Punched Drunk: Alcohol, Surveillance and the LCBO, 1927-1975

LCBO Surveillance Technologies

Punch Cards, IBM & Statistical Analysis


Surveillance of Licenced Establishments

When prohibition ended in Ontario in 1927 serving liquor in any public establishment remained illegal. It was not until 1934 that changes in the Liquor Control Act and LCBO Regulations allowed for the licencing of beverage rooms within standard hotels. The Board claimed that beverage rooms would be organized with “temperance in mind” and developed a strict set of mandatory regulations for them (“Legislature Endorses” The Globe March 28 1934). Specifically, the LCBO sought to enforce the rules based on an unstated set of value expectations: moderation, industry, individual self-reliance and a heterosexual puritism” which related to “the welfare of the family, protection of children and absence of sexual misconduct” (Malleck 2005: 64-65). The LCBO’s new drinking establishments were stark and utilitarian in their design, they were simply furnished and displayed nothing on the walls other than “official notices, calendars, clocks, a few small brewery posters and a simple announcement of the beers on tap” (Heron 2005: 16).

The Return of Drinking Establishments 1934
– When the LCBO stores opened in 1927 alcohol was only to be drunk within the purchasers homes. It was not until 1934 that the LCBO licensed standard hotels to sell beer and liquor to patrons. Unlike the bars of today the “beverage rooms”, as they were called, of these hotels were strictly forbidden to play music, allow dancing or women. (Read More)

Ladies and Escorts – Women wanting to drink outside of their homes were separated from the married and unattached men and segregated to a specified room specifically for ladies and escorts. Women within these spaces were required to be overseen by “bona fide escorts” and were to strictly avoid contact with anyone from the men’s beverage room. (Read More)