Tour Backgrounds

Tour Backgrounds

The Chicago Connection

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This story concerns the prohibition era and the role Moose Jaw played in supplying illegal liquor to the United States via the Soo Line and such infamous gangsters as Al Capone. On this tour, big Al’s people are in Moose Jaw to buy some illegal booze ­- from you. Do you dare make the connection? Step into the role of the bootlegger and enter the swirl and danger of life beneath the street. Featuring guides in character, superb sets within the tunnel matrix, multimedia, animatronics and special effects, you’ll be at the business end of the booze on this 45-minute tour that takes you to the throat of the roaring twenties.


Prohibition is the legal ban on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating drink. Many people believed a close relationship existed between drunkenness and the rising incidence of crime, poverty, and violence, concluding that the only way to protect society from this threat was to abolish the "drunkard-making business".

American Prohibition

On December 22, 1917, Congress submitted to the states the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” By January 1919, ratification was complete, with 80 percent of the members of 46 state legislatures recorded in approval.

Prohibition in Saskatchewan

Prohibition took effect on May 1, 1917. Prohibition in Saskatchewan ended in 1924. The end of Saskatchewan’s prohibition provided residents with an opportunity to sell liquor to the still dry United States.

Walter P. Johnson, Chief of Police

Walter Johnson was the west’s most infamous lawman. Under his benign reign, Moose Jaw reportedly became a hideout for American gangsters, and the centre of a well-organized rum-running operation to the United States. Head of an equally corrupt police force, Johnson succeeded only in confining gambling, bootlegging, opium smoking, and prostitution to the River Street area.  Rumour has it that Johnson provided refuge for gangsters on the lam, and in return, those same gangsters ensured that Moose Jaw would remain free from any serious crime.

Passage to Fortune

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Beginning from the late 19th century, this tour profiles the Chinese immigration - people who stood out in a new land where hard laws and attitudes forced them underground. Step into the role of the Chinese immigrant to Canada and immerse yourself in the sights, the sounds and the secrets of those days. Featuring superb sets within the tunnels, guides in character, multimedia, animatronics and special effects, you’ll be part of the action on this 45-minute tour that takes you right to the heart of history.

Emigration From China

Beginning in 1858, Chinese migration to Canada was a product of the forces that formed Chinese history:  population pressure, political weakness, foreign intervention, and natural catastrophes.  Canada provided a promise of hope and new beginnings to those who were searching for a better life.

Immigration to Canada

Chinese immigration to Canada took on two forms: coolie broker and chain migration. Coolie broker migration involved an indenture arrangement by which the immigrant worked off his indebtedness to the broker who had paid his passage to Canada from China before he was free to seek employment of his own. This type of migration was common in the late nineteenth century, providing gangs for construction and mining companies. Chain migration, on the other hand, was common after 1900 and occurred when an immigrant arrived in Canada on his own and worked until he was either able to return to China, or send for his family to join him in Canada.

Early Chinese Communities

By the 1880’s there were three identifiable settlement patterns among the Chinese community in Canada:  those who worked for non-Chinese companies such as the railroad, coal mines, canneries, and fisheries; those who provided commerce and service for a large body of independent Chinese miners; and those who served the white population as servants, tailors, cigar-makers, and vegetable sellers. These communities also provided the Chinese with services such as doctors, barbers, and teachers.

The Head Tax

In response to mounting anti-Chinese sentiment, the Canadian government implemented An Act to Restrict and Regulate Chinese Immigration to Canada in 1885. Section Four of the Act states, “Every person of Chinese origin shall pay…on entering Canada, at the port or other place of entry, the sum of fifty dollars.”  The new law had an immediate effect on Chinese immigration, as the number of migrants fell to 212 in 1886 from the thousands who had immigrated in the early 1880’s.  In 1887, the number of migrants fell even further to 124, but the following year Chinese immigration once again began to rise, and by 1890, annual numbers were once again over 1,000.  According to the census, there were 17,312 Chinese in Canada in 1901.  Chinese immigration, which had decreased in the late 1880’s, had greatly increased between 1889 and 1901 to over 2,000 arrivals per year.  Once again, responding to growing pressure from British Columbia, Ottawa passed the Chinese Immigration Act of 1900, which went into effect January 1,1902.  The Act raised the entry head tax from $50 per person to $100 per person, giving the province of British Columbia one-half of all the acquired head tax revenue.   Raising the head tax from $50 to $100 did very little to discourage Chinese immigration.  In 1903, there were 5,000 new arrivals, the largest ever for a single year.  The federal government responded by raising the head tax to $500 per migrant.  The government continued to collect the head tax until Chinese immigration was altogether halted with the passing of the “Exclusion Act” of 1923.