Prohibition-Era Message Found in Statue's Base

Stonecutter apologizes for not leaving bottle of brandy
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2022 8:45 AM CST
Updated Dec 5, 2022 5:45 PM CST
101-Year-Old Message Below Statue Apologizes for Lack of Brandy
Kayaker Tom Armstrong fishes the head of a statue of Queen Victoria from the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, Friday, July 2, 2021.   (Kelly Geraldine Malone/The Canadian Press via AP)

Workers removing the base of a statue in front of the provincial legislature building in Winnipeg, Manitoba, found a bottle placed there 101 years earlier—with a note inside apologizing for the fact that it didn't contain brandy. The note, dated July 30, 1921, said, "On account of the Prohibition, we are unable to adhere to the custom of depositing a bottle of brandy under the stone, for which we are extremely sorry," per the Winnipeg Free Press. Prohibition in the province lasted from 1916 to 1923. The note was signed by stonecutter JB Graham and listed the names of other workers and officials. Government services minister Reg Hewley said there have been similar finds made around the building, the CBC reports.

"Apparently there are things of that nature around the legislature," Hewley said. "As we move stones, we do discover things like this." The statue of Queen Victoria was first erected in the city in 1904, three years after her death. The base—and the bottle—were added when it was moved to its spot in front of the legislature after the building was completed in 1920. The statue was toppled in 2020 by protesters after the bodies of hundreds of children were found at former residential schools for Indigenous children. Protesters decapitated the statue and threw the head in a nearby river. Authorities, who determined that the statue was damaged beyond repair, haven't decided whether a new statue should go up in its place. (More Prohibition stories.)

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