All Quiet at the Distillery: an Exploration of Temperance and Prohibition

1913 Postcard from Waterloo. Click the image for more details.

On September 16, 1916 residents of Waterloo had their last legal drink as the Ontario Temperance Act came into force, which banned the sale of alcohol in Ontario. The prohibition was intended to aid the war effort and curb the participation in vices and domestic violence that often occurred as the result of excessive alcohol consumption. Local historian, Ellis Little, tells us that “historians tend to give three reasons for excessive drinking in those days –the cheapness of whiskey; the back-breaking toil and hardship of pioneer life [and] the general lack of education.” Regardless of what motivated the excessive drinking and the ensuing alcohol ban, Prohibition would alter the lifestyles of many Waterloo residents—especially those who were involved in the local distilleries—until the act was repealed in 1927.

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