A lot of backpackers arrive here on a hot summer’s evening and immediately begin to search for a store selling alcoholic beverages. Most come from juristictions that allow the sale of beer and wine at the local convenience/grocery store.
Not so in Ontario.
The time was (1960′s and ’70′s) that “Toronto the Good” had embarassingly puritanical liqour laws that among other factors, thwarted the city’s chances of rising to “World Class” status.
Alcohol in Ontario has but a single purveyor. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is the Provincial Government’s “Crown Corporation” with a virtual monopoly on the sale of alcoholic beverages in the Province of Ontario.
With a population of over 13 million, Ontario is home to more than 40% of Canadians. And if you want to purchase booze here, there is no real alternative.
There is “The Beer Store” performs the same function but represents and is owned by the breweries. There is also no competition in beer sales (although the LCBO also sells beer); but the Beer Store can not sell hard liquor.
With a “captive customer base” the LCBO is the largest single purchaser of alcoholic beverages on the planet. In 2012, their sales topped $4.7 billion Canadian dollars (profits of $1.6 billion).
It seems to us, that if the “LCBO” was NOT a Crown Corporation, (i.e. “Government Owned”) they would likley be in violation of anti-trust laws.
Nonethless, we’ve come a long way over the past three decades and the LCBO and BEER STORE are a reality. Retail liquor/beer outlets are quite a distance apart and, at times, rather inconvenient.
The closest LCBO to our hostel’s doors is: @ the corner of King Street and Spadina Ave. Simply exit the hostel, turn right, one block down and three blocks right on King to Spadina.
We recommend that our hostel guests carry suitable I.D. as they enforce the prohibition to minors faithfully.