Ontario Temperance Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Ontario Temperance Act was a law passed in 1916 that led to the Prohibition of alcohol in Ontario. When the act was first enacted, the sale of alcohol was prohibited, but liquor could still be manufactured in the province or imported. Strong support for prohibition came from religious elements of society such as pietistic Protestants, especially Methodists, seeking to eliminate what they considered the evil effects of liquor, including violence, family abuse, and political corruption. Historically, temperance advocates in Ontario drew inspiration from the movement in the United States.[1]

History[edit]

Prior to the act, two attempts failed to control or eliminate sale of alcohol in the province. A plebiscite in 1894 failed because of federal disapproval of provincial control over the importation of alcohol. Another attempt in 1902 failed because of low voter turnout.

However, in 1864 the Dunkin Act enabled any municipality or county in the united Province of Canada to hold a majority vote to prohibit the sale of alcohol. In 1878, the Scott Act extended "local option" to the whole Dominion of Canada.[2] In the early twentieth century, more and more Ontario municipalities went "dry". By 1914, 520 localities had banned the sale of alcohol, and only 322 were "wet".[3]

When William Hearst became premier of Ontario in September 1914, the temperance movement gained an ally, despite complaints from wet elements of Hearst's own Conservative Party.[4] The onset of the First World War gave advocates further impetus to push the cause, arguing temperance would reduce waste, inefficiency, and distractions.[5] In 1916, the Hearst government unanimously passed the Ontario Temperance Act. In March 1918, the Federal government passed an order-in-council that prohibited the manufacture, importation, and transportation of alcohol into Ontario and other provinces where purchase was illegal.[6] Nonetheless, Ontarians could still acquire alcohol from doctors offices and drugstores. In 1920 alone, Ontario doctors wrote more than 650,000 prescriptions for alcohol.[7]

Following the end of World War One, prohibition at the federal level was repealed at the end of 1919. That year, a province-wide referendum saw support of the Ontario ban on sales by a majority of 400,000 votes.[8] The manufacture and export of liquor was made legal.[9] In 1921, another referendum showed a slight slip in support for prohibition, but the province now became "bone dry" by banning the importation of alcohol.[10] A subsequent referendum two years later showed a greater slip in support for the act, with 51.5 percent for and 48.5 against.[11] In 1926, Howard Ferguson's Conservatives won a general election in which they promised the introduction of liquor sales by the province.[12]

Repeal and Government as Alcohol Retailer[edit]

In 1927, the Liquor Control Act overturned prohibition as legislated in the Ontario Temperance Act and established the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), through which the province managed liquor distribution with government-run stores. Nonetheless, drinking in public establishments remained illegal until seven years later.[13] Some communities maintained a ban on the sale of liquor under local option until the 1970s and The Junction neighbourhood of Toronto remained "dry" until 2000, largely because of the efforts of former Ontario CCF Member of Provincial Parliament for High Park, "Temperance Bill" William Temple.[14]

The Ontario Temperance Act failed because of changing public opinion and the inability of the provincial government to effectively control consumption and importation of alcohol into the province. According to one historian, "the legislation seemed to be too drastic for the average citizen and not harsh enough to stop the large bootleggers."[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barron, F.L. (December 1963). "The American Origins of the Temperance Movement in Ontario". Canadian Review of American Studies: 133.
  2. ^ "Prohibition", The Canadian Encyclopedia
  3. ^ Tennyson, Brian (December 1963). "Sir William Hearst and the Ontario Temperance Act". Ontario History: 233.
  4. ^ Tennyson, Brian (December 1963). "Sir William Hearst and the Ontario Temperance Act". Ontario History: 235.
  5. ^ Tennyson, Brian (December 1963). "Sir William Hearst and the Ontario Temperance Act". Ontario History: 235.
  6. ^ Hallowell, Gerald A. (1972). Prohibition in Ontario, 1919-1923. Ottawa: Lowe Printing Service. p. 75.
  7. ^ Heron, Craig (2003). Booze: A Distilled History. Toronto: Between the Lines. p. 238.
  8. ^ Hallowell, Gerald A. (1972). Prohibition in Ontario, 1919-1923. Ottawa: Lowe Printing Service. p. 156.
  9. ^ "Ontario Temperance Act". cdigs.uwindsor.ca.
  10. ^ Hallowell, Gerald A. (1972). Prohibition in Ontario, 1919-1923. Ottawa: Lowe Printing Service. p. 91.
  11. ^ Mayers, Adam (September 24, 2007). "The 1924 ballot: Wet vs. dry". Toronto Star.
  12. ^ Hallowell, Gerald A. (1972). Prohibition in Ontario, 1919-1923. Ottawa: Lowe Printing Service. p. 156.
  13. ^ Malleck, Dan (2012). Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44. Vancouver: UBC Press. pp. 3–5.
  14. ^ McMonagle, Duncan (June 26, 1987). "Spirited fight against alcohol still heady work for Temple". Globe and Mail.
  15. ^ Hallowell, Gerald A. (1972). Prohibition in Ontario, 1919-1923. Ottawa: Lowe Printing Service. p. 163.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barron, F. L. "The American origins of the Temperance Movement in Ontario," Canadian Review of American Studies (Fall1980) p131-150.
  • Hallowell, Gerald A. Prohibition in Ontario, 1919-1923 (Ottawa: Lowe Printing Service, 1972).
  • Heron, Craig. Booze: A Distilled History (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2003).
  • Malleck, Dan. Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012).
  • Tennyson, Brian. "Sir William Hearst and the Ontario Temperance Act," Ontario History (December 1963) pp 233–245.