Tag Archives: women

A Local Handmaids Tale? What Happened ?

A Local Handmaids Tale? What Happened ?


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.


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.

Celia in Princess Ida.jpg

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)


Just Like Internet Dating?— Circa 1913

Because You Loved Me — A Vintage Lanark Romance

The McArthur Love Story

Among the Strangers There Was…

Among the Strangers There Was…





Perth Courier, Jan. 8, 1897


The “At Home” given by the young men of Perth in the town hall on the night of December 30 was the social event of the season and was a most brilliant and successful affair in every particular.  The young men and especially the few on the committee who arranged and managed everything deserve infinite credit and the sincere thanks of those present for the completeness of the arrangements and the attention given to details and the attention and courtesy shown to guests.

The fine hall was beautifully decorated with flags, drapings and many colored festoons and brilliantly lighted with incandescent lamps; the floor was well waxed and the rest seats at the back converted into a terraced dias covered with fur rugs and elegant sofas and chairs.  The supper was spread on the stage and was a rich and bountiful repast provided by the ladies of the town interested in the “At Home”.

The music was furnished by the orchestra of the Governor General’s Foot Guards of Ottawa.  Guests were present from all the neighboring towns and from the Royal Military College, Kingston, from the Ottawa, Toronto, Gananoque, etc. and no such gathering of fair women and gallant young men has been seen in our midst for many years.  The dresses of the ladies were distinguished by their taste and beauty and many by their rare costliness.  We give a list of the ladies:

The Lady Patronesses:  Mrs. McLaren, Mrs. William Meighen, Mrs. Senkler, Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Hall, Mrs. Drummond.

The Debutantes:  Misses Mary Hall, Jean Drummond, Jessie Taylor

Brides:  Mrs. H. Rudyard, Boulton, Gemmill, Allen, R.J. White, C. Gordon, Edwards.

Among the Strangers: ( I found this hillarious when I read it.)

Mrs. J.D. Molson, Smith’s Falls; Mrs. James Whyte, Almonte; Misses S. Wylie; Laura Ferguson of Smith’s Falls’; Aida Ferguson, Mary Wood, Florence Gould, Laura Taller of  Ottawa, Lidyard of Toronto

Some of those noticed belonging to Perth:

Misses McLaren, Mary McLaren, Kathleen McLaren, Edith Taylor, Mary Campbell, Mrs. De Hertel, Mrs. Malloch, Miss Malloch, Miss Mary Shaw and Miss Kathleen Shaw, Miss Senkler, Miss Denny, Mrs. Muckleston, Mrs. Berford, Miss B. Armour, Miss Jessie Henderson, Miss L. Henderson, Mrs. Lees(?), Misses Laura Meighen, Mabel Meighen, B. Drysdale, Jessie Hart, Isabel Hart, Edith Drummond, Carrie Drummond, Glossop, Maud Munro, Gertie Munro, Lister, Balderson, M. Bell, Agnes Bell, M. Campbell, Hattie Meighen, Ethel Meighen, Hogg, Edith Wright, Mrs. Fowler, Mrs. R. McCarthy, Mrs. John Wilson, Mrs. J.R. Mitchell.





PERTH WOMEN’S CLUB 1897. Perth Remembered–Not sure if this is a picture of a Women’s Arts Club or Women’s Temperance Club. Temperance Clubs and meetings were very prevalent during this time in Perth and Lanark County. On the back of the photo there is N.A.7 Club or W.A.T. Club indicated in handwriting so it is hard to decipher. Members in the photo were young women of Perth, daughters of familiar families and merchants in Perth. M. Bell, President, Carrie Drummond, Vice President, Florence Whalitey, Vice President, Eleanor Senkler, Mary Campbell, Secretary, Katherine Beach, Julia Senklar, Edith Drummond, Clara Armstrong, Flora Shaw, Jesse Henderson, Carrie Armstrong, Jessie Hart, Ethel Whyte, Mary Shaw. Thanks to Molly Sinclair for sending in this amazing piece of Perth’s history.



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

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.



The Home Guard of Carleton Place

The Old Woman Who Walked From Perth?

The Old Woman Who Walked From Perth?



