Category Archives: Women in Upper Canada

‘A Life of Propriety’ by Katherine M. J. McKenna

Katherine M.J. McKenna A Life of Propriety: Anne Murray Powell and her Family 1755-1849 , Montreal & Kingston, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1994 , 260 p. & notes

Judges’ wives don’t tend to get much of a look-in in the judicial biographies written about their husbands. As you might expect, in such books the emphasis is on the judge and his interactions on the bench and amongst his judicial peers and government officials.  The wife and children- if they are acknowledged at all- tend to cluster off-stage in the folds of the curtains.

Not so in this book, which consciously focuses on Anna Murray Powell, the wife of  Chief Justice William Dummer Powell, of the Kings Bench Upper Canada. It was her husband’s position that gave Anna Powell her own prominence within York (Toronto) society, but I suspect that she would have been the subject of biography in any event.  The Powell family were prolific letter-writers, and more importantly, the letters were saved and now are scattered between archives in Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, New York and Washington.  Anne herself generated about 2,500 pages of letters alone, written over a span of 50 years, most particularly to her brother George Murray in New York.  These are rich letters for the social historian- full of family news and waspish commentary about York society- and they provide a solid basis for a study of Anna Powell and her family in her own right, not just as the wife of the Chief Justice.

Anna Murray Powell was born in Wells, England in 1755 to parents of a middle class background.  She emigrated at the age of 16 with her Aunt Elizabeth, who had herself emigrated to the New World at the age of thirteen and established a thriving millinery business in Boston.  On a trip back ‘home’, Aunt Elizabeth was horrified by the new ideals of middle-class female domesticity becoming popular in England, which did not sit well with her own ideas about female independence and business activity.  She did not have children of her own, and as seemed to be common at the time, ‘adopted’ her nieces and brought them back to Boston to manage her business.  What might have been a good solid business experience for a young man was greeted by Anne and her sister with reluctance and resentment.  She was mortified by working in ‘trade’ and she carried this sensitivity about her pre-marriage working life throughout her life, and indeed it may have contributed directly to the stiff-necked and inflexible ‘propriety’ that she demanded of her family, and all other York inhabitants in her social circle.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I ‘Learning and Living the Lessons of Propriety’ is largely biographical, tracing Anne’s childhood and adolescence, prolific childbearing years (nine births) and her establishment of her status within York society.  The narrative then bifurcates into a gender-based analysis of her family relations.  Part II ‘The Intersections of Male and Female Gender Roles’ examines Anne’s relationship with the men in the family: husband, brothers and sons.  Part III ‘The Transmission of Female Gender Roles’ examines education, marriage and childbirth within women’s lives in Upper Canada, and closes with a fascinating analysis of the lives of her three daughters.  Part IV ‘Conclusion’ deals with her life as widow and elderly matriarch- an aspect of women’s lives that is often dismissed in a few sentences- a life-stage which, as we (I) embark on an increasingly-lengthened old age will probably attract more historical scrutiny than it may have received in the past.

The book draws heavily on Barbara Welter’s 1966 article ‘The Cult of True Womanhood’ (American Quarterly, 18, 1966 p.151-74), a fairly dated article for such a recent book, and a choice that was questioned by several of the reviewers I have read.  McKenna cites Davidoff and Hall’s Family Fortunes, but it is the True Womanhood trope that she returns to most often.

Despite Anne’s strict insistence on ‘propriety’ and her incorporation of it into her own identity, you have to admit that her children were a bit of a disappointment.  The ‘good’ sons tended to die tragically, leaving the family with the duds.  Among her daughters, there was one ‘good’ daughter who trumped her mother in the fertility stakes, popping out ten children in an alarming succession. Another daughter remained the unmarried maiden aunt, a companion to her mother and built-in helpmate to her spawning sister.  The most fascinating chapter was that concerning the ‘unnatural’ daughter, Anne Murray Powell Junior.  It is  a very nineteenth-century take on the difficulties with parenting a wilful and troubled adolescent daughter.  The story of Anne Jnr.’s infatuation with John Beverley Robinson, the future attorney-general, has been told by other historians, but I suspect not with the sensitivity that McKenna brings to the situation.  It all ends tragically, and although the expectations and language of these unyielding 19th ‘pillars of society’ in their treatment of their daughter might not sit well with us today, the experience of parenting, loving, and losing transcends these differences.

Anne Murray Powell’s voice through her letters to her family is strong, censorious and inflexible.  Her letters are laced with a religious sentimentality which does not quite cover the snippiness, complaint and smugness that she expresses in almost the same breath.  Through the richness of the family archive, and through McKenna’s own insightful treatment, you feel as if you have been in the presence of a formidable woman.  I think I prefer her at a distance.

Sourced from : La Trobe University Library

Read because: it’s set in York at a time very close to my own research interest.

