About Me

Lindsey Rivait is a freelance writer and editor from Windsor, ON with over a decade of experience in the writing, editing, and publishing fields. She specializes in arts and business writing, grant writing, newsletters and mailing lists, press releases, press kits, and more. When she isn't busy with all that, she's plugging away at her first novel.

Her work has appeared in Windsor Business, The Lance, Our Homes Windsor & Essex County, Word on Windsor, In Business, The LaSalle Post, WAMM, Nails HQ Magazine, Zap Fort Myer’s Source Magazine, ROOM Magazine, The Executive Magazine, Generation Magazine, Windsor Salt, Quills, The Antigonish Review, and in poetry anthologies from The Canadian Authors Association Niagara Branch, Polar Express Publishing, Cranberry Tree Press, and Black Moss Press. Her work for the Lance has been reprinted in dozens of newspapers across Canada as well as included in the Gale/Cengage Learning Database "INFOTRAC" in Dallas, TX.

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Rumrunners book review – 2009

By Lindsey | July 6, 2011

Well, here’s another one from the vaults! The end of the article mentions a book launch. Obviously you can’t go to it anymore, unless you’re a time traveller, but let me assure you that it was awesome. I sat on the floor because there were so many people there to listen to Marty Gervais read. At the end of the reading, he was signing books in the lobby downstairs. I stood at the top of the staircase for a few minutes trying to make my way down the stairs to go talk to him until I realized I was in line– the line snaked around the room and up the stairs. Crazyness! Glad I managed to briefly speak with Marty before the reading began. I’d probably still be in line.

Rumrunners book recalls the Detroit-Windsor Funnel
By Lindsey Rivait
Arts Editor
October 21, 2009

The Rumrunners: A Prohibition Scrapbook, originally written in 1979, is celebrating its 30 year anniversary with a new and revised edition.

The bestselling book features an illustrated history of Prohibition told through photographs, political cartoons, maps, and unbelievable (but true) stories from the people who experienced it.

The book also goes over the laws in the U.S. and Canada and the loopholes in both. In Canada, only some provinces banned selling, consuming, and transporting liquor within the province. No ban existed, however, on manufacturing and exporting liquor, which is how Canadians got around Prohibition.

“Many people don’t realize that Canada had Prohibition as well as the U.S. But, we could manufacture whereas in the States, they couldn’t manufacture it. We couldn’t drink it, but we did,” said author Marty Gervais.

Because of Windsor’s unique location and close proximity to the U.S., the area became known as the Detroit-Windsor Funnel, with 25 per cent of the population near the Detroit River being involved in booze smuggling. Four-fifths of the liquor that went to the U.S. from Canada came through Windsor.

Ironically, when the vote for Prohibition took place in October 1919, Windsor voted overwhelmingly against it. Windsor ended up being the area that benefited most financially from Prohibition.

“People here were making money hand over fist. I was talking to some rumrunners about the recession. When the book first came out, it was in the middle of a recession as well. They told me the one way of getting out of the recession is to bring back Prohibition because everyone was working. Illegally,” noted Gervais.

Liquor was brought through however they could get it across, including driven over the frozen Detroit River. Rumrunners would purchase jalopies for $10-15, load them with liquor, and drive them across.

“Sometimes they’d pull a boat on skis, so if the car fell through the ice it wouldn’t take the boat with it. They would just unhook the car and let it go, but the boat would float. The liquor wouldn’t go down with the car. The liquor was more important,” Gervais said.

Gervais updated the stories from the previous edition as well as included some new ones, including tales of kidnapping, Al Capone’s Prohibition agent brother, and more.

When Gervais originally wrote the book, he found that very few people would talk to him, since they were afraid they’d be arrested or that the income tax department would try to collect from them. If they would talk, many would not go on record about what happened.

“When the book came out, it really legitimized that period and it started opening up areas of the city,” said Gervais. Now Gervais keeps finding more stories. “You meet somebody and they tell you another story. It’s going to go on forever,” he continued.

Gervais’ book came to fruition after the UWindsor drama department asked him to pen a play for the graduating class. The play, “The Fighting Parsons,” is the true story of Reverent J.O.L. Spracklin, a Methodist minister at Sandwich Methodist Church (now Bedford United Church), and also a Prohibition agent. In 1920, Spracklin shot and killed a roadhouse owner, Beverly “Babe” Trumble.

“When they had the play on at the university in Essex Hall, the Spracklin family sat on one side and the Tremble family sat on the other. It was funny. Scary, actually,” said Gervais.

Join Gervais at the book launch on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Willistead Manor, Willistead Park, Walkerville.

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