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

LCBO Surveillance Technologies

Punch Cards, IBM & Statistical Analysis


LCBO Surveillance Technologies

Liquor Permits

liquor permit
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Liquor Permits were introduced by the LCBO in Ontario in 1927 under the conditions of the Liquor Control Act and were used until 1962. Those wanting to drink needed to have a permit and the LCBO sought to strictly control who was allowed to drink. Within these permits was a section for the holder’s personal information as well as a section to record all of his or her purchases. These permits were reviewed each time the permit holder made a purchase and those found to be drinking too much or “abusing” their permit privilege would have their permit cancelled. (Read More)

Purchase Order Forms

purchase order form
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When people went to the LCBO to purchase liquor they were required to fill out a purchase order form. These forms recorded the purchaser’s name, address, signature and permit number and were used by the LCBO to track both individual consumption and the sales records of their employees. (Read More)

“Interdiction List” – LCBO Surveillance of “Known Drunkards”

interdiction list
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When the LCBO discovered that an individual was drinking to excess, misspending their income, or were in another way “abusing” their privilege to drink their permit was revoked and they were added to an “interdiction list” which was circulated around the province and ensured that those listed were not served alcohol legally. (Read More)

LCBO Punch Cards

punch card
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The LCBO used punch cards and tabulation technologies to track liquor consumption, the movement of liquor within the province, permit holders, and those who were cut off by the LCBO from buying liquor. (Read More)

LCBO Surveillance of Stores

store inspector's report
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The LCBO used a large number of official forms and inspection personnel to review the purchases made at each of its stores as well as at the Brewery Warehouse (Beer) stores. (Read More)

LCBO Surveillance of Drinking Establishments

licencee's purchase record
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The LCBO used both statistical analysis as well as undercover agents to review the purchase and sale records of drinking establishments in Ontario. They also ensured that their regulations – which segregated women’s drinking and ensured that there was no singing or rowdy behaviour – were strictly enforced. (Read More)