Ballroom Etiquette, Emily Post, 1922/37

Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage by Emily Post, New York and London, Funk & Wagnalls Co, 1922/37.


Ballroom Etiquette

A ballroom is still the one background against which men as well as women of good breeding must behave with almost exaggerated formal decorum. Ladies do not and women must not sit with crossed knees. A lady must not loll back against her chair. Properly she doesn’t even lean back against it at all. Neither a man nor a woman can smoke in a ballroom without destroying the distinction of the whole assemblage.
But even so, an onlooker at any modern ball is apt to be impressed with the utter gracelessness of the young people who walk across a ballroom floor. The athletic young woman of today strides across the ballroom floor as though she were on the golf course; the happy-go-lucky one ambles- shoulders stooped, arms swinging, hips and head in advance of chest; others trot, others shuffle, others make a rush for it. The young girl who can walk across a room with grace is rare.

Older gentlemen still give their arms to older ladies in all ‘promenading’ at a ball, since the customs of a lifetime are not broken by one short and modern generation. Those of today walk side by side, except when going to supper. At public balls, when there is a grand march, the lady always takes her partner’s right arm.


A Public ball is a ball given for a benefit or charity. A committee makes the arrangements and tickets are sold to the public, either at hotels or at the house of the secretary of the committee. A young girl of social position does not go to a public ball without a chaperon. To go alone in the company of one or more ‘escorts’ would be an unheard of breach of propriety.


Don’t walk across a ballroom floor swinging your arms. Don’t talk or laugh loud enough to attract attention, and on no account force yourself to laugh. Nothing is flatter than laughter that is lacking in mirth. If you only laugh because something is irresistibly funny, the chances are your laugh will be irresistible too. In the same way a smile should be spontaneous, because you feel happy, and pleasant; nothing has less allure than a mechanical grimace, as though you were trying to imitate a tooth-paste advertisement.

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A Guide to Academic & Professional Conferences (or how not to be killed or ridiculed by your colleagues), 2014

A Guide to Academic and Professional Conferences
(Or how not to be killed or ridiculed by your colleagues)

by Gillian Leitch (with Sherry Ginn)

I have attended and organized a number of academic and professional conferences and have noticed that there are a lot of people who propose and go to these events who really don’t know how to navigate the norms and conventions of them. I know that, whereas many universities expect their faculty and graduate students to attend these events for professional development and the dissemination of knowledge, they don’t actually help them understand how to propose or present. So I have decided to share my personal wisdom on conferences in hopes that those attending get the most out of their experience, and that the conference itself works out.

Why go to a Conference?
Conferences are great. I will tell you that I absolutely love going to conferences, and presenting at conferences, and yeah, organising them. They are a brilliant opportunity to meet new and interesting people, develop professional networks, disseminate my ideas, and hopefully get the much needed input to make my work better. I also find that the more I present, the more my confidence grows in my subject and my skills. It is a win-win.

Making a Proposal
The first step for a conference is, of course, making a proposal. I have yet to figure out the optimum way to write a proposal, but there are some important points to keep in mind:
- Keep it simple – explain your thesis in clear and concise terms
- Don’t write too much – if you are not able to speak about some of your work within the time period allotted for the presentation, don’t include it in the proposal
- Read the Call for Papers/Proposals carefully before submitting
- Follow the instructions carefully
- Be pretty sure you can actually attend the conference to which you are submitting a proposal – check the dates and verify that you can get time-off, subs to cover your classes, etc.
- Conference organisers provide their email addresses for a reason – if you have a question, ask it
- It is better to submit before the day of the deadline – put yourself in the shoes of the organiser and ask how you would feel receiving a slew of papers on one day
- Make sure your name and address are on your proposal itself, not just the accompanying email – yes people really do forget to put their names on their proposals!

I will be the first to admit that a great proposal is not a guarantee of a great presentation, but it is the only way available to ascertain if it fits in within the conference theme. A good proposal is a great start.

