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What's New

I Do: Love and Marriage in 19th-century Canada
Library and Archives Canada pays hommage to romance
in its new virtual exhibition

OTTAWA, July 16, 2008 - These days one can meet a future spouse on the Internet, but finding a marriage partner in days gone by was a different story. Library and Archives Canada (LAC) offers a glimpse into the challenges that people faced in finding a marriage partner in the 1800s with a new virtual exhibition entitled ARCHIVED - I Do: Love and Marriage in 19th-century Canada.

The website features the digitized letters and journal entries of prominent French Canadians such as Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the notorious criminal William Donnelly, as well as the lesser-known Kathleen Blake Coleman and Woodside family. The letters of Mary Eleanor Westcott and the journal entries of Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau, covering the period from 1843 to 1846, provide us with one example of courtship and record the trials they endured for the sake of love.

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 on how relationships did or did not develop in 19th-century Canada.

Accompanying the exhibition is a database searchable by name 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.

This project was made possible with the assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage through its Canadian Culture Online Program. For more information visit

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Sabrina Bertrand
Senior Media Relations Officer
Library and Archives Canada 819-934-7525

Pauline M. Portelance
Senior Media Relations
Library and Archives Canada
819-994-4589 or 613-293-4298