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Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments

High Society gossip – libel case, Montreal, 1921

Montreal Daily Star, 18 January 1921

Reputations too often destroyed, claims counsel

Keen interest in closing stages of Germaine Robert suit for libel

Time to stop it

“What is known as society is the cleaning house for scandal,” says lawyer

Addressing himself to the English-speaking members of the jury empanelled to pass upion the action taken by Miss Germaine Robert against Mrs Sarsfield LE Cuddy, for $20,000 for alleging defamatory libel, Thibaudeau Rinfret, KS, this morning unmercifully flogged for nearly an hour the habit of high society people to “gather at small dinners and afternoon receptions and tear into shreds the reputations of others.”

“The verdict you are about to render,” said Mr Rinfred, “should be an unqualified condemnation of what happened in the present case and a lesson for the future of those, who while dallying among the fashionable and wealthy people, take pleasure, indeed find rapture, in destroying others reputations, especially those of young women.”

Mr Rinfred only began his address to the jury after Mr Justice Lane, who presides at the hearing and the other counsel had discussed for over an hour on the questions which are to be put to the jury. The counsel for both parties had agreed upon a series of questions which the jury should be requested to answer, but when a copy of these questions had been given him, His Lordship objected and said he was rather surprised that the questions as agreed had not been submitted to him previously.

“As they stand,” said His Lordship. “they are not legally drafted and will not allow me to make my charge to the jury in a legal manner. You gentlemen,” said His Lordship to the lawyers, “had better get busy and re-arrange matters so that I may see my way clear to abide by the law.”

Address to the Jury

For an hour afterwards, changes after changes were made to the questions which the jury was to answer, and it was after 11 o’clock when the Hon JL Peron, KC, who appears with Mr Rinfret as counsel for the plaintiff exclaimed: “At last, we have joined issue on no issue.”

While the questions as re-arranged and modified were being transcribed by a stenographer, Mr Rinfret started his address to the jury. He spoke in English, and was to be followed by Mr Perron in French.

At the outset, Mr Rinfret claimed that the case inasfar as damages t be allowed were concerned, was not of any special nature. Damage had been caused to plaintiff, he claimed, and defendant must pay as in other damage cases; that was the law, he said, and he was sure the presiding judge would uphold him on this point.

History of the case

Taking up the history of the case, Mr Rinfret said that the standing of the parties had been well established in the course of the hearing yesterday. While the plaintiff was poor now, owing to unfortunate speculations of her late father prior to his death, she had been educated in one of the best institutions of learning in the Province; she was an accomplished musician and a fluent conversationalist in both languages. Her education and refinement had allowed her to keep her place in the wealthy circly among which she had been brought up.

In the fall of 1919, he said, plaintiff had found out with dismay and surprise that she was being left alone; her former surroundings and friends among which and whom she had moved seemed to have deserted her. She did not know the cause, but being a brave little woman she decided to inquire what was wrong. After weeks and months of patient inquiry, she discovered that she was the victim of calumny, and it was thus that one morning she was apprised at a luncheon given at the University Club in the latter part of September 1919, defendant had told some of the ladies present at the function stories that alienated the plaintiff’s friends from her.

Having found what blighted her life, plaintiff sought reparation, said Mr Rinfret, and “we know now how gossiping started by the defendant had made its way through what we are pleased to call society but which is in reality the scandal clearing house of all large cities.”

Defendant’s Admission

Mr Rinfred then explained how the present proceedings against the defendant were started. Defendant now, he said, acknowledges that she expressed the words attributed to her at the function in question. She did not do it at the time the action was taken, however, said Mr Rinfret: “if she had perhaps the present unpleasant affair would not be before a jury today.

“At all events, he continued, defendant did not change her expressions in her plea. Plaintiff had no father and no brother near her, and through sheer grit and courage she had succeeded in securing a position in the Government’s employment, to maintain herself and her mother and to retain, apparently at least, her position in society. She did what she thought was best to vindicate her honor, and asked the court of her country to come to her rescue and help her find who was guilty and who should make whatever reparation, should condone the harm done to her and which would show to her people that she was still worthy of their love and friendship.

Mr Rinfret here dwelt on the nature of the alleged libel against the plaintiff; emphasizing on the fact that when gossiping starts in society no one knows where it will stop. The statement made by the defendant, he said has cause the plaintiff to become an outcast from society, and had humbled to shame a good, young and honest woman. And for all this, plaintiff was willing to say: “Well, it is true I said what you accuse me of, but I said it in a moment of thoughtlessness and I regret it. I regret it so much that I will give you $200: I will pay the costs of action for this amount and you will amply indemnified for what I said against you.”

