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Tag: Crowsnest Pass Museum

Photo of Emilio Picariello – man with short dark hair and large moustache

100 years since Crowsnest Pass rum-running murder

Notorious Crowsnest Pass bootlegger Emilio Picariello was hanged in 2022 for murdering APP constable Stephen Lawson.

When Alberta outlawed the importation of alcohol in 1918, Emilio Picariello excavated a room under the Blairmore Hotel (which he owned) and dug a tunnel leading to the road so he could smuggle liquor directly into his cellar.

The Alberta Provincial Police set up checkpoints throughout Crowsnest Pass to search for illegal liquor, but Emilio had ways to avoid getting caught.

At times, he would load his vehicles with what appeared to be sacks of flour. The sacks on the outside of the car, which were most susceptible to being searched, contained actual flour, which threw officers off the trail of the liquor inside the sacks in the vehicle.

Though it was widely known he was a bootlegger, Emilio was respected in the community. He gave his sacks of decoy flour to needy families, bought $5,000 in victory bonds during the First World War, and contributed money to the families of coal miners who were on strike in 1918.

Things started to go downhill for Emilio in 1921, when he was fined $20 by the APP after officers found four barrels of alcohol in his warehouse.

In 1922, APP officers recovered a whopping 70 barrels of beer from a railway car. The bill of lading had Emilio’s name on it and he was subsequently fined $500.


Blackstone griddle and water heaters on ad for Chief Mountain Gas Co-op in Pincher Creek


Emilio Picariello
Emilio Picariello     Photo courtesy of Crowsnest Museum and Archives


Later that year, officers received a tip that Emilio’s son, Stefano, was bringing a carload of whiskey to Blairmore from Fernie. Police met him outside the Blairmore Hotel, but Stefano attempted to escape with the whiskey.

A chase began in Coleman, with Const. Stephen Lawson firing shots in an attempt to stop the car. One of the bullets struck Stefano in the hand, but he was not seriously injured. When word of his son’s injury made it to Emilio later that evening, he and his housekeeper, Florence Lassandro, confronted Const. Lawson in front of the APP barracks.

An argument ensued between the two bootleggers and the constable. Shots were fired, and Const. Lawson was killed in front of his young daughter.

It’s not known for certain whether it was Emilio or Florence who pulled the trigger and killed the constable, but both were eventually convicted of murder and hanged. Florence is the only woman to ever be hanged in Alberta.

The APP Barracks, restored a few years ago by the Crowsnest Historical Society, are open to the public. The exhibit can be explored by going to the Crowsnest Museum at 7701 18th Ave. in Coleman.

Here, you can explore where Const. Lawson lived, worked and was killed. You will learn more about Alberta’s Prohibition history and can decide for yourself who murdered the constable.


Shelves of bottled liquor in an ad for Town & Country Liquor Store in Pincher Creek

Canada Day events galore!

Canada Day events in Pincher Creek

In Pincher Creek, Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village will host a day of family activities starting at 10 a.m. There will be a bouncy castle and traditional picnic activities, including a three-legged race, a sack race and an egg race.

Blue Rock Entertainment will DJ the event and Noel Burles will perform live music. Admission is free, and burgers and ice cream will be sold. A beer garden will also be available.


Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village curator Farley Wuth grins widely as he shows off his sparkly Canada Day hat.
Farley Wuth, curator of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek, and museum staff look forward to welcoming a big crowd on Canada Day.


The day will finish with DJ Stu broadcasting live from the agriculture grounds on 103.5 FM, starting at 9 p.m. Families can gather to enjoy the music and fun at the outdoor venue that will conclude with a fireworks display at 11.

Organizers request that dogs be left at home.

The duck race along Pincher Creek and the Legion’s afternoon market have both been cancelled.



Canada Day events in Cowley

Cowley hasn’t held a Canada Day celebration since the country’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

“It’s been a long time since people have had the opportunity to actually come to a public open event,” says Mayor Barbara Burnett. “I think it’s long overdue.”

A large turnout is expected, with some people coming from as far as Claresholm and Taber.

“There has been a lot of interest in the village,” says Mayor Burnett. “Recent house sales have gone immediately. Within two weeks they sold. One even sold for $30,000 over market price.”

“We’re just trying to make the village visible,” she says, adding that the desire to make Cowley more attractive to outsiders, and to give the community more of a regional spotlight, were primary motivators behind the decision to host the event.



The festivities will start with a pancake breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. at Cowley Community Hall, where MLA Roger Reid and MP John Barlow will make an appearance.

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., car enthusiasts can display their classic cars at a show and shine by the railway tracks across from the post office.

They will also have an opportunity to take part in the parade that will begin at 11 a.m. at the corner of First Avenue and Highway 510 and circle around the northwest end of the village past the railway tracks. Parade preparation will begin around 10:15 a.m. and registration is not required.

Mayor Burnett says the event committee extended parade invitations to the Cowley Boat Club, to a provincewide gun group known as the Alberta Black Powder Association and to all Cowley residents aged 75 or older.



The community hall will be filled with a variety of activities, including a market that will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a heritage display with historic photos of the village. Locals will have the opportunity to play cards and Rene Desjardins will provide musical accompaniment, likely country and classic rock.

There will be plenty of family-friendly activities, including face-painting, soccer and equipment demonstrations from Cowley Fire Department. The fire crew will also be flipping hamburgers starting at noon.

Children are encouraged to set up their own lemonade stands, and Cowley resident Norm Walker has arranged for free ice cream.



Canada Day events in Crowsnest Pass

Pre-pandemic events are making a comeback in Crowsnest Pass and Canada Day will start with breakfast and a parade.

From 8 to 10 a.m., folks can head over to the Coleman Legion for pancakes — $8 for anyone 13 or older, $5 for children aged five to 12, and free for children under five.

The parade will depart from Flumerfelt Park at 11 a.m. and pass through downtown Coleman. Entry applications are still being accepted.


Coleman Community Society Canada Day parade float
The Coleman Community Society, which puts on Canada Day activities in Crowsnest Pass, with its float in a past Canada Day parade.


From noon to 4, Flumerfelt Park will be a hub of activity, complete with a bouncy house, a splash pad and inflatable bumper balls. Guitarist Kevin Smith will perform live music and Harvest Spoon and Snacknhand will sell burgers, pizza cones and fries.

Cake will be passed around at 1 p.m.from 8 to 10 a.m.

The mini heritage railway train will be making rounds near the Canadian Pacific Railway line junction off 133rd Street, and children can take a free ride any time in the afternoon.



Crowsnest Cando has arranged for live musical entertainment in front of Roxy Theatre, located on Coleman’s main thoroughfare.

The lineup includes Tynan Groves, Larry Whan, Lani Folkard, Sarah Lillian,the Big Beat and On the Rox, with music starting at 1 p.m.

Raffle tickets will be on sale for a chance to win Roxy merch and a Canada Day cake.

Everyone is invited to visit Crowsnest Pass Museum to check out the newly updated exhibits on the second floor, or to stop by the Alberta Provincial Police Barracks to take part in Escape the Barracks, its latest attraction, launching July 1.



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