Chronicles of Duncan MacLeod: Trouble Brewing

By 1946 Duncan MacLeod, still in his teens, was already a seasoned drinker. He also hadn’t forgotten his experience brewing moonshine with his uncles. One day he and a couple of friends decided they would brew their own beer. His friend Ralphy MacDonald’s father had a little place out on Hornes Road that was empty at certain times of the year; the boys hatched a plan to go out there and brew beer, not to sell but to drink. And that was exactly what they did.

Things didn’t go exactly according to plan, however. Once the beer was brewed and the bottles capped, the boys loaded them into Ralphy’s old Ford Model A and they began the journey back to Sydney. Ralphy was a notoriously slow driver — which somehow earned him the nickname Creepin’ Jesus — but the road was rough and bumpy, and the old Model A still ended up going off the road several times. All that bumping and swerving took its toll on the beer, which began exploding out of the bottles, which hadn’t been properly capped in the first place. No, things weren’t going according to plan at all.

But things soon got worse. As the car jerked around yet another turn, it was met by an RCMP roadblock. It seems a friend who hadn’t been able to get in on the beer-brewing action had decided to snitch on the boys. Duncan and his friends drove right into the hands of the police and were caught red-handed with their carload of home-brew. Things had just gone from bad to worse.

As Duncan already knew, though, things had a funny way of working out, somehow…and they would here as well. The sight of these hapless boys, soaked from head to toe in beer and looking all dejected, made the RCMP officers crack up. They poured out the beer that was still in the bottles — which wasn’t much — and told the boys they weren’t going to charge them with anything. Just stay out of trouble, they said, between chuckles and knee-slaps.

I don’t think Duncan MacLeod ever tried to brew his own beer again. He did, however, drink enough of it and various other alcoholic drinks to eventually earn him the nickname Drunken Duncan. But that is a story for another day.


Chronicles of Duncan MacLeod is a series of posts on my MacLeod ancestors, based on a combination of research and stories told to me by my grandfather, Duncan MacLeod. To read other posts in the series, click here.