For many decades, especially between the 1870’s and the 1920’s, the Temperance Movement was a strong and influential one in Ontario, and throughout the country. Among the many organisations that made up this movement, two were particularly active in North Grenville in those years: the Sons of Temperance and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1898, a national Plebiscite was held on the question of prohibition, and local committees of the prohibitionists were found in Kemptville, Oxford Mills, Bishops Mills, South Gower and Heckston. In fact, only Burritts Rapids does not appear to have had an active temperance organisation, so far as available records tell us.

The Sons of Temperance had “Divisions”, as they were called, in most of the hamlets and villages of the area. The name is quite misleading, as the organisation contained both men and women in its ranks. In fact, women were to be found holding at least half of the executive positions at all levels. The records of the Sons for the Oxford Mills Division, dating from 1891 until around 1898, show that temperance was a useful issue around which a very sociable group of people gathered. Meetings included a time for entertainment, and box socials and picnics were an essential part of the movement’s activities. They were no opponents of fun and laughs. Strenuous attempts were made in both Kemptville and Oxford Mills to have the liquor licenses of local hotels cancelled in 1893, and the extensive involvement of the various groups in plebiscites in 1892 and 1894 was impressive and effective. It is interesting to note that when, finally, a compromise solution on prohibition was reached in Ontario in 1927, Kemptville was at the centre of it. The LCBO was established by the government of G. Howard Ferguson, native of Kemptville and one-time Reeve of that Village.


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