Liquor and the Liberal State
416 pages, 6 x 9
6 tables, 4 illus., 3 graphs, 1 map
Release Date:01 Dec 2022
Release Date:01 May 2022
Release Date:01 May 2022
Release Date:01 May 2022

Liquor and the Liberal State

Drink and Order before Prohibition

UBC Press

Cultural pastime, profitable industry, or harmful influence on the nation? Liquor was a tricky issue for municipal, provincial, and federal governments after Confederation. Liquor and the Liberal State traces how the Ontario provincial government’s takeover of liquor regulation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries involved both discrete local politics and expansive constitutional questions.

Dan Malleck explores how notions of individual freedom, equality, and property rights were debated, challenged, and modified in response to an active prohibitionist movement and equally active liquor industry. While the liquor licensing regime helped build a vast patronage base for the governing Liberal Party, some believed it exceeded the constitutional authority of the province. The drink question became as political as it was moral – a key issue in the establishment of judicial definitions of provincial and federal rights, and, ultimately in the crafting of the modern state.

Liquor and the Liberal State demonstrates the challenges governments faced when dealing with the seemingly simple, but tremendously complicated, alcoholic beverage. This lively and meticulous work shows how commentators of all stripes fit the liquor question into a complex conception of liberalism, typically seeing either prohibition or excessive consumption of liquor as an infringement of personal liberty and a threat to the fundamental values of the nation.

Scholars, students, and general readers with an interest in the history of alcohol, Canadian social history, and health policy will all find this an intriguing and useful work.

This finely crafted book is sure to stand the test of time. It is a profound addition to ongoing discussions of drink and order in Canada before prohibition. Matthew J. Bellamy, author of Brewed in the North: A History of Labatt’s
Dan Malleck strides across the huge complexities of the history of alcohol regulation in Ontario with confidence, wit, and keen insight. There is no other book like this one in the field. Craig Heron, author of Booze: A Distilled History

Dan Malleck is a professor of the history of medicine in the Department of Health Sciences at Brock University and the director of Brock’s Centre for Canadian Studies. His publications include Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927–44, which won a Clio Prize for Ontario history, and When Good Drugs Go Bad: Opium, Medicine, and the Origins of Canada’s Drug Laws.

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: Arguing over Liquor and Liberalism

Part 1: Managing the Province’s Liquor Problem

1 The Place of the Government in the Drinks of the People

2 Centralization, I: The Crooks Act

3 Power and Influence in the New System

4 Politics, Law, and the License Branch

Part 2: The Complications of Liquor in a Federal Liberal State

5 How Drinking Affects the Constitution, 1864–83

6 McCarthy and Crooks Enter a Tavern, 1883–85

7 Attempting to Water Down the Scott Act, 1884–92

8 Plebiscites as Tools for Change? 1883–94

9 Talking and Blocking National Prohibition, 1891–99

10 Dodging Decisions at the End of the Liberals’ Era, 1894–1905

11 Drinking in Whitney’s Conservative Liberal State, 1905–07

12 Centralization, II: Beyond the Crooks Act, 1907–16

Conclusion: Liquor, Liberalism, and the Legacy of the Crooks Act

Appendix 1: Questions Sent by the Select Committee

Appendix 2: Liquor-Related Laws in Force in Ontario

Notes; Index

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