A connection has turned up between a former public enemy number one in the U.S. and the peaceful, law-abiding province of Newfoundland. Al Capone terrorized Chicago during prohibition as the number one gangster. Now new evidence has turned up Capone may once have visited Newfoundland.
He was notorious in the 1920's and 30's for bootlegging whiskey, gambling, prostitution, and other rackets. He was the most high profile gangster in America. It seems he may have, at least once, taken a break from all that to spend some time in Newfoundland.
The Newfoundland connection begins with Bobby Robertson, known to Newfoundlanders as an archivist who worked well up into her nineties.
But in her younger days, Robertson was a Newfoundland government official who hobnobbed with the pillars of society. Before her death, Robertson showed her family a Hotel Newfoundland menu from 1931. It was autographed by people attending a dinner party. There's Bobby's signature. And just below it is the name Al Capone, Chicago, Illinois.
"We had actually seen it," says granddaughter Margaret Rowe, "but we didn't give it a whole lot of credibility at the time."
"But she told you Al Capone was at the Hotel Newfoundland?"
"And that she had been at a dinner party with him, yes."
"What else did she say?"
"Not a lot. We perhaps should have pursued it..."
Recently a family member went on the internet and retrieved a copy of Al Capone's signature. It's similar to the one on the menu, and it revived interest.
"It's intriguing," says Rowe, "You wonder about the whole story actually. If there's any more to it. But nothing really surprises me about my grandmother and who she hobnobbed with."
There's no mention of Al Capone in Newfoundland's historical records, but what would he have been doing here? Crime historian Jack Fitzgerald says Capone had a liquor warehouse in St. Pierre, and might have come to Newfoundland on business: "And there was also the prospect of him having competition from Newfoundland fishermen who had turned to rum running."
So Bobby Robertson may have added a new piece to Newfoundland history. And her family may be left with a valuable piece of property.
Is it for sale? "For the right price, of course it's for sale," says Rowe, "but it's more just an interest for us and pursuing its validity."