Desperately Seeking Booze.

A couple of weeks ago some breaking news hit the wires and I was all over it like a rash.  You see I have been a little perplexed by the booze scene in Toronto and it was starting to feel like Prohibition is alive and well in Canada.

In Canada, the government in each province is given the responsibility of regulating the consumption and selling of Alcohol in its own province.   That means the government owns the liquor stores so unlike in Australia where you have a choice between Dan Murphy’s, Vintage Sellers, Cellarbrations, Bottlemart and countless other booze retailers, in the province of Ontario we only have ONE – the good old LCBO (short for the liquor control board of Ontario)


The LCBO set the price of the booze, dictate the hours of the stores and select the booze that is sold.  They stock beer, wine and spirits.  Beer can also be purchased at a place called The Beer Store and it only sells, you guessed it BEER!   Wineries and Boutique Breweries or Craft Brewers can sell direct from the premises and restaurants and bars are allowed to serve and sell alcohol to customers, of course from alcohol they have purchased from the LCBO.

The LCBO in Ontario sells over $5 billion in grog each year.  The revenue raised goes into Healthcare, Education and infrastructure.   Prices are the same everywhere in the province regardless if you are in downtown  Toronto or in some backwater.

Due to the lack of grog retailers on every corner,  I find it takes some planning to ensure I have an adequate supply of alcohol in the apartment for medicinal purposes.    Gone are the day’s when I had my good friend Dan Murphy’s on the corner of our street.  Our local LCBO is a good 20-minute walk.  It also doesn’t have parking so forget about stocking up as you then need to carry it back home.

The Australian wine selection also troubles me.  Just like how Fosters is sold everywhere else in the world but in Australia the Australian wine section is full of crap Australian Labels I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.  Think the brand with the yellow kangaroo and one that starts with the name Jacob. Wolf Blass is in all his glory.  I think the last time I had a glass of the Wolf was in the late 80’s at The Golden Hut Chinese Restaurant in Gladesville, served with a plate of Lemon Chicken and Mongolian Lamb.   The New Zealand selection is better however it does have a fantastic selection of Argentinian, Californian, French and Italian wines.

A few years ago my friend Pete gave me a little tidbit,  if you drink Italian and French you can drink it till the cows come home and not wake up with a hangover.  I’m not sure of the reason behind this theory, but I think it’s something to do with preservatives.

I put Pete’s theory to the test one day at a ladies lunch that then turned into a dinner and found the theory was good until the 2nd or 3rd bottle was consumed.

Prior to leaving Australia, I had been giving a particular Italian Pinot Grigio a good nudge as my mid-week tipple.   More times than not it was on special at my mate Dan’s and was around the $10 a bottle mark.    The other day I found this fine drop at the LCBO  and was about to do my happy dance only to find it was $29 a bottle.  WTF!!!

So anyway back to the exciting news!!!!!!!!!!!!

Times are a changing here in Ontario.

It was announced that starting this month 60 grocery stores in Ontario have been selected to start selling 6 packs of beer!

Within 3 years 450 supermarkets will be selected to start selling 6 packs of beer!

All I can say is lucky I’m not fussy and will drink anything, BEER included.



  • Liz & Kate

    I found your blog via an Expat Forum and have enjoyed (silent giggling) at your experiences so far in Toronto! I’m married to a Canadian (from Brampton…don’t ask…don’t go there is all I’ll say!) We lived downtown for 2 years in the mid 90’s before moving back to Australia. Can’t believe how little some things have changed (the milk post had me chortling). I found the LCBO thing perplexing and horrifying and used to whine about it constantly:)))
    Tip is to find a wine merchant – they can sell you labels you want from Oz and other places. ie they import and onsell to poor deprived souls like yourself!!!!
    The LCBO is the devil’s work and full of crappy overpriced wine we wouldn’t touch with the proverbial barge pole at our friend Dan Murphy’s:)

    Happy New Year!!

    • Maple Bacon Please!

      Hi Liz,
      Thank you for the tip re wine merchants I will look into it! Since writing that post on the LCBO they have not failed to make me even more stabby in particular on New Years Eve with a massive line out the front and around the corner, WTF! Seriously thinking about going on the wagon or starting to home brew. Thanks also for the heads up on Brampton and Niagara, will avoid both like the plague and will go for a visit to Niagara-on-the-lake in the spring/summer, (My husband is from Winnipeg, and it’s an everyone is from Winnipeg no one goes to Winnipeg kind of place) Thanks for the giggle, would love to hear more tales of your time in Canada.

  • RuthsArc

    Hi. I’ve just found your blog, via Joanne at “my life lived full”. For some strange reason while looking through your posts, this one JUMPED out at me. Love it! I’ve recently moved from the UK to Australia. In the UK, we buy our booze in the supermarkets along with the milk, juice, veggies etc. So it has taken me a while to accept that in Tassie, we have to walk or drive to the bottle shop. Good luck finding a new affordable favourite 🙂

    • Maple Bacon Please!

      I love how the UK has alcohol in the supermarkets and off-licence stores, after being in the UK in the 90’s and returning to Australia I thought it would only be a matter of time before it would be the case in Australia as well …. how wrong … 20 plus years later and it hasn’t happened!

      Since writing this blog post they have started selling beer in 6 packs in a handful of supermarkets in Toronto and it’s so funny, you can only buy it in 6 packs, only use specific checkouts approved for paying for the beer and it’s only sold between certain hours for example after I think 6 pm on a Sunday the beer is taken off the shelf or covered over and you can’t buy it even if the supermarket is open until midnight.

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