Wet Canteens and Worrying Mothers: Alcohol, Soldiers, and Temperance Groups in the Great War
AbstractThe First World War proved to be a powerful stimulus for the temperance movement in Canada. Temperance advocates argued moral and economic reasons for prohibition: those who failed to abstain from drink were hindering victory; prohibition was patriotic. When canteens serving beer were opened in Canadian training camps in England to limit soldiers’ drinking in local villages, temperance groups were outraged. As prohibitionists fought to ban drink, a divisive edge was driven into the gulf between the soldiers in the trenches and the civilians on the home front. The campaign to ban wet canteens demonstrates that each constituency, military and civilian, contained distinct cultures with different perspectives on pleasure and danger.