This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.
Long-distance relationships are always difficult-but even more so in the 19th century than today, because the only means of communication was by letter.
However, we have Mary Westcott's letters only because she was an exception to the pattern. Her future mate came from a different country and ethnic group. They spent most of their six-year courtship corresponding. It seems likely that they wrote infrequently-we have, for example, only one letter for the year 1844-possibly because her father insisted that their correspondence be infrequent, but also because their relationship was uncertain for so much of the time (Noël, 54).
William Douglas and Jane Hudson, introduced by letter, got to know each other over the course of months as they exchanged letters, he in Chatham, Ontario, she in Toronto. But he first obtained her mother's permission to correspond with her (Noël, 49). Controlling correspondence was a way of applying the parental brakes until the child's potential mate was deemed suitable.
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.