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The Web exhibition I Do: Love and Marriage in 19th-Century Canada presents a glimpse into the challenges that people faced in finding a marriage partner in days gone by.
The letters of Mary Eleanor Westcott and the journal entries of Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, covering a period roughly from 1843 to 1846, provide us with one example of courtship and record the trials they endured for the sake of love.
Broad themes are touched upon as we observe Mary and Amédée navigate 19th-century mores and proprieties, from their initial meeting to a more intimate understanding found within their surviving letters and journal entries. One also views the barriers created by a disapproving family as well as the eventual outcome of their friendship.
Letters between other individuals of that period are also presented to offer comparisons of how relationships did or did not develop in 19th-century Canada.
The Web exhibition features the digitized letters and journal entries of Mary Westcott and Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau. Included in the exhibition is correspondence from the personal files of William Donnelly, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Kathleen Blake Coleman and the Woodside family.
Accompanying the exhibition is a nominal database with digitized microfilm images of more than 10,000 Upper and Lower Canada marriage bonds. Bonds issued in Upper Canada (Ontario) cover the years 1803 through to 1865, while bonds issued in Lower Canada (Quebec) cover the years 1779 to 1858 (See Further Research for a bibliography).
Our thanks go to Molly Wolf for writing the thematic texts for this site, and to Dr. Françoise Noël from the History Department of Nipissing University, in North Bay, Ontario, for vetting and providing advice on the texts' content.
We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the Department of Canadian Heritage, whose financial assistance through the Canadian Culture Online Program made this work possible. Library and Archives Canada extends its thanks to all staff who contributed to I Do: Love and Marriage in 19th-Century Canada.