July 4th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 27
Shriners cars shine at Canada Day Parade
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Samantha Buckle
Pictured above is Chris Matthews, executive director at the Crowsnest Museum and Archives, squeezed into a mini Alberta Provincial Police vehicle. “I had bruises all over my knees,” laughs Matthews. Four repurposed Shriner’s vehicles drove in the Coleman Community Canada Day Parade last weekend as part of the Crowsnest Museum float. The museum is still looking for donors to repurpose two other vehicles and a bus that, all together, will form the Crowsnest Pass Rum Runner Squad.
Pass Herald Reporter
The 2018 Canada Day parade displayed some fun pizzazz and creative decorations. The Coleman Community Society took a trip down memory lane with a float inspired by the past, present and future of Coleman and its prominent historical figures. There was the Riversdale canine float, accompanied by their humans. The Cranrook Bugle Band blew their horns and tapped their drums for a lively tune. There were people on horses, people driving in luxurious antique cars, even people on unicycles that participated in the parade.

And then, causing a bit of a ruckus, there was the Rum Runner Squad, four miniature repainted, restored and repurposed vehicles from the now-closed Crowsnest Pass Shriners Club.

Two police cars and two rum runner cars put on quite the show recreating a humorous and dramatic side of a Prohibition-era car chase, swerving down the road

But while the car chase at the parade depicted a lighter take on crime during Prohibition, its purpose was to create interest in the story and entice people to learn about the true history of the rum running past and the Alberta Provincial Police (APP), which is told at the APP Barracks exhibit at the Crowsnest Museum, as well as promote Crowsnest Pass heritage.
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“There were tragic events during Prohibition here, like the shooting of Constable Lawson and it was related to our rum running history,” says Fred Bradley, board member on the Crowsnest Pass Historical Society, referring to the 1922 murder of APP Constable Stephen Lawson for which two people were hanged, rumrunner Emilio Picariello and Florence Lassandro, the first and only woman to be executed in Alberta. "We don’t want to take away from the seriousness of the tragedy, but it’s sort of the romanticism of rum running and Prohibition and car chases to get interest into the APP project and the real history of rum running during Prohibition."

The new APP Barracks exhibit, which launched last summer, tells the true story of the shooting of Constable Lawson, the most infamous rum running murder in Canadian history.

The Shriners donated eight miniature vehicles and a 1950s bus that can be used to transport the mini cars. The Crowsnest Pass Historical Society is having the vehicles taken all apart, re-fiberglassed if there is any damage to the body, completely stripped of the paint and repainted - black for the rum runner cars and blue for the police cars.

To date, four of the vehicles have been repurposed and the Crowsnest Pass Historical Society is looking for sponsorship and donors to complete and continue the project.
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The Crowsnest Pass Shriners Club donated the vehicles to the museum in 2016 after the club closed due to dwindling membership and lack of funds, says Ed Strembicki, the last president of the club.

In the late 1980s, the Shriners purchased six fire trucks, one Corvette and a Cushman from the Killam Shriner’s Club and then several years later, received a 1951 Prevost handicapped bus - one of only 150 manufactured that year - from the Lethbridge Shriner’s Club as a donation.

Throughout the years, they drove the mini cars in parades as far as Fort Macleod and Lethbridge until their final parade about eight or nine years ago, coincidentally a Coleman Canada Day Parade. The Shriners wanted to keep the cars in the community and seeing them driving down Coleman main street, albeit sporting a rum running barrel on the back instead of a ladder, certainly fulfilled that aspiration.

In the long run, Bradley hopes to repurpose the entire fleet and include the vehicles in regional parades and even the Calgary Stampede. The ultimate goal, he says, would be to activate a Crowsnest Pass Rum Runner Squad that would coordinate and attend events.

“In a couple of years, I’d like to get it to the point with the bus is painted and able to transport the cars to use in other communities and parades in Southern Alberta, and maybe eventually the Calgary Stampede Parade,” says Bradley. “It’s an aspect of Crowsnest Pass history which also promotes the Crowsnest Pass and, hopefully, if we are able to be supported to take it to parades throughout the region, it will promote more interest in our history and bring visitors to the Crowsnest Pass.”
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July 4th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 27
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