War on Whisky at the Pickering Museum Village

Posted : March 4, 2021

Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.

There’s a mystery to be solved at the Pickering Museum Village. Rocco Perri, Ontario’s legendary bootlegger and crime boss, might be operating an illegal speakeasy in the Brougham-Temperance Hotel. A bad batch of whisky is taking the lives of unsuspecting drinkers. Is there a connection between the hotel and the tainted booze? It’s up to you to find out.

Man Wearing Hat
Two Men with Whiskey

This 1920’s Escape Room adventure is presented as part of the Drama in Durham: War on Whisky tours through South Durham, in cooperation with York Durham Headwaters’ Temperance & Temptation Tour. The 45-minute mystery is designed for groups of two to six people. Come for a date night, a family night, or a night out with friends from your social bubble. Check the Pickering Museum Village site for available dates, times and price of admission. Call 905-683-8401 for assistance. [Click here to learn more about Rocco Perri, Canada’s Al Capone.]

People in Escape Room

Click here to hear and download the audio files for the seven regional brewers and one winemaker featured on the Temperance & Temptation self-guided driving tour. Learn how the “bluenoses” who supported Prohibition were thwarted by the bootleggers and moonshiners who defied the movement and the law.

Also featured at the Pickering Museum Village starting in April 2021: The Roaring 20’s Drive Thru. Hop in your jalopy and motor back in time to the days of Prohibition in the South Durham Region.

Behind the scenes (things to look out for) at the Roaring 20’s Drive Thru:

Woman with Sign
  • Look out for signs of bootlegging activity! Ontario lakeshore communities like Pickering were active in smuggling liquor into the United States (whose Prohibition went on for 6 years beyond our own). Police forces did their best to stake out suspected bootleggers. Local hotels like the Brougham ran “blind pigs” (speakeasies) where guests could pay to gaze at an unfortunate animal and have a complimentary drink. Cheers!
  • The fashions of 1920’s Ontario have been recreated by a small army of skilled South Durham volunteers. Costume designs, fabrics and colours are all authentic. Thank goodness for those old Eaton’s catalogues!
  • Sanitized Mp3 audio players provided let you hear radio and music from the 1920’s along with stories to guide you on the drive. Doing the Charleston in the car is not recommended.

Check the PVM website for available dates, times and prices.

Glad Rags and Giggle Juice Walking Tour

Woman Dancing

As you and your pandemic bubble crew (up to 9 people) walk through the Village, you’ll learn about Pickering’s lively 1920’s music scene, including local born recording artist Bert Harvey. Learn how the widely unpopular restrictions of Prohibition led to bootlegging. And learn about local coping strategies.

Record Player

After your walk, follow the Temperance & Temptation Tour Guide to an area brewery to quench your thirst.

Also in the area, visit the Canadian Automotive Museum and Parkwood Estate. Both are joining with the Pickering Museum Village to offer 1920’s-themed and COVID-safe tours. The CAM tour is showing 1920’s vintage automobiles, and the Parkwood Estate was built during Ontario’s Prohibition years.

Parkwood Estate Pool Table
Parkwood Book
Parkwood Estate Oshawa

After all of this, you might feel like a drink. But please wait until you’re safe at home. Don’t drink and drive!

Special thanks to Laura Gibbs, Supervisor of Museum Services at Pickering Museum Village

by Rob Morphy

Toronto writer & artist with YDH dreams

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