Before the Conference
I think one of the most frustrating things I have to deal with as a conference organiser is the cancellation. Life happens, and we all get that, but for some reason presenters find it remarkably difficult to cancel their appearance. I think many presenters forget that they are not the only ones presenting. If you are unable to present, then you have to think about the people who are presenting with you. The sooner the organiser knows about the cancellation, the easier it is to adapt the schedule.

A lot of the time I get presenters contacting me about the time of their proposal in the schedule. It all depends on the size of the conference, the venue, among other factors which determine how much flexibility organisers have. In general, there is little flexibility. If there are mitigating factors for the presenter, such as religious or medical reasons for the inability to present on the time assigned, then the presenter should as quickly as possible state their problem and hope that it can be resolved. But, in general, I would say to those planning to present at a conference, plan to attend the whole conference, and don’t expect any changes. Even the conference organiser does not get to pick the time of his or her presentation.

What happens if you cannot go, and you don’t tell the organisers? One year at PCA, an entire panel who failed to show up. This group had asked specifically for this panel to be organised, and concessions had been made for their appearance. No one showed up. There were no emails or phone calls to the Area Chair, who tried contacting them to find out what happened. No responses were received. So who does that hurt? Well first off, the conference, as people came to the presentation to listen. The room had been booked. But, most of all, the presenters. It is the presenter (s) who are hurt by this. Understand that organisers have long memories – they remember when they are put in a bad position, probably longer than if it was an awesome presentation. Every year, at this conference, we talk about the people who failed to show. Trust me, there is a list, not always official, but it is there. Don’t be surprised if one day the list is published on the organization’s webpage.

Communicating with the Organisers
So far I have dwelled on timeliness in contacting conference organisers, but how you approach them is also important. Conferences are an opportunity to demonstrate your professional qualities to your peers and colleagues. Letters written in a condescending manner, with spelling mistakes, with not enough information, with unreasonable demands, do not go over well. If you wouldn’t like getting that letter sent to you, then it is a probably true that the conference committee would not like it either.

Writing your Presentation
So now you have to write your presentation. What do you say? Unless you are given a great amount of time as a special speaker, most presentations at conferences are 15-20 minutes long. That is not a lot of time to encapsulate your ideas. Pare down the argument to the essentials. What is the most important idea that you want the audience to take away from your work? Why is it important? What is your thesis?

After a few pages of writing I suggest you stop for a moment, and read them aloud, and time them. Once you have figured out how much text equals how much time, you can then judge how much more to say and perhaps what to cut out. Remember there is always the “questions” part of the session; you can add more information for the benefit of the audience.

Don’t write more than you have time for. If you have an extra five minutes of text you will find that either you will rush to try and squeeze it all in, or be stopped mid-sentence and the important statement is never said.

Power Point
Most people now use power point in their presentations. It is both a benefit and a curse. I still have nightmares from the one historical presentation I saw where the presenter used a “follow the dot as I am speaking” option on his power point as if it was a sing-a-long. Oh wow, that was an epic fail! Then there are the presentations I have seen where the image changes practically every second as the speaker scrolls through his document in a bid to show everything.

Even if your topic is very visual allow for enough time in your presentation so that the audience can see the images. Try not to be too fancy – simple is always better. I usually plan for a maximum of 15 pages including the title page for a 15 minute talk. The general rule of thumb is thus 1 page per minute.

Don’t put your script up in the presentation page, you will find that the audience will try to read it, and won’t be listening to you. Bullet points are more than enough. Images should be relevant to the presentation. Be careful of the size of the image – if it is too small and cannot be blown up clearly, then ditch it.

Always find out ahead of time what technology is provided and what you have to bring with you. A lot of venues do provide the projectors, but not always the computers, or the cords to attach these things together. I have found that often this is a problem for those with Apple computers; the venues rarely have the right connectors. Bring it with you.

