Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
February 2005

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


The Dominion Alliance


Dominion Alliance. The temperance movement in Canada was felt first in the early nineteenth century, and several small organizations for the suppression of the liquor traffic were formed in various parts of Eastern Canada at practically the same time. The movement made rapid progress under the leadership of many different societies. In 1875 the need was felt for a general organization to submit to the government the recommendations for legislation against the sale of intoxicating liquors. A general convention, representing the eastern provinces, was called and recommended the formation of a Dominion Prohibitory Council, representing all the provinces. In the following year the council met at Ottawa and decided to form the Dominion Alliance for the Total Suppression of the Liquor Traffic. Since the work of the provincial organizations and the Dominion Alliance overlapped, the former joined forces with the latter in 1877, and provincial branches were established. The central body was called the Council of the Dominion Alliance. Its membership included officers and representatives from the provincial branches, representatives from provincial temperance organizations, e.g. Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and from ecclesiastical bodies. Its object was "the immediate prohibition of the liquor traffic", but it offered its assistance in procuring any legislation which would be a step towards that goal.

During the period when prohibition was a Dominion question, the Council of the Dominion Alliance was very active. It drafted the bill submitted to the government in 1878, which after several amendments became the Canada Temperance Act. In 1891 the Legislative Committee of the Council of the Dominion Alliance, composed of members of parliament and members of the Council, drew up a resolution to prohibit the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor. This resulted in the appointment in 1892 of a royal commission to inquire into the liquor traffic. The secretary of the Dominion Alliance undertook to secure a fair presentation of the case for prohibition. The report was submitted, but no action was taken. In 1901 the question of Dominion or provincial legislation was raised in Manitoba, and the verdict given by the Privy Council was provincial jurisdiction as regards retail trade, and Dominion legislation for the manufacture and importation of intoxicating liquors. The work of the Dominion Alliance then became centred in the provinces under the direction of the provincial branches, which made their own constitutions and directed their own work. They attempted to rouse public opinion by meetings and the circulation of temperance literature, and were instrumental in effecting legislation regarding licenses, hours of sale and the sale of liquor to minors. In 1924 the Ontario Branch of the Dominion Alliance became the Ontario Prohibition Union. See R. E. Spence, Prohibition in Canada (Ontario Branch of the Dominion Alliance, Toronto, 1919).

Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., pp. 223-224.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College