“Can anything be more shameless, more heartless than this?” asked Mr Rinfret. “Defendant says now that her statement was due to thoughtlessness. Let us hope so for the defendant’s sake, because if her statement, such as it was, injurious and libelous as it was, had been actuated by other motives, her presence would not be sought before the civil courts; the criminal courts would require her.”

Did not expect damages

The learned counsel said that it made no difference if the defendant made her statement through thoughtlessness inasfar as damages are concerned.

“The employer pays damages to his employee who meets with an accident, the law compels him to do so, even without trial. That employer is not responsible morally for the accident; it does not happen in most cases through his thoughtlessness, but he has to pay just the same.”

And why, asked Mr Rinfret, should defendant now be allowed to come to plaintiff, whom she had defamed in a most shameful way, and say to her: “Here is two hundred dollars. Let us be through with it all?”

Mr Rinfret said that there had been a tendancy of late among the big people to forego all considerations in the manner in which they conduct their gossiping. It is one of the plights of the present time, he said, that rich and prominent people may destroy one’s reputation and get away with it, just because they are “big people.” It is time, he said, to put a stop to this kind of affairs, and it is also time that “high class” people should be remined that they are like the rest and particularly like the poor, “must obey the laws of God and of charity.”

Shortly before adjournment for lunch, JL Peron KC started to address the jury in French.

HJ Leitch at McGill – Bachelor’s of Science 1926-7

Thanks to the McGill Yearbooks searchable webpage here, I was able to score some photographs and information about my grandfather, Hugh James Leitch. He attended McGill, and earned a bachelors of Science in engineering there in 1927.

This is from the 1924 yearbook

His name appears in the science department for 1925 and 1926

The best part of the yearbooks though are the class pictures. I really haven’t been able to pick him out of the pictures, and there is no key for them, but likely he is there…

Dignified tables – etiquette – 1937

Ottawa Journal, 26 July 1937

Nancy Page

Nice Dinner Parties Call for Dignified Tables

By Florence La Ganke

If I plan to give a really nice dinner party, Nancy, may I call it a formal dinner?  According to some authorities on etiquette a dinner is really formal only when there are butlers and footmen in attendance. Any dinner served by waitresses should not be called formal.  But in comparison with the kind of dinners usually served to your family the one you plan may deserve the name formal.

At a dinner of the kind, you have in mind you use your nicest cloth, preferably linen damask in white. You use goblets in place of tumblers.

The napkins are large ones folded into thirds and then again in thirds or into fourths or into thirds one way and fifths the other.

This napkin is laid on the service plate if there is no food at each plate when the guests come in. and if there is a fruit or sea food or shell fish cocktail in its glass which, in turn, is set on a small plate resting on the large service or dinner plate – the napkin is placed at the left of the forks.

There may be place cards. They should be of the simplest heavy, white cardboard with the name written legibly and in a dignified fashion. Do not use the decorated cards, those with pretty maidens or pasted-on sea shells or figures made of tiny feathers.

And never fasten the place card on the rim of the goblet nor attach it to a crepe paper nut cup.

The attractive little place cards that are all decorated may be used for children. There are times when they belong at a hobby dinner, let’s say, but not at a dignified dinner party.

The same rules applies to the festive filled crepe paper nut cup. Not at nice dinners. Favors are not given at an affair like this either.  Keep your whole plan dignified and simple and it will be in better taste.

United Empire Loyalist Dinner, Williamstown, ON, 1984

Glengarry News, 3 October 1984

180 attend UEL Dinner

Williamstown – Three Glengarrians were among those accepted as new members of the St Laurence Branch of the United Empire Loyalists during the group’s annual charter night dinner. Saturday, at the Williamstown Civic Centre.

The three local men were Jim Sangster of Bainsville and brothers Earl and John Sandilands of Williamstown.

More than 180 people attended the sixth annual banquet, held its Glengarry for the first time, according to the branch president, Mildred Leitch of Cornwall.

Notables in attendance included Gwen Smith of Bath, Ontario, the national president of the UEL; Norm Warner, the new MP for Stormont Dundas; Ewen MacDonald, reeve of Charlottenburgh and Lyle Manson, president of the Stormont County Historical Society.

With more 300 members, the St Laurence Branch is the largest in Eastern Ontario, said Mrs Leitch.

Mrs Leitch, who still claims the Dingwall Farm on the King’s Road as home, is proud of the UEL and her loyalist ancestors.

She is a descendant of James Dingwall, who along with his brother John, fought loyally for the English crown for seven years during the American Revolution. Forced to move to Canada with other loyalists, the Dingwalls were given a land grant in Glengarry.

“You can’t buy your way into the UEL,” said Mrs Leitch. “You have to prove that you are a direct descendant of a United Empire Loyalist.”

The group’s activities centre around preserving and promoting loyalist heritage. This year they completed a book, the King’s Royal Regiment, which will be presented to high schools in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.

