Yesterday’s News: Iqaluit wrestled with alcohol question back in 1974
A weekly look back at 50 years of front pages at Nunatsiaq News
Put a cork in alcohol sales, or let it flow freely?
In May 1974, that was the question facing residents of Iqaluit (known back then as Frobisher Bay). Four days before the vote was to be held, the Inukshuk newsletter published a story on May 17, 1974, from a public meeting held to discuss the upcoming plebiscite on whether or not to ban alcohol sales.
As a regular feature this year, while Nunatsiaq News celebrates 50 years of providing news coverage to Nunavut and Nunavik, we are looking back at some of our front pages from the past half century.
The first edition of the paper rolled off the presses in 1973 as Inukshuk, a community newsletter. Inukshuk was sold in 1976 and renamed Nunatsiaq News.
Beer and wine sales were eventually banned in Frobisher Bay sometime around 1976, reportedly due to a high number of deaths blamed on alcohol.
That ban remained in place for 38 years, until 2014, by which time the city had been renamed Iqaluit.
According to the GN website, alcohol sales are currently prohibited in six Nunavut hamlets — Arviat, Coral Harbour, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk, Pangnirtung and Sanikiluaq.
There are no restrictions on alcohol sales in Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay, Grise Fiord, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet and Taloyoak. The rest of Nunavut’s communities have some level of restriction in place on the sale of alcohol.
Also back in May 1974, Nordair learned it would be allowed to boost the rate it charged to transport food between Montreal and Frobisher Bay to 29 cents a pound, from the old rate of 25 cents.
Cargo was measured in pounds back then, since Canada didn’t adopt the metric system until 1975. And Nordair is no longer operating.
Sadly, this issue of Inukshuk also reported the death of a Frobisher Bay child from complications related to a hepatitis infection. His parents accompanied him when he was transferred to a hospital in Montreal, where he died three days later.
Great story. Thanks for bringing the news to us. Here’s to another 50 years!