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Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments

A Bride’s Costume, Etiquette, 19C

Gentlewomen Aim to Please: Edited from Victorian Manuels of Etiquette, Jerrard Tickell, London: George Routledge & Sons, 1933.


A bride’s costume should be white, or some hue as close as possible to it.  It is considered more stylish for a very young bride to go without a bonnet, but for her head to be covered with only a wreath of orange blossoms and a Chantilly or some other lace veil: this, however, is entirely a matter of taste; but, whether wearing a bonnet or not, the bride must always wear a veil.  If a widow she may wear not only a bonnet but a coloured silk dress.

Getting Married in Paris, 1892

Glengarry News, 4 Feb 1892


Getting married in Paris

Saturday is the marrying day of the Parisian ouvrier.  It is an economical arrangement.  It gives Pierre two whole days for celebrating, with a loss of but one in the shop.  He is obliged to take advantage of all such devices for, do his best, marrying is expensive business in Paris.

Before Pierre can with safely select his particular Saturday he has a multitude of civil and religious requirements to see to.  Neither he nor Lizette can think of such a thing as marrying without the consent of their families.  If father, mother and grandparents are dead, a family council must be called of the nearest living relatives to consider the case and give or withhold permission.  If it is refused to Pierre, and he is under 25, or to Lizette, and she is under 21, the marriage cannot go on.  If they are over those ages they can summon the recalcitrant relatives three times, at intervals of a month each, before a notary to give consent. If after the third summons, the permission is still withheld, at the end of a fourth month, they may marry.  That is, after the proper publications have been made and necessary documents taken out.

Glengarrians in California, 1894

The Glengarrian, 22 Jun 1894

Glengarrians in California

To the Editor of the Glengarrian:-

Sir – Knowing that you like to follow the fortunes of the men of Glengarry, it will interest you to learn that the Caledonia Club proceedings at Stockton, San Joaquin, Co., California, this year were mainly engineered by Glengarry lads.  The Chief of the Club is Malcolm McRae, who with his partner AR McDonald, runs a thriving wholesale and retail grocery business in Stockton.  Both hail from Glengarry, and Mrs McRae too comes from the same airt, where she was formerly known as Miss Mary McDougald.  Another lady who graced the games by her presence is Miss Mary Ann McDonald, from the South Branch.  John D McDougald a prominent contractor here, also takes a keen interest in all that appertains to auld Scotland, and as for his brother Willie A McDougald, the suit of clothes that he wore at the games, was “a sight for sair e’en.” It was the very rig that oor ain Robbie Burns would have work when he went out to visit his bonnie Jean – a donce Ayrshire suit with nae Hielan fall-uls.

In the tug of war, which was the most important event of the day three Glengarrians pulled for Scotland. The contest was between eight Germans and a like number of Scotch.  Of course the Scotch won as is proper and fitting.  In the Scotch were three brothers McLaurin.  Their father was Duncan McLaurin, once a resident of Breadabane, County of Glengarry.  About 1852 he removed to Bruce County and later on his family came to California.  Mrs McLaurin who spent her girlhood days in “fa Lochaber” now lives in Stockton, where she is affectionately and carefully ministered to by an unmarried daughter.  There are six McLaurin lads and three of them pulled for Scotland in the tug of war.  They are all thriving and prosperous ranchers on the tule lands of San Joaquin County.  There are John and Dan, Douglass and Willie, Colin and Archie.  A proud man was Donald Weir when he was awarded first prize as piper, and led the march in the uniform of the gallant 42nd.  The reel in his pipes is as clear and shrill as when it used the resound in Glengarry when Donald was younger, and aiblins keener to dance himself than to pipe for other folk.

Amongst the other Glengarrians connected with the Caledonia Club in San Joaquin county are AC McDonald and William and Duncan McDougald of the well know firm of McDougald, Sangster and Company.  Among Glengarrians there is but little chance of old associations being forgotten.

Were one to ask me, “Saw ye my lad wi’ his tartans and philibeg?” I can truthfully say that I saw nearly every Glengarry lad in San Joaquin county at Goodwater Grove in all his bravery at the Caledonia Club’s holiday.

