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Cannabis legalization is coming: Here’s what happened when Prohibition ended in Ontario and legal liquor flowed again




When Prohibition ended, Ontario did not drown in whisky, gin and wine. The province drowned in the bureaucracy.

The first week of government-controlled liquor was marked by queues. There was a line to get in. There was a line to get a permit, which you needed to buy anything in the shop. A line to fill out an order form. A line to pay. A line to pick up your purchases at a counter, wrapped in brown paper. Anyone who emerged from the “maelstrom” of the LCBO was a beacon of hope to those waiting outside. At least with the bootleggers, one man cracked, you got fast service.

On Oct. 17, cannabis will be legal across Canada, and the Ontario government has a website to describe what that means for purchasers in this province. Back in 1927, when the government transitioned to legal alcohol, the clearing house for all concerns and questions was essentially one man.

The first chief commissioner of the LCBO was D.B. Hanna, 69, an old railway executive. He was a looming Scot with a gentle demeanour, a warm handshake and a good sense of humour, according to the press. He came out of his retirement to be the government’s “strong man” in the liquor game, and told the Star he only agreed to be Ontario’s “chief bartender” because he liked the challenge of a new industry.

“The people of Ontario evidently want some kind of liquor business to be established,” he said in the winter of 1927. “Perhaps it will be a public service to construct it for them on sound business principles.”

The countdown to opening day had been marked by worry. How would the government weed out “suspicious” characters? Would people who applied for liquor permits have to file affidavits? “What good would that do?” Hanna asked. The official stance was that all 21-year-old Ontario residents were eligible. The government wasn’t assuming everybody was a crook, he said.

On June 1, 1927, at 10 a.m., the province planned to open the first 18 LCBO shops in Ottawa, Kingston, Hamilton, London, Brockville, Kitchener, Fort William, Windsor and Toronto. Hanna wanted to avoid “anything that would look like a wild celebration,” the Star noted.

In interviews with the press, he had asked people to dive back into alcohol with “leisurely dignity.” On the eve of opening day, he was still convinced there would be no wild rush. But he was wrong.

Across Ontario, the stores were besieged. It was a “crush” in London, a “splendid business” in Kitchener, and in Windsor, they were so overwhelmed they had to shut down early.

“Long lineups at all liquor dispensaries,” read the Star’s front-page headline about Toronto’s six stores.

“No cattle car was ever more crowded,” the coverage continued. “It was a struggle for a strong man to fight his way through the sardine tin to the counter at the rear where licences were sold. One had to be a contortionist to get an arm free to write out a slip.”

Hanna didn’t have much sympathy. He blamed the people who failed to get their permits in advance for causing the congestion. They had a whole week. They had been warned. What did they expect? He reluctantly reopened the permit office at 74 King St. E., to take the pressure of the liquor shops.

He also took issue with the Star’s characterization of the day as an “opening of the sluice gates.” What an insult to the fair name of the province!

There had always been a powerful temperance lobby in Canada, and Prohibition had been enacted in Ontario in 1916. It was difficult to enforce, because unlike the U.S., Ontario hadn’t outlawed the manufacture of alcohol for export, said Dan Malleck, an associate professor of health sciences at Brock University and author of Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44.

In Toronto, there were speakeasies where you could ease your dusty throat with bootlegged alcohol and home brews. Wineries were still legal because the province wanted to nurture the homegrown industry, Malleck noted. Alcohol could still be purchased for medicinal, industrial and religious reasons — and the sale was regulated by the Board of Liquor Commissioners, precursor to the LCBO.

Prohibition started to officially weaken in 1923, when Premier Howard Ferguson’s government introduced the sale of low-alcohol beer in restaurants and beverage rooms, but the quality of the beer was widely criticized, Malleck said.

There were also the veterans. “Some people argued that as soon as the soldiers came back, they’re coming back to this dry country and they’re saying, ‘What the hell? We just put our lives on the line and, we get what now?” By 1927, it wasn’t really surprising that Ontario decided to follow other provinces into government liquor control.

The bureaucratic process was by design. The LCBO was based on a Scandinavian system of “disinterested management,” where sales were not encouraged, but moderation and restriction were, Malleck said.

“I think what they were trying to do was appease both sides by making it available, but not making it so available that there would be so much disorder that the temperance movement would try to reassert itself,” he said.

In the lineups, complaints abounded. “Absolutely the worst system I have ever seen,” said one man who was not a fan of the disinterested management style.

As the week progressed, the chaos subsided but the lines were still long enough for reporters to recognize repeat customers from earlier in the week. “I had a party last night,” one man explained. One woman said she was so confused on the first day that she ordered beer when she meant to order whisky. “She admitted however, that the beer had been pretty good and ordered another case today as well.”

The women in line were somewhat of a novelty, carrying away their whisky and gin “with as much sang froid” as the men, the Globe noted.

With congestion still bad at the end of the first week, Hanna introduced a temporary measure of one alcohol purchase a week per permit. It had not been an “auspicious” start, the Globe noted, criticizing the “disgraceful street scenes.” People wrote letters to the editor decrying the drunken displays and the risks to the family. By September, Hanna warned that liquor permits could be cancelled permanently for drunkenness.

By the end of 1927, the LCBO had opened 86 stores, three mail-order departments and four warehouses. Five months after opening day, a source at Queen’s Park told the Star sales were between $11 million and $12 million, far higher than they imagined, and it would help give the government its first surplus since 1919.

The next day D.B. Hanna called those numbers “absolutely foolish” but a few months later confirmed that sales had actually been $17 million. He was convinced that just as much alcohol had been consumed under prohibition law and just a few years ago, “the profits were pouring into the hands of the lowest element of the people in the province” instead of the taxpayer.

In its first report, the LCBO said there was a marked decline in the “bootlegging evil,” and dangerous home brews and a “lessening of youthful temptations to break prohibitory laws.”

They praised the people of Ontario for their moderation, especially during the holidays, which had been enjoyed without “excessive intemperance.” Perfection had not been achieved, they noted, but it was a safe and sane system. In the bureaucratic language of the LCBO of the day, the praise didn’t get much higher than that.

The Bureaucracy of Buying Booze

1927: Permit books used for ordering

1957: Permit books started to be replaced by an identification-card system

1961: Ontarians were permitted to buy liquor without permits or identification cards (proof of age was still required)

1969: First self-serve store where no order had to be written down on an order form

1993: Last counter-service store where orders had to be written down on an order form

Source: LCBO


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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