Queen of Rum Row? The five mast­ed aux­il­iary lum­ber schooner Mala­hat
- Oil paint­ing by W. Mc­Mur­ray, 1989
Cour­tesy of Van­cou­ver Mar­itime Mu­se­um col­lec­tion #2004.0105.0001

Don’t Never Tell Nobody
Nothin’ Nohow:
The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running

Cap­tain Charles Hud­son who served as Ma­rine Su­per­in­ten­dent Man­ag­er, or “shore cap­tain,” of Con­sol­i­dat­ed Ex­porters, the big liquor ex­port con­sor­tium work­ing out of Bur­rard In­let, claimed that while pro­hi­bi­tion was un­der­way through­out the U.S., the lo­cal rum run­ning trade proved to be the eco­nom­ic sav­iour of the city of Van­cou­ver. As he told oral his­to­ri­an Im­bert Or­chard, “We op­er­at­ed per­fect­ly legal­ly. We con­sid­ered our­selves phil­an­thropists! We sup­plied good liquor to poor thirsty Amer­i­cans … and brought pros­per­i­ty back to the Har­bour of Van­cou­ver which was in the midst of a real de­pres­sion, with log­ging, fish­ing, min­ing, etc. in the dol­drums. It took rum run­ning to keep in­dus­try go­ing, es­pe­cial­ly on the wa­ter­front. The tremen­dous mon­eys paid out to in­dus­try in Van­cou­ver were nev­er known to the av­er­age cit­i­zen. We spent a fab­u­lous amount of mon­ey build­ing boats; pur­chas­ing and over­haul­ing en­gines; buy­ing food and sup­plies for our ships; us­ing the ship­yards for over­haul and in wages for the crew and fuel.”

And here’s Cap­tain Charles Hud­son to ex­plain how it all worked him­self.

Au­dio cred­it: Hud­son, Cap­tain Charles. Rum-run­ning in­ter­views: tape 1. Sound Records: Ron Bur­ton in­ter­views: T4407:0001; Im­bert Or­chard 196? in­ter­view: T4255:0039. British Co­lum­bia Archives and Record Ser­vices


Harbour Publishing, Fall 2018 release
70 photographs and maps

Short­list­ed by the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Co­lum­bia Li­brary and Pa­cif­ic Book­world News So­ci­ety for the an­nu­al Basil-Stu­art-Stubbs Prize for Out­stand­ing Schol­ar­ly Book on British Co­lum­bia.


Don't Never Tell Nobody NOTHIN' No How - the real story of west coast rum running. by Rick James

Don’t Never Tell Nobody
Nothin’ Nohow:
The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running

At the stroke of one minute past mid­night, Jan­u­ary 17, 1920, the Na­tion­al Pro­hi­bi­tion Act, the Vol­stead Act, was of­fi­cial­ly de­clared in ef­fect through­out the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. From 1920 to 1933 the man­u­fac­ture, sale, im­por­ta­tion and trans­porta­tion of al­co­hol re­mained il­le­gal. Pro­hi­bi­tion had al­ready proved a bust in British Co­lum­bia so it didn’t take 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.

Us­ing first-hand ac­counts of old-time rum-run­ners and ex­ten­sive re­search re­ly­ing on both pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary doc­u­men­ta­tion and the of­ten sen­sa­tion­al news­pa­per cov­er­age of the day, Don’t Nev­er Tell No­body Noth­in’ No How ex­plains what re­al­ly went down along the west coast of North Amer­i­ca dur­ing the Yanks “No­ble Ex­per­i­ment.” Con­trary to pop­u­lar per­cep­tion, rum run­ning along the Pa­cif­ic coast wasn’t dom­i­nat­ed by vi­o­lent and sen­sa­tion­al en­coun­ters like those por­trayed on T.V. or in the movies. In­stead, it was gen­er­al­ly car­ried out in a rel­a­tive­ly civ­i­lized man­ner, with an oh-so-Cana­di­an po­lite­ness by British Co­lum­bia based op­er­a­tors. In­deed, most in­volved in the trade op­er­at­ed well with­in the law. But still, there were the odd shootout, hi­jack­ing and even a par­tic­u­lar­ly grue­some mur­der as­so­ci­at­ed with the busi­ness.

