Another Capone coming to Little Chicago

Director of photography Lowell Dean films Kelly Carty at work at the Tunnels of Moose Jaw
Photo: Thomas Bartlett
By Nathan Liewicki
Moose Jaw Times-Herald
Published on August 13, 2013

Al Capone had been to Moose Jaw, and now his grandniece is preparing to visit Little Chicago.

"People are interested in the story of prohibition in the United States, how it started, why the United States government outlawed consumption of alcohol and how it was beneficial for Canadians," said Deirdre Capone.

The 73-year-old family historian will be making her first trip to southern Saskatchewan, and speaking in the Mae Wilson Theatre at the Moose Jaw Cultural Centre (MJCC) on Aug. 27 at 7p.m. She will share family stories and photos at the event. People in attendance will also have a chance to meet her.

"I'm quite excited she's coming here," said Tunnels of Moose Jaw Human Resources Cast Director Kelly Carty. "It's great that we are embracing our history because in the past people wouldn't talk about it."

Producer Kelly-Anne Riess speaks with Kelly Carty
at the Tunnels of Moose Jaw attraction
Photo by Thomas Bartlett

Kelly-Anne Riess, who is currently filming a documentary about Al Capone, Finding Al, invited Deirdre to come to Moose Jaw. Riess thought Capone might like to see some of the tunnels and caves her grandfather, Ralph, and granduncle used to frequent. She is also organizing the event at the MJCC.

"We will be finishing up production of the documentary over the coming months and having Deirdre visit some of the sites in and around Moose Jaw captured on film will be great," Riess said.

Whether or not Al Capone actually referred to Moose Jaw as 'God's Country' is unknown, but America's then public enemy number one was a frequent visitor to the area. And when he came here, he made sure to stock up on alcohol.
"People still wanted alcohol. My family prided themselves on providing top quality alcohol," Capone said. "They went to Canada. They caught the best stuff and they served it to their customers."
Capone has appeared on numerous radio stations and television talk shows since her memoirs, Uncle Al Capone: The Untold Story from Inside His Family, came out about 18 months ago. However, when she has taken to Canadian airwaves something different happens.

"People (in Canada) are very interested in my granduncle, my grandfather and their story. Every time I would appear on one of those shows, my book would go up to being a bestseller in the categories that it was posted," Capone noted.

However, life was not always easy for Capone. In fact, she referred to it as far from easy.
"I hid for most of my life and it was very painful to grow up in the city of Chicago with the name Dierdre Capone. It was very painful," she said. "I didn't even tell my own children about their heritage." 

She and her husband fled Chicago in 1972 when her husband got a chance to start a business in Minnesota. Capone thought that up in Minnesota she could escape her past and literally start her life over again, and she did.
Finding Al Director of Photography Lowell Dean hard at work
at the Tunnels of Moose Jaw
Photo: Thomas Bartlett
That was until one day when one of her four children came home from school and told her that he had learned about a gangster named Al Capone.

"I thought I was going to faint. It was like somebody knocked the wind out of me. I had no idea that kids in school, especially in Minnesota, were studying about my family," Capone said.

It was at that point she knew her children needed to hear the truth. After summoning them to the kitchen, Capone told them Al Capone was her granduncle.

"They looked back at me and the four of them in unison went, 'cool mom,'" she recalled. "I wasn't expecting that."

Years later, when two of Capone's youngest sons were studying at Northwestern University in Chicago, The Untouchables came out in theaters. They told her to tell others that the Capones were not bad people.

Producer Kelly-Anne Riess speaks with Kelly Carty
at the Tunnels of Moose Jaw attraction
Photo by Thomas Bartlett
"I'll tell people who ask me, was Al Capone a mobster, yes he was. Was Al Capone a monster? No he was not. You can't find any negative information about Al Capone or my grandfather after they served their sentence for income tax evasion.

"There is not another person in the world who has information about the Capone family that I do. I've lived with them. I'm a core member of this family," Capone said.

She said she wrote the book to try and share a different side of the story because there is so much misinformation out there courtesy of "gangsterologists". Those are historians who, as Capone puts it, think they know more than they really do about her granduncle.

Capone added that family members encouraged her to write the book, but only after all of the original members had passed away. She is also in the midst of writing a second book, which will rightfully identify her family members.

"It's still kind of scary for me to be out there, but I know my ancestors up there in heaven are cheering me on," Capone said. "At 73 years old I shouldn't have the energy I have, but it's like I'm on this quest."