These included monitoring their daughters who had to wait at home for gentleman callers and enforcing other rules in the hopes of attracting a suitable suitor.
“If I were a man I would be so persistent in my wooing that the lassie would just have to love me,” one bachelorette complained, “but as I am the lassie, and not the laddie, I will have to calmly sit, and await the day when my Prince Charming will come riding by.” The rules also permitted restricted dating, gift giving and corresponding by letter.
But premarital sex was prohibited, and that included petting and even kissing, because withholding these delights was the best way to convince the lusting lover to propose marriage.
In the era he writes about, when arranged marriages had mostly been discarded as relics of the patriarchal past, romantic courtship between two individuals was the breeding ground for marriage, making romance a serious business.explores “four key aspects of romance”: what average Canadians sought in a marriage partner, the specific rules they were expected to follow during courtship, the obstacles and hardships they encountered along the way and the impact of World War One on their personal relationships.
Azoulay’s sources are “two magnificent collections of letters,” the most valuable the “Prim Rose at Home” column in the Combined, they contain more than 20,000 letters and represent a cross-section of Canadian society (although French-speaking Quebecers are underrepresented).
What distinctions do you find yourself leaning towards in dating across cultures?
is a welcome piece of scholarship that offers a fascinating look into Canadians’ love lives.
“The Dos and Don’ts of Romance” details the magazine editors’ rules of courtship, beginning with the stricture against romance for girls younger than 18.
Proper introductions were essential and background checks of prospective husbands desirable. They were on call as chaperones and had to ensure that their children followed the rules.
(Many men specified “a fair complexion.”) But beauty did not seem to matter because, Azoulay notes, men rarely mentioned physical preferences.
One New Brunswicker, for example, merely hoped for a wife not “homely to a marked degree.” If husband-seeking Canadian women were dismayed at these “dream” qualities, they thought the better of revealing this in their letters to magazines. “Marriage was both their livelihood and the key to complete social acceptance.” Far from defending the progressive women Canadian men abhorred, female letter writers also denounced suffragettes and silly, frilly, novel readers who were not domestically inclined.
I remember my younger sister asking my parents once why she’d never seen them kiss.
To this, my dad scoffed and told her something along the lines of it being unnecessary.
They hesitated to marry without specific assurances of at least a modicum of leisure time.