Yours, etc.

Walter Roberts, Stockton, Cal, June 6th 1894

[I think it would be an interesting study to do, on the presence of Glengarrians in California.  I know from my own family tree that two of my great-grandmother’s brothers [Cashion] settled in California, and also another Grant relative whom they went into business with.  What were the connections, how long did they linger? Was there continued communication?  Were there specific waves of movement?  Was it a family migration or just the single men?]

When Should a Man Swear? 1895

The Glengarrian, 20 Sep 1895

When should a man swear?

Man is not only a reasoning but a swearing animal.  Sometimes his feelings are expressed audibly and at others they are so deep down in his nature that nothing less than a volcano would thrust them to the surface.  If man should swear at all, when should that time be? The church is silent on this important matter and the law gives no sanction to cuss words.  Stovepipes are provocative of feeling, but corns are far worse.  Wives should see that their husband’s corns are kept down.  This may be done quite easily, painlessly, and with absolute certainty by Putnam’s Corn Extractor.  Beware of flesh-eating substitutes offered for Putnam’s Corn Extractor.

Battle of Chrysler`s Farm Monument, 1895

The Glengarrian, 27 Sep 1895

The Battle of Chrysler’s Farm

Unveiling of the Monument


The monument was unveiled on Wednesday with most befitting honour and unbounded enthusiasm.  Nearly ten thousand people were present from these United Counties.  Donald McNaughton of Lancaster Village, Warden, occupied the chair of honour, and beside him sat Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Sir James Grant, Hon John Haggart and Hon Mr Dickey, all of whom delivered splendid patriotic speeches.

The distinguished guests arrived from Morrisburg by steam yacht being preceded by a steamboat containing a large number of people, and a Company of Cadets from the High School at Morrisburg. These cadets were composed of the scholars attending the High School, who wore well-fitting dark blue uniforms with white facings, with rifles and bayonets, and were under command of their own officers. Their arrival, and smart soldierlike appearance elicited well merited applause from the crowds of people. It was a fitting tribute to the occasion that these young Canadians could with their ordinary secular education receive instructions in healthy military drill while at school, and the trustees of the High School at Morrisburg deserve no ordinary credit for their patriotic endeavours in this praiseworthy direction.

Nearly one thousand people were there from Cornwall, among whom may be mentioned Dr Bergin, MP, John Bergin, AR McLennan, L Ross, JA McDougall, Wm Mack, ex-MPP, Mayor Mulhern, Dr Hamilton, Dr Graveley, DB Maclennan, QC, JG Snetsinger, ex-MP, D Munroe, and a full contingent of the Sons of Scotland in their picturesque dress, RA Pringle, CH Mattice, W Gibbens, CW Young, Wm Chisholm, Rev Father Corbett, JA Chisholm, while from the county of Glengarry we were proud to see James Rayside, ex-MPP, DD Darragh, GH MacGillivray, Thomas McDonald, Ewan Dingwall, Dr Mowat, Wm Macpherson, Farquhar McLennan, Murdoch McLennan, Donald Fraser, Alex J Grant, ex-MPP, John A Grant, JA McDougall (Capt), James McPherson, JB Snyder, AB McLennan, John J McDonnell of Glen Nevis, in full kilts, and many other loyal men.  The day was one long to be remembered by those who had the good luck to be present. The weather was perfect, and pleasant to travel by road, river or rail.  The Citizen’s Band of Cornwall, furnished fine instrumental music, while the school children of Cornwall and the Glee Club of Morrisburg sang the Canadian National Anthem in such a manner as to arouse the patriotic feelings of the immense gathering to fever heat. The military also proved a most indispensible help to the day’s proceedings by their presence. Col Aylmer, the Assit. Adjutant-General was present from Ottawa, and our local regiment, the 59th was under the command of Lieut-Col Bredin and Major Baker, Captian JA Macdonnell (Greenfield) and Lieuts Nichols and Hearnden of Alexandria, being also present; Lieut Hearnden having the honour of taking charge of the Queen’s colors upon this auspicious occasion.  Space will not allow us to reproduce the patriotic speeches, but next week we hope to give our readers a full report of the interesting and historic words uttered upon the battle field of Chrysler’s Farm by the loyal men who on Wednesday unveiled such a substantial memorial to the noble Canadian and British hearts who fought and died for our Canadian homes in 1812-13.

