Updated: Sep 19, 2019
The Malahat was built in 1917 by Cameron Genoa Mills Ltd, in Victoria BC. It was a 1543 ton schooner made of wood, mainly fir, which was 245 feet long. It also had hard wood bolts, since there was no steel to build the ship at the time. This five-masted vessel was able to get around by just its sails as it was needed before the engines could be installed. The engines that were installed after her maiden voyage were 24 cylinder Bolinger engines. This ship was designed to haul lumber but was sold to the Consolidated Exports Company in 1922, which was secretly an export Company for rum running along the west coast of North America and down to Mexico, where Rum Row was. Rum Row was a place where all rum running ships anchored, near the American border so it was easier to deliver the alcohol.
A news clipping from 1994 John Lund Writes that “they weren’t pirates or hardcore professional criminals… they were adventurous amateurs” (Lund). The sailors were so displaced after the First World War that they were only trying to find excitement and they did that in rum running. Rum running broke no Canadian laws since it was legal in Canada to drink alcohol. The American coast guard was a protector to the occupants of Rum Row because as long as they stayed out of American waters they could keep away gangsters and pirates that threatened to take over.
The Malahat was able to carry around fifty thousand cases of liquor in the hull and another five to ten thousand on the deck. In My Dad, The Rum Runner written by Jim Stone writes that when transferring liquor to tenders and shore boats, each load would contain “200 cases of well-known brands of scotch whiskey, gin, champagne, and liqueurs, followed by 1,000 cases of Old colonel Rye and Corn Hollow Bourbon”(Stone 97). The crew of the Malahat was incredibly skilled as they rarely dropped any of the liquor when transferring off of the mothership. Stone also writes that “they tossed and caught the cases as if they were playing a game”, it was second nature to the crew even if there was heavy seas (stone). Not only was the Malahat a liquor store but also a general store to smaller ships. It carried a wide variety of household goods, foods and fuel for the smaller ships who were not prepared. They would trade these goods for alcohol so that they could replenish their alcohol stores without going back to Canada. Many drug Cartels would try to convince Captain Stone to export drugs to the United States as well but he refused. He refused because it was illegal in both Canada and the United States, and that would indeed entitle them criminals of both countries.
Stuart Stanley Stone Started as the Captain of the Malahat in March 1929 and was Captain up until his untimely death in 1933. Stone grew up in Clo-oose and Tofino area with his family, he grew up working on ships with his father and brother. They did supply and passenger trips to Port Alberni as well as Uclulet and Tofino. Once he was Captain of the Malahat “he got $600 a month (plus room and board at sea)”, they were also given secret bonuses that were in the thousands (Stone 63). Stone had arranged for his sister Hazel to work at a BC Telephone Exchange so that she could send and receive messages to instruct and plan what the ships were to do. She got these instructions from the head of Consolidated Exports Company Charles Hudson, a retired Captain.
Emmie May Binns was raised in Uclulet with her family and was a very accomplished sailor woman. Later in life her family moved to Port Alberni. She met Captain Stone at a party but never got too involved since he was still married. They kept in touch through the next year and Stone proposed to Emmie but she would not marry him until he was divorced. So he divorced his wife and left his children. He still visited them and cared for them deeply. His love for Emmie May was strong and true. He petitioned to take his new wife aboard the Malahat and they agreed with some hesitation. They were then married in November 1931 aboard the Malahat. On their arrival to Rum Row the one to two hundred sailors there were clean shaven and had clean white shirts on. Emmie May faced the challenge of proving herself to the crew to show them she wasn’t just another pretty face. She proved that she could handle the seas just like any man could. She did end up getting this respect she sought from the crew, but only after 6 months or so.
Captain Stone had an untimely death a year and a half after his marriage to Emmie May. The Malahat continued under a new captain but for its original purpose to haul lumber. The Malahat sunk and was towed to Powell River in 1944 where it still rests today. Emmie May died in Deming Washington at her sister’s house on June 13th 1994.
Written by E. Vanderlee
N.d. The Historic Chief Skugaid. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.
Daniel Frances, ed. "Malahat." Encyclopedia of British Colombia. Madeira Park: Harbour, 2001. KnowBC. 2001. Web. 23 Aug. 2016.
Jim Stone. My Dad, The Rum Runner. Waterloo: North Waterloo Academic, 2002. Print.
John Lund. "Queen of Rum Row." Islander [Victoria] 11 Sept. 1994: 1. Print.