You've Been Served: More bizarre liquor laws!

Cold Glass of Beer, covered with water drops. Standing on wooden counter at a bar. Foam on the beer looks real and perfect while the colors between the glass fit perfectly with the contrast and shapes on the table. Pub in the background.

For the first 50 years of post-Prohibition beer swilling in B.C., the Government Liquor Act ensured no one enjoyed themselves too much; the laws were as strict as they were bizarre.

That changed in the 1970s following the Morrow Report: an inquiry into the province’s then liquor laws by Charles Morrow (a judge), Martin Johnson (an archbishop) and Edward Lawson (a Teamster).

Today, most serious beer nerds are familiar with 2014’s Yap Report, and as transformational as its recommendations were, real credit for liquor law reform in this province belongs to Judge Morrow. The man deserves his own Heritage Minute.


Report: It was brought home to the Commission that young people aged 19 can be elected to the Senate of our Universities, can serve and die in the Armed Forces, can vote, can be elected an M.L.A., and yet cannot enter a beer parlour.

Recommendation: The legal age for drinking be reduced to the British Columbia voting age, which is 19 at the present time.


Report: Patrons are not allowed to drink at counters in a beer parlour at the present time.

Recommendation: This is a restriction that should be abolished and operators of beer parlours be allowed to install counters for patrons.


Report: We are satisfied from evidence adduced that the alcoholic beverage industry distributes samples of various products after tours… to our minds there is nothing sinister in the practice, and it is one that should be permitted.

Recommendation: Tours of distilleries, wineries and breweries be permitted and thereafter the plant concerned be authorized to serve a small sample of its product.


Report: We see no harm in constructing a beer parlour which permits those passing by seeing patrons enjoying a glass of beer… we think it much more important to encourage owners to design an establishment that is not only functionally attractive but worthy of viewing from either inside or out.

Recommendation: That the Regulations or Board policy be revised to make the comfort and convenience of patrons the paramount consideration in bar design.


Report: We have reached the conclusion that an alcoholic beverage is no longer useful as an incentive to influence the vote.


That all outlets, including liquor stores, be allowed to remain open on municipal and provincial (but not federal) election days.


Report: At present time one sees a cashier or a young lady clearing tables, serving sandwiches and coffee, and yet, she is not allowed to serve beer.

Recommendation: That waitresses be permitted in all licensed outlets, Liquor Control Board stores and clubs.

Photo via iStock.

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