In the Nova Scotia Temperance Act of 1910, provisions were made for the
sale of liquor by prescription only for "medicinal, sacramental, art trade
and manufacturing purposes". Liquor was not to be sold, or consumed
Thus was the birth of the "rum running" trade. St. Pierre and Miquelon
provided the rum. Young men, home from the trenches in Europe, looking for
excitement and a quick dollar, provided the manpower. Rum was purchased
for as little as 40 cents per gallon, and could be sold, on the black
market, for $4.00 per gallon.
The area along the south shore of Nova Scotia, from Halifax to
Lunenburg, is dotted with hundreds of islands and coves, offering
concealment for boats and hiding places for liquor on the beaches, in the
swamps and in the woods. No one can ever estimate the thousands of gallons
of liquor, and the value in dollars of the contraband which was landed in
Nova Scotia, and resold all along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the
USA during the 1920's and 30's.
Rum running began to feel it's demise with the adoption of the 21st
Amendment in the U.S.A. on December 5, 1933. The first liquor stores in
Nova Scotia were opened for business at that time. Although rum running
remained somewhat lucrative from then on, it died with the outbreak of
World War II in 1939.
Back in 1985 the Gonzo Runners were thinking about establishing a relay
race in Nova Scotia. Many heads were scratched to come up with a route,
and a name for the event. The south shore route, tracing the rum running
coast line, seemed like a good idea. The distance was right for a one day
event (109km divided into 10 legs) and the #3 highway was attractive in
terms of beauty and relative safety. The Rum Runners name was intriguing.
Plans got under way, in October of that year, for a November event.
Members of the original organizing committee, and fellow Gonzo Runners,
were Gordon Warnica, Greg MacDonald, Ann MacDonald, Bruce Duffy, Jim
Walker, Robert Kaufman and Jerome Bruhm. Gordon made a phone call to Paul
Pettipas (Heritage Cedar Homes, now Fall River Village) who provided us
with working capital, and we were on our way.
That was a long time ago. We had 13 teams that first (cold and rainy) year
as we, basically, flew by the seat of our pants. That first event was run
from Lunenburg to Halifax. Any wide spot in the road became a candidate
for a start/finish area. We chose the tour-de-France style over passing
the baton as it kept the teams in close contact with each other, creating
a more festive atmosphere. It also came with a need for only one
(overworked) finish line crew.
Since then, we've reversed the direction of the relay and have grown, both
in size (to our current maximum of 60 teams) and in experience. We've had
changes in our finish line locations over the years, for safety as well as
convenience reasons, with leg distances now ranging from 3.9-k to 16.9-k.
And, the relay was rescheduled to the last (warmer and sunnier) week-end
Fresh bodies have assisted the organizing forces along the way,
including Doug Currie, Louise Ongo and Larry Sampson. Our exceedingly
dedicated and abundantly appreciated race day volunteer troupe now
includes Jim Abriel, Perry Abriel, James Balcom, Wayne Banks, Chris
Hollebone, Ron and Nance Kaszor, Ross Mitchell, Bruce Murphy, Robert
Proctor, Bill and Laura Roblee, Nick Slaunwhite, Mark Stein, Ed Verge,
Grant Walker, Jeff Warnica, andGeorge and Elaine Whalen. Our current
organizing committee members are Bruce Duffy, Ann and Greg MacDonald,
Louise Ongo, Gordon Warnica and Jerome Bruhm.
The relay still has fun, fitness and camaraderie as it's primary focus
rather than speed, endurance and win at all cost. While the fastest three
teams are recognized for their effort with the presentation of medallions,
and the inscription of their names on the coveted rum keg, the main awards
are draw prizes with all teams, fast or slow, having an equal opportunity
to be victorious. Our event is neither a fund raiser nor a profit maker.
We keep the registration fee just high enough to cover the annual costs of
staging the event, plus a bit to cover unforseen costs that always seem to
The Gonzo Adventure Club (a new, and more appropriate, name for the
Gonzo Runners) is still the driving force behind the relay, which is
just one of our many club activities. Although most of us are "getting up
there" with regard to chronological age, we are far from the "roll over
and die" stage. We are a hard core group of approximately 25; a soft core
group of 40 and, counting past members, current wannabees, sometimes seem
to bees, and others who spent time just passing through, our numbers soar
to over 100.
Basically, we all started as runners, but have since added paddling,
biking, hiking, event organization and a few pounds to our list of
As runners, we've participated far and wide, including road races,
marathons and ultra marathons, in Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Toronto,
Richmond BC, Baffin Island, Portland, Lake Winnepesaukee, New York,
Boston, Vermont, Rotterdam and Barcelona.
As paddlers, we've bobbed our canoes and kayaks in numerous bodies of
water throughout Nova Scotia and regularly enter contestants in the
Kanduskeag Canoe Race in Maine every April.
As bikers, we've peddled our trusty steeds over Nova Scotia's secondary
routes and have been on numerous yearly out-of-province excursions to New
Brunswick, Gaspesie, New Hampshire and Vermont plus an extended tour
through France. A delegation of Gonzos biked from BC's Pacific Ocean to
the Atlantic coast during the summer of 2000.
As hikers, we've trekked the northern routes along the Appalachian Trail
in New Hampshire and Maine; climbed Katahdin and the Knife Edge in Maine's
Baxter State Park; and ambled through places such as Newfoundland's Gros
Morne, Acadia National Park, the Dobson Trail, Gaspesie and the Cinque
Terre on Italy's Mediterranean coast. Not all hikes are done in the
comfort of the summer sun or have the advantage of daylight. There are
winter overnight camping excursions and we are probably the only group in
existence to go on full-moon night hikes at various undisclosed local
locations throughout the year.
Our members are no strangers to road race finish lines crews in many
parts of our province, including the annual Cabot Trail Relay, an event
that was conceived by the Gonzo Runners and was patterned after our Fall
River Village Rum Runners Relay. We've organized events such as the
Halifax Modified Marathon, M&B Transmission Geezer Mile, the Frederick
Bruhm Memorial Timex Road Race Circuit and a new offering this year, our
Paddle, Peddle, Plod Relay held in Waverly Sports Park. The birth of Run
Nova Scotia, and much of its administration over the years, has Gonzo
roots as well. There are but a few Tim Horton's donut shop in HRM that
haven't been graced by our presence for one of our infamous, informal and
unconventional club meetings.
Our collective outlook on life can best be summed up by words taken from a
hit by Trooper way back in the seventies, when we were all much younger,
and too wrapped up in our own personal rat races, to understand what those
words really meant: "We're here for a good time, not a long time. So have
a good time, the sun can't shine every day."