Prohibitions of the 1920s

in Canada

Alcohol is banned in Canada

To prevent drunkenness and misery, bars/taverns were shut down and alcohol was made illegal. Temperance leaders in society believed that alcohol was an obstacle for economical success, social cohesion, and moral/religious purity.

Temperance and Acts

The main temperance organizations were the Dominion Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. In 1864, the Drunken Act was passed. It stated that with a municipal majority vote, alcohol could be banned. The provincial and federal vote against alcohol came to Canada in 1878 which was called the Canada Temperance Act or the Scott Act.

Sacrifice for War

In 1901, the maritime provinces Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland along with the territory Yukon passed a prohibition on alcohol during World War I. Temperance from alcohol was seen as a patriotic duty for soldiers in order to help win the war.

The Canadian government was in charge of making and distributing alcohol though. So during World War I, Canada stopped the manufacturing and importation of liquor to the provinces that had prohibited alcohol.

Illegal Actions

Different provinces had different rules when it came to prohibiting alcohol. But in general it did not allow the selling, consumption, or possession of alcohol. Although, alcohol could be purchased from government dispensaries for industrial, scientific, mechanical, artistic, sacramental, and medical uses.

"Bootlegging" is the illegal sale of alcohol in a beverage. Bootlegging was becoming more and more popular in Canada. Illegal places where people drank were called "speakeasies" or "blind pigs". Another way to drink was if you were ill. Therefore, many people would try to take advantage of this and medical offices would have long lineups.

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The Repeal

Quebec rejected the prohibition in 1919 and was known as the "sinkhole" of North America. The provincial government of Quebec gained huge profits since other provinces did prohibit alcohol. Gradually, each of the provinces would vote "wet" instead of "dry. Here are the years that each province voted to allow alcohol:

British Columbia - 1920

Yukon - 1920

Manitoba - 1923

Alberta - 1924

Saskatchewan - 1924

Newfoundland - 1925

Ontario - 1927

New Brunswick - 1927

Nova Scotia - 1930

Prince Edward Island - 1948

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