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Booze: A Distilled History

By Craig Heron  

Booze: A Distilled History
  • Paperback / softback

Booze is a history of Canadian drink and drinking from the European conquest to the present. Filled with photographs, ads, and cartoons, this multifaceted story features the liquor traffic, alcohol in Native communities, the law and prohibition, public drunkenness, the workingman’s club, bootlegging, alcoholism, and a wide array of watering holes.

“To write about booze is to enter into a minefield of controversy,” writes Heron, acknowledging the complexity of his subject. Booze is a work of engaging scholarship by one of Canada’s leading historians.

  • Paperback / softback, 512 pages
  • ISBN 9781896357836
  • Published November 2003


A fun book for the serious Canadian drinker.

The Globe & Mail

Well-written, soundly researched, and beautifully illustrated…A terrific contribution to the histories of working-class culture, masculinity, and alcohol.

Left History

Like a good toastmaster, historian Craig Heron mixes wit and wisdom in Booze: A Distilled History…All good stuff to pull out at your next cocktail party.


Heron deftly weaves together the intersection of alcohol consumption with such issues as community recreation, the regulation of public morality, the growth of policing, the Canadian suffrage movement, and class and racial divides.

Quill & Quire

Booze is social history at its finest. The social significance of drinking, a cultural, economic, and everyday practice, is effortlessly revealed. As historical research, Heron weaves multiple primary and secondary sources together seamlessly.

Just Labour

Beer, booze cans, beverage rooms, bootleggers, Barleycorn, and Baby Duck: Craig Heron packs four centuries of Canadian tippling and temperance into one easy-to-open package. Booze: A Distilled History is an informative and accessible study of Canadians who take a drink and the other Canadians who wish they wouldn’t. Heron ably captures our national enthusiasm, ambivalence, and hypocrisy toward the demon drink.

– Nicholas Pashley, author of Notes on a Beermat: Drinking and Why It’s Necessary

Craig Heron’s thoroughly enjoyable-and enjoyably thorough-romp through Canada’s boozey past is as approachably prose-worthy as it is an interconnected analysis of the social, economic, political, sexual, medical, racial, and cultural impact of alcohol on this country.


Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements
Chapter 1 In Search of John Barleycorn
Chapter 2 The Water of Life
Chapter 3 Taking the Pledge
Chapter 4 The Reign of King Alcohol
Chapter 5 The Long Arm of the Law
Chapter 6 Wet Voices
Chapter 7 One Hell of a Farce
Chapter 8 Trying Again
Chapter 9 The Recreational Drug
Chapter 10 Rediscovering the Alcoholic
Chapter 11 The Elusive John Barleycorn
List of Abbreviations

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