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Are  your in your 60s, 70s or 80s?  Then  some of these rules from the 1940s, 50s and 60s around alcohol and drinking in Canada may sound familiar. 


Did You Know?


Younger adults are often unaware that when today’s seniors were growing up, people faced a large number of restrictive rules and regulations about alcohol.

The rules conveyed social and political attitudes of the time.  Drinking had an aura of "immorality" to it in many circles, or at least there was considerable social ambivalence about it.

These particular examples are drawn from Ontario from 1948 to early 1970s. But most of Canada had rules similar to these:


Until 1948

You could not consume liquor in bars or lounges (only beer).

Until 1951

You could not drink in your tent or trailer.

Until 1953

You could not buy food in a beer parlour.

Until 1957

You needed a permit book to purchase liquor, and you signed for your purchases.

This was replaced by permit cards, which were discontinued in 1962.

Until 1960

You could not have a bottle of liquor anywhere but in your own residence.

That meant technically it was  illegal to transport your liquor purchase even from the liquor store to your home. *


Until 1970

Licensed premises were segregatedówith an entrance for "Men" and one for "Ladies and Escorts".

A man could not  enter the Ladies  and Escorts side by himself (only  if he was accompanying a woman).

From: Smart, R.G. & Osbourne, A.C. (1986) Northern Spirits: Drinking in Canada, Then and Now (Toronto: Addiction Research Foundation)


Note : * In some Canadian communities,  this lead to the practice of "polishing off the bottle".

Page last updated Thursday July 07, 2005

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