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Love and Marriage in 19th-Century Canada

February is the month of love in the calendar of the modern world, with Valentine's Day being held on the 14th of February. But in 18th-century Canada, love and romance was something relegated to romance novels - it had no place in marriage of the day.

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Type: Article
Prepared by: E. B. Lapointe
Word Count: 464 (approx.)
Labels: Marriage Record 
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February is the month of love in the calendar of the modern world, with Valentine's Day being held on the 14th of February.

But in 18th-century Canada, love and romance was something relegated to romance novels - it had no place in marriage of the day.

The union of two people in marriage was based on how well two families knew each other in the village or small town. Parents or guardians arranged the social connections of their children for economic or political reasons. Marriage connected families - not just the two people who were married.

But by the 19th century, love and romance finally started to slip into marriage as people started to move away from the towns and rural areas in which they were born and into the urban areas.

If there was love and romance in the marriage, this would be the result of hard work or luck. However, marriage was mainly the result of an economic union, not of love.

Widows and widowers remarried for the same reasons: there was a business-like approach to marriage.

One of the ways that this was shown was in the issuance of marriage bonds a few days before the marriage took place.

There is a database with microfilm images of more than 10,000 Upper and Lower Canada marriage bonds (a bond was when a groom asked two people who knew him to act as his sureties and who were prepared to tell the Crown (the government) that no impediment to the marriage existed).

The database for Upper Canada (Ontario) covers 2,960 bonds for the years 1803 to 1865, while the 7,899 bonds issued in Lower Canada (Quebec) cover the years 1779 to 1858.

If you research the database, you will find the following information is given: the name of the future husband, the name of the future wife, their place of residence, the names of the sureties, and the date and the name where the bond was issued.

Remarks, the reference number, and the volume number is given in addition to the bond number, the date of the bond, and the microfilm number.

Since these bonds were given a few days before the marriage itself, you have a good indication of when the marriage took place.

The website also features the digitized letters and journal entries of Mary Westcott and Louis-Jeseph-Amadee Papineau for the years 1843 to 1846, and includes the trials and tribulations their courtship went through before they got married.

Also, you can go through the various headings of the exhibitions such as "The Meeting", "Courtships", "The Challenges", "The Wedding", "The Couple", and "Private Words".

The following provincial archives also have marriage bonds in a searchable format -

The Provincial Achives of New Brunswick http://archives.gnb.ca/APPS/GovRecs/RS551A/default-e.aspx? Pageloads=SearchForm

They have an online bonds database for 1810-1932 for the province.

Nova Scotia

http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/databases/bonds

There are marriage bonds online from 1763 to 1864.

Source Information: Canadian Connections, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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