After Prohibition ended in B.C. in 1921, new legislation was passed in its wake that provided stringent government control over how liquor was sold, consumed and advertised.
And wouldn’t you know it? Those laws have had a lasting effect to this day.
CUSTOMERS STANDING AT A BAR?
Infraction! While all bars had a counter, patrons were prohibited from approaching it to order. That behaviour was thought to be too “saloon like” – an appearance that had to be avoided. The rule was designed to discourage fights and buying rounds. Patrons couldn’t stand up and move around with drinks.
FOOD BEING SERVED?
Infraction! No food, cigarettes or soft drinks could be sold in bars for the first 30 years of licensed drinking in post-Prohibition B.C. This was meant to encourage working men to return home for dinner. Everyone drank to excess instead.
OPEN BETWEEN 6 AND 7 P.M.?
Infraction! During the war years, in order to conserve beer, bars had to close over the dinner hour between 6-7p.m.
SINGLE WOMEN SITTING WITH MEN?
Infraction! Gender segregation regulations varied greatly in the post-Prohibition era. At various periods separate entrances, sitting areas and physical dividers were required in bars. Single or unescorted women mixing with men was thought to promote prostitution.
FEMALE BARTENDERS OR SERVERS?
Infraction! While women were never technically prohibited from entering bars by law (although many bar owners made their own restrictions) women could not serve beer unless they had an ownership interest in the establishment.
PINBALL MACHINE? DANCING? LIVE MUSIC?
Infraction! No games or entertainment, singing or dancing, nor musical instruments were permitted in bars. Lawmakers thought the absence of these would make hanging out in a bar all day less appealing. Instead it meant there was literally nothing else to do but drink. Most bars didn’t even have photos or paintings on the wall.
Infraction! Though booths were not prohibited by letter of the law, the Liquor Control Branch strongly discouraged them as they allowed for “intimate contact” between patrons.
MULTIPLE BRANDS OF BEER AVAILABLE OR ADVERTISED?
Infraction! Bars were only permitted to serve one brand of beer at a time, and that brand could not be advertised.
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