OTD: Bishop Laval reimposes ban on liquor sales

On today’s date in 1662, Bishop François-Xavier de Laval announced anyone selling liquor to “the Indians” would be excommunicated from the Church.

In 1657, King Louis XIV confirmed the prohibition of the spirits trade, something in effect in the colony since Samuel Champlain’s term as governor in the early 1630s.

On May 5, 1660, Bishop Laval, who was the vicar apostolic in New France from 1658-74, threatened ex-communication to anyone providing intoxicating beverages to the Indians. This ban was lifted in October 1661; however, it was reimposed on Feb. 24, 1662, soon after then-Governor General Pierre Dubois Davaugour announced he was in favour of allowing the profitable industry to prosper.

In 1663, when Louis XIV established the sovereign council, the position of bishop became the second-most influential position in the entire French colony—second only to the governor. The bishop used his influence to stymie the trade of alcohol between Europeans and Aboriginals, believing it denigrated both cultures to promote alcohol.

As Quebec’s first bishop, Laval was influential in establishing many educational institutions (about one parish a year for 30 years) and is considered an architect of New France. He died in Québec City in 1708.


In 1973, Laval was featured on an eight-cent stamp (Scott #611) issued by Canada Post to mark the 350th anniversary of his birth. The stamp was designed by Gerry Lorange and Michael Fog based on a painting by Claude François.

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