The Nellie J. Banks was a two-masted schooner built in Nova Scotia in 1910. She was designed and used for fishing until 1926, when she was bought by two men who thought that she would be perfect for rum running to Prince Edward Island, which was under Prohibition at the time. The crew, with their illicit cargo, would sail to just outside the island’s three mile limit so that the authorities couldn’t touch them and under the cover of darkness, their PEI cohorts would row out to the Nellie J. Banks and pick up the load of hooch. This was a lucrative business for them until 1938, when the government, determined to catch this most famous smuggling ship, sneakily changed the limit to twelve miles but neglected to inform the public of this. The Nellie J. Banks was about six miles off the coast of PEI when the RCMP cutter Ulna confronted and seized the ship and its cargo. She was eventually sold and renamed the Leona G. Maguire, but the Nellie J. Banks is still a legend on the island, inspiring songs and stories. One of the most famous songs is by a singer/songwriter from PEI: Lennie Gallant, entitled naturally enough The Nellie J. Banks. (https://www.52-pickup.ca/leona.htm)
In 1941, Nellie J. Banks was renamed Leona G. Maguire, after her new captain’s daughter. In the early part of 1943, a sea Captain named Roberts lived aboard her in Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island. In 1947, she was permanently tied up in Murray Harbour, PEI. Around 1950, when she had become too old and an eyesore, Maquire decided to pull the schooner out of the water and rebuild her. John MacDonald was selected as the right man to do this, but once she was pulled up near his home in Murray Harbour, PEI, the money did not come fast enough to effect the necessary repairs, and the ship’s condition worsened. Finally, she became an eyesore, a pitifully lonely sight on the edge of the water. The land on which she was propped up was sold.
The new landowner, Joe Bell, convinced William Harris that he had permission from Captain Maquire to burn the boat. One night in 1953, he went with oily rags, newspapers, and matches to put her out of her misery.
Though she died as the Leona G. Maguire, she was born and lived as the Nellie J. Banks, just off our marina, Nellie’s Landing.
(Thank you to Lennie Gallant for allowing us to use this video!)