 

 

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‘Family Life and Sociability in Upper and Lower Canada 1780-1870’ by Francoise Noel

2003, 384 p.

Family Life and Sociability in Upper and Lower Canada 1780-1870’ by Francoise Noel, 2003

In this case, the book’s title tells you exactly what the book is about- family life, sociability and Upper and Lower Canada.  Because my research interest is Upper Canada, and for such a limited period of time (i.e. 1827-9), I’ve tended to restrict my reading as much as I can to that small canvas. I haven’t really explored Lower Canada (i.e the French-speaking part) at all.  This book, which draws on diaries and letters as its source material, straddles both the Upper/Lower Canada divide. Its focus is  on family and social life, which are  not constrained by political borders  and so I am venturing into new geographical regions in this book!

The diaries she uses are mainly general records of daily activities, including visits received and made, family and community events, daily work and weather.  They are the sort of diaries that often pass off the details under the terse phrase “the usual”.  There’s not a lot of introspection in them, and they focus more on the social than the individual.

For the individual focus, she turns to family correspondence, which became increasingly important in the 19th century as part of the rise of the middle class, heightened in the case of Canada by the waves of migration and distance.  Letters were the key to maintaining family links, exercising patronage and sharing family culture and information.  Again, they were not necessarily personal confidences, as they were often handed around the family.  Although she did not consciously limit the study to any one social group, the nature of the sources resulted in a bias towards writers with more education and the ability to write.  She also draws upon portraits of the period, but this too leans towards those with the wealth to either encourage drawing and sketching within the family, or to commission portraits commercially.

The book is organized in three parts.  Part I, ‘The Couple’ takes a chronological life-stage approach, starting with courtship and engagement, moving to marriage, housekeeping and married life.  Part II ‘Parents and Children’ traces childbirth and infancy, childhood, and parent/child relationships as children approached adulthood and started the cycle again.  In this regard, the book reminded me of Amanda Vickery’s  Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England.   Noel  highlights those aspects which reflect specifically Canadian conditions: the ready availability of land for all children which influenced English hereditary patterns more tailored towards preserving a limited estate for the eldest son;  the shortage of women; the frequent absence of husbands; and distinctions between English advice literature on childrearing appearing in the newspapers and the ‘Republican Motherhood’ ideal being promulgated in the nearby American states.

Part III departs from the focus on the immediate family and moves into ‘Kinship and the Community’.  One of the most striking impressions she noted was the wide extent of social networks over great geographical areas.  As she says:

The social networks that supported individuals and families were composed of [these] overlapping categories of friends, neighbours and kin, and to focus exclusively on any one would make us lose sight of the complexity and extent of these networks. (p. 132)

The degree of socializing is startling- constant coming and going, visiting, staying over for weeks and months. New Year was particularly important- more so than Christmas- and social activity focused on the Jan-Feb winter season.  It is strange to my Antipodean sensibility to think that you would deliberately choose to socialize during the coldest, most snow-bound  time of the year, and that snow made transport easier through sledding across a smooth surface rather than more difficult along unmade roads.  Otherwise, though, social life amongst the elite seems fairly similar to that in Australian colonies – subscription balls, governors balls, picnics, fairs, horse racing, sermons.  But the extended family was central to this sociability, and in this, I suspect, Australia and Canada differed, at least in the early years of Australian free settlement. Siblings might travel out to the Australian  colonies in pairs, or one by one to join their family already here, but networks of cousins, aunts and uncles developed gradually. The injection of single-male travel to Australia through the pastoral industry and later the gold rush deferred the highly complex integrated family pattern found in Canada for some decades.There are extended families In Australia of course, but in comparing 1840s Canada and 1840s Australia, family connections and sociability seem much stronger in the former.

The author is largely content to let the writers speak in their own words, and there is not a great deal of theorizing in this book. I was interested in this book to see how Noel would deal with her informants.  She introduces the main ‘characters’ early in the introductory chapters, especially in establishing their identity as discrete families with their own family trajectory, interspersed generously with portraits then and there (rather than saving up for an insert later in the book).  It surprised me a little that in the closing chapters she seemed to backfill on the Papineau family in particular, who to my reading, seemed very well established earlier in the book.   For other, smaller family groupings, I found myself wondering “Hold on? Have I met this person before?”  A very good index, which not only listed the family, but also life-stage details (e.g. marriage, children) and page numbers, helped to re-establish the family in my mind when I’d forgotten them.  She  also has sources that are particularly useful for one particular theme (e.g. childbirth) but who provide little information in relation to her other themes.  These informants tended to star in one or two sections, but then disappeared from sight entirely.  I found myself wondering what happened to them.

The portrayal of life-story and wider sociability that she stitches together here is so rich that I found myself forgetting that , by her own admission, many of the diaries especially that she dealt with are rather humdrