Good old days

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Judge Harold Porter, who presides over the Grand Bank court and who is probably the only judge in North America to cite “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” in a court verdict, has struck again.

Not satisfied with a court case where he cited the involvement of “a man known only by the Farewell men as ‘Dipstick’ Brushett,” Judge Porter has issued a judgment that includes a probation order banning a violent offender from any place liquor is served “including but not limited to all bars, taverns, alehouses, barrooms, beer gardens, beer parlors, bistros, cabarets, casinos, clubs, cocktail lounges, dance halls, dramshops, drinking saloons, grogshops, honky-tonks, mess halls, night spots, nightclubs, pubs, public houses, saloons, saloon bars, speakeasies, taprooms, tearooms, or wine shops.”

Now, as interesting as Judge Porter’s verdicts tend to be, and as visual as terms like grogshops, speakeasies, dramshops and saloons might also seem, the verdict could be an interesting starting point for what could be called a timely cleanup of the province’s legislation.

The antiquated language Porter was citing comes from the province’s Liquor Licensing Regulations — rules that still stipulate, for example, that “A licensee and an employee, servant or agent of a licensee shall not allow to be or remain on his or her licensed premises persons of notoriously bad character.”

The world has come a long way since you could be thrown out of a bar for your bad character.

Equally, you could ask why the City of St. John’s Act still has this tasty treat, Section 57: “In consideration of that lot of land, the private property of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, situated on the south side of Circular Road, and containing about 10 acres, having been added to the park lands, there shall continue to be paid to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, on January 1 in each year, the sum of $80, as the estimated value of the land and the annual payment is a charge on the rents of the Crown lands vested in the council.” There’s also probably no reason for city legislation to continue to ban “lime sifting” or regulate coal chutes.

You also have to wonder about rules allowing the city to “regulate or prohibit the unnecessary ringing of bells, the blowing of whistles by locomotives, factories and steamboats, the use of noisy vehicles in the streets, or the making of unnecessary noises in the city,” especially when the city has maintained loud motorcycles are a provincial responsibility.

Rules against the use of sleighs on sidewalks, and those that would “prohibit or regulate or prevent the use of catapults, slings, bows and arrows and other weapons” are also probably out of date.

As well, “A carriage which is driven or is on a street within the city limits during the period between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise shall be provided with lamps which shall be so constructed as to exhibit a light in the direction in which the carriage proceeds, and so lighted and kept lighted as to afford adequate means of signalling the approach or position of the carriage. … the term ‘carriage’ shall include a wagon, van, carriage, motor car, chaise, buggy, dogcart, cab, omnibus, char a banc, wagonette, brake, stagecoach, tramcar, or other similar conveyance, and a bicycle, tricycle, velocipede, or other similar machine, but not common carts or drays, or sleighs.”

In other words, a little modern trimming might be in order. It’s all enough to drive you to the nearest groghouse.

Organizations: Grand Bank

Geographic location: North America, Circular Road

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