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A story about the Wicked Wilno Moonshine

Eganville Leader Reflections (reprint from one of our local papers)

75 years ago January 20, 1922


W.H. Williams, KC, of Pembroke showed up at the special session of the police court Wednesday night in Renfrew, a certain sign that there was something unusual on the docket.


Messrs. E.A. Wright and T.M. Costello represented the local bar and every seat was occupied by a crowd whose curiosity had been aroused by the advance notice of the hearing. Standing room was at a premium and the audience overflowed the capacity of the little room and half filled the corridor. The crowd received an object lesson in modern methods of manufacturing moonshine whiskey. The result of indulgence in that brand of beverage was, however, so disastrous that the man possessed of a modicum of caution will abstain from a venture in that line of manufacture.  One of the witnesses describing how he had made whiskey stated that when he sampled the product of his still the whole world became a blank at once.


The first case disposed of by Magistrate Devine was the charge against Albert Tomchick for having liquor in an unlawful place. Frank Yanda, arrested last week on a similar charge, pleaded guilty and paid a fine of $200.  Tomchick, through his attorney, Mr. Costello, pleaded guilty and was given the minimum fine, $100, on account of his youth.


Frank Stomptacosti, also from near Wilno, was then placed on trial on a charge of having in his possession material for the making of whiskey. Mr. Williams defended him and E.A. Wright appeared for Excise Officer W.E. Rowan of Arnprior and Provincial Officer Sylvester who had seized a crock of "mash" at the defendant's home gave testimony. The "mash", a mixture of grain, potatoes and sugar in a high state of fermentation, was all that the officers found as they were unable to locate a still.  The contents of the crocks emitted an odor like that of a wash house in a brewery.


Frank Yanda was taken from his cell in the police station to give evidence, the most of which was translated by an interpreter.  He admitted that he had made whiskey and described the process. The method of manufacture was fearful and wonderful, the ingredients many, consisting of grain, sugar, yeast cakes and the like.  The results were deadly.  The amateur distiller tasted the brew and immediately lapsed into a condition of coma. At least he was unable to give any account of what happened after his indulgence.  He swore that on a visit to the home of the defendant he had seen a large tin can simmering on the stove and swore that the young man had told him that the outfit was designed for the manufacture of liquor. When the crock of "mash" was submitted to the inspection of the witness he stated that it differed from what he had used, lacking some ingredient, yet he could not imagine no other use to which it could be put than in the preparation of home brew.


Taking the stand the defendant swore that the can that Yanda saw was a gasolene receptacle and that he was clearing it of ice when it was on the stove.  He denied that he used it for making whiskey or that any liquor had ever been made at his home.


After Messrs. Williams and Wright had presented their respective sides of the case, Magistrate Devine found the defendant guilty.  The minimum fine, $200, was imposed, the limit being $500.  The defendant paid the fine but Mr. Williams gave notice that the case will be appealed.


Antoine Burchat, also of Wilno, in whose house another crock of "mash" had been found by Officers Rowan and Sylvester, went to Arnprio Tuesday and delivered himself up to Officer Rowan. He was taken before Magistrate Craig of that town and on his plea of guilty was fined $200.  Yanda and Tomchick have still to stand trial on the charge of attempting to wreck a Grand Trunk train at Wilno.


The hearing of the charges against Yanda and Tomchick has been adjourned by Magistrate Devine until January 19 at the request of Mr. J.A. Champine of Ottawa, attorney for the Grand



Mr. T.M. Costello appeared for the defendants and consented to the arrangements.



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Monday, December 01, 2003