The prohibition question in Manitoba, 1892-1928

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Thompson, John Herd,
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North American society has long sought a satisfactory answer to the problem of making liquor the servant, not the master, of man. The young province of Manitoba was in the forefront of the Canadian side of this search. This thesis examines the role of liquor control in the political and social life of the province from the year 1892, in which Manitoba became the first province in the Dominion to ask the opinion of her citizens on prohibitory legislation, until 1928, when the sale of beer for public consumption was legalized after an unsatisfactory experiment with both total and partial prohibition. After two decades of unspectacular existence, the movement for prohibition became part of a general reform impulse which acquired broadly based support in the years after 1912. New support for reform arose in response to the very real difficulties which were created in Manitoba by the large-scale immigration of the first decade of the twentieth century, and prohibition was advocated as one method of confronting the social problems which this influx created. Prohibition became an issue which divided the province along religious, regional and ethnic lines. Its greatest appeal was to those Manitobans of Anglo-Saxon origin and evangelical Protestant background and its strongest opposition was found, not unnaturally, among those non- English elements against whom it was directed. Aided by the emotional drama created to achieve victory in the Great War, the prohibitionist cause was successful in 1916. Prohibition never enjoyed the success that its most ardent advocates had envisioned, however, and during the turbulent 1920's it met opposition in the city of Winnipeg among New Canadians and from veterans' groups. Prohibition gradually lost its reform identification and its supporters became more blatantly nativistic and socially reactionary. Two concerted campaigns were launched against Prohibitory legislation in 1923 and its provisions were replaced by a system of government-controlled sale...