Advance Praise

Malahat crew fondly embracing some of her load, Rum Row, Ensenada, early 1930 Hugh Garling collection
Mala­hat crew fond­ly em­brac­ing some of her load, Rum Row, En­se­na­da, ear­ly 1930s

Hugh Gar­ling col­lec­tion

It’s high time that a metic­u­lous­ly re­searched book on rum run­ning was writ­ten and Rick James has skill­ful­ly cre­at­ed the de­fin­i­tive work which both en­ter­tains and acts as a sol­id his­tor­i­cal reference…It’s a de­light to read.”
~ John Mac­Far­lane, di­rec­tor, The Nau­t­i­ca­pe­dia Project

Cap­tured schooner Coal Har­bour be­ing un­loaded of her valu­able car­go in San Fran­cis­co, De­cem­ber 9, 1925
MOR-0768, in Ships Fold­er, BoxPX522, San Fran­cis­co His­to­ry Cen­ter, San Fran­cis­co Pub­lic Li­brary

Writer, ship­wreck re­searcher and his­to­ri­an Rick James opens a new chap­ter in mar­itime his­to­ry with this insider’s view of the men and ships that spurred B.C. into a lead role as booze sup­pli­er to thirsty pro­hi­bi­tion-bound Amer­i­cans. James fol­lows the trail of rum and mon­ey from the board­rooms of Vancouver’s ship­ping com­pa­nies to the float­ing is­lands of liquor an­chored off Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia. Along the way, for­tunes are made and gov­ern­ments top­ple. A stir­ring adventure,from start to fin­ish.”
~ David Rahn, pub­lish­er, West­ern Mariner: The Mag­a­zine of the Coast

“By Jing! The Old Ceil­ing Leaks!” Mor­ris for the George Matthew Adams Ser­vice, The Lit­er­ary Di­gest, Oc­to­ber 1920

Rick James is a mas­ter sto­ry teller…He has writ­ten a book many thought could nev­er be writ­ten. In do­ing so, he brings a colour­ful ‘wet’ bit of mar­itime his­to­ry to life.”
~ James Del­ga­do, au­thor and for­mer di­rec­tor, Van­cou­ver Mar­itime Mu­se­um

The crew trans­fer­ring a load of liquor cas­es aboard the moth­er ship Mala­hat from the schooner Marechal Foch upon ar­rival Rum Row, En­se­na­da, ear­ly 1930s.
Fras­er Miles col­lec­tion

James, who has a few smug­gling ad­ven­tures of his own…portrays the mariners and busi­ness­men in­vestors in Cana­di­an rum-run­ning en­ter­pris­es on the Pa­cif­ic coast as far less vi­o­lent and mob con­nect­ed than their Amer­i­can col­leagues. Whether or not read­ers are per­suad­ed by this ac­count of rel­a­tive Cana­di­an in­no­cence, they are sure to en­joy this en­gag­ing slice of true crime his­to­ry on the Pa­cif­ic coast.”
~ Tom Sand­born book re­view, Van­cou­ver Sun, Sep­tem­ber 8, 2018

Print edi­tions

Avail­able in Cana­da Oc­to­ber 2018

Avail­able in the USA March 2019


Avail­able in Cana­da Oc­to­ber 2018

In­ter­na­tion­al­ly March 2019

Don’t Nev­er Tell No­body Noth­in’ No­how: The Real Sto­ry of West Coast Rum Run­ning can be or­dered at book­stores through­out Cana­da and the USA

It can also be or­dered from In­di­go, amazon.ca and amazon.com

If you’d like an au­to­graphed copy, feel free to con­tact Rick.

Ebooks can be or­dered from Ama­zon (Kin­dle)


Books by Rick James