Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
February 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Liquor Control in Canada


Liquor Control. Legislation prohibiting the sale of alcoholic liquors, except for medicinal and scientific purposes, was passed, as a war policy, in all the provinces of Canada except Quebec during the years 1916 and 1917. In 1919 similar legislation was passed in Quebec. The prohibition included the sale of beer and wine, except in Quebec. Canadian wine, however, could be sold in Ontario. In 1916 the Dominion government passed a law making it an offence to send intoxicating liquors into any province to be dealt in contrary to the law of that, province. In 1919 this Act was changed so that "on the request of the Legislative Assembly of a province a vote would be taken on the question that the importation and the bringing of intoxicating liquors into such province be forbidden." If the voting majority was in favour of such prohibition, the Act was in force. After the war, referenda were taken from time to time to find out if the electorate wished the war measure policy of prohibition to continue. In 1921 Quebec and British Columbia voted against the prohibition laws, and adapted the policy of liquor sale under government control. Manitoba took the same course in 1923, Alberta in 1924, Saskatchewan in 1925, Ontario and New Brunswick in 1927, and Nova Scotia in 1930. Thus, up to the year 1936, Prince Edward Island is the only province still adhering to a policy of prohibition. The manufacture of alcoholic liquors in Canada is in private hands, but under the supervision of the Liquor Boards or Commissions.


In Alberta , spirits, wines, and beers are sold in bottles in government stores to permit holders; beer may be sold by licensed hotels and clubs. In British Columbia , the sale of liquor in sealed packages is made to the holders of permits in government stores; beer may be sold in beer parlours and clubs. Manitoba has government stores for the sale of liquor, and beer may be sold in beer parlours attached to approved hotels. In New Brunswick, liquor is sold only in sealed packages at government stores; no permit is required. Permits are required for spirits in Nova Scotia, but not for wine or beer; all are sold at government stores. In Ontario, spirits are sold to permit holders by the bottle in government stores; beer is procurable without permits from government stores, brewery warehouses, beverage rooms, steamboats, and on railway trains; wine may be purchased without permits at government stores, at wine shops, and with meals in hotels, clubs, on steamboats and railway trains. In Prince Edward Island, intoxicating liquors may be obtained from retail vendors on physician's prescriptions. In Quebec, spirits are sold in government stores one bottle at a time, without permit; beer may be sold in taverns and grocery stores; and beer and wine by hotels, restaurants, and clubs. In Saskatchewan, liquor, wine, and beer may be purchased in government stores.

Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. IV, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 400p., pp. 87-88.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College