Maxime Albert: Smuggler or businessman?
Maxime Albert was born in the parish of Saint-Hilaire in 1871. After having started out in the agricultural industry, Albert expanded his business to the food and hotel industry and to the sales of soft drinks. Owner of the Royal Hotel in Saint-Hilaire and of the Long Lake Sporting Cub in Saint-Agatha in the State of Maine, Maxime Albert quickly became one of the most prosperous businessman in his parish.
Maxime Albert and Alfred J. Lévesque
Born in Frenchville, Maine in 1893, Alfred Levesque made his home in Saint-Hilaire where he rubbed shoulders and did business with Maxime Albert. He then moved to Riviere-Bleue in the Province of Quebec where he became owner of a hotel, a restaurant, a general store, a barber shop and a soft drink plant-Levesque did not thrive in a small business environment and he had an imaginative smuggler's mind. His exploits had won him the reputation of being a nervy smuggler. In the 1920's, Levesque made front page news, among others, for having hi-jacked a train in order to cross a cargo of alcohol into the United States. Similarly, he again made the top stories in 1924 for having initiated a blockade of approximately 400 smugglers in Sully to prevent the arrest of one of his associates.
In collaboration with his colleague Antonio Graveline of Levis, Alfred Levesque engineered one of the greatest alcohol smuggling network towards the United States and originating in the Province of Quebec. No fewer than 10 vessels were importing spirits from Newfoundland and Saint-Pierre et Miquelon for their ventures. Levesque was also distilling his own alcohol at his summer residence in Notre-Dame-du-Lac; illicit spirits that he distributed fraudulently using the labels of renowned companies.
After a mandate for his arrest had been issued in 1933, Levesque surrendered himself to the Palais de Justice de Quebec where he was tried and sentenced to the penitentiary in 1934. The dismantling of Levesque's smuggling network and the repeal of the majority of Prohibition Laws in Canada and the United States in the 1920's and 1930's marked the end of the Bootleggers' Golden Years in Eastern Canada.