Lanark County “Bad Girls”– Bank Street 1873




January 31 1873- Almonte Gazette— An Ottawa correspondent sends us the following: Two young ladies from Almonte, selling hair work, arrived in this city last week, and took board in a respectable boarding house on Bank street, not wishing to put up at an hotel. After enjoying the beautiful scenery of the city, and every attention from the mistress, they left, promising to return to dinner, but have not been heard of since. The fun of it is they left without settling their board bill.




A lady identified as Miss Skead wearing a costume and holding a small bow, Ottawa, Canada, February 1876

When a woman deviated from the Victorian construction of the ideal woman, she was stigmatized and labelled. The fallen woman was viewed as a moral menace, a contagion. Insanity evolved into not only a medical explanation for bizarre behaviour, but also a legal explanation for criminal behaviour. Finally, the habitual woman criminal and the infanticidal mother were seen as unnatural. Regardless of the crime committed, female criminals were ostracized and removed from ‘respectable’ society– even in Almonte I am presuming.



Mrs. G.W. Wickstead in costume as Britannia, Ottawa, Canada, February 1876.

There was the ideal Victorian society that existed in Victorian minds, and the reality of poverty, passion, and criminal sensation that existed in the streets. Women accused of wrongdoing held a special fascination for the Victorians. Their blend of passion, eroticism, and danger served to spark the Victorian imagination. The woman of the nineteenth century occupied a position of duality within Victorian culture. She was either Madonna or Magdalene, pure or ruined, familiar or 3 foreign. Within this cultural construct, the criminal woman was defined largely by her departure from the ideal Victorian woman who was passionless, chaste, innocent, submissive and self-sacrificing. 



Related Reading

“Wenches” in Almonte??

Donna Summer Last Dance at 63


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


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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