Modern Prohibition: The History of BC Liquor Laws

0
4226

BC has a rather extensive history as far as how modern liquor laws came to be; from the prohibition of the early 1900s to the eventual governmental regulation of the controversial commodity. As these laws continue to evolve and new announcements are being made by the government almost every month, we decided to go wayyyy back and share a timeline showing some key moments in liquor policy’s history in this province.

Modern Prohibition: The History of BC Liquor Laws

By Vancouver Is Awesome

BC has a rather extensive history as far as how modern liquor laws came to be; from the prohibition of the early 1900s to the eventual governmental regulation of the controversial commodity.

  • Pre-Prohibition

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    Before the days of Prohibition, alcohol was readily available, often 24/7 at bars and saloons where drinking went unmonitored. Many feared that the easy access would contribute to public disorder.

  • Early 1900s

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    During the early 1900s, several (largely religious) groups, initiated the Temperance Movement, lobbying against the mass consumption of alcohol, with some even going as far as demanding prohibition.

  • The Onset of WWI

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    Prohibition and temperance lobbyists gained more political power upon the onset of World War I, linking the personal alcohol sacrifice as a means to contribute towards the war effort.

  • 1916 Bill & Referendum

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    1916 marked the year in which the BC government first introduced a bill which set the stage for a prohibition referendum. Although hugely controversial, prohibition became effective on Oct 1st, 1917.

  • March 1918

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    Despite the new law in BC, there was still an influx of alcohol from other provinces. In March of 1918, the Federal Government officially banned the import of liquor into provinces under prohibition.

  • The Ensuing Disaster

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    As the rich could afford to stock up on their alcohol supplies, and liquor purchased for "medical" reasons were exempt from the law, the prohibition proved to be highly ineffective.

  • 1920s: A Transition to Government Regulation

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    Since the various loopholes and associated costs were a major detriment to the government, a new referendum was created which called for governmental regulation of liquor instead of prohibition.

  • Combating the Booming Bootleg Business

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    Despite the new presence of government-run liquor stores, bootlegging prevailed, as Vancouverites continued to export alcohol into the US illegally, and undercutting prices set by the government.

  • The End of the 1920s & the End of Liquor Imports

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    The government finally gained a substantial amount of control over liquor regulation, ending all inter-provincial importation, and passing the power over to the Provincial Governments. 

  • Post 1930s and Beyond

    By Vancouver Is Awesome

    While the prohibition ban in BC was officially repealed in 1921, with the majority of Canada enjoying the same by the end of the 1920s, Prince Edward Island did not lift its ban until 1948.