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Image of two gold wedding bands  ARCHIVED - I Do: Love and Marriage in 19th Century Canada

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Overview

Marriage

By the 19th century, love had finally and definitively crept into marriage, at least in Canada.

Illustration entitled Love's Young Dream, CANADIAN ILLUSTRATED NEWS. April 10, 1875. Vol. 11, No. 15, p. 236. Record 1858
Source

"Love's Young Dream," Canadian Illustrated News. April 10, 1875. Vol. 11, No. 15, p. 236. Record 1858

That may sound like an odd statement to our 21st-century Canadian ears but, in fact, marriage has been an overwhelmingly practical matter for most of human history. True, medieval troubadours sang of romantic love, but such sentiments had little to do with choosing a marriage partner. "Affection is false!" Queen Elizabeth I-who never married-declared to the ladies of her court in 16th-century England (Fraser, 35). Love was not to be trusted.

Parents and guardians arranged alliances for their children for social, economic or political reasons. Marriage connected families, merged valuable property, cemented political alliances and established working partnerships. Love followed, with luck and good will. Widows and widowers remarried for the same pragmatic reasons. This business-like approach to marriage still holds true in many parts of the world.

More Love Messages

Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Ottawa. Feb. 9, 1875. Page 1

Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Ottawa. Feb. 9, 1875. Page 2 Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Ottawa. Feb. 9, 1875. Page 3

Source

Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Ottawa. Feb. 9, 1875. Three pages

Journal entry by Amédée Papineau mentioning Mary Westcott. Thursday, July 6, 1843. Microfilm volume 34, p. 127
Source

Journal entry by Amédée Papineau mentioning Mary Westcott. Thursday, July 6, 1843. Microfilm volume 34, p. 127
[PDF 306.95 KB]

But romantic love was a topic for novels and plays. Love at first sight, the idea of the soulmate, the one perfect person-these concepts crept into the marital picture, sometimes to the consternation of parents.