Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

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

Archived Content

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.

The Challenges

Separated by Distance

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.

Journal entry by Amédée Papineau mentioning Mary Westcott. Tuesday, August 15, 1843. Microfilm volume 34, p. 138
Source

Journal entry by Amédée Papineau mentioning Mary Westcott. Tuesday, August 15, 1843. Microfilm volume 34, p. 138
[PDF 317.19 KB]

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).

Letter from James R. Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Received June 28, 1843. Page 1 Letter from James R. Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Received June 28, 1843. Page 2

Source

Letter from James R. Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Received June 28, 1843. Two pages

 

Letter from Mary Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Dec. 13[?], 1845. Page 1 Letter from Mary Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Dec. 13[?], 1845. Page 2 Letter from Mary Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Dec. 13[?], 1845. Page 3 Letter from Mary Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Dec. 13[?], 1845. Page 4

Source

Letter from Mary Westcott to Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, Saratoga Springs. Dec. 13[?], 1845. Four pages

More Love Messages

Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Victoriaville. April 16, 1867. Page 1

Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Victoriaville. April 16, 1867. Page 2 Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Victoriaville. April 16, 1867. Page 3 Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Victoriaville. April 16, 1867. Page 4

Source

Letter from Wilfrid Laurier to Zoé Lafontaine, Victoriaville. April 16, 1867. Four pages

Journal entry by Amédée Papineau mentioning Mary Westcott and her family. Friday, June 23, 1843. Microfilm volume 34, p. 121

Source

Journal entry by Amédée Papineau mentioning Mary Westcott and her family. Friday, June 23, 1843. Microfilm volume 34, p. 121
[PDF 308.90 KB]

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.

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.