Try to Control Yourself

The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44

Dan Malleck

  • Published: 2012. Paperback 2013
  • Subject Listing: History
  • Bibliographic information: 301 pp., 7 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

The prohibition era of gangsters and bootleggers has captured our imagination. But what happened when government turned the taps back on? Dan Malleck shows that contrary to popular belief, post-prohibition Ontario was an age when the government struggled to please both the "wets" and the "drys." Rather than pandering to temperance groups, officials sought to define and promote manageable drinking spaces in which citizens would follow the rules of proper drinking and foster self-control. The regulation of liquor consumption was a remarkable bureaucratic balancing act between temperance and its detractors but equally between governance and its ideal drinker.
Dan Malleck is an associate professor in theDepartment of Community Health Sciences at Brock University.

"This well-written history provides a rich and nuanced analysis of how the Liquor Control Board of Ontario responded to a divisive political problem in post-prohibition Ontario: to promote orderly but legal public drinking. It offers a sophisticated theoretical interplay between Foucault's concept of biopower and Weber's work on bureaucratization, revealing a variety of actors - the LCBO, inspectors, police, politicians, licence holders, patrons, pressure groups, and even bootleggers - all enveloped in a web of regulation whose strands, while created by the state, were not completely controlled by it."
-Robert Campbell, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Capilano University and author of Sit Down and Drink Your Beer: Regulating Vancouver's Beer Parlours, 1925-1954

"Try to Control Yourself is both an absorbing account of alcohol regulation in post-prohibition Ontario and a significant study of the relationship between bureaucracy, surveillance, and social order. Its meticulous research brings to life the work of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and demonstrates how understanding the intricate realities of administrative activity can enhance critical debates about power and control. This detailed work shows how cultural values are tied to practices of government and, in doing so, offers important lessons for alcohol policy today. ."
-James Nicholls, author of The Politics of Alcohol: A History of the Drink Question in England

Introduction: The Emergence of Liquor Control Bureaucracy inOntario

1 Liquor Control Bureaucracy and the Mechanisms ofGovernance

2 The Public Life of Liquor, 1927-34

3 Idealistic Form and Realistic Function: RestructuringPublic Drinking Space

4 Hearing the Voices: Community Input and the Reshapingof Public Drinking Behaviour

5 "As a Result of Representations Made":Clientelism and the (Dys)function of Patronage in the LCBO'sRegulatory Activities

6 Restructuring Recreation in the Drinking Space

7 Women, Children, and the Family in the Public DrinkingSpace

8 "Their Medley of Tongues and EternalJangle": Regulating the Racial and Ethnic Outsider

9 Public Drinking and the Challenges of War


Appendix: The Communities