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Sit Down and Drink Your Beer

Sit Down and Drink Your Beer: Regulating Vancouver's Beer Parlours, 1925-1954

  • Book Info
    Sit Down and Drink Your Beer
    Book Description:

    Campbell argues that the regulation of the environment of the classic beer parlour, rather than being an example of social control, is best understood as moral regulation and part of a process of normalization.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7998-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction Regulating Public Drinking
    (pp. 3-14)

    For the few Canadian historians involved in alcohol history, temperance and related issues remain the alluring themes. Little historical work has been done in Canada on public drinking in general and public drinking after prohibition ended in particular.¹ This neglect is a real oversight in British Columbia because hotels transformed their saloons into beer parlours after the end of prohibition. The parlour (1925-54) was a reaction to both prohibition (1917-21) and the earlier saloon and as such bears investigation for what it suggests about responses to pro- and anti-drinking sentiments.²

    At ten cents a glass from 1925 to the late...

  6. Chapter One The Genesis of the Beer Parlour
    (pp. 15-28)

    I first encountered what people then still called a ′beer parlour′ in late 1975. I lived in California, but while I was on holiday in Victoria, my cousin, a former railway worker, took me to a local hotel parlour that he occasionally visited. We sat at a round table whose top was wrapped in a terry-cloth cover soaked in beer. Wine was available, but no one seemed to be drinking it. For every round, the waitress always brought us four glasses of beer, each filled to a white line. My cousin referred to the four glasses as railway drinking, which...

  7. Chapter Two Operators and Workers: The Ties That Bind
    (pp. 29-50)

    TheOfficial Handbookin 1950-1 for Local 676 - the beer parlour workers′ union - offered a pointed juxtaposition. In it the local′s president did not shy from the language of class struggle. He stated that ′the true goal of Unionism′ was ′to put a stop to the exploitation of the workers.′ Yet the volume also contained a photograph of the president of the union′s local joint executive board making a presentation to the retiring president of the hotels′ association. At the initiative of Local 676, the chief executive of the employers′ organization received a lifetime membership in the international...

  8. Chapter Three Ladies and Escorts: Regulating and Negotiating Gender and Sexuality
    (pp. 51-78)

    In May 1925, the chairman of British Columbia′s Liquor Control Board (LCB) told a reporter that he had considered refusing service to women in the recently opened beer parlours, but, according to the journalist, ′this appeared unreasonable and ungallant to the fair sex.′ In less than a month, however, official gallantry had given way to other concerns. In June the chairman sent a circular to all licence holders warning them of ′the frequenting of ″Licensed Premises″ by undesirable women, and the serious difficulties which their presence creates.′ He added that licence holders ′must take the consequences of allowing such persons...

  9. Chapter Four Appearance and Performance: Creating and Regulating the Unwanted
    (pp. 79-106)

    On 18 October 1952 a man and a woman entered the ladies and escorts′ side of the Martin Hotel′s beer parlour in Vancouver. At first the waiter ignored them, and then, according to the couple, told them that mixed-raced couples were not served. If they wanted to drink, she could stay on the ladies′ side, and the man would be served on the men-only side. The couple left. Quite embarrassed, the woman wrote to the LCB and asked about the legality of the refusal of service. She added that, on his own, her ′Hindu′ friend had been served without incident...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. Chapter Five Reconfiguring Decency in the 1950s: The Politics of Regulation
    (pp. 107-126)

    Interviewed in his room at the Hotel Vancouver in July 1949, British journalist Noel Monks commented on his unsuccessful attempt to order a beer while standing at the service counter in a beer parlour. He said that Canada was ′a tremendous, virile country and I know from personal experience that your fighting men can match the finest in the world. Yet you′ve apparently let yourselves be legislated into a state of adolescence when it comes to the use of alcohol.′ Monks described such regulation as ′just one step from making you stand out in the rain and hold up your...

  12. Conclusion Managing the Marginal
    (pp. 127-136)

    The BC beer parlour had seemed in 1925 a simple, if odd, solution to a vexing problem. As we saw in chapter 1, BC officials had sought a compromise between ′wets′ and ′drys′ on the issue of licensed public drinking. Even though temperance groups were unable to sustain prohibition, they had discredited the earlier saloon environment as one that nurtured indecency and undermined society. On the wet side, a loose coalition of hotels, veterans′ groups, brewers, many workers, and some of their organizations lobbied for the return of at least beer by the glass. After measuring public wariness with a...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 137-158)
  14. References
    (pp. 159-172)
  15. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 173-174)
  16. Index
    (pp. 175-186)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 187-187)