Things happen at conferences – and technology often fails. Make sure that you can present your paper without the power point, just in case the computer dies or explodes, or transports to another dimension. Always print off a paper copy. Also bring cords, usb keys, etc., even when they are not required. Always be ready for something to go wrong. If you are ready for the worst, you cope a lot better, and often it means the worst won’t happen.

The Presentation
At the conference make sure that you are at the room on time, if not early. Set up your presentation on the computer, or whatever technology is required, ahead of time. Make your acquaintance with your co-panellists. This is a great way to meet people who are working in the same field as you.

Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe when you present. I often print my speech in such a way that I have to change pages or cards fairly often, and I use this time to look up, breathe, before I continue on with the presentation.
Often at conferences the chair is charged with enforcing the time limit. They are the bosses, so keep an eye on the chair or the timekeeper, and make sure you are aware of them during the presentation. And when they call time, acknowledge it, and finish your sentence.

Should you read your presentation? Most people do, but it is a matter of how you read it. I have seen some who take their paper in front of them, lower their heads and then read it all. They don’t look up, they don’t interact with the audience, and they go into the zone. It is better to try and read it with an eye to the crowd, to be a part of the whole. The audience relates better to a person who is trying to relate to them. And, it is really easy to learn to do this if you practice. Not enough can be said about that: practice, practice, practice. Your audience will thank you for it (trust me on this one).

Question Time


This is the opportunity for your work to be discussed, and a great way to see how well you have transmitted your thesis. Unfortunately, the question time can also be a time of great awkward silences, or questions to only one panellist. And there are the odd questions, which have nothing to do with any of the presentations.
Grace is the key – accept it all in with grace. If you don’t get any questions about your presentation, and the chair is unable to scurry something up to ask to fill in the gap, don’t take it personally. While sometimes a lack of questions could be because your presentation stunk, most often it is because the audience is there for another panellist, or a specific topic and they only want to know more about that. That does not mean that you cannot ask questions of your fellow panelists and get a good discussion going (in which you might be able to bring the topic around to your presentation. After all, the presentations are grouped because the organiser recognized something in the papers that seemed “to fit together”).

When you get a question, try and answer it as succinctly as possible and only answer the question posed. If you cannot answer the question, then be honest, and say you cannot, but try and relate it back to what you are speaking about.

When you are asking questions, also try and keep it short. There are probably a number of people who also want to speak, so it is a great courtesy. It will also keep the conversation more lively. If you have more to say to the presenter, then approach them after the panel and talk, or if they appear to be very busy, hand them a business card and ask them to contact you. A short note on the business card about the specific topic would be useful, as business cards are passed around fast and furiously, and when people get home they often forget who the person was or why they got their card.

What about after the presentation (or before)
If you are attending a conference because you love the topic, have just started your education in the topic, want to learn about the topic, etc., then make yourself available. Try to attend other presentations in the area and meet the people. Meet the Area Chairs. If there are social events, go to them. It is difficult to do that for some people, but if you make the effort just once, it will be so much easier in the future. Who knows? You might just end up as an organiser one day!

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Quebec Elections- Gatineau, 2014

Dr Aubé,

Your Facebook Ad asked if I agreed with the PLQ candidate who thought it was alright for public servants to wear the Hijab. Wow, all I knew about your views in the election before this was that you were PQ, you wore in a tie for your poster, and that you are a doctor in the Hull Hospital from your flyer- with the tie picture. You haven’t come around my neighbourhood, you haven’t made any other effort. I must say I was surprised. I had resigned myself to another election where all the candidates sat on their tushes.

So, to answer your question more directly- I don’t care what the people who serve me wear when they are doing their job. In a free and democratic society it doesn’t matter what a person chooses to wear, regardless of the reasoning behind their choice. Religion, taste, mood, it is irrelevant. As to the secularity of the state, well sure, the state is secular, but that doesn’t mean that its citizens have to be.

The Charter of Values is an exercise in symbolism, which ultimately is discriminatory and divisive. I would think that you had better things to think about in relation to Quebec’s future such as the economy, health care and education.

But then in this election, as with others, the candidates seem to dwell on the stupid, the messy and the unimportant, and do so from a safe distance from the people they are asking to vote for them.


Dr Aubé,

Votre publicité dans Facebook à me demander si j’étais d’accord avec la candidate du PLQ qui supporter le fait des servants publics peut porter le Hijab. Wow, avant ceci, tout que je connaissais de tes positions dans l’élection était que vous été PQ, vous porter un cravate dans ton poster, et que vous été un docteur dans l’hôpital de Hull dans ton feuille- avec la photo en cravate. Vous n’a pas visiter ma quartier, vous n’a pas fait un grand effort. Je dois te dire que j’étais surpris. J’étais résigné d’une autre élection ou tous les candidats son assis sur leurs fesses.

Donc, pour répondre à votre question dans une façon plus directe- Je ne me trouble pas sur quoi les personnes portes quand ils me servent dans le cadre de leur emploi. Dans une société ouvert et démocratique les personnes peut porter n’importe quoi, malgré les raisons derrière leur choix. Religion, gout, humeur, c’est immatériel. Surement l’état est séculaire, mais les citoyens ne sont pas obligés.

Le Chartre des Valeurs est un exercice en symbolisme, qui est ultimement discriminatoire et divise l’opinion. Je pense qu’il a des autres choses plus importantes à penser dessous en relation de la future de Québec comme l’économie, sante et éducation.

Mais dans cette élection, comme les autres, les candidats on un tendance de parler de la stupidité, le salle, et négligeable, et de le faire d’un distance de les personnes qu’il voit il demande.

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The Universal Remedy: Radway’s Ready Relief, Ottawa, 1866

Ottawa Citizen, 28 December 1866, page 3

The Universal Remedy
Radway’s Ready Relief!!!

Cures Pain Instantly!
And is a positive preventative of Asiatic Cholera, Yellow Fever, Small-pox and other pestilences!

Its properties
As an anti-septic, disinfectant, anti-spasmodic, counter-irritant, diffusive stimulant, rubefacient,nervine, anodyne, sudorific, febrifuge.
It has no equal in the material medica.

In sudden attacks
Of diarrhoea , dysentery, cholera morbus, inflammation of the bowels, cholic, cramps, spasms, vomiting, sick headache, cold chills, fever and ague, sore throat, coughs, colds, influences, neuralgia & c – one teaspoonful in a glass of water will correct all derangements of the stomach, bowels and liver, and instantly stop the most severe pains.

If seized with rheumatism
Gout, lumbago, sciaties, pain in the side or back, limbs or joints, spine or muscles, toothaches, strains, sprains & c- One application will afford immediate ease and comfort, and a few times rubbing will complete the cure.

Instant help needed
In violet diseases, instant relief is required. Asiatic Cholera, inflammation of the bowels, cholic, fits, ship fever, croup, diphtheria may prove fatal within an hour or two, if not checked by a powerful antidote like Radway’s Ready Relief and all sense and inflammatory maladies, whether rheumatism, neuralgia, inflammation of the kidneys, bladder, urinal difficulties, inflammation of the womb, and in fact, all diseases fraught with immediate danger, yield at once to this commanding curative.
The Ready Relief is as sudden in its operation as the malady itself. It is more[illegible] the virus of the most swift and deadly epidemic. With this Remedy at hand to use [illegible] point of pain and uneasiness, no person need suffer an hour sickness.

