The bootlegger caves of Roche Percee

The "Finding Al" crew took a drive out to Roche Percee to check out the caves where bootleggers are said to have hid their alcohol. 

Deirdre Capone, the grandniece of Al Capone, said she heard about these caves growing up. The Soo Rail Line, which Al Capone was rumoured to take, connected Chicago to Roche Percee up to Moose Jaw. The establishment of this rail line helped the coal industry take off in the Roche Percee area. 

Before the rail line was established, coal was shipped by barge down the Souris River, to the Assiniboine River, and onto Winnipeg. Underground operations began to give way to surface “strip” mining by electric shovels in the 1930s. As such, a lot of the original landscape around Roche Percee has been destroyed and resurfaced with new grassland. Today, there are only two companies mining coal in the area.

In 2011, flooding on the Souris River inundated the approximately 162 residents of Roche Percee, forcing its residents to evacuate. Over half of the 64 homes in Roche Percee were damaged beyond repair, and had to be demolished.
When the "Finding Al" crew was there, the village was in the process of being rebuilt. Some people were housed in temporary trailers as their homes were being reconstructed.

One woman is rebuilding her house on stilts, so if the river ever floods again, she will not be affected by the rising water.

Roche Percee is a 10-minute drive away from Estevan, just off Hwy 39. It is located in the beautiful Souris River Valley near the American border.

In 1874, the North-West Mounted Police established the Short Creek Camp at Roche Percee.

Referred to by local residents as "The Rocks," it has large sandstone deposits in which some caves have formed. The name of the village comes from the M├ętis name of the rock formations, which means "pierced rock" in French.

Photos of Roche Percee by Thomas Bartlett