Bottoms Up: A History of Alcohol in Newfoundland and Labrador

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In 1617, Lord Falkland’s colonists in Newfoundland were instructed to bring, among other things, 20 barrels of caske (ale), 90 bushels of malt, a malt mill, 4500 pounds of hops, 1 firkin of Aqua vitae, 1 firkin of canarie wine, and 1 firkin of methaglyne (mead). And so began the time-honoured tradition of countering the rugged Newfoundland environment with a nip of something stronger. Now, four hundred years later, from our famous kitchen parties to the bars and pubs of George Street, the history of our cultural traditions is intertwined with the history of liquor and beer.

Bottoms Up is the story of alcohol in Newfoundland and Labrador, and reveals how the drink helped shape so much of the province’s culture. What did Newfoundlanders drink 400 years ago? Where were the most popular drinking establishments of the past? Why does one of our streets have the most pubs per square foot in North America? Distilling four centuries of fact and anecdote, Sheilah Roberts Lukins serves up a revealing and often amusing survey of our fascination with good spirits.

Sheilah Roberts Lukins

Sheilah Roberts Lukins has written three non-fiction books for adults and two children’s books. Bottoms Up: A History of Alcohol in Newfoundland and Labrador won an international Gourmand Award for Best in the World Food & Drink Culture. The first book in her “Errol’s Adventure” series, Full Speed Ahead: Errol’s Bell Island Adventure, won the 2018 Bruneau Family Children’s/Young Adult Award and its follow-up Flying Ace: Errol’s Gander Adventure was longlisted for the award in 2020. A lover of history, horses, dogs, good food, and great stories, she lives and writes in St. Philips, Newfoundland with her husband and several garden mice.