1995.399.a.b | "Hand Brand"

"Hand Brand"
1800-1899, 19th century
24.3 x 22.9 cm
This artefact belongs to : © Musée acadien of the Université de Moncton
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Keys to History

After Confederation, the Canadian economy began to boom. Yet most Acadians were left on the sidelines; their living conditions of were still poor and they experienced a certain economic stagnation. Passage in 1919 of the U.S. Volstead Act, which aimed to eliminate the evils of drink, enabled many Acadians to make money by bootlegging. A network was set up to smuggle alcohol between the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, Canada and the United States using schooners belonging to Acadian fishermen.

Yet prohibition and alcohol smuggling had been in the news since the last quarter of the 19th century. In 1898 the Canadian government held a national plebiscite on the question. The results in Gloucester County, NB, were clear: in Acadian communities like Beresford, Caraquet, Saumarez and Lamèque, the majority voted against prohibition. At that time, Catholics tended to favour temperance rather than total abstinence, while most English Protestants were for prohibition.

  • What

    Hand Brand, a drink with a very high alcohol content, was often diluted with water before being resold.

  • Where

    Hand Brand liquor came from St. Pierre and Miquelon, two French islands in the Atlantic.

  • When

    Between 1920 and 1925, Hand Brand was very cheap, selling for between 75 cents and $1.50 a bottle.

  • Who

    Hand Brand alcohol was produced by bootleggers.