Spring Lecture Series: Saints & Sinners of Owen Sound, Canada’s Last Dry City
Join Richard Thomas. Owen Sound was the heart and soul of the prohibition movement in Canada. The ferment against alcoholic beverages in 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. There were numerous booze referendums until a vote in the early 1960s finally allowed both an 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 “drys” divided the community into saints and sinners.
Richard Thomas is a broadcast journalist who moved to Owen Sound in 1986. He developed an interest in local history and began writing in 1990. He has written more than a dozen books of fiction and non-fiction about Owen Sound and the area. He served on the Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library Board and the Owen Sound Regional Hospital Foundation Board. As the founding President of the Community Waterfront Heritage Centre, Richard helped to save Owen Sound’s Marine and Rail Museum for future generations. He is presently a member of Owen Sound City Council.
This presentation is part of our Spring Lecture Series taking place in our Theatre on Tuesdays March 20, 27, April 3 & 10, 2018 (series starts the Tuesday after March Break). Talks begin at 2:30 p.m., except April 10 presentation has a special start time of 1 p.m. Complimentary refreshments following. Free with admission. Members free as always. Check out the advantages of being a Grey Roots member.