Sisters of Mercy at Dorchester Street Hospital, applying Dr Radway’s Remedies to the sick.
Sisters of Mercy
Dorchester Street, Montreal CE Hospital of the Sisters of Mercy
Dr Radway – I certify that your Ready Relief has cured over one hundred of our sick from chills, vomiting, headaches, internal pains, &c, &c.
One of our sisters had the rheumatism in her head for a great many years – having taken a few spoonfuls of Relief in water, and rubbing her head twice with the same medicine, she was perfectly cured and never felt it since. I always use it for dyspepsia and for colds, and always with success. It is very useful for sore throats, coughs, influenza, diphtheria, &c. It has a good effect in flatulence or wind cholic. I use it for foul breath, and it produces a marvellous effect. In short it procures relief altogether remarkable to our invalids.
Sister Mary de Bonsecours

NB- Beware of counterfeits and imitations, have nothing to do with the dealer that will endeavour to persuade you to take some other in place of the Radway’s—the Country is flooded with counterfeits and imitations of Radway’s Ready Relief. Dealers purchase these worthless mixtures at less than half the price they are charged for Radway’s, yet charge the public the same price our agents sell you Radway’s for. (price 25 cents per bottle) The imitations and counterfeits are sold at 5 to 10 cents per bottle to dealers; dear at that price. In purchasing Ready Relief, see that there are two signatures of Radway & Co on the labels, and the words RRR Radway & Co blown in the glass. A man will sell you a false medicine will cheat you whenever he has an opportunity.

Certificates of startling cures of the most violent and deadly diseases are on record at Dr Radway’s Offices in the cities of New York and Montreal, emanating from the highest authorities in the world. There is not a town or city of importance (except a few in China) on the globe that Radway’s Medicines have cured the sick when all other remedial [illegible] failed, and is vouched for by High dignitaries in Church and state, both by letters written direct to the Radway, and through the [illegible] Ministers and Consuls abroad.

Sold by Druggists and Country Merchants
John Radway, MD & Co
[illegible] Peel street, Montreal
[illegible] New York
Agents- G Mortimer, Ottawa; GB Eddy, Hull; W Allen, Aylmer; W Craig, Bristol; [illegible] Shaw, Clarendon; and WA McLean, Portage du Fort.


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Debutantes and Partners Rehearse for St Andrew’s Ball Highlight, Montreal, 1956

Montreal Daily Star,
12 October 1956

Debutantes and Partners Rehearse for St Andrew’s Ball Highlight
By Ethel Tiffin

A stalwart young officer, who has danced Scottish reels with Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, and taught the art of the dance in Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Palestine and Egypt, as well as in Scotland and England, is putting debutantes and their partners through the rollicking intricacies of “Strip the Willow” and the “Petronella” in preparation for St Andrew’s Ball. The reels are a popular feature of the annual ball which will take place on Nov 30, in the Windsor Hotel.

Major McMurtrie’s interest in Scottish folk dancing dates back to his early days in the Highland Light Infantry.
‘We have a choice to either dance or to pipe,” he said in an interview. “I took dancing and I’ve been at it ever since. Even in the mess when there were no ladies present we dance reels. In fact, I’ve taught the Scottish folk dances in Nigeria when the temperature hit 115 degrees. . .it’s never too hot to step.”

The Royal family is “really keen” on Highland dancing, Major McMurtrie said. “The late King was an expert and Princess Margaret is an excellent dancer.”

Major McMurtrie recalled King George the VI as a perfectionist in Scottish dancing. He was quick to notice the slightest error or lack of graced or rhythm…He just didn’t miss anything.”

Attached to the Quebec Army Command on an exchange basis, Major McMurtrie is being assisted by his attractive wife, and Michael Wolstecroft of Notre Dame de Grace YMCA frequently lends a helpful suggestion.

Mrs CJG Molson and Mrs TG Lowrey, members of the Reels Committee for St Andrew’s Ball, also contribute greatly to the success of the undertaking.

It’s fun to watch a rehearsal and to see the dancers put through their paces by a competent instructor, improve within what seems like just a few minutes. Obviously dancing reels is not as complicated as it looks, but it isn’t to be dismissed as easy either. At the recent practice session at the armory the Eightsome Reel, the Dashing White Sergeant, Strip the Willow, and Petronella were danced.

