The Bootlegger's Lady
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
Gerald J. Stortz is an assistant professor of history at St. Jerome’s
College, University of Waterloo.
Mike Frye is the son of the heroine of this work. Although no biographical data is provided for Ed Sager, it appears that he is a freelance historian.
According to the cover blurbs and the title, The Bootlegger’s Lady purports to be many things, including an account of early feminism, a tribute to the pioneer spirit, and the account of “an outlaw: one of the real old-time bad men” (p.9). Only in the latter case is it truly successful. Despite the title, the book is an account of the bootlegger rather than his lady. Frederick Frye, sometime contractor, full-time moonshiner, and constant drunk, finally abused his children and his wife so severely that she felt compelled to kill him. The women of the area (Prince George, B.C.) mobilized behind her and, because of the circumstances, a jury acquitted her.
There are some problems with this book. It is replete with the one-sentence paragraphs that first-year undergraduates are told never to write, and paragraphs of background detail are inserted at the most inappropriate places. The idea of Edith Frye as heroine is also somewhat forced. Despite these shortcomings, however, The Bootlegger’s Lady makes a good reading choice for those interested in the history of the Canadian west, an area too often neglected by those who write history for a living.