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The Rise And Fall Of Prohibition In Canada

2829 words - 11 pages

'Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play uponthe earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously bylicensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her andFalsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in afree and open encounter.'- AreopagiticaCanadian Temperance groups began to rally for prohibitionduring the 1840's and 1850's. It was not until after World WarI began in 1914, that the temperance groups' support forprohibition grew. A need for grain for the armed forces wasviewed as a major catalyst for Canada's Prohibition Law.Although Canada's Prohibition Era only lasted two years from1917 to 1919, it created the stage for many historic successesand failures in Canada. This paper looks at the emergence,successes, and failures of Prohibition of Alcohol in Canada.Particular emphasis is placed upon Nova Scotia that, along withManitoba, scored a large majority in favour of prohibitionduring the national plebiscite on the matter held by the LaurierFederal Government in 1898.1 This national support ofprohibition, when provinces in Canada were only moderately infavour, and Quebec strongly opposing,2 created an interestingparadox in the shaping of Canada's history.Though largely seen unfavourably today, prohibition didhave some partially successful facets in its overall focus.Prohibition forces argued that alcohol led to an increase incrime and other anti-social behaviours. Substantial reductionsin the amount of alcohol consumption and a decrease in the crimerate were two measures of prohibition's success. Statisticalevidence supported prohibitionist's thoughts regarding crime andalcohol. Following 1919, when the spread of alcohol controlexpanded to the provinces, crime increased. In 1922, there were15,720 convictions for indictable offences and in 1928, 21,720convictions. This was an increase of 38 per cent and more thanthree times the increase in Canada's population. From 1922 to1928, the number of criminals who were moderate drinkers rose atthe same rate as the total number of convictions. The number ofcriminals who drank in excess, however, increased by 64 percent, or nearly twice as fast.3 Along with crime, alcohol waslinked to other negative occurrences such as insanity, vice,wife and child abuse, family destruction, poverty, and economicinefficiency. It was believed that money that spent on alcoholshould have been spent on things such as housing and clothing.4Supporters of prohibition claimed it was better for society andthe economy as a whole as well as improving health anddecreasing crime. It should be noted, however, that prohibitionwas not entirely about alcohol and its use. It was a vanguardthrough which society attempted to 'purify' itself of all itsevils. If liquor was banned, then the money it used could bespent on other industries, benefiting society as a whole.Unfortunately for prohibitionists, this was not the be the case.Much time and effort were spent by anti-prohibition forces inavoiding and...

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