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Your friendly guide to surviving an LCBO strike

By Trevor Pritchard on May 16, 2013


Photo by ActiveSteve on Flickr

There’s a distinct possibility that Ontarians will be waking up Friday morning to the LCBO’s first strike in its 87-year history. And given it’s the Victoria Day long weekend, the timing of the looming labour stoppage — unless you’re among the 95 percent of LCBO employees who’ve voted in favour of a strike mandate — couldn’t be worse.

Thankfully, if a strike does come to pass, thirsty Ottawans won’t be without options. Here are five handy ways to keep yourself hydrated during the coming dry spell.


Over the past few years, Ottawa’s microbrewing scene has grown by leaps and bounds. And if you’ve yet to check out some of the lovingly-crafted ales and lagers our local brewers have whipped up, just think of the strike as a chance to rectify that! I’m especially partial to Beyond the Pale’s Pink Fuzz — a grapefruit wheat beer that’s ideal for long weekend relaxin’ — and Broadhead’s perfectly-balanced Underdog Pale Ale.


The final letter in LCBO stands for “Ontario,” so obviously the looming strike won’t affect our friendly liquor purveyors on the other side of the Ottawa River. So hit up the SAQ for some sweet, sweet Sortilege maple whiskey, or grab a six-pack of Boréale from one of Gatineau’s many depanneurs. And even better: the previous arcane laws that prohibited individuals from importing wine, beer, or spirits intended for personal use from another province into Ontario no longer exist. Just don’t resell that Quebec wine on the black market, okay?

Agency stores

If you’ve ever taken a road trip across Ontario, you’ve probably stumbled across one of the LCBO’s many agency stores. They’re found in small towns, usually inside grocery or general stores. And since they’re typically non-unionized, if there is a labour stoppage, agency outlets will stay open. So if you don’t find your lefty values are being compromised by visiting one — the Ontario Public Service Employees Union actually urges consumers not to patronize agency stores — head out to Navan or North Gower or one of the many towns in the 613 area code where the stores exist.

The Wine Rack

The Wine Rack might not have the LCBO’s selection, but they’re a perfectly decent option for Ottawa oenophiles should the strike go ahead. (I’m not much of a wine drinker myself, but fellow editor Ryan Saxby Hill’s go-to Wine Rack bottle is Inniskillin’s Late Autumn Riesling.) There are 13 Wine Racks in Ottawa alone — so wherever you live in the city, you won’t have to travel far for your Pinot fix. And they’re usually open later than the LCBO, anyways.

Road trip!

With Monday a holiday, there’s a good chance that most of you are probably heading out of town for the long weekend. If your destination is southern Ontario, you might want to grab some spirits from the 66 Gilead Distillery in charming Prince Edward County or the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company in Toronto. Just remember to bring a bottle or four back for the Apartment613 crew.

Of course, there’s always the possibility the LCBO and its employees will arrive at a settlement before Friday’s 12:01 ET strike deadline — we saw a last-minute resolution in 2009, after all. But if LCBO employees walk off the job tomorrow, tell us, Ottawa: where will you be finding your booze?