Prohibition in Canada and Quebec (1878-1930)

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Caroline Robert

Caroline Robert is a PhD student in history at the Université du Québec à Montréal and a student member of the Center d'histoire des régulations sociales. His master's thesis, "Whose fault? The second movement of temperance and the state in Quebec (1870-1922) tackled the prohibitive context and the nationalization of the liquor trade in Quebec. His doctoral research focuses on the moral and social regulation of alcohol in Quebec between 1921 and 1990.

The US “noble experience” of prohibition has left the imagination of many, often eclipsing similar experiences elsewhere in North America. Like its southern neighbor, Canada has experienced several forms of prohibition: national, provincial and municipal. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, a Canadian law allowed counties and municipalities to introduce a prohibitive regime within the limits of their territory. During the First World War, one after another, the Canadian provinces imposed the complete prohibition of the liquor trade, with the exception of Quebec, which only prohibited distilled spirits. Thus, between 1919 and 1921, all Canadian provinces have a prohibition regime. Unlike the United States, where prohibition spread uniformly from coast to coast, Canada has witnessed a number of prohibitive regimes. The purpose of this paper is to highlight this prohibitive diversity in Canada, while highlighting the Quebec context, which is particularly evident in the introduction of a so-called partial short-term prohibition and the nationalization of the liquor trade in 1921.

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