Thursday, August 16, 2012

“Controlled” Liquor – Using the Term Loosely

One of the conveniences of living in Ontario, or most other areas of Canada, is that you could run to the liquor store or the beer store as easily as running to the closest gas station. Nunavut is a little different, because there are communities that are completely dry (no liquor is sold anywhere) or controlled (there is liquor for sale, but it is monitored by how much you are allowed to purchase, how often, etc.).

Baker Lake is a controlled community – something we knew before we came up. There are rules as to how much liquor, if any, you are allowed to transport across provincial/territory borders, and moving companies will typically say it is against their policies to ship it because of the border patrol and the risk of it causing damage on the planes.

Here in Baker, liquor order days are Saturday between 2 and 4 pm. There is a non-descript building (they used to do it in the RCMP office!!) where someone sits behind a desk with order forms and a list of available items. You are able to order specialty drinks if you want from Winnipeg – you just have to mark that it’s a special order.

So, you go into the office, you fill in the form and your credit card info and give it to the guy. It costs $5 per adult for a weekly permit to even let you go through the process. Being that Jeff and I are both here, we could get twice the maximum amount allowed every week if we wanted to!

Now, when you hear the term “controlled” how much liquor do you think that means? We never bothered to ask, but we were thinking something low – maybe a 12pk of beer every week, or 2 bottles of wine…maybe even a 40 oz of hard liquor. Well…”controlled” is used pretty generously here. Every week, each adult is allowed 5 bottles of wine, or 1.5 cases of beer, or a 40 oz. of liquor – or a combination of the choices. Is it just me or does that sound like a lot? I like my wine, but I can’t (well, let’s be honest – I could if I really wanted to, but I shouldn’t) drink 5 bottles every week! Maybe once in a while if we’re planning a party or know that we’re going to be socializing and need to bring gifts…but wow. I don’t know what we were worried about!

Prices are sneaky too. The list of choices tells you how much each bottle costs, and it’s generally a few dollars more per item than Ontario. So we picked up three mid-range bottles of Ontario wine (yum) for about $40. Add in the $5 permit and these aren’t cheap bottles. But wait! What you also need to factor in is the freight/shipping cost that you pay when you pick it up (at the airport about a week later…of all places!) That was another $32! So now my three bottles of wine cost almost $80. Ahh…there’s the catch. I was a little flabbergasted when I went to pick it up and had to pay almost an additional 100% of my cost in shipping.

Needless to say, we won’t be doing that too often – or if we do, we’ll be sure to make it worth it with things we really, really want. Now, if they ever start carrying Late Harvest Vidal and I’m running low…well, that’s a different story!


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