Tuesday September 02, 2014

Tragedy at Bienfait, Sask.

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There was a reign of lawlessness ever since the establishment of wholesale liquor exports warehouses in villages and towns along the international boundary. This was brought directly home to Yorkton residents on the night of October 6, 1922 when Paul Matoff was murdered in Bienfait, Sask. Matoff was Harry Bronfman's brother-in-law, married to his sister Jean. The Yorkton Enterprise tells us that Matoff was well known around Yorkton. In the early part of the fatal night "he had disposed of a cargo of liquor and following the usual procedure, went to the C.P.R. depot to turn the money over to the Dominion Express Company, to be dispatched to Regina. The bootleggers followed him, shot him in cold blood through the window then entered the building and removed the money from his person, holding the operator with their guns at bay until they secured the body. Then they made their escape in a high powered Cadillac car." Two men were charged, but the justice system was not able to convict them. The murder was never solved.

The tragic event for the Bronfman family sent Harry into a depression and caused the family to rethink the Saskatchewan environment for continued business ventures. It also prompted the Provincial government to take a second look at the numerous warehouses along the border. These were closed and Harry began to downsize and close businesses, to move in 1923 to Winnipeg, and in 1924 to Montreal to join Sam, where the family got together to found an empire in the liquor trade, still serving markets — legal and illegal in the United States until 1933 when Prohibition was voted out.

Contact Terri Lefebvre Prince, Heritage Researcher,
City of Yorkton Archives,
Box 400, 37 Third Avenue North,
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3
306-786-1722 herit...@yorkton.ca



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