Have a Bootlegging Good Time at the OMAH Speakeasy
Tuesday March 10, 2020 at 1:17pm
Have you heard the news? Former Leacock Museum curator Fred Addis is being held in our basement cells and he is not happy about it. At the OMAH Speakeasy, you’ll get a chance to hear bootlegging stories from Fred Addis. VIP pass holders can pay him a visit in the cells and learn about the evils of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the Anti-Saloon League, poison liquor and phoney prescriptions.
There has been a bit of a debate of the prominence of bootlegging in Orillia. Dave Town, local historian, claims that speakeasies may not have been as prominent in small towns.
“Orillia enacted the “local option” after a vote in 1907 to ban alcohol. Almost immediately the citizenry jumped on the bandwagon and booze disappeared from public (of course there was a clause that allowed the purchase of whiskey and beer for “personal use” at home – that eliminated the most vociferous objections). By 1920 Orillia was happily a “dry” town, enjoying the benefits of that in less family violence, less hungry children (Dad used to drink away the food money) and a more dependable workforce. The Saturday night brawl outside the bars completely disappeared.
The Great Depression of the 1930’s actually started in 1920 in rural Ontario communities. The short, sharp economic post-war depression of 1919 scared industry and many, many factories fled small towns for Toronto and Hamilton to reduce costs. Orillia lost a large portion of its factories (in 1910 there were over 70, in the 1930’s it was reduced to less than 30 or so), and unemployment, for the first time in the town’s history, became a significant issue. No one in Orillia had the time or energy to care about speakeasies and the hoopla that surrounded them. That was a big city thing. Rural Ontario was in survival mode, not party mode.”
Though this may be true, many stories of bootleggers and prohibition linger throughout Orillia. As a defender of Canada's foremost anti-prohibitionist Stephen Leacock, Addis will give you an earful on everything that's wrong with Prohibition and how the booze never stopped flowing at Leacock's Old Brewery Bay. Addis finds himself in the 'hoosegow' when he was nabbed as a found-in at a local Speakeasy. He needs to make bail so he'll be offering his 5 cents worth and maybe even a song or a poem. Who's on the wrong side of history now?
VIP ticket holders will receive a password to enter the jail cells for a unique experience. There are only 40 VIP tickets, so you better act fast to buy your tickets! Tickets are $50 for general and $75 for VIP. Purchase here https://www.orilliamuseum.org/speakeasy