The Ontario Prohibition Union was founded as a successor organization to the Ontario Branch of the Dominion Alliance at the Alliance’s Annual Convention held in Toronto, March 18, 1924. Following several turbulent and controversial years of Alliance activity, leading temperance workers were urged by the Prohibition Federation of Canada to constitute a more representative organization to unify temperance forces in Ontario. This new group was initially called the Ontario Temperance Alliance but was changed to the Ontario Prohibition Union (OPU) at a subsequent meeting. The need for greater unity in the prohibition effort was cited in the new organization’s constitution:
The temperance workers of Ontario will expect that, in its leadership of the Prohibition forces, the Ontario Prohibition Union will, very earnestly seek the co-operation of all organizations and individuals that are all in sympathy with its one great object “The total and immediate suppression of the traffic in all intoxicating Liquors and beverages.”
Policy of the Organization was set at Conventions and carried out by an Executive Committee. The Union’s activities spanned an increased emphasis on temperance tracts, non-partisan political activity urging the abolition of the liquor traffic, the organization of county units, and assistance to ‘dry’ forces in local option contests, and the forwarding of information received at OPU offices regarding bootlegging and Liquor Control Act violations to the Provincial Attorney-General’s office.
After the passing of the Liquor Control Act in 1926 approving government control of liquor sales, prohibition sentiment experienced a gradual decline, especially in urban area. In 1934 the OPU was again reorganized, this time to reflect a stronger emphasis on education rather than legislation, and emerged the Ontario Temperance Federation.
The Ontario Temperance Foundation defined itself as “An interdenominational, non-partisan organization maintained largely by support of church congregations and individuals to co-ordinate the efforts of religious and other groups concerned with the promotion of sobriety in personal conduct and social behavior.” The Ontario Temperance Foundation emerged as the most influential temperance group in the nation.
Throughout its history the Federation found its main source of support in the United and Baptist churches, and to a lesser extent among Presbyterian, Congregationalists, and a number of smaller Protestant denominations. Little or no support was provided by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches and in many cases was never actively strong.
Combining scientific temperance with the moral appeals of earlier prohibitionists, the Federation became active in many fields, including education, youth work, legislation, community organization, and an administrative role as coordinator of provincial temperance forces. The Federation dissolved in 1968 to become the Alcohol and Drug Concerns Inc. The aim of the new organization was to promote lifestyles non dependent on drugs and alcohol, foster public awareness on the harms of those substances, advocate reduction of their use, counteract advertising promoting the use of substances, reinforcing the spiritual dimension of the work, and creating support and funding resources for the previous initiatives. In 1987 the organization surrendered its Ontario Charter and filed a National Charter to operate on a national level.