Richard J. Thomas

New from Owen Sound Author Richard J. Thomas

Owen Sound was the heart and soul of the prohibition movement in Canada. The ferment against alcoholic beverages in The Corkscrew Town began in 1874, with the formation of the first Canadian chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1906, Owen Sound voted in local option and became known as Dry Gulch, a condition that would last for 66 years. As you will read the new history book from Richard Thomas,  Saints and Sinners, there were numerous booze referendums until a vote in the early 1960s finally allowed both the LCBO and Brewers’ Retail to open in the downtown core. It took until 1972 for the long drought to completely end, when Owen Sounders voted to approve liquor sales in bars and restaurants.

Over the years, bootleggers and moonshiners quietly supported those voting against legalizing alcohol because it was good for business. Drinkers continued to drink, law or no law, and an entire industry sprang up around making sure there was never a dry throat in Owen Sound. Churchgoers and other friends of sobriety rallied against the demon drink, saying it caused orphaned children and joblessness. The "wets" and the "drys" divided the community into saints and sinners.

With a remarkable selection of early newspaper clippings, personal interviews and research, Saints & Sinners describes a century of tension around alcohol and its effects in Owen Sound. A bibliography of resources is also included, along with a listing of contemporary wineries and breweries in the area. Enjoy this significant coming-of-age story of Owen Sound.


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