A number of Catholic institutions were clustered around St.Patrick’s Church, a hall, an asylum for the elderly, and an orphans’ home.–Urbsite


Catherine Kelly of Perth was arrested in the 2nd week of May 1898. Why was she arrested? Well, here is her story.


With a faded brown shawl wrapped around her shoulders and wearing a black bonnet and dress Mrs. Catherine Kelly from Perth walked into the Ottawa Police Department that week of May in 1898. With slow steps and a feeble voice the 70 year-old  told the officers that she had walked from Perth to gain admittance to the *St. Patricks Asylum/Home.

The old woman told Constable Joliet after he had found her wandering along Elgin Street that she had walked 100 miles from Perth and it had taken her over a month to complete her journey. She said she collapsed on Richmond Road and a stranger had picked her up and taken her to a nearby farm for nourishment.
Mrs. Kelly’s husband had died 10 years previous and she instantly became penniless and had to live with distant relatives. She grew weary she said of bad treatment and had decided to make her to Ottawa to St. Patricks but they had refused her. The old woman slept in the cell over night and was provided food.

The next day her story began to unravel. Apparently the farmer from Richmond had driven her to Ottawa the day she got picked up on Elgin Street. She did indeed get admitted to St. Patrick’s before but she had made such a disturbance they had asked her to leave.  On fact she had been taken in twice before and left on her own free will.The woman was considered  by the nuns unruly and addicted to the use of bad language.

I don’t know about you but after looking at the St. Patrick’s ‘home’ and everyone abandoning me I might have used bad language too.


Screenshot 2017-05-07 at 16.jpg

MIKAN no. 3319467 St. Patrick’s Asylum, Ottawa, Ontario. October 1874, Ottawa, Ontario – corner of Maria & Kent Credit: Topley Studio Fonds / Library and Archives Canada / PA-059228




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*St. Patrick’s Orphanage and Asylum was founded in 1865 as “a House of Refuge for the Irish poor.” It was established by an Association of Members of St. Patrick’s Church (Kent St, Ottawa), and was run by the Grey Sisters of the Cross. It housed orphaned children and homeless elderly persons. The original building (corner of Laurier Avenue and Kent St) was torn down years ago, but there is still a St Patrick’s Home in Ottawa (Riverside Drive)

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)



“Dominique, nique, nique s’en allait tout simplement”–The Pembroke Grey Nuns


I am a Laundry Girl

Women in Peril– Betrayed by Heartless Scoundrels 1882

The Home for Friendless Women



It Pays to Advertise… Classified Ad Brides

It Pays to Advertise… Classified Ad Brides
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Photo– The Daily Advertiser  1874
January 1880– The Daily Advertiser
An advertisement appeared in the London Advertiser’s weekly edition not very long ago from a man in Temby Bay, Manitoulin Island, named Ibbotson, in which he spoke of his desire to secure a Christian woman or spinster for a housekeeper or wife. Of course the advertisement was read by many people, among whom was a widow in Perth, mother of two children, who answered it, inquiring for particulars.

The gentleman wrote a reply, according to a correspondent, in which he described his house and worldly goods, and explained that he desired someone to take charge of his household. The widow took kindly to the idea of joining hands with the publisher of the advertisement, and expended about $20 on a ticket to go to the distant island. She did not find things quite as she expected, however.

Mail Order Bride- Photo- Google Images
The household consisted of a father and nine children, the youngest of whom was 7 years of age. The children’s mother had died insane some time previous, and the blushing and charming widow was loath to complete the transaction which she had begun so bravely. She was stopping at *Hilton, and the widower went there to interview her, but the lady of his choice declined to be seen at all.

This would be a sad ending were it not that another chapter yet remains to be unfolded. A young man resident on the island heard of the lady being without a home and she had two little children, 5 and 6 years old. He went and had a nice little talk on Sunday, proposed marriage on Monday, was accepted, and the wedding took place on Tuesday.

The correspondent who furnishes these particulars claims that the widow has not made a mistake, even if it was a hasty -action, for the young man in question is sober, respected and industrious. At last accounts Mr. Ibbotson, the party of the first part, was on his way to Bruce Mines to meet another lady who had taken preliminary steps towards matrimony in response to the same advertisement. For romance– the pure description this Canada of ours can outstrip any country on earth if a proper start is made.

