Booze: When Whiskey Ruled the West

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Fifth House, 1995 - History - 225 pages
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Booze captures the wild days of the Canadian west, when battles raged between the wets and the drys.

From Winnipeg to the Rockies, whisky kept the prairies in a ferment for fifty years. Taking advantage of the enormous influx of immigrants during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, hotels sprang up in the towns and cities to cater to the prodigious thirst of their patrons. The unrestricted boozing resulted in drunkenness, brawling, petty crime and the disappearance of many a paycheque. It also resulted in a vigourous and ultimately successful campaign for total prohibition, and from approximately 1916 to 1924 the three Prairie provinces were legally dry.

In his characteristic lively and engaging style, James Gray writes about a little-known aspect of Canadian social history, its aftermath, and the effects it has had on our lives today.

Unlike many historians, Gray focuses on the everyday lives of ordinary men and women to give an authentic picture of the early years in western Canada. Booze was an instant bestseller when it was originally published in 1972, and has sold more than 100,000 copies in Canada and the U.S.

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About the author (1995)

James Gray, one of western Canada's finest social historians, was born in Whitemouth, Manitoba, in 1906. We worked for the Winnipeg Free Press for many years and went on to edit several other publications. In 1947, he relocated to Calgary, where he worked with the Home Oil Company for twenty years before retiring to embark on a new career as a historian. He passed away on 12 November 1998 in Calgary at the age of ninety-two.
During his life, Gray received numerous awards, including the Alberta Order of Excellence (1987), the Order of Canada (1988), and the Pierre Berton Award for "distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history" (1995). Gray also penned a rich legacy of award-winning and best selling books, including The Boy from Winnipeg, Men Against the Desert, The Winter Years, Booze, and Red Lights on the Prairies.

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