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

LCBO Surveillance Technologies

Punch Cards, IBM & Statistical Analysis


The Identification of Listed Individuals 1927–75

The Board employed several technological means of identifying individuals, making their classification known to LCBO employees and enabling the “proper” response dictated by regulations. Most notably it employed the liquor permit to distinguish an individual’s classification. However, those who were sorted by the Board’s various disciplinary systems were primarily identified through the Interdiction List. The list itself was quite simple, denoting only name, address, date of the order, and the regional district in which the individual was classified.

Circular 37 Interdiction List

The Board sent out complete lists to all of its stores, police, breweries, and liquor-selling establishments on a weekly basis, and local staff reviewed and familiarized themselves with those listed. The LCBO’s Instructions to Vendors in 1927 expanded this procedure, stating:

Lists will be forwarded to you, from time to time, giving the names of persons interdicted or otherwise debarred from obtaining permits and these lists must be kept in a convenient place and referred to as occasion demands. The persons’ names on such lists will be debarred from obtaining permits of liquor until you receive instructions to the contrary from the Board. (LCBO Instructions to Vendors Form 85, 1927)

Years later, in its 1951 Manual of Instructions and Regulations, the Board again reminded its employees:
Individual Liquor permits must not be issued to interdicted or prohibited persons, that is, persons to whom the sale of liquor is prohibited by order of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Such persons are listed weekly by the Permit Department and a copy of this list is forwarded to Store Vendors throughout Ontario. Care must be taken to see that each issuer of permits is familiar with the names of all prohibited or interdicted persons in his District. (LCBO Handbook 1951: 23)

Once received, these lists were to be “watched closely” for “names of cancelled persons” in the district (LCBO Circular no. 1363, 1932). The Board’s monthly, and later, weekly lists were also supplemented with additional names through a standard form distributed from head office. At the top, the affected licenced establishments were listed, while at the bottom copies of the list updates were recorded as sent to the LCBO’s local hotel inspector, the local standard hotels, legions, LCBO stores, and the chief inspector of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

Interdiction List Update

As some authors suggest, the use of a person’s name and address as the sole identifying technology would have largely limited the effectiveness of liquor interdictions in larger, especially urban, areas in which the vendors would not be familiar with the bulk of their customers (Valverde, 2004: 571; LCBO Circular no. 829, 1929). In response to the challenge of identifying listed individuals, some later interdiction files included an “Individual Record Form” that described the individual in much greater detail. We should not let metropolitan bias distort the role that supplementary information played in bureaucratic discrimination and the subjugations it entailed.

Individual Record

The Individual Record Form, which at times was accompanied by a photograph of the named person, offered a detailed physical description, explained liquor preference, and specified locations at which the individual was known to drink. In this sense it was expansive in terms of the personal information it captured. In addition, it also provided marital and employment status and depicted the history of interactions with police. These forms were initially filled out by the LCBO’s inspectors, or those investigating an individual for interdiction, and were designed to identify these individuals. Over the years the form was altered slightly, yet the information it contained remained the same until the enforcement department of the LCBO was absorbed by the LLBO in 1975 (LCBO Interdiction List 1929–75). Although the sheer volume of permittees visiting LCBO stores in urban areas would obviously have had an impact on the degree to which vendors and staff of licenced establishments could check new applicants against the Interdiction List, the LCBO lauded the list as a successful means of making these individuals known and of controlling cases of misuse (LCBO Annual Report 1966–67: 5).

The Board also kept personalized files on all listed individuals, with detailed information gathered through its investigations (LCBO Interdiction List 1929–75) (see The Interdiction Process). The files, maintained at head office, allocated “Investigation and Classification” cards that allowed readers to quickly identify to whom the file belonged, what materials were present, and any previous action taken by the Board.

Interdiction Prohibition Classification

Investigation and Classification cards included the basic personal information of the investigated individual, complete with name and address and large sections devoted to classifying the investigation by: complaint (reason for the investigation), who initiated the investigation (W-wife, H-husband, C-court, P-police), the date the report was submitted by the LCBO investigation, whether or not police reports had been submitted from city police (C. of P.) or the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) or another body, and eight possible “conclusions” (FBO– Full Board Order 1 year, UF–Full Board Order Until Further Notice, HC–Limited Home Consumption, LE–Limited Non-Home Consumption, NC–No Conclusion, WL–Warning Letter, PP and HCPP– Premise Declared Public Place, and J–Judge’s Order of Interdiction). Each of these classifications had different implications for the user, with a wide range of severity (implications around conversion of property were, perhaps, the most draconian).

<< The Interdiction Process
Unequal Application of Interdiction (1953-1975)
Social Sorting and the LCBO

Interdiction List History
The LCBO’s Cancellation List 1927–36

The Prohibited List 1929–65
Preventative Cancellations 1930–75
The Interdiction List (LCBO Action) 1965–75
The Identification of Listed Individuals 1927–75
Assessment and Analysis of Listed Individuals >>