In 1985 the St Lawrence Chapter will host the national convention of the UEL at the Cornwall Civic Complex.

Montreal Swimming Baths, 1905

Montreal Standard, 23 December 1905

The Montreal Swimming Baths

A very important feature of summer life in Montreal is the swimming baths of St Helen’s Island. Of these there are two distinct sects, viz. the Public Baths and the Montreal Swimming Club.

Taking the road to the right on landing, after a three minutes’ walk on the island, the Public Baths are reached. Here a long shed, open towards the water, serves as a dressing room. In this place, also, swimming trunks and life preservers may be obtained. In front of the sheds a long platform runs out into the water, from which the bathers start. The whole is under the rules and regulations of the Board of Health, and an officer is in charge to see that these are carried out.

To reach the Montreal Swimming Club Baths the road to the right must also be taken, but nearly the whole length of the Island must be covered before the place is reached. The Club officers are as follows: Pres JP Gadbois, MD; 1st Vice-Pres G Normandin; Hon Sec Jas Pow Jr; Hon Treas TJ Darling; committee, HJ Smith, R Lusignan, WF Hamilton, A Cruly, JA Berthiaume, NA Millie, HW Smyth.

The Hicks family in the news, Montreal 1940-1947

Montreal Daily Star, 6 November 1940

Mrs Lawrence D Hicks and Mrs James Drury are giving an “At Home” on Monday afternoon, November 25, at the Mount Royal Hotel, in honor of their debutante daughters, Miss Kathleen Hicks and Miss Peggy Drury.

Montreal Daily Star, 16 November 1943

Mr and Mrs Gerald Gohier are entertaining on Friday evening, at their home on Fulton avenue, in honor of Miss Barbara Noreen Bole and her fiancé, Ensign Wallace Jordon Farr, and their wedding attendants. Miss Kathleen Hicks was hostess at a cup and saucer shower last night for the bride-elect. Others entertaining for her have been: Miss Martha Hurst, who gave a luncheon; Miss Jean Spearman, a miscellaneous shower, and Miss Ruth de la Plante, a handkerchief shower.

Montreal Daily Star, 27 May 1947

Mrs WJ Keating entertained at the tea hour yesterday in honor of Miss Kathleen Hicks, whose marriage to Mr Messmore A Rainville, is taking place on June 21.

Montreal Daily Star, 7 October 1940

Mrs LD Hicks is entertaining at dinner on Friday evening, October 18 in honor of her debutante daughter, Miss Kathleen Hicks, who will make her debut at the Debutantes’ Ball being held in the Mount Royal Hotel that night.

Montreal Gazette, 10 Jun 1947

In honor of Miss Kathleen Hicks whose marriage to Mr Messmore Rainville has been arranged to take place on Saturday, June 21, Mrs John Mill is entertaining at a luncheon today. Mrs Grant Hall Day is entertaining at a luncheon tomorrow, and on Thursday evening Miss Joan Thompson is entertaining at dinner for Miss Hicks and Mr Rainville.

Montreal Gazette, 5 Jun 1947

Mrs James Drury and Miss Peggy Drury entertained on Tuesday at an evening party and crystal shower in honor of Miss Kathleen Hicks. On Sunday, Mr and Mrs E Jacques Courtois will entertain at a late afternoon party in honor of Miss Hicks and her fiancé, Mr Messmore Rainville, whose marriage has been arranged to take place on Saturday, June 21.

Life on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, 1906

Montreal Standard, 28 April 1906

Life on Parliament Hill – the Hon Thomas greenway, formerly Premier of Manitoba, Mr Greenway is here represented in the act of enjoying a sun-bath on one of the benches in the Parliament grounds at Ottawa.

Canada According to the American Movies – No 3

Montreal Daily Star, 16 Nov 1923

Canada, according to the American Movies – No 3

The typical Canadian father – there is no other kind in Canada according to the American movies. The work on his property apparently looks after itself, for he spends all his time either devouring food with porcine manners in the one room of his log hut, or in attending lynching gatherings. The only work he has been detected at is saddling his horse to attend these parties. He wears one checked shirt all the year round and reaches for his gun whenever a knock is heard at the door. Whenever his beautifully painted but unsophisticated daughter bounces in the room he always shakes a finger at her, pats her on the head, and gives her much sentimentally sloppy and quite irrelevant advice.

Golf ball enters ear of donkey, 1922

Montreal Daily Star, 17 Nov 1922

Golf Ball enters Ear of Donkey

Cork, Ireland, Nov 1 – (Star Special Correspondence) – A member of the Middleton Co Cork club was on the course the other day. He drove a low shot from third tee, and the ball entered the ear of the donkey grazing on the links. The donkey stood still until players approached, then it let fly with its heels, shook its head, and ran away, and the ball came spinning to the ground.

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