The Rewards of having a website: More Rum Running Tales


Even though it’s been going on three years now since my last book, The Real Story of West Coast Rum Running hit the streets, it is still proving particularly rewarding having a website up where folks are able to connect with me via my Blog. The latest response I received was from David Ferguson, who pointed out that it was his father, “Davie” Ferguson, on p. 267 standing out on the deck of the distributor boat, Ryou II, behind George Butts and “Sparky” Miles. “My father’, Fergie, appears in some of your pictures, but not in the text. I am not surprised. He almost always kept his thoughts, and certainly his feelings to himself.”

Then there was Gary Cullen over in Tsawwassen who filled me in on the tale of Rosie Broun, a young lady living out on Port Roberts right next to the border in a big house known as the ‘goat ranch’ or ‘snake farm.’ Here she was operating an aerial tramway for loading boats running in across from Washington state. Here on dark nights when there was no one around liquor cargoes were loaded and run south. Also, another woman down in Renton, Washington, contacted me to fill me in on her husband’s great uncle, Louis Bussanich’s, adventures back when he was actively involved in the trade. He and partner, J. Rice, made the news in Victoria after they were busted in October 1928 by Canadian Customs in the Hoozit, “one of the neatest speedboats brought into Victoria” for being in Canadian waters eager to pick up a load of liquor without reporting themselves. Bussanich later died down in Puget Sound after his ‘fast runner’ was shelled by a U.S. Coast Guard boat and sank.

Another person who contacted me just so happened to be the niece of Sidney V. Elvy who was cook aboard the mother ship Federalship when she was seized on March 1, 1927, off the California coast. After the steamer was brought into San Francisco all the officers, crew, along with the owners, were jailed and put on trial. During their search of the steamer, the Coast Guard happened to come across a poem in Captain Stuart Stone’s cabin titled “Hail, Ale, Gang’s All Here!” After being found innocent of all charges and the crew were all set free, Sidney V. Elvy signed on aboard the 76-foot schooner, Noble, as cook. Upon their return from Rum Row, Ensenada headed back home to Vancouver and encountering thick fog while searching for the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait on January 1st, 1928, the Noble was caught in heavy swells off Escalante Reefs and sank with Sidney Elvy, along with three other crew members, losing their lives.

Still, what was probably most rewarding connection I’ve made so far, was with Norma Warris, whose father was David Stanley, a ‘business’ partner of Archie MacGillis who was operating his big-time rum-running operation out of Coal Harbour while Prohibition was underway south of the line. After her filling me in on all that her dad was well immersed in, she most kindly passed over his original documents that he had held onto from those days. I felt I had struck it rich! And the wireless message featured above? It was sent out by Archie MacGillis over to David Stanley in Honolulu who was taking care of their trade operations in Hawaii. And do note, that a 1924 dollar is worth some fifteen dollars in today’s money.

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