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

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Love of a Stranger

William Douglas, newly established as a lawyer in Chatham, Ontario, had admired Jane Hudson from afar-she lived in Toronto-for several years. He did not even know her name, and she did not know his. Nor did they have any friends in common who could introduce them. So in September 1861, William took a bold step. He wrote to her anonymously, asking to introduce himself. He knew that in doing this he broke the social rules. He asked her to send her response to a friend's address (Ward, 83; Noël, 48).

After consulting her mother, Jane wrote back, giving him her name and address. He responded with his, and their correspondence begins-with her mother's permission and likely watchful care. Certainly William's initial letter was unusual, but "such attachments do occur sometimes" (Noël, 48-49). Jane's mother had known William by sight for many years (possibly through a Toronto church), and presumably his appearance was in his favour (Noël, 51).

More Love Messages

Invitation to the Sniders's daughter's wedding. July 29, 1881


Invitation to the Sniders's daughter's wedding. July 29, 1881

Their correspondence allowed them to get to know each other, although they were physically separated. By the year's end, William's proposal had been accepted, although it took some time for him to become sufficiently established to support a wife. They were married in May of 1863 (Noël, 71-72).


Noël, Françoise. Family Life and Sociability in Upper and Lower Canada, 1780-1870: A View from Diaries and Family Correspondence. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.

Ward, W. Peter. Courtship, Love and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century English Canada. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.