore would use a signal light to indicate the coast was clear. A rowboat was then used to go out to the rum running boat and transfer the goods back to the shore. One time the row boat sunk after picking up the cargo and those transferring the goods were told that if it happened again they would go down with it.


Her family found the champagne bottle pictured above along the lake shore in the mud from one of these deliveries. It is now a family heirloom and was originally coated with mud. After being delivered (so the story goes), the illegal spirits were then sent to a speak easy in Irondequoit and also to the Eastover Manor which was a well known local speakeasy in Alton.


Evelyn told about the time a Prohibition Agent got wind of a delivery and came to make an arrest but the people on shore were ready for him and had him outgunned. They chased him across a creek and fired shots at his feet. That was the last they saw of him!





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