Rum runner immortalized in stone

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on September 12, 2013

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Nellie J. Banks was the last rum runner in Atlantic Canada when finally caught on Aug. 9, 1938, 10 years before P.E.I. repealed prohibition.