Tunes are gay and familiar not only to the people of Scottish ancestry, and to citizens of the world who revel in the splendid airs of Auld Scotia. The Dell Among the Tailors, Fairy Dance and the Wind that Shakes the Barley are the tunes used for the Eightsome reel. The Dashing White Sergeant sparks the dance of the same name, while Frolicksome Paddy, Bonnie Blue Boy, Irish Whiskey, Drops of Brandy and Paddy O’Carrol are Strip the Willow numbers. The Persian Dance provides the music for Petronella.

The history of the St Andrew’s Society of Montreal dates back to 1834.

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Sir John A Macdonald’s Marriage, London, 1867

Ottawa Citizen, 18 March 1867, page 2

Mr Macdonald’s Marriage

Agnes Macdonald nee Bernard

Agnes Macdonald nee Bernard

The London Canadian News supplies the following further particulars respecting the marriage of the Hon John A Macdonald some of which will naturally interest the fair sex:

“Previously to the hour of half-past eleven in the forenoon, the church had been rapidly filling with those who had been invited to the wedding, and so many were present, that on the arrival of the bride, escorted by her brother, she had to pass through an avenue of friends, extending from the large entrance door to the very altar steps.

“The bridesmaids wore dresses of white silk, with white tulle tunic with folds of silk to match their bonnets, two of which were blue and two pink. From the bonnets depended long tulle veils, and four prettier bridesmaids can hardly be imagined. The bride, who looked charmingly handsome and stately, was given away by her brother, Lieut Col Bernard ADC.

“Mr Macdonald was attended by his cousin, D Bruce Gardyne of Trinity College, Oxford, as his groomsman, assisted by Captain Pemberton, 60th Rifles, ADC, Edward R Bernard, Esq., Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and E Clark Esq. The service was performed in a very earnest and impressive manner by the Right Rev the Lord Bishop of Montreal, Metropolitan of Canada, assisted by the Rev George Dickson of St James’ Church Belgravia. During the ceremony a bright way of sunshine fell through the file old stained glass window and lighted up the scene with an exceedingly beautiful effect. Immediately after the return of the married couple from the vestry, where they had repaired for the legal requirements of registration, they left the church, followed by their friends, and proceeded to the Westminster Palace Hotel, where they were in number about ninety entertained at breakfast by Lieutenant-Colonel Bernard. The tables were spread with every delicacy by a most artistic chef de cuisine, and with a profusion of the choicest plants in endless variety and in full blossom and perfume. On the plate of every guest was a bunch of violets and snow-drops. The bride was the recipient of numerous and costly presents on the happy occasion. Amongst others may be mentioned a complete set in opaque enamel an amethyst and a necklace with diamonds and carbuncle, the gift of the delegates from the Lower Provinces; a massive silver breakfast and tea service from the Canadian delegates; a diamond and pearl bracelet from Governor Hincks; a boudoir work-table from Viscountess Hill; an ormelu set from the Hon John Rose; bracelets from the Hon and Mrs Howland, Col Cumberland &c.

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St Patrick’s Day, Montreal, 1859

Montreal Gazette, 18 March 1859, page 2

St Patrick’s Day—Our fellow citizens of Irish origin, who yesterday assembled to honor the feast of their Patron Saint, had surely no complaints to make of the weather—a bright sun and a balmy west wind favored their national day, and drew on numbers to see the gallant display made by the Sons of Old Erin. Early yesterday morning the various national and religious societies assembled in front of the new St Patrick’s Hall in McGill Street, and, headed by the Prince’s Band, and Nos 4 and 5 Rifle Companies, proceeded through several of the thoroughfares to St Patrick’s Church, where an eloquent sermon was preached by Father Dowd. After Divine service, the procession reformed, and then made a detour through Griffintown, McGill Street, to St Patrick’s Hall, where speeches were delivered by the Mayor and B Devlin, Esq, after which the assembly dispersed, the militia companies proceeding to the armoury and there breaking up. In the evening, the St Patrick’s Society, and the Irish National and Literary Society held their annual dinners, which were very well attended.

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