As one might expect, temperance was a major focus of the
Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Education
campaigns were thought to be key to achieving the goal of
prohibition and as a result, the WCTU had a special
department devoted to formal education, entitled the
Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction (STI).
In the United States, the WCTU had succeeded in having
laws enacted in every state that made temperance instruction
mandatory in public schools. Louise McKinney, because of her
experience with the WCTU in the United States, was chosen to
be Superintendent of STI in Alberta.
In order to achieve the goal of effective temperance
education in every school, McKinney had to research what the
current curriculum was and who was responsible for deciding
what was taught. She discovered that due to scarce resources
for either teachers or students, temperance education was
ineffective. So she contacted the MLA for MacLeod, F. W. G.
Haultain, to find out what could be done along legislative
lines. When McKinney found out that the Department of
Education had full control over curriculum, textbooks, and
teachers' resources, she wrote letters to the Departments of
Education in Regina, Saskatchewan and Edmonton, Alberta.
When letter-writing proved ineffective, she followed up by
meeting with the Premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, as
well as officials from the provincial Departments of
Education. When they failed to keep their promises, she
teamed up with other interested groups to bring pressure to
bear on public officials.
In addition to approaching policy makers to change
curriculum, STI activists addressed teachers at their annual
meetings, and at Normal Schools, as well as visiting
individual teachers, donating books and STI literature to
school libraries, and running essay contests. They believed
that if teachers learned why and how alcohol and tobacco
were harmful, they would be motivated to teach their
students about the dangers.
The WCTU appealed to other groups to help promote
temperance education, including the United Farm Women of
Alberta (UFWA), the Temperance and Moral Reform League, the
Alberta Council of Education, the Teachers' Associations,
candidates for election, and other prominent people. The
UFWA recommended to the government that more emphasis be
placed upon teaching hygiene—particularly as it related to
alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes—in the Normal Schools of the
Province (where teachers were trained). They also made
similar recommendations regarding implementing STI in the
public and high schools.
In 1922, partial success was achieved, and scientific
temperance and hygiene education were officially given equal
importance with other subjects in public schools. To the
disappointment of STI promoters like McKinney, the high
school course was never approved.
Cooperating with other groups to achieve their aims
provided the WCTU with much greater bargaining
power—particularly around election time, when they threw
their collective support behind candidates favourable to
prohibition and Scientific Temperance Instruction.