Rum runner immortalized in stone

Steve Sharratt
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Mayor Lewis Lavandier checks out the detail on a new stone carving unveiled in Georgetown featuring the notorious rum running schooner Nellie J. Banks.

GEORGETOWN — Prince Edward Island’s most notorious schooner is now immortalized in stone.

And its new home in the Kings County capital is just a few blocks from where the brazen rum running captain not only lived, but is still standing.

“We wanted to do something historical and I don’t think there’s a more famous story related to Georgetown than the Nellie J. Banks,” says Mayor Lewis Lavandier.

The Nellie J. Banks, immortalized during the 1930s for hauling illegal kegs of rum during Prohibition and in the lyrical ballad written by P.E.I.’s Lennie Gallant, is now enshrined in red Island sandstone.

The town commissioned well known Island stone carver Abe Waterman to tell the story of the schooner and the Dicks brothers, who lived in Georgetown and smuggled thousands of kegs from the French islands of St. Pierre.

The huge stone rests in the town’s A.A. MacDonald gardens right next to the Kings Playhouse and the story of the Banks and the Dicks brothers is depicted on three sides. The costs were covered by part of a sum of money bequeathed to the community by former residents.

Prohibition and P.E.I. go together like lobster and libation. The Island was the first province to impose prohibition in 1901 and didn’t repeal it for another 47 years. Prohibition created ample business for smugglers to sell kegs up and down the eastern seaboard.

“It’s a story rich with history and one close to our hearts,’’ said Lavandier. “It will be a draw to visitors and residents alike.”

The Nellie J. Banks was the last rum runner in Atlantic Canada when finally caught on Aug. 9, 1938, 10 years before P.E.I. repealed prohibition.

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, GEORGETOWN, Kings French islands Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • Patrick
    September 13, 2013 - 13:39

    Georgetown is simply celebrating its rich, diverse history. Just as Chicago celebrates its history of Al Capone, and the "Wild West" glorifies Billy the Kid and others. Georgetown's history of shipbuilding, fishing, politics, theatre, etc. could have just as easily been celebrated in this work. However, the Town and/or the artist decided to depict an infamous part of our history, to tell the story, and not hide the skeletons in the closet. It is not the first time the Nellie J. Banks has been celebrated. If memory serves me correctly, Rainbow Valley had the Rum Runner ride which also celebrated this rich part of our Island's history. Good for Georgetown for honouring its past. Hiding the unpleasant, or sinister, of our past history not only lying to ourselves but denying the future residents and tourists the truth of our Town. Call it criminality, which it was. But denying it is a significant part of Georgetown's history would be a lie. I am proud to call Georgetown home, and proud of the Town for not candy coating our shaded, but exciting past.

  • unowho
    September 13, 2013 - 09:01

    Money NOT WELL SPENT I'm sure their must have been better places or organizations or charities ---rink----Lions club for Christmas project..

  • kyle
    September 13, 2013 - 03:48

    Criminality should not be honored in any way.

    • captain canuck
      September 13, 2013 - 08:18

      Typical Yankee sentiment (you spelled it 'honor', not 'honour', giving away your nationality). It shouldn't be a crime anyway.

  • intobed
    September 12, 2013 - 23:58

    Glorifying crime, and criminals.

    September 12, 2013 - 19:44

    I have to say, I find it ironic that we are immortalizing rum runners at the same time we are busting pot growers. Not sure how you explain to a child, how people who profited from one banned destructive substance are to be honoured , the other to be jailed.