On July 1 of 1915 a government ban on the sale of liquor -- so-called prohibition -- came into effect in Saskatchewan, and 406 bars did not open that day. They stayed closed for nine years. But while the sale of liquor within the province was prohibited, there were loopholes. And if there were loopholes, Harry Bronfman, the owner of the Balmoral Hotel in Yorkton wasn’t shy about exploiting them.
Prohibition laws closed legal drinking establishments and forbade the sale of alcohol as a beverage. Possession and consumption of alcohol was only allowed in private dwellings. But alcohol could be purchased for other purposes, including medicinal use. And distillers, brewers and licensed producers could sell their product outside their home province.
Harry established the Canada Pure Drug Company in Yorkton, the precursor to the massive Seagram empire that dominated the liquor business in Canada and around the world through much of the 20th century.
Coming in December: the Balmoral under new ownership in the 1950s, and its eventual demise.
Search for Yorkton Stories to find our podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, TuneIn + Alexa, Podcast Index, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Pocket Cast, Deezer, Listen Notes and Player FM. Our podcasts are published on our website twice a month and they will generally be available in podcast directories within 48 hours.
These are stories about people and events in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada, which has been on the map since 1882 when a small group of men from Ontario, and originally from Britain, came to the District of Assiniboia, still largely unsettled prairie and aspen woodlands.
There are many stories -- and perhaps some myths and mysteries -- to be explored.
We will publish a new podcast twice a month, generally on or around the 10th and 24th of each month. All will be available on this website, as well as other audio streaming services to which you may subscribe.
These podcasts are a labour of love and respect for those who came before us, and who make Yorkton what it is today. As a former newspaper owner and editor, former city councillor, still-active community volunteer and local history buff, I know many of us have stories to tell. If you have one we should know about, get in touch.
If you want to support this effort, please consider making a donation.
And please feel free to tell others about Yorkton Stories -- pass on this website address to those who may be interested, or help us by promoting it on your social media. We are on Facebook and Instagram @YorktonStories.
If you would like to support our podcast, we welcome your small dollar donations through GoFundMe. The podcast is largely a labour of love, supported by businesses who share our interest in local history and current happenings, but your donation will also help us offset the cost of producing these podcasts.
When a new podcast is available, we will send you an email to let you know. That's the only reason we will use your email address; we won't let anyone else use our email list and we won't be trying to sell you anything because we know how annoying junk email is.