Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Beer Tasting Prohibition August 31st

As you lift a glass of beer at this Friday’s Galt Beer Tasting Soirée, think about the debt you owe to C. F. P. Conybeare for your right to enjoy that ice cold drink.

Who was Conybeare? C. F. P. Conybeare was Lethbridge’s first lawyer, coming to Lethbridge in 1885 and starting his own practice. He served as city solicitor, crown prosecutor and was founding vice-president of the Law Society of Alberta. The house he built in 1892 stills stands on 6 Avenue South, and is remembered fondly by many Lethbridgians as the Regal Confectionery.

So what does Conybeare have to do with your glass of beer? Conybeare was a founding members and president of the Moderation League of Alberta. The Moderation League was the main group that fought to end prohibition in Alberta, and to bring back the legal sale of alcohol in the province.

In 1916, prohibition became the law across Alberta. By 1921, even Premier Stewart had to admit that the government was having difficulty enforcing the Liquor Act. Conybeare could have told him this would happen. In fact in 1909, Conybeare wrote a Lethbridge Herald article about the difficulties the police had in stopping whisky smuggling across this area during the prohibition period of the 1870s to the 1890s. In his writing, Conybeare outlined the various ways liquor was brought into the area and the ways some members of the community supported this illegal activity. He did not think it possible to stop the liquor traffic and thought instead it should be controlled and regulated

So Conybeare joined with other like-minded people in Lethbridge, and across Alberta, to form the Moderation League to advocate for an end to prohibition. Finally, in the 1923 plebiscite, their option for government control of alcohol won the vote, bringing prohibition to an end in 1924.

And the good people of Alberta could once again drink their beer in peace.

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