*London: Daily Advertiser 1874, 1880-1885

Nothing Could be Finer Than …..



Almonte Gals-Photo almonte.com

Almonte Gazette– April 16 1897-

It has been noticed of late, but more especially since the fine weather set in that a number of Carleton Place gallants have come to Almonte to see some of our young ladies. This is quite natural, of course, as Almonte’s superiority in that respect is so marked that it is generally acknowledged. (Author’s note–that is the Gazette speaking not me:))


Class in front of high school doors-almonte.com

One young man, whose trips are quite frequent, changed his route into town so that he would not be noticed so much. It proved a sad mistake, however. Before entering town he forgot to pull his overcoat around him, as any wise Almonte young man would have done; but he will know more In the future. A small canine saw the tails waving in the air, and, thinking it too good a chance to let slip, caught them and kept them.

The unfortunate young man had to walk around that night without his overcoat, and Sunday  night was pretty cold. He now advises all the junction town young men to shun Almonte, as everything is on to them even the pups.


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

The Home for Friendless Women



Public Archives Photo from Lost Ottawa

“Any girl or woman desiring to forsake a life of sin will find a helping hand and shelter if needed at the Home for Friendless Women, 412 Wellington Street” was the notice that ran regularly in the Ottawa Citizen’s classified advertisements through the 1880s. It was more like a workhouse, operating as a laundry, than a place for women to find shelter.  Shortly after opening they were processing over 80,000 pieces a year, by 1900 10,000 pieces a month.


The Ironing room of Ottawa’s Home for Friendless Women opened in February of 1895 and was established by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1888, to provide a place of succour for “fallen” or otherwise destitute women. In the days before social services, and you were a fallen woman you had no where else to go. In its first year it was home to 6 discharged prisoners, 9 unemployed servants and 2 destitute mothers with 3 children.  The women did laundry on a more or less industrial scale to earn their keep.

In the 1920’s the home would move to another building which is now Cambridge Street. In Beechwood Cemetery, there is a stone marking “The Home for Friendless Women Plot”.




Article sent by Debora Cloutier—Lost Ottawa


Block with the Home for the Friendless Women at 412 Wellington, in 1891.In previous entries, the locations given was 660. However, this does not correspond with the information found in the accession file. As one Heritage Ottawa document point out, the existence of the home for so long points to ongoing social conditions. (LAC PA-011254).



Related reading:


I am a Laundry Girl

Embroidery of the Insane?

Did You Know About the House of Industry?


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

“Wenches” in Almonte??


Theft— Some half-starved wretch stole a nice roast from the meat box at the residence of our bachelor friends, on Albert Street, in Almonte on Saturday night. We can imagine, but cannot describe, the blank look of despair pronounced on the intelligence of the robbery being conveyed to the gentlemen very suddenly about twenty minutes before dinner.

January 1871 Almonte Gazette



Elizabeth Murphy (left) was sentenced to 5 years hard labour for stealing an umbrella and Mary Richards was jailed for 5 years for stealing 130 oysters

Some women stole and cheated in desperation, and stealing food and clothing became a necessity.These were the kinds of crime likely to be committed by people in most need, at a time when many families lived in poverty. However, some convicted of lesser crimes such as theft, and ‘domestic housebreaking’ often felt the full force of law.

Examples include Elizabeth Murphy, a 19-year-old Elizabeth was sentenced to five years of hard labour in prison and seven years of police supervision for stealing an umbrella. She served three years of her sentence before receiving parole in 1887.


Dorcas Mary Snell, 45, was sentenced to five years of imprisonment with hard labour in 1883 for the theft of a single piece of bacon. She was paroled two years later.

Mary Richards was sentenced to five years in 1880 at age 59 for stealing 130 oysters valued at eight shillings, which were the property of John Tyacke. Mary served almost all of sentence, receiving parole in 1885.



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


Related reading


Searching for the Red-Headed Wench of Carleton Place

George Orwell Ponders- Are Knitters Really Felons?