There’s no doubt that, because Rocco and Bessie Perri settled in Hamilton in 1915 and used it as a base for their bootlegging operation for decades, a lot of important events in The Whisky King take place there. But the book has a much bigger scope than that.
Here’s just a partial list of the towns and cities where significant events in The Whisky King take place:
- Toronto, ON
- Chicago, IL
- Springfield, MA
- Massena, NY.
- Calgary, AB
- Moose Jaw, SK
- Regina, SK
- Winnipeg, MB
- Niagara Falls, NY
- Niagara Falls, ON
- St. Catharines, ON
- Montreal, QC
- Guelph, ON
- Cobalt, ON
- Elk Lake, ON
- Thorold, ON
Of these, the city that crops up most frequently in the book besides Hamilton is Toronto. Here’s a partial list of the significant events in The Whisky King that occurred in the GTA.
- The Ashbridges Bay tragedy and inquest
- The murder of Frank Sciarrone
- The trial of Sciarrone’s murderer, Frank Griro
- The beginning of Rocco Perri and Bessie Starkman’s relationship
- The re-opening of the Gooderham & Worts distillery
- The publishing of a sensational 1924 interview with Rocco Perri
- The poison liquor crisis of 1926
- The testimony of Rocco and Bessie at the Royal Commission on Customs and Excise and the Gooderham & Worts trial
- The arrest of Ned Italiano and discovery of Bessie Perri’s link to the narcotics trade.
- The discovery of Rocco’s illegal distilling operation.
- The arrest of Rocco Perri and Anne Newman.
- The murder of James Windsor
All of this is to say that the universe of The Whisky King expands well beyond the confines of Hamilton. It’s a saga that sweeps across many regions and events in Canadian history.