May 12, 1985
On May 12,1985 the members of the Total Abstinence and Benefit Society (TABS) met in St. John’s and dissolved the Society by a resolution of its members. The society had been formally established in St. John’s by the Revered Kyran Walsh in 1841.
It was not the first movement to introduce the philosophy of temperance in St. John’s and by extension the rest of the Newfoundland.
Edward Wix the Church of England Missionary had helped organize a temperance society which met almost every month between 1833 and 1838 and published the Newfoundland Temperance Journal.
Members of the TABS enrolled under the society’s motto of “Be Sober and Watch”, and had taken “the pledge” to abstain from alcoholic beverages.
The words of the famous “pledge” which members took was:
“I pledge myself with the Divine Assistance that as long as I shall continue a member of this Society I will abstain from all intoxicating liquors unless for medical or religious purposes and that I will discountenance intemperance in others.”
The society was a well established sponsor and host for numerous literary and musical and theatrical events. The logic of the society was to provide a good alcohol free venue to counter the appeal other entertainments.
In the 1930’s TABS was very optimistic about their future building their new hall at 344 Duckworth Street in, St. John’s, at the time the largest Art-Deco style building ever erected in the city. The building is best remembered as the Capital Theatre (Henry Street entrance) and CBC Radio Building.
When the Society was dissolved in 1985 the Registration Books, Minute Books and other related material was deposited in the Archives of the R.C. Archdiocese.
Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives explore: MG 599: Sons of Temperance, Twillingate; the collection consists of minutes of meetings, re: list of officers, parades, general business and MG 1009: Sons of Temperance, St. John‘s Division No. 3: Minutes of the Sons of Temperance for 1865-1867 beginning with the inaugural meeting. Minutes include lists of officers including ages and occupations of members, resolutions, finances, quarterly reports, membership fees, expenditures, etc.
Recommended Song: Murphy Broke The Pledge (Irish Descendants) based on the Johnny Burke Ballad, Murphy Broke the Pledge [1851-1930] of St. John’s, NL (1894). This variant arranged by the Irish Descendants (Rollin Home, 1998) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAUzJmUkC7A