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Although courting couples probably gave the matter little thought, marriage had important implications for property. Canada's two founding cultures took very different approaches to this issue.
In English common law, a woman's property became her husband's on marriage. There were a few restrictions: he could not dispose of her real estate, if she owned any, without her consent, and it reverted to her when he died. She also had rights, called dower rights, to one-third of his estate. But basically, "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine also" was the male approach to women's worldly goods (Ward, 38 - 40).
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If a woman owned or expected to inherit substantial assets, obviously her interests needed protection. In such cases, her assets could be put in trust, and guarded by a trustee. Her husband's access to her assets would be limited by the terms of the trust agreement (Ward, 39).
The situation was different in Lower Canada (Quebec), which had its own legal system of civil law. A husband and wife shared a community of goods during their marriage. Inheritances were not shared, although a husband could enjoy the benefits of his wife's inheritance as long as he paid the family's expenses.
A husband could dispose of their common property as long as this was for their mutual benefit. Widows had a right to the douaire, a life pension, and husbands could not dispose of property assigned to the douaire. Lower Canada women, French or English, were therefore somewhat better protected than their Upper Canadian sisters (Ward, 41).
In Lower Canada, the marriage contract, setting out the couple's property arrangements, was commonplace. An example of such a contract is that for the marriage of Amédée's parents, Louis-Joseph Papineau and Julie Bruneau. Such contracts were much less common in Upper Canada (Ward, 42).
Slowly, over the course of the 19th century, women's rights in general and their property rights in particular were expanded by legislative change in both Upper Canada and Lower Canada (Ward, 40 - 41).
Ward, W. Peter. Courtship, Love and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century English Canada. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.