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Temperance and Prohibition

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation
 
         

Social problems resulting from the liquor trade turned the question of controlling liquor into an election issue as early as 1891. Prohibitionists identified alcohol as the cause of numerous social evils, such as:

  • Neglect of one's work
  • Widespread poverty in Canada's fast-growing cities
  • Immorality and the spread of disease
  • Neglect of families, as husbands spent money on alcohol rather than feeding and clothing their wives and children
  • Abuse and battery of women and children
  • Crime
  • As Canada industrialized, factory workers wound up working long hours for very small wages, and both men and women drank to forget their misery.

    The use and abuse of alcohol was seen as a widespread and growing problem, which gave rise to other many other social ills. As a result, prohibition became the focus of social reformers of every stripe, who banded together in common cause.

    As alcohol had the ability to decimate homes and families, it became the focus of prohibition campaigns by women's groups like the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and the United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA). Failing to achieve the reforms they sought, these groups began increasingly to view female suffrage as necessary to achieving prohibition—as well as other social reforms. Women's groups, church groups, farm and industry groups, and other reformers united in pursuit of similar causes. As women played a prominent role in achieving prohibition, many of their allies in that cause supported women's bid for suffrage.

    Heritage Trail: Controlling Liquor in Alberta
    Whiskey trading in the 1860s and 1870s was destroying Aboriginal communities and threatened anticipated settlement of the West. In 1873, the Canadian Government created the Northwest Mounted Police mainly to control the whiskey trade in the West. The Northwest Territories Act of 1875 established the first regulations to control alcohol. And as historian David Leonard explains, this was done through the granting of permits by the Lieutenant Governor. . . Listen Now
     
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