The Maple Leaf our emblem dear,

The Maple Leaf for ever;

God save our Queen and heaven bless,

The Maple Leaf for ever.

[Note that the monument was moved in 1958 when area was flooded for the St Lawrence Seaway.  It now rests near Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, ON]

Fireworks, Montreal, 1880

Montreal Gazette 23 September 1880 page 2

Canada Day fireworks 2017 (8)The Pyrotechnic Display The display of fireworks on Dominion Square last night excelled in grandeur anything yet seen in Montreal and was witnessed by an immense concourse of spectators. It were bootless to describe at length the beauties of pyrotechnical art which were shewn, their glories, so evanescent are now a thing of the past, and all who saw them can only regret that fireworks even though things of beauty, are not joys forever. The rockets were especially fine, and made grand scents, nor were the set pieces inferior; the whole display, in fact, was one of marked excellence. The music of the band, the moving throng of people and the ever changing aspect of the scene made up a tout ensemble of a most brilliant nature, which will long linger in the memory of those who were fortunate enough to witness it.

Halloween, Montreal, 1869

Montreal Gazette 30 October 1869, page 3


The Grand Annual Festival of the Caledonian Society will be held in the Theatre Royal on Saturday Evening, October 30, 1869.

The Committee have much pleasure in announcing that they have secured the services of the following distinguished talent:

Mrs JW Weston

Of the celebrated Boston Quintette club;

Mrs John F Kedslie (by request) late of Edinburgh (first appearance in Montreal)

Professor Andrews

Mr PN Lamothe

Mr AJ Boucher

Mr Hurst

Mr Nevin

And by the kind permission of Col Lord Russell and Officers , the magnificent Orchestral Band of the P CO Rifle Brigade, under the direction of Mr Miller.

Tickets – Body of Theatre 25c; Family Circle, 50c; Dress Circle 35c; Boxes $4; – may be procured from A McGibson and Riddle & Co, St James Street; W McGibbon, C Alexander & Son, Murray & Co, Notre Dame Street; Allan Bonaventure Street, and at the door on Saturday night.

Angst and the Regeneration, Doctor Who, 2017

Every Doctor Who fan, every few years, undergoes the worry and fear of the regeneration.  It starts with the dreaded announcement – ‘this will be the last season’ for whichever actor is playing the Doctor.  The BBC and the Doctor Who production team then start this crazy game of who will be the next Doctor, the press weighs in and then the betting starts.  It is all a crazy, crazy environment which is used to publicize the show, and well it causes much existential angst amongst the fans.

The merits of the top contenders are weighed, the bets are laid, and the wait ensues.  Ultimately a new choice is made, and there is general discussion about whether the producers were drinking a lot, or if this was the best choice made, and so on.

This has been going on since 1966 when William Hartnell left the show and Innis Lloyd the producer had to replace him.  This was big stuff – Hartnell was the original Doctor, and nowhere was it said that he could change.  It was a risk in just replacing him, but they did, with Patrick Troughton.  He managed it by being completely different.  And so it came to pass that when the actor playing the Doctor decided that it was time to move on (and in the case of one – when someone else decided it was time to move on) the fan was faced with the suspense of the regeneration.  Would the actor be good in the part, were things going to change too much, would it all work?

The first regeneration I remember is when Tom Baker left the series in 1981 and Peter Davison was announced as the new Doctor.  I was a bit surprised.  I knew Davison as “Tristan” in All Creatures Great and Small, and loved him in the part.  How would he work as the Doctor?  Added to which, he seemed awfully young.  Ultimately, I loved his Doctor.

