Prohibition Poetry

Today, a nostalgic poem from 1937 written by “the Vanrena Poet Laureate”.  Old Timers from the Fairview/Waterhole area may understand some of these references:

Dreams of Still Life

I dreamt last night I saw a still
Down on the Peace beneath the hill,
Wherein they brew the stuff that cheers–
Makes us forget the wary years.
With other cronies Spike and I
We took a journey on the sly,
Scarce one short hour had time to roll
When that big “bull” from Waterhole
Had pinched us all– the measly bloke.
The shock it jarred me.  I awoke
So glad to find it wasn’t so
I thought I’d write and let you know
About the latest raid they made;
It throws all others in the shade.
That man that lives up in the moon,
Those cops will jug him pretty soon.
I’ve heard them say in Waterhole
He was the last upon the roll;
The very last of all that line
That dares to make that old moon-
Down here on earth we fear to brew
A mulligan, or French Bourgoo.
One puff of steam around your shack
Will put those coppers on your track;
Bootleggers surely have to fade
When A.P.P.s are on the raid;
For everyone’s a brilliant sleuth
At seeking stills– it’s still the truth.
They’ve captured all the barrels and cans
From Whitford’s down to “Old Kyann’s”
And now they’re off to MacDonnel
To give the poor bootleggers hell;
No more we’ll get our daily snort
Of moonshine, beer or good old port;
They’ve wrung us dry, upon my soul,
As their town well in Waterhole–
Those bulls of ours.  I cannot see
Why they are “North of fifty-three”.
Our good King George would give his crown
To have them back in London town,
Where they could claim their just  reward
And join the ranks of Scotland Yard.
Big Bulls, Small Bulls, a toast to thee
In Logies good Blue Ribbon Tea.

In Alberta, Prohibition was in effect prior to 1924.  Laws restricting sales and consumption of liquor (men and women could not drink together in public) were changed in 1957 after a province-wide vote.  Few turned out to have their say; for some reason, this was not the landmark vote we may expect, looking back.  Were the laws so outdated they were already ignored?  Was liquor easily available through neighbourhood stills?  Was drinking just not a major interest?

If you know the answers, or more tantalizing tidbits of local history, please write to or leave a comment on any post.  Thank you!

This entry was posted in Authors and Writers, history and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Prohibition Poetry

  1. I remember seeing those signs for years afterwards. Even in the 70s there were still hotels (beer parlours) that had separate entrances for men and women, and men sat in one section, “Ladies and Escorts” sat in another. The rules weren’t strictly enforced, but the sign was still there. It wasn’t a nice place for anyone to spend time anyway – men or women. Stinky old places.

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