There was No Shortage of Wives in Carleton Place



In September I wrote about the fact that men were scarcer then hen’s teeth in Carleton Place, and I have often wondered about the 2-1 ratio that used to be in our fair town. Women generally lived to an average age of just 40 in the 19th-century, but that number is deceiving.  Of course infants and children, like the Crozier children, died of disease, malnutrition and mishaps at much higher rates than they do today. But, if a gal could manage to survive to adulthood, her chance of living to a ripe old age of 50, 60, 70 or even older was quite good.

So why were there so many women in small rural towns? Women died much earlier than they do now, often in childbirth. As a result, a man might be left with several young children and no one to help him care for them. I would assume that when a wife died young, there had to be available “spares in town” to quickly assume the job of wife and mother to a widower. That is an odd way to look at it, but it seems to work for me.

As with Joseph Crozier,  his wife died young and Joseph remarried another local girl.  His new wife had been charged with prostitution while living in Carleton Place, and had two illegitimate children, but he didn’t care. You see, he just wanted to make sure any woman he took in marriage was able to bear living healthy children. They had two other children, and on record it showed they survived to an old age.

Here is an example from the Carleton Place Herald about the availability of wives.

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Carleton Place Herald, Aug. 9 1898

John McNie who had been a resident of Carleton Place for the last 12 years, died Thursday morning last at the residence of his son, J.C. McNie, William Street, in his 77th year.  The deceased was born in Bathurst, Scotch Line, in Feb. of 1822, where he lived the greater part of his life and for many years until he removed to Perth. In 1871 he held the position of township treasurer.  When a young man, Mr. McNie married Janet Clark of Bathurst by whom two children were born—John C. McNie of Carleton Place and  one daughter who died early in life.

 After the death of his first wife, Mr. McNie married a Miss Cameron (1831-78), also of Bathurst and by this marriage one daughter was born, Mary McNie who resides in Perth.  The union was of short duration, death intervening again.  Mr. McNie married a third time to a Miss Stone who died in 1886  (1841-1886) shortly after which sad event Mr. McNie moved to Carleton Place where he has resided ever since with his son, J.C. McNie.

Reverend Woodside and his wife from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Carleton Place Christmas 1904


In religion Mr. McNie was a Presbyterian and in politics a Conservative.  For some months past he had been ill with cancer of the stomach but kept going about until six weeks previous to his decease.  The funeral took place from here to the CPR station on Saturday morning, to Perth.  In the absence of Rev. Mr. Woodside, Rev. Mr. Scott conducted the services accompanying the remains to Elmwood.  The pallbearers were Messrs. Thomas Nichol, Mr. William Hicks, Mr. Thomas Hicks, Mr. Thomas Barrie of the county town, and Messrs. W. McIlquham and P.H. Salter of Carleton Place.


Historical Notes:


1896, November 12: Carleton Place Herald

“Town Council Proceedings – in the Opera Hall last evening.  Mr. C. McIntosh and J. C. McNie (son of John McNie) appeared before the Council as a deputation from the Public Library and asked the Council to take it over with a view to making it a Free Library.  Moved by Mr. McNeely, seconded by Mr. Cram, that the Memorial presented by the Directors of the Public Library be adopted, and that a bylaw be introduced at our next regular meeting confirming the transfer and establishing the Library as a Free Library.  Carried.”-Howard Morton Brown

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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