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

LCBO Surveillance Technologies

Punch Cards, IBM & Statistical Analysis


Prohibition and Temperance

In 1927, the LCBO opened liquor stores across the province. tree of intemperanceBefore this time, the province passed through a period of relative prohibition. The Canada Temperance Act of 1878 allowed for local people to hold referendums as to whether or not to prohibit alcohol sales within their municipality, while after 1916 the Ontario Temperance Act enforced prohibition over all liquor sales – other than to those made to licenced ministers of the gospel, manufacturers, druggists or those who could obtain a doctor’s prescription.

In early-twentieth-century Canada, liquor was widely considered unhealthy, and the sale of liquor was seen as exploiting the poor and morally weak individuals who could not resist the call of the local saloon (Smart and Osborn 1996: 28). Political cartoons of the time often presented liquor sellers as predators or scavenger birds looming ominously over young men or children, while drinkers were presented as sick, often violent moral degenerates who squandered the resources of their families on the bottle. At the center of these beliefs was the moral concept of “temperance” – a mindset summed up in the maxim “moderation in all things healthful; total abstinence from all things harmful” (Xenophon cited in WCTU 2008). In early 1900s Ontario temperance groups were a strong political force, and had succeeded in pressing their ideas into the mainstream.

watching for prey posterAlthough by the time the Liquor Control Act was written the power of temperance organizations had waned significantly, ideas of liquor sales as exploitation of those of weak will, as impoverishing the working class and the poor, and as promoting immorality, remained lasting and forced the government to address these points specifically when developing the LCBO.








<< Prohibition and Temperance       Moderation       Politics of the Liquor Control Act 1927 >>