Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Prohibition | historical, social | A dark period in our provincial history when liquor consumption was prohibited by law. Lasting from 1917 to 1921, British Columbia’s so-called “Prohibition” was ahead of the social curve in North America, predating similar legislation in the United States by two years, but our version of this particular good times clamp-down was especially unique. There were work-arounds for dedicated tipplers, as the manufacture of booze was not prohibited and doctors were allowed to prescribe the stuff with discretion. Thankfully, we came to our senses long before our American friends, who had to wait until 1933 before they could legally take their next sip.

New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach (right) watches agents pour liquor into the sewer following a raid, ca. 1921 | Library of Congress

We naturally and immediately took full advantage of their unlucky predicament by mastering the intertwining arts of bootlegging and rum-running, with many a local fortune being made as a result. Such exploitation may have put us in the red on the karma ledger, however, for when our forebears voted an early end to Prohibition they ill-advisedly handed the government the same monopoly over liquor sales and distribution that they continue to abuse with infuriating incompetence to this day.

Usage: “Imagine how much it must have sucked to come home from fighting World War I to find your favourite bar had closed because of Prohibition…”

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