On today’s date in 1929, Canadian ambassador Vincent Massey protested against the sinking of the Canadian schooner I’m Alone.
In 1969, Canada Post featured Massey – the first Canadian-born governor general – on a 6-cent stamp (Scott No. 491) printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company.
On April 9, 1929, Massey wrote the U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson to protest the sinking of the Canadian schooner.
“Sir, – I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. [W. R.] Castle’s note of March 28th, 1929, in which the transmitted to me information furnished by the appropriate authorities of the Government of the United States concerning the sinking of the Canadian schooner I’m Alone by the United States Coast Guard on March 22nd. I did not fail to bring the contents of this note immediately to the notice of His Majesty’s Government of Canada, and I have now been instructed by the Secretary of State for External Affairs to thank you for the promptness with which my request for information was compiled with, and to direct your attention to certain aspects of the incident.”
I’m Alone was used as a rum runner during American Prohibition. Built in Nova Scotia in 1923, the schooner transported contraband alcohol for more than half a decade. On March 22, the I’m Alone was intercepted in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana by U.S. Coast Guard Wolcott (USCGC) upon returning from Belize with liquor. The crew of the I’m Alone disobeyed orders to stop and was shelled by USCGC Dexter, eventually sinking. Seven of the ship’s eight crew members were rescued; however, the eighth died. The surviving crew members, including captain John Randell, were arrested and jailed in New Orleans.
The sinking ignited tensions between Canada and the U.S., with Massey criticizing the actions of his neighbours to the south. The Canadian government sued for damages, and coast guard intelligence personnel were able to demonstrate in international arbitration the owners of the I’m Alone were Americans, despite the ship’s Canadian registry.