Immoral Literature–My How Things Have Changed




A long time ago it didn’t take much to be accused of selling or reading immoral literature. Heck, you could mail a letter to someone of the opposite sex and scribe something considered so innocent today and still be arrested. Those meek and mild words of “innocence” could wind you up in the slammer for a few years.

I bought some immoral Victorian Literature last week at an Almonte auction. People giggled as I waved my card and bought three “taboo” books for a mere 5 dollars. One of those books is worth over $150 dollars on the internet– so who is  laughing now LOL.

One of the immoral book’s subjects was based on corporal punishment in school. According to the book, the Scot’s dourness on punishing the student was supreme. There were differences made between birch and leather and that the cane should be brought down on the student hard and strong. This book with subjects such as: corporal punishment for home and school and how to cane your servants was one surely that was hidden away in drawers and wardrobes.

The other book Nell in Bridewell printed in 1900 was nothing more than what I call Victorian trash.  It is the story, in the form of fiction based on fact, of a young girl who experienced the horrors and indignities of a 19th (1848) Century House of Correction in Germany. Okay, if the other two books were hidden in a drawer; this had to be buried in a deep hole somewhere. I think if someone was ever caught buying the book in the 19th century they would have been locked away  in the Perth gaol with the key thrown away in the basin.

There was a time in Ontario when film versions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays were too violent or too racy for the public good. In 1910 the film versions of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet were considered inappropriate, and in those days the police force had the power to shut down what they deemed inappropriate.  No sweat Shakespeare– it’s all good today. However,today is another thing– no matter what goes across our screens or printed in books–even a 14 year-old knows what’s going on.


Perth Courier, Nov. 9, 1888

Belleville has a sensation.  Mr. Thomas Aldwell, ledger keeper in the Dominion Bank threatens to sue Rev. J. W. Burke, formerly principal of the Perth High School, and now rector of St. Thomas Church and Rev. S. Daw, rector of Christ Church for libel if an apology is not forthcoming.  The alleged libel is a statement that he has been circulating immoral literature




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal06 Jun 1910, MonPage 1


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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal24 Sep 1907, TuePage 1


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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal24 Sep 1955, SatPage 1


Perth Courier, May 21, 1869

Nolan-McMunn—Married, at St. Paul’s Church, Almonte, on the 31st May, by the Rev. J. W. Burke, Mr. John Nolan of the Township of Pakenham to Miss Eliza McMunn of the Township of Ramsay.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun

Related reading

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Group Hanky Panky in Perth? NOOOOO!

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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