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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