For me, the key to a good regeneration – or rather the key to having the series last when the lead actor leaves – is to make the character of the Doctor different enough so as to lessen comparisons between performers, while keeping the essential elements which the audience understand and recognize.  This is a very tricky balance to keep.  It all depends on the ability of the producers and writers to make sure that the stories provide the actor with the means to portray the Doctor, and please the audience.  It is a rather hard place for an actor to be in, to have to take over such an iconic role, with such weighted expectations, huge history, and devoted fandom.  It takes a deft hand, and a lot of talent to manage this.  For the most part the series has been successful.  Although I have to say, the first season for Capaldi was really a disappointment, so it was a good thing that the actor was so good in the part that he was able to overcome rather lacklustre scripts.

I have now gone through this whole regeneration merry-go-round 8 times, and well, honestly, it is getting silly.  When it was announced that Matt Smith was leaving it became a rather heated debate as to who would replace him.  I think that the added muscle of social media made this particularly noteworthy.  There was the feeling that the role of the Doctor should reflect more of its audience. There was a lot of talk about having the Doctor be less WASP-y, with the casting Idris Elba or David Harewood, both fine actors of colour, and good choices. Then there was the talk of having the Doctor be less manly, and hiring a woman for the part. Neil Gaiman’s great episode “The Doctor’s Wife” had already suggested that Time Lords were not gender fixed.   So why not have the Doctor be a woman?

A lot of people were outraged, the Doctor a woman?  Not happening, it isn’t traditional, it won’t work, etc.  They hired Capaldi, so the point was moot.

And then, during Capaldi’s run they brought back the Master as a woman.  Missy was brilliant, and the chemistry between the Capaldi and Michelle Gomez, who plays her, is captivating. The issue of regeneration then as a woman was answered by the producers – male characters can regenerate into women.  Any restrictions imagined by the fans or others were gone.

So when Capaldi announced that he was leaving, the discussion became more pronounced.  Soon after there was a lot of buzz about Tilda Swinton being offered the role (an interesting idea). But with this seeming openness about gender in casting, the haters came out.  I must say that this brave new world of social media has not only increased conversation, it has created a platform for people to express some not so pleasant views about women in roles of power (and the Doctor is a power role).  There are also a number of people who expressed disdain at the idea of a female lead in a science fiction work.  And then it was announced yesterday that Jodie Whittaker would be the Doctor.  Boom!

I must say people can be disappointing, saying such hateful things, and making such rash judgements.  We haven’t even seen her play the Doctor yet, and people are trashing the choice, making statements that are rather misogynistic and cruel.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a female lead in Doctor Who. And in an interview Whittaker actually had to defend her gender.  Defend it, as if somehow the choice was wrong.  Ridiculous!

Every time the role is recast, there will be changes.  As fans we have to accept that.  The actors we enjoy will not play that role forever.  They are talented people and want to enjoy a variety of parts in their career.  We have to accept that the change is inevitable, and that while we may picture the Doctor in our heads in one way, and this is usually biased towards our first Doctor (you never forget your first) that is not necessarily how others do.  So the Doctor will be played by a woman now – so what?  It is not the gender that is important.

Like other regenerations the proof will be in the pudding.  We have to hope that the producers and writers of Doctor Who come through with solid scripts, that the casting for all the parts is solid, and that the ultimate product – the episodes, are true to the series, its past and its present. Seeing as the show will also have a new Executive Producer (Chris Chibnall), and there will be new companions as well, it will be interesting to see how the whole changeover goes.  I look forward to it!

Jodie Whittaker, screen capture

A Pleasant Farewell, Montreal, 1911

Montreal Standard, 1 July 1911, page 14


A Pleasant Farewell


He said “Good-night,” and he held her hand.

In a hesitating way.

And he hoped that her eyes would understand

What his lips refused to say.


He held her hand, and he murmured low:

“I’m sorry to go like this,

It seems so frigidly cold, you know,

This “mister” of ours, and “Miss”


“I thought perhaps—-“  and he passed the note

If she seemed inclined to frown;

But the light in her eyes his heart stirrings smote.

As she blushingly looked down.


She said no word, but she picked a speck

Of dust  from his coat lapel.

Such a small- such a wee little, tiny fleck.

‘Twas a wonder she saw so well.


And it brought her face so very near,

In that dim, uncertain light.

That the thought, unspoken, was made quite clear.

And I knoe ‘twas a sweet goodnight.


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