Throwback Thursday: When Purchasing Liquor Required A Permit

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: When Purchasing Liquor Required A Permit

Image of a liquor permit book
Purchasing beer at the Beer Store and liquor at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) is as straightforward today as buying veggies and fruit at the grocery store (other than the age-verification part of course). There is no word yet on when beer and wine will be sold at No Frills.

However, after prohibition (1916 – 1927) until 1962 provincial law required that individuals apply to receive a permit to purchase alcohol. Until 1957, a passport sized book like the one pictured was used which contained address, marital status and employer/occupation. Purchases were recorded in the customer’s book by LCBO employees.

When purchasing, individuals had to complete a purchase order form including name, address, permit number and the LCBO employee could then determine whether or not to sell the requested products. Under the Liquor Control Act, the LCBO was to promote temperance through facilitating education and moderation. This meant a store employee could deny a sale to a customer if his or her intended purchases may be considered too large for one person to reasonably consume or if their purchase history in their book was seen to be excessive. Purchase order forms were still used in to the 1970s as a way to continue to monitor purchasing histories.

Between 1927 and 1975, the LCBO used an “Interdiction List” which was circulated to all liquor stores and drinking establishments, as well as to local and provincial police forces (anyone on this list, caught in possession of alcohol was guilty of a crime). The LCBO conducted its own investigations into over-consumption during this period, employing a staff of investigators that visited individual’s homes, work, banks, neighbours and churches to determine if an individual should be restricted from purchasing liquor. In 1929 the LCBO’s use of the interdiction list was expanded to include those on social assistance as well as others whom the Board felt should be prohibited from purchasing liquor permits entirely.

Read more about the History of the L.C.B.O (

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