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

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Courtship

Courting in the Community

Illustration entitled "Ma soeur n'y est pas!"  -  "My sister is not at home!" CANADIAN ILLUSTRATED NEWS. May 25, 1872. Vol. 5, No. 21, p. 328 - 329. Record 2612
Source

"Ma soeur n'y est pas!"  -  "My sister is not at home!", Canadian Illustrated News. May 25, 1872. Vol. 5, No. 21, pp. 328 - 329. Record 2612

For the young couple, courtship meant developing a "special friendship" at a deeper and closer level. The stakes were very high. Marriage was a permanent relationship that aligned two families. It carried strong economic and social expectations and was therefore not to be taken lightly (although some couples undoubtedly did just that). A couple was encouraged to take their time and be certain they were making the right choice.

Letter from Margaret Thompson to William Donnelly, Biddulph Township. April 30, 1873. Page 1 Letter from Margaret Thompson to William Donnelly, Biddulph Township. April 30, 1873. Page 2 Letter from Margaret Thompson to William Donnelly, Biddulph Township. April 30, 1873. Page 3

Source

Letter from Margaret Thompson to William Donnelly, Biddulph Township. April 30, 1873. Three pages

More Love Messages

Wedding announcement of Mr. T. Graham Mathers and Miss Jessie D. Waugh, married on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 1892. Winnipeg, Man.

Source

Wedding announcement of Mr. T. Graham Mathers and Miss Jessie D. Waugh, married on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 1892. Winnipeg, Man.

Illustration entitled The Betrothal Ring, CANADIAN ILLUSTRATED NEWS. April 26, 1873. Vol. 7, No. 17, p. 265. Record 3201
Source

"The Betrothal Ring," Canadian Illustrated News. April 26, 1873. Vol. 7, No. 17, p. 265. Record 3201

Couples could change their minds early in the relationship, but there came a point at which they were expected to head into real commitment. The more obviously they became a couple, the stronger the pull toward the altar. Once they had declared a public engagement, calling things off was a serious reflection on the person's character and would damage his or her reputation.

For example, when one Mr. Campbell jilted bride-to-be Jane Price at the last minute, she was devastated, but her clear-eyed aunt Caroline Hewlett, offered this consolation: "she is well quit, I think, of one who cannot have any fixed character or principles, what security could she have for due protection, and solace under the trials of life with a man of such wayward fickle mind?" (Noël, 19).

References

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.