Dawn-Euphemia considers a vote to end prohibition


In Dawn-Euphemia, residents living on the Dawn side would have to travel to Florence, seen in this historic picture, for a beer. That may change.


Dawn-Euphemia may be the only municipality in Ontario that is still bans the sale of alcohol – in at least half of the municipalities – but that may be about to change.

In the 1920s, the provincial government prohibited the sale of alcohol in the province. That changed less than a decade later, but many communities, like Dawn Township remained dry.

Time passed and eventually Dawn joined its “wet” neighbour to form the Township of Dawn-Euphemia but the designation of a dry municipality – at least in Dawn Township remained.

With few restaurants and even fewer public halls, Dawn-Euphemia Clerk-Administrator Mike Schnare, says there was rarely any discussion about whether Dawn should change the designation to allow the public sale of liquor.

But recently the owner of the variety store in Rutherford raised the question. “It has not been a pressing issue,” he says. “We were recently approached by the property owner next door to the township office, he had someone interested in buying it (the variety store and restaurant) and asked the question if he could get a liquor license there.”

The answer, because the Dawn portion of the township still carries a dry designation, was no.

And Schnare says if the fire department wanted to get a special occasion permit for the Rutherford fire hall during one of its special events, they would also be denied. “We would have to be declared wet to be able to do this.”

So Schnare has raised the issue with municipal council, asking if they would like to put the issue on the municipal election ballot in October for the voters to decide.

Councilors are expected to consider the issue in March.

Dawn may be one of the last municipalities to hold onto the ‘dry’ designation from the prohibition era.

Prohibition ended in Orillia in 1955 and Owen Sound removed the dry designation in the 1970s. Some parts of Toronto remained “dry” until 2000. There are a number of First Nations communities in Quebec and Labrador which have banned the sale of alcohol in recent years.