I was born and raised in Montreal, but have been living in Toronto for over two years now. It didn’t take long for my wife and I to settle in and feel at home, as we had a number of Montreal friends already living here, and even some local friends to show us around. I even have a good TO friend who’s actually a Habs fan and a local pub that will put the game on for us (when there’s a season anyway).

Without question though, one adjustment has been quite difficult: the significantly reduced access to store-bought alcohol. Now, this could be taken a number of ways, but I assure you, I’m not pounding back a bottle of vodka everyday. It’s just that as a Montrealer, the option of running out to the local dépanneur just before 11pm to pick up some beer had come to feel like an unbreakable law of nature. As an aside, I must say it’s painfully ironic to me that the word Montrealers associate primarily with a late-night source of beer has been adopted here by a café/grocery where beer cannot legally be sold (despite citizen efforts to have the law changed). I’ve heard good things about Toronto’s The Depanneur, but I somehow can’t bring myself to check it out — the lack of beer might bring on more heartache than I can handle.

I’ve always found the LCBO’s iOS app and other tools to be more than I really needed when I was on the go. So on a recent hack day at Plank I developed a rough prototype of a mobile-friendly, browser-based app that uses HTML5’s geolocation capability to tell you the most important thing in Toronto: where the nearest LCBO is and how much time is left before it closes. After a much needed design and UX facelift from Gary and JF, we’re happy to introduce you to Dowser. It’s still a work in progress, one we plan on improving over time, but even as a beta, we hope you’ll find it useful.

Many thanks to Carsten Nielsen, whose LCBO API provides the data for the stores. I guess we should follow Carsten’s lead and get to work on a Beer Store API, unless of course… someone’s already done it? Let us know!

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