Tag Archives: young 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


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.

download (83)

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