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It seems odd to us that the newlyweds Amédée and Mary Papineau took her parents along on the honeymoon, but it did not seem odd to them. Today's conventional honeymoon, in which newlyweds escape to a private place to deepen their intimacy, was not a common feature of 19th-century life.
Wedding trips were common for newlyweds with the income to travel. Amédée, his bride and her parents spent two weeks after the wedding travelling through New England.
In Greenbush, New York, the party toured an armoury with some 90,000 muskets and saw a 40-horsepower steam engine. Amédée was much impressed with the new telegraph system he saw in Massachusetts. James Westcott and his son-in-law went sightseeing and shopping in Boston, where Amédée bought a $450 rosewood Chickering piano for his bride, to be shipped to Montréal.
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Amédée's journal speaks primarily of his interests, not of his new relationship. He wrote about the landscape through which they travelled, the sights in Boston and new technology, including an early form of a front-loading earth mover that he called a "machine elephant," which he saw being used in railway excavation. His "Marie" kept company with her stepmother while Amédée and James Westcott visited Harvard.
The party went on to New Hampshire, staying in Concord and Conway and sightseeing in the White Mountains, before finishing up in Burlington, Vermont, on June 1. The next day, the party broke up; Amédée and Mary took an overnight steamer for home and the Westcotts headed back to Saratoga Springs. "Some tears were shed," Amédée notes (in French, of course), "most natural and pardonable on such an occasion." Mary later wrote to her father of the "anguish of spirit" she felt at parting with her parents (Noël, 76 - 77; LJAP journal, May 20 - June 2, 1846).
Of course, few people could afford such a trip in those days, at least not until railway travel became commonplace and inexpensive. A young couple might visit friends or family, or join another couple for a holiday. Only after the middle of the 19th century does the notion of the private honeymoon begin to take hold. Before that, the wedding trip, like the wedding itself, was quite a social affair (Ward, 115 - 117).
Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, circa 1819 - 1855; from the Papineau Family Collection. Textual record. Library and Archives Canada. Archival reference no.: R12320-5-4-E; (MG24 B2, Vols. 33, 34, 35, 36) Microfilm Reel C-14025.
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.