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Grant, B.J.

Fredericton (N.B.), Goose Lane Editions, c1984. 244pp, paper. $9.95, ISBN 0-86492-046-6. CIP. Distributed by University of New Bruaswick, Fredericton, N.B.

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Catherine Cox

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

B.J. Grant is the author of Six for the Hangman (Fiddlehead, 1983) a book about six notorious New Brunswick murders. He did extensive research for this account of the prohibition era in New Brunswick, at the University of New Brunswick and in the provincial archives.

This a good book waiting to be written. The author has made the error, common to historical researchers, of reproducing lots of quotations from old newspapers, and lots of statistics and lists, while neglecting to write the story. The book lacks a narrative line running through it that could tie all the bits of information together. It jumps from topic to topic, from smuggling to bootlegging, from moonshine to rubbing alcohol, from hobos to the economic depression, from the temperance movement to prohibition, lacking chronological or other organization, although it does have alcohol as the unifying theme.

Reading this book one feels a little guilty, as if indulging in malicious gossip. Grant throws around a lot of names of people reported in the newspapers as having been fined for bootlegging, moonshining, running houses of ill-repute, or seducing children. These people's stories are not notorious or newsworthy today, nor do they add to the book. He exhibits a lot of biases using terms like "whorehouses" and "Holy Rollers." He describes a couple of moonshiners as "Jewish gentlemen" when he does not mention the ethnic hack-ground of any of the other culprits. There seems to be a disproportionate number of Acadian names among the criminals and a particularly mean fighter was described in a quotation as having methods like a "French-Canadian." An opium dealer is, (you guessed it), a "Chinaman." If Grant does not hold these biases, then his writing is reflecting the terminology used in newspapers of the times and he should have been aware of it.

This book would be valuable in libraries mostly because the era is not well covered in other sources. There is a dearth of material on New Brunswick history. Another local book, Four Years with the Demon Rum by Clifford Rose (Acadiensis Press, 1980), deals with the rum runners of Saint Andrews. Grant's book is mainly of interest because it contains a good essay on the temperance movement, the plebescites, and the enforcement of prohibition in the province of New Brunswick until 1927 when it was repealed. The effects of the Depression in New Brunswick are also touched upon here and not in other sources except in Broadfoot's Ten LOST Years (Doubleday, 1973) which is not indexed. Grant does provide an index, extensive footnotes, and a bibliography. His book is illustrated with attractive pencil sketches, is well-bound and without major editorial errors. For the leisure reader there are some entertaining anecdotes, especially the story of Albenie Violette, known for some unexplained reason as Joe Walnut. Recommended for public libraries and school libraries where the curriculum warrants.

Catherine Cox, Moncton H.S., Moncton, N.B.
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