Outlaws of the Lakes: Bootlegging and Smuggling from Colonial Times to Prohibition


What Great Lake was the hunting ground of a twentieth century pirate? Where did Canada’s “King of the Bootleggers” end his days? Who was the only man Al Capone ever truly feared?

Since early colonial times, the Great Lakes, the Upper St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain have been smugglers’ highways. They have borne silent witness to trafficking of almost every commodity governments could tax or ban. Smugglers kept commerce alive in Canada in the early nineteenth century, contributed to the British-Canadian victory in the War of 1812, and carried escaped slaves to freedom in Canada in the decades before the American Civil War. They also corrupted government officials, terrorized honest citizens and committed acts of ruthless violence.