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

LCBO Surveillance Technologies

Punch Cards, IBM & Statistical Analysis


Making a Purchase

The purchase process required three different pieces of surveillance technologies. First, when a person went into an LCBO store to buy alcohol they had to fill in a written order, or “purchase order form” (LCBO Form 19, 1927-1937, Form S-23, 1937-1970s). On these forms the purchaser had to fill in the type and amount of liquor requested, the date, their permit book number, and then sign it at the bottom and submit it to the LCBO store’s vendor (Liquor Control Act 1927, c.70, s.32.2(d)).

Second, an individual’s permit book, containing a record of all past purchases, would be inspected by the vendor to see that purchases had not reached an excessive level or that the individual was not purchasing beyond his/her economic means.

And third, if the level of purchases was deemed acceptable by the vendor, then the new sale would be written into the liquor permit book, the purchase form would be signed by the purchaser, and finally both would be endorsed by the vendor either by a stamp or the vendor’s initials (Vendor Instructions 1927: 1).

Since each of these three technologies – the liquor permit book, purchase order form and vendor’s stamp – were required for all legal liquor purchases, and all were individually numbered, they made visible all of the individual actions of both liquor purchasing permit holders and liquor selling employees (LCBO Circular 1758, 1935). As the LCBO’s 1927 Vendor Instructions details each individual actor in the purchase process was required to perform very specific acts:


1. Customer will fill in purchase order form (form No.19 for cash and carry sales and form 19a for delivery sale) as to date, brand number, quantity, kind, unit price, amount, permit number and address.
2. This form must be signed by the customer at the permit endorser’s wicket and in full view of the permit endorser.
3. Hand purchase order and permit to permit endorser who will hand it back after making the necessary entries on the permit.
4. Take purchase order to cashier’s wicket and pay for the goods. Purchase order will be received back from the cashier after being stamped by the cash register.
5. Present purchase order at counter and if a cash and carry sale, take delivery of the goods from the counterman.

Permit Endorser’s Duties

1. Watch the customer signing the purchase order.
2. If permit holder wishes to purchase through a messenger he must fill out and sign an order which the messenger must present with the permit. The messenger must fill out a purchase order in the usual manner and sign his own signature.
3. Where the purchaser is unable to write, the permit endorser may fill out the purchase order and have the purchaser sign it by making his mark which will be witnessed by the permit endorser.
eg.          His
        John X Jones
4. See that purchase orders are filled out properly and completely.
5. Compare signatures on purchase order with signature on the customer’s permit, and permit number on purchase order with number on permit.
6. The maximum quantity a Permit Holder can obtain at one time is one case of liquor or wine or two cases of beer.
7. Check pricing on purchase order and correct if necessary, advising the customer of any changes.
8. See that customer is not on the interdict list.
9. Examine permit and see to what extent the purchaser has been buying liquor. If purchaser has exceeded a reasonable quantity per week, note permit number and address and refer to vendor later.
10. If purchaser order and permit are in order fill in back of permit details of purchase. Stamp purchase order with rubber stamp “Endorsed” as indication to cashier that it has been approved, and hand back permit and purchase order to customer.
11. If for any reason he does not consider it proper to approve the purchase he must refer the matter to the vendor.

Cashier’s Duties

1. See that purchase order is approved by permit endorser.
2. Scrutinize purchase order briefly to see that it is filled in properly and the price correct for the brand required.
3. Insert purchase order in slot of cash register
7. Place the money in the till and give back any change to the customer, together with the purchase order which has been stamped when the sale was recorded in the register.

Counterman’s Duties

1. Scrutinize purchase order and see if that the amount stamped by the cash register machine is the correct amount for the brand required
3. Hand the customer his package of goods, being careful to see that the correct brand is given out...
4. Stamp the purchase order “Filled” with a rubber stamp, one of which will be supplied with a distinctive number for each counterman. Keep control of your own stamp as it will be used to identify who filled the orders in case of errors
7. At the end of each day enter on each bin card the sales as shown by the purchase orders filled, being careful to see that the purchase orders have been filed in the proper file...

Vendor’s Duties (Selling)

1. Vendor’s duties in this connection consist of supervising all departments and giving decisions on any matters which members of the staff find necessary to refer to him.
2. He must treat customers tactfully but at the same time must be firm in any cases where he considers it necessary to refuse a sale or in any other cases where the customer has not complied with the regulations or where a dispute arises.

(Source: Vendor Instructions 1927: 1-5 Archives of Ontario)


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