In contrast to the many saloons and breweries which were successfully established in Victoria during the Fraser River gold rush, a temperance movement also began. Temperance movements were dedicated to the moderation, or in some cases complete abstinence in the use of intoxicating liquor.
On June 23, 1859, John T. Pidwell placed an advertisement in the Victoria Gazette celebrating the efforts of the eastern temperance movement and advocating the creation of a B.C. division. Pidwell, future father-in-law of David Higgins, had arrived in Victoria in 1858 from New Brunswick where he had taken an active role as a member of the Sons of Temperance.
In his essay the Passing of a Race, Higgins remarked that certain well-regarded businessmen were profiting from selling so-called ‘liquor’ to the local tribes while the police and government turned a blind eye.
It was a notorious fact that certain firms were never disturbed. They were immune from the visits of constables, and Justice was not alone blind—she was so deaf that she could not hear the plaintive cries of the wretched victims…
From the British Colonist newspaper September 30, 1862:
Last evening a meeting of gentlemen was convened at the rooms of Messrs. Franklin for the purpose of forming a Temperance Society and Debating Club, when a certain well-known citizen was unanimously voted to the chair, which he took with many thanks for the honor conferred, and sitting down, rested his chin upon his right hand and appeared absorbed in deep thought. Several motions were made, but the chair paid no attention to them for several minutes, when the wondering audience discovered that the chairman whom they had unanimously chosen was in an advanced state of “How-come-you-so” —just in good trim for a small tea party at which whisky formed the principal beverage, but hardly the right thing for a temperance meeting…
The following is a recipe from “Six Hundred Receipts Worth their Weight in Gold” by John Marguart printed in 1867.
How to make Silver-top, a temperance drink
Take 1 quart water, 3 1/4 pounds white sugar, 1 teaspoonful lemon-oil, 1 tablespoonful flour, with the white of 5 eggs, well beat up; mix all the above well together. Then divide the syrup, and add 4 ounces carbonate of soda into one part, and put it into a bottle, and then add 3 ounces tartaric acid to the other part of the syrup, and bottle it also. Take 2 pint tumblers, and put in each tumbler 1 tablespoonful of the syrup (that is, from each bottle of the syrup) and fill them half full with fresh cold water; pour it together into one tumbler. Superb.