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

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The Couple

Visits

Marriage moved a couple into a whole new social sphere, one in which their status as a couple received official recognition. This change, especially for the middle class or wealthy, was marked by formal calls and visits.

One reason why James Westcott made his daughter Mary put off her wedding for a year was to allow her time to make a round of farewell visits to her American relatives (JW to LJAP, June 20, 1845). These were not drop-in calls. A visit could easily last for weeks or months, even years. Since travel was difficult before the advent of railroads, it made sense to stay for a while (Noël, 238).

Letter from Mary Westcott [Papineau] to James R. Westcott [and M.A. Westcott], Montreal. Thursday, June 4, 1846. Page 1 Letter from Mary Westcott [Papineau] to James R. Westcott [and M.A. Westcott], Montreal. Thursday, June 4, 1846. Page 2 Letter from Mary Westcott [Papineau] to James R. Westcott [and M.A. Westcott], Montreal. Thursday, June 4, 1846. Page 3 Letter from Mary Westcott [Papineau] to James R. Westcott [and M.A. Westcott], Montreal. Thursday, June 4, 1846. Page 4

Source

Letter from Mary Westcott [Papineau] to James R. Westcott [and M.A. Westcott], Montreal. Thursday, June 4, 1846. Four pages

More Love Messages

Illustration  entitled "A Happy Fireside", CANADIAN ILLUSTRATED NEWS. May 4, 1872 Vol. 5, No. 18, p. 281. Record 2585

Source

"A Happy Fireside", Canadian Illustrated News. May 4, 1872 Vol. 5, No. 18, p. 281. Record 2585

Once a young couple had settled into their new home, they could expect a round of calls from their friends and relatives. Especially for the middle class, these calls followed a formal pattern. The visitor would stay for perhaps a quarter of an hour, making formal small talk. If the couple was not at home, the same social function was served by leaving the visitor's card. The point was to acknowledge the new social unit and signal social acceptance (Noël, 211--212).

After their arrival in Montréal, Amédée Papineau wrote in his journal that he and his bride were at home to wedding calls ("visites de noces") for a week, from June 8 to June 16, 1846. He did not record who called or how many, but presumably his callers would have included his own and his family's friends, relatives, perhaps business contacts and anyone else within his social circle. It would be a chance for them to congratulate him and to be introduced to his new wife, Mary.

References

Mary Eleanor Westcott Papineau fonds, 1810 - 1889. Textual record. Library and Archives Canada. Archival reference no.: R4386-0-7-E; (MG24-K58)

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.