The Bootlegging Town
by Linda C Butler
Told by Charlie Vance
I worked in Flin Flon as a teamster in the late 1920s/30s driving horses to bring in supplies for the building boom that was taking place. At that time, liquor was not readily available from government sources and bootleggers supplied homebrew to those who wished to drink.
Flin Flon is on the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border and the community of Channing was at the end of the railway line and was home to the bootleggers. It was outside Flin Flon and partly in Saskatchewan . Customers would walk down the railway tracks to Channing to make their liquor purchases.
The bootleggers decided to make their business more accessible and they moved to a half-way spot on a height of land on the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border. Bootlegging joints operated on both sides of the border and to avoid the police, when they saw the Manitoba authorities arriving, they quickly moved the liquor to the Saskatchewan side, and when the Saskatchewan authorities approached, they moved the liquor to the Manitoba side. Sometime later the police coordinated their efforts and approached from both sides at the same time, and the bootleggers’ advantage was lost.
The bootleggers would have been fined, but the sale of liquor was such a lucrative business that if bootleggers were forced to close in one spot, another business would spring up someplace else.