Woman's Christian Temperance Union

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Canada originated in Owen Sound, Ont, in 1874. Under the influence of Letitia Youmans of Pictou, Ont, the temperance union idea spread and a national WCTU was organized in 1885, with Youmans as president. At the time, the union was the largest non-denominational women's organization in Canada.

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.