Sit Down and Drink Your Beer: Regulating Vancouver's Beer Parlours, 1925-1954


187 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-4854-4
DDC 363.4'1'0971133




Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner is the financial and budget manager of the University of
British Columbia Library.


The dates that define the scope of this social history are significant
ones in the history of public drinking in British Columbia. The first
beer parlour opened in 1925, the first cocktail lounge in 1954. Both
types of establishment were developed in response to perceived problems
with the public drinking environments of their day. Introduced following
prohibition, hotel beer parlours were subject to strict regulation in an
effort to control public drinking and avoid social problems associated
with it. The study of these regulations and the public’s reactions to
them is the subject of this book and the dissertation from which it
developed. The circumstances of their introduction and evolution tells
much about the social values and prejudices of the society in which they
operated. They were interesting times, both economically and socially.
Labour–management issues, class distinctions, discrimination by race,
gender, and sexuality, and varying perceptions of “public decency”
were widespread. Much of the research for this groundbreaking study was
done in original sources, such as government reports and the records of
unions and societies. It is extensively footnoted and includes a
bibliography and a detailed index.


Campbell, Robert A., “Sit Down and Drink Your Beer: Regulating Vancouver's Beer Parlours, 1925-1954,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 25, 2024,