Gilliandr's Blog

Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments

Vanity’s Visions – Dancing and Dancing Dresses, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 15 March 1919


Dancing and Dancing Dresses

Because of its very direct bearing on that particular brand of the sartorial world pertaining to evening dress, it is impossible to ignore the varied opinions on the dancing craze that has set in everywhere.  There are some – almost that goes without saying – who are inclined to be severe on the obsession; others passing it over as merely transient social craze; while a third, and by far the larger number are putting forth strong arguments in favour of the modern dances. However the many discussions which dancing has aroused provides the most significant indication of the hold it has got on the social world. The modern girl, together with the modern young man, has a life today filled to the brim with varied interests, of which dancing is merely one of the many cogs in the wheel, and frankly accepted as such, it is difficult to find any sound ground for adverse criticism.


The one and only fly in the ointment, of course, is the arranging of a sufficiently varied evening wardrobe.  For the social world, is really not larger and the same people meet over and over again, and with all the will and desire to be sensible and consistent no girl cares to be seen over and over again presenting precisely the same appearance. And this is just where the clever and resourceful triumph over those incapable of evolving variety.  The idea of a separate underslip has been much developed recently.  The latest thought is one of white or black net embroidered to a considerable depth with a lace design in gold metal thread. Above the waist, only the lace is used, and over the whole there can be worn different dresses of tulle, or Georgette, or even brocade or soft satin.  For it is quite an accepted and charming decree to wear a filmy petticoat effect under tunic draperies of opaque material. A perfectly beautiful creation seen recently was of vellum-toned satin brocaded with a raised design in white, the skirt looped up at the one side and revealing a lining of tangerine satin and at the same time displaying a petticoat of gold lace.


Supremely attractive also are dance dresses almost entirely composed of metal lace, the skirt usually suggesting a deep flounce effect, the lowest flounce considerably narrower than those above.  That we are in for flounces, there is more than one indication.  Designers are kept busy endeavouring to create change and variety in evening gowns, and the very fastidious are obviously veering away from the straight sash type of corsage, while quite a number are frankly weary of the elongated sheath mode; although with the lovely beaded fabrics procurable it is a vogue that should not be permitted to pass lightly.  It is especially effective in moonlight sequin net allied with black charmeuse; also in opalescent sequins supplemented with white tulle.


There is wonderful variety to be found in the evening slippers seen this season.  Every phase of history apparently has contributed inspiration, from the Greek sandal upwards. A sandal effect is today obtained by using two materials and a multiplicity of instep straps, another charming evening shoe being composed of black velvet with vamp of brocade. A pair of gold and black striped shoes are adorned with a dainty butterfly, a delicate golden thing worked with emeralds and topaz. On another pair of silver and black brocade shoes there is a new plaque ornament in sealing wax red, set within a rim of dull silver and surmounted by a little fan-like frill of black tulle. There is no more welcome gift just now than a pair of rare and chaste shoe buckles, and a host of opportunities occur for spending money on the fancy.  Many recent brides have been the recipients of at least one pair of beautiful shoe buckles.

League of Nations cartoon, 1919

Montreal Standard, 2 August 1919, page 17


Quo Vadis?

Historic Plaque at Rasco’s Hotel, Montreal – Missing


In 1985 the St Andrew’s Society of Montreal was celebrating its 150th anniversary.  In honour of its anniversary and to commemorate its history in Old Montreal the society placed a historic plaque on the corner of the building which was Rasco’s Hotel, 281-295 rue St-Paul.

The plaque says this: [English portion]

The St Andrew’s Society of Montreal was founded in February 1835 to give aid to fellow Scots in distress.  The founding and subsequent regular meetings were held in Rasco’s Hotel.  It was in this building that the first St Andrew’s Day celebrations sponsored by the Society took place on November 30, 1835, under the chairmanship of the Society’s first president, the Hon Peter McGill, who later became Mayor of Montreal.

I was wandering around the streets of Old Montreal yesterday and went to my favourite haunts including Hotel Rasco.  And surprise – the plaque had been removed.



As archivist for the St Andrew’s Society of Montreal I was surprised.  You would imagine that the removal of our plaque would have been preceded by a phone call or email.  We are rather easy to find.  No such contact was made.

Questions, questions, questions. 

The most important of all – where is the plaque?  By fortune, luck, whatever, I was able to find it, while searching out other favourite spots.

I went to 443 St Vincent, which is about 3 blocks away from Rasco’s to the site of the Hotel Richelieu, where Sarah Bernhardt stayed in 1880.  And there it was, placed atop the historic plaque which said the hotel was built in 1861, and the part about Sarah Bernhardt.

It looks most peculiar; the plaque has nothing to do with the location, and the events it commemorated took place 26 years prior to its construction. The Society never met there, nor had events there.  It is completely out of place and context.


Who moved the plaque?  Why?  And why there?

Brother Feels Sick! He wants a Candy Cascaret, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 1 March 1919, page 13


“Brother Feels Sick! He Wants a Candy Cascaret”

To Mothers!  You will avoid worry and trouble by giving children Cascarets instead of nasty Castor Oil, Calomel and Pills. Children look upon Cascarets as Candy and never refuse them even when sick, bilious, feverish, constipated.  Besides Cascarets cost only 10 cents a box.

Nothing else works the bile, sour fermentations and poisons from a child’s tender stomach, liver and bowels like good old harmless Cascarets.  They never gripe, never injure, never disappoint the worried mother.  Give Cascarets to children aged one year and upwards.  Directions on each 10 cent box.

Acock’s Green Star v Birchfield Villa, 1882

Birmingham Daily Post 17 January 1882 page 5


Acock’s Green Star v Birchfield Villa – These clubs met on the ground of the former Acock’s Green on Saturday last.  From the kick off the visitors pressed their opponents back to their own goal, and by half-time had scored three goals. After half-time the Birchfield repeated the same performance, and eventually won by six goals to nil.  The Star were penned in from beginning to end, and the score would have been increased but for their good goal-keeping.  The Birchfield goalkeeper only had to stop the ball once.  Teams: Acock’s Green Star: EJ Adams (goal); F Paulin (back); Jenkins, Parsons, and Preston (half-backs); Langley Stephens, Neal, EA Paulin, Playfair and Bradburn (forwards) – Birchfield Villa: Wigley (goal); Lamsdale (back); Green, Keen and Copley (half-backs); Bartlain, Harrison, Woddhall, Mayes, Horton and Morrison (forwards).

Hail Storm Insurance, Norwich et al, 1865

Oxford Chronicle and Reading Gazette, 4 June 1864, page 3


Bonus 1865


Hail Storm Insurance Society

Established 1843

Head Office – St Giles Street, Norwich

Wheat and other Growing Crops Insured at sixpence per acre.

Without limit as to quantity grown.

Glass in Green Houses &c, from 20s per cent

Bonus to Insurers every three years

Immediate payment in case of loss. Parties renewing their insurances this year will participate in the next division, which will take place in 1865.

Agents wanted

Apply to Chas S Gilman, Secretary

Abingdon – Francis King

Banbury – JG Rusher

Bicester – Wm Palmer

Brailes – Josh Godson

Buckingham – FW Baker

Burford – Thomas Streat

Chipping Norton – J Quatermain

Chipping Campden – Herbert King

Evesham – HW Price

Eynsham – John Ham

Henley – F Paulin

Highworth – JC Salmon

Hungerford – Chas Osmond

Moreton-in-the-March – T Perkins

Northampton – Abel and Sons

Reading – Edw Blackwell

Shipston-on-Stour – Henry Sale

Warwick – John Martetts






Presentation to Mr Paulin, Henley-on-Thames, 1871

Oxford Journal 9 September 1871 page 8

Corporation – at a meeting of the Corporation held on Tuesday last, Alderman Jas H Brooks was elected Mayor for the ensuing year, which commences on the 26th inst. At the same meeting was presented by the Mayor on behalf of the Corporation, to Mr Paulin, who has recently held the office of Treasurer, a copy of a resolution passed at a previous meeting, beautifully illuminated in gold and colours, framed and glazed, in recognition of his long services.  It was as follows: “At a meeting of the Corporation of Henley-on-Thames, held in the Council Chamber on the 15th of August 1871, it was resolved unanimously that this meeting desires to express its sense of valuable services Mr Paulin has rendered to this Corporation and to the town at large, by the very careful and assiduous way in which he has discharged the office of Treasurer of this Corporation and of the greater portion of the Charities under their control, for a period of eleven years. The gratuitous performance of those duties has involved great labour, and at times must have occasioned great anxiety.  In expressing their regret that, owing to failing health, Mr Paulin feels himself compelled to relinquish his onerous office, the Corporation venture to hope that he may be long spared to give his valuable assistance to their deliberations.  Wm T Hews, Mayor.”

Photo copyright Kathleen Paulin
Photo copyright Kathleen Paulin

In Defence of our Libraries, 2017


In Defence of our Libraries…..

The recent furore over the renovations of the Trent University has highlighted the severe disconnect between those who use libraries and those who have been charged to administer and fund them.  Trent will be closing its library building for a much needed renovation, for an entire year. This has brought up two main issues: first what are students to do in the meantime, and second, who will the new library function afterwards.

Mixed up within these issues is the fact that the university officials seem to be oblivious as to how students and staff use these facilities.  As was stated by a number of Trent students and staff in interviews with the media since the story broke, the library stacks are an important way in which they access information.  Sure, the library has an electronic catalogue where users can look up the location of specific books, but ultimately it is the shelf where it is located that informs them of the breadth on the topic.

Computer catalogues are useful tools, of that there is no doubt, but they are not designed for browsing.  The programming is not able to replicate the ways in which individuals locate information.

During the renovations the library seems to be offering an “Amazon” type experience, where the student orders a book, and has it delivered to some location on campus, and then they take it back to wherever to read. It has been pointed out by many that this system ignores the fact that libraries are a place to read books, a quiet place to study with easy access to the important sources of information.

While the renovations to the building were no doubt needed, questions have been raised as to the changes being made to it.  It seems that those who planned it are very keen to build a library of the future.  The thing is we live in the present, and perhaps by looking so far forward they ignore how we currently access, process and use information, and the rate that technological change is actually incorporated into our social and professional lives.

I cannot but think of the sales of digital books.  A few years ago all were touting the benefits and future of digital books.  It was said that their popularity would replace the physical book.  And for a while digital sales were booming.  Digital books currently account for 20% of sales [ ]


The Bata Research & Innovation Cluster will be a part of the changes to the library, and was described as “The funding received from the federal and provincial governments, combined with commitments from the library and generous donors, will revolutionize the research and collaborations that take place at the Bata Library as it becomes a third millennium research, innovation, and entrepreneurship hub.” And while I think the centre sounds like a lovely idea, I am wondering why it needs to be in a library?  Why cannot the library be a place for books and study?


Because to accommodate this new “cluster” the library is having to purge 50% of its collection.  The university assures the public that the 50% being eliminated will be carefully chosen, but such a high number of books being lost cannot but mean that some essentials will be lost.   I am sure the librarian are not making their decisions lightly as to what stays and goes, but there is no one who can convince me that a librarian actually embraces the loss of half of their collection.  There was mention of the increase of digital content which would free up spaces in the library, but there are no guarantees that what you have eliminated in paper will miraculously appear in e-books.  Trent President Leo Groake was quoted in the local Peterborough Examiner as saying libraries cannot just be “museums for old paper” (PE, Oct 12, 2016). []  I cannot even imagine what he was thinking when he said that.  Libraries have never just been “museums for old paper,” but living breathing places of study, knowledge and reflection.


I am not trying to pick on Trent University specifically, although I call on them to rethink what they are doing to their library, and how they are handicapping their students by limiting their access to a well-stocked research library.  I will say that this is part of a worrying trend, where people who clearly do not actually use libraries decide to limit or eliminate libraries and their collections.  Books are the window to our world, the past, the present and the future.  Paper books are still the most favoured way to access information, and while I believe that libraries should embrace new technologies, they shouldn’t eliminate the old ones in a bid to appear modern or on-trend.


Please read Neil Gaiman’s words about the importance of libraries here:

Advice on talking to ladies, 19C

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


Do not use a classical quotation in the presence of ladies without apologizing for it, translating it.  Even this should only been done when no other phrase would so aptly express your meaning.  Whether in the presence of ladies or gentlemen, much display of learning is pedantic and out of place.

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