Believing that the abuse of alcohol was the cause of unemployment, disease, prostitution, poverty and immorality, the WCTU campaigned for the legal PROHIBITION of all alcoholic beverages. The WCTU promoted the work ethic of sobriety, thrift, duty and family sanctity, in addition to such reforms as WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE, sex hygiene and mothers' allowances. National and provincial prohibition legislation, approved during WWI, was a highlight for the WCTU. The defeat of these laws and the adoption of government control of alcoholic beverages during the 1920s heralded the decline of the organization. In 1995 there were 1700 members in 67 branches (down from 2473 in 1987).
See also TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT.
Author NANCY M. SHEEHAN
L. Kealey, A Not Unreasonable Claim: Women and Reform in Canada, 1880s-1920s (1979); Sharon Anne Cook, Through Sunshine and Shadow: The Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Evangelicalism and Reform in Ontario, 1874-1930 (1995).
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Women's Christian Temperance Union Fonds
An overview of the history of the Canadian Women's Christian Temperance Union, an organization that fought to expand the role of women in Canadian society. From the Archives of Ontario website.
Alberta Provincial Woman's Christian Temperance Union fonds
View digitized copies of documents and photographs relating to the Alberta Provincial Woman's Christian Temperance Union. From the website for the Glenbow Museum.
View a digitized reproduction of a 19th century "Temperance pledge" engraving. For historical context, read the "Keys to History" notes below the image. From the McCord Museum website.
Prohibition and the Smuggling of Intoxicating Liquors between the Two Saults
An article about the history of the prohibition movement in Canada, the Ontario Temperance Act, liquor smuggling activities in the Sault Ste. Marie region, and related issues. From the website for the Canadian Nautical Research Society. A PDF file.