Tag Archives: victorians

A Local Handmaids Tale? What Happened ?

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A Local Handmaids Tale? What Happened ?

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If you are watching The Handmaid’s Tale or read Margaret Atwood’s book women did not have much liberty in the 1800s. It was stay at home until your father passed you on to your new husband.

I found two clippings. Same girl– they just misspelled her name on the second one above. Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 15 Nov 1895, Fri, Page 7 and posted them earlier this week.

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 29 Nov 1895, Fri, Page 8

So what happened to her? I found this.

A Mysterious Case December 1895 —Last week a sensation was caused in Ottawa by the sudden and unaccountable disappearance of a young girl from Carleton Place. She was later reported found by her mother. Soon she disappeared once again and the matter was further shrouded in mystery by the receipt by friend of the missing girl, of a letter stating her determination to commit suicide.

It stated that the missing girl was seen on the streets since, but this report lacks confirmation, and the general opinion is that the unfortunate girl met her death at her own hands.

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From the time she was young, a woman was groomed for this role in life–dutiful wife and mother. Properly trained, she learned to sing, play piano or guitar, dance and be conversant about light literature of the day. She also learned French and the rules of etiquette as well as the art of conversation and the art of silence.

A girl was under her mother’s wing for the first few years of her social life. She used her mother’s visiting cards, or that of another female relative if her mother was dead. This same person usually served as her chaperone, as a single girl was never allowed out of the house by herself, especially in mixed company

Great care had to be taken at these public affairs, so as not to offend a possible suitor or his family. Following are some rules of conduct a proper female must adhere to:

  • She never approached people of higher rank, unless being introduced by a mutual friend.
  • People of lesser rank were always introduced to people of higher rank, and then only if the higher-ranking person had given his/her permission.
  • Even after being introduced, the person of higher rank did not have to maintain the acquaintance. They could ignore, or ‘cut’ the person of lower rank.
  • A single woman never addressed a gentleman without an introduction.
  • A single woman never walked out alone. Her chaperone had to be older and preferably married.
  • If she had progressed to the stage of courtship in which she walked out with a gentleman, they always walked apart. A gentleman could offer his hand over rough spots, the only contact he was allowed with a woman who was not his fiancée.
  • Proper women never rode alone in a closed carriage with a man who wasn’t a relative.
  • She would never call upon an unmarried gentleman at his place of residence.
  • She couldn’t receive a man at home if she was alone. Another family member had to be present in the room.
  • A gentlewoman never looked back after anyone in the street, or turned to stare at others at church, the opera, etc.
  • No impure conversations were held in front of single women.
  • No sexual contact was allowed before marriage. Innocence was demanded by men from girls in his class, and most especially from his future wife.
  • Intelligence was not encouraged, nor was any interest in politics

An unmarried woman of 21 could inherit and administer her own property. Even her father had no power over it. Once she married, however, all possessions reverted to her husband. She couldn’t even make a will for her personal property, while a husband could will his wife’s property to his illegitimate children. Therefore, marriage, although her aim in life, had to be very carefully contemplated.

Because many marriages were considered a business deal, few started with love. Although as the years passed, many couples grew tolerably fond of each other, often resulting in a bond almost as deep as love.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

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Just Like Internet Dating?— Circa 1913

Because You Loved Me — A Vintage Lanark Romance

The McArthur Love Story

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Entertainment in Rural Towns–Dancing Bears and Monkeys?

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Entertainment in Rural Towns–Dancing Bears and Monkeys?

 

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The Middle class Victorian families were at always happy at leisure in their drawing rooms or parlours playing chess backgammon or some other game board singing around their expensive upright pianos.

The Victorians had an appetite for the exotic and the strange, no doubt about it. They wanted novelty like the strange vaudevillian shows and feature presentations. They found joy in strolling entertainers around town such as dancing bears, *monkeys, the fire eaters and the jugglers. I have read many times that sometimes the Vaudevillian shows staying in our towns would provide a free street show at lunchtime… or some even sat in windows demonstrating their talents.

In October of 1887 a performing bear was listed as causing chaos in Lanark County. The postmaster of Perth shared his home with a travelling performer with his dancing bear. The postmaster accommodated the Bruin with a bed in the barn being careful to make sure he was chained at the stake.

In the small hours the bear got loose and went on a foraging expedition killing hens, skimming milk pans, and eating butter on the host’s supper table. The postmaster hearing a noise came down the stairs in his robe de nuit to see what was going on. When the two met face to face the Bruin hit down after feasting on the milk and butter. The postmaster escaped but his garment was rent. The bear’s owner was  made to leave quickly after that and the postmaster demanded  he had to pay $10.

 

 

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Lewis and Wardrobe Hippolympian appeared many times at The Chatterton House Hotel.  They performed songs and choruses, acrobatic and gymnastic feats, contortions etc. The Carleton Place Herald reported that Lewis and Wardrobe also  formed themselves into a brass band and performed in the town streets wherever they went. Nothing but talented, unique, and beautiful people.–Part 6-The First Mosh Pits in Carleton Place — The Opera House of the Chatterton House Hotel

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

 

 

relatedreading

Monkeys Create Chaos in Carleton Place

The Day the Hypnotist Came to Carleton Place

Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Carleton Place

Mrs. Jarley’s Wax Works -Creepy Entertainment

Mrs Jarley and her Waxworks Hits Lanark– and they call me strange:)

The Killarney of Canada in Lanark County

John Sparrow’s Royal Parilion – Chatterton House Hotel Carleton Place

Ontario’s Version of the Marks Bros-Tales of the Queen’s Hotel

 

 

 

Lanark County “Bad Girls”– Bank Street 1873

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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