Canadians have long associated Prohibition with the colourful history of the Jazz Age in the United States. But even before the American ban that was in place from 1920 to 1933, Canada initiated its own Prohibition during World War I. The so-called Cold Water Army was led by zealots and prudes preaching hellfire and damnation, but also by committed social reformers who recognized the ill effect excessive drinking was having on family and social life in Canada. In March 1918, the federal government banned the manufacture and importation of liquor, making it illegal to have a drink anywhere in the country. For the next twenty-one months, Canada was as dry as any law could make it, which admittedly was not very dry.
Closing Time: Prohibition, Rum-Runners, and Border Wars tells the story of this fascinating attempt by both provincial and federal governments to control the social habits of Canadians. It began as a popular crusade that was supposed to cleanse society of a widespread evil, but instead became an opportunity for larceny, profit and violence on a grand scale. This was the age of liquor smugglers and rum-runners: gangsters like Hamilton’s Rocco Perri, boot- leggers like Alberta’s Emilio Picariello and border runners like the young Bronfman brothers.
Employing a variety of anecdotes and illustrations, Closing Time conjures the legal and historical context of Prohibition, presenting well-rendered figures and impressive research. Comparing the past with our present-day prohibition of certain recreational drugs, Francis explores the limits of laws that forbid these indulgences -- a topic that is equally as relevant today as in the past.