M930.50.3.147 | Temperance advertisement

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Temperance advertisement
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1859, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
8.4 x 13.1 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Print (10661) , Sign and symbol (2669)
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Keys to History

Images of domestic life pervaded 19th-century advertising--most showed the ubiquitous happy family.

However, in this advertisement there is a threat to domestic harmony: alcohol. Compare the image of the family on the left with that on the right. As the family was considered the heart of society, any threat was taken seriously. Middle-class women became active supporters of temperance (the abolition of alcohol), and charitable work became an integral part of a Victorian woman's life. She felt she had a social responsibility and a natural ability to aid less fortunate women, especially the lower classes. Under the banner of moral virtue, women formed societies that took them into the public sphere.

Jan Noel, Canada Dry: Temperance Crusades before Confederation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995).

  • What

    The temperance movement (an organized effort to abolish alcohol) began in Canada in the 1840s. Here children are signing pledges never to drink.

  • Where

    The WCTU, Women's Christian Temperance Union, was an international organization that sought--and achieved--political change.

  • When

    John Henry Walker created this advertisement in 1859. Men, women and children were asked to pledge never to drink alcohol.

  • Who

    John Henry Walker designed advertisements, pledge forms, petitions and crests for numerous temperance societies, or unions.