The Beer Bandit Caper: The Mounties, Their Man, and Mexico's Missing Moosehead


120 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55109-546-7
DDC 364.16'2'097151





Reviewed by Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur is the author of The Rise of French New Brunswick and
H.H. Stevens, 1878–1973 and co-author of Silver Harvest. His latest
book is Horse-Drawn Carriages and Sleighs: Elegant Vehicles from New
England and New Brunswick.


The bizarre real-life story that inspired this book also inspired the
song “The Moose Is Loose,” whose first verse captures the key
events: “Wade Malcolm Haines, age thirty of no fixed address / Left in
a tractor trailer, number two headin’ west / He had fifty thousand
cans of beer, for a depot in TO / Part of a greater shipment, of
Moosehead for Mexico.”

Haines, a minor criminal with a record of drug abuse and petty theft,
admitted to hoisting the beer shipment but steadfastly refused to reveal
his accomplices, who later fenced all or part of 50,000 cases. Some of
the Spanish-labelled Moosehead was found on a remote road close to what
proved to be a marijuana grow-op site. The RCMP investigating team noted
that a few of the 104 cans bore the tooth marks of bears, prompting the
now-alert media and a well-known provincial cartoonist to depict two
bears sitting beside a case of El Moosehead in the middle of a marijuana

The first three sections of Sawler’s somewhat rambling book are
inevitably repetitious since they recount the main events from different
perspectives. The fourth section provides a detailed account of
Haines’s trial. The final section is based on interviews with, among
others, a retired high-school teacher who remembers Haines as a pleasant
and respectful student “who didn’t seem to have a lot going for him
in terms of a support system”; another retired teacher who became
Haines’s unofficial probation officer; and Haines’s mother, an
articulate public servant who had specialized, ironically, in human
resources issues. At one point, she remarks, “I did one of my [course]
papers on [Wade] when he was in Saint John Regional Correctional Centre
for the first time.” Not surprisingly, she had great difficulty
dealing with the Beer Bandit story.

Despite its flaws, The Beer Bandit Caper is a lively read that will
make you smile on one page and shake your head on the next.


Sawler, Harvey., “The Beer Bandit Caper: The Mounties, Their Man, and Mexico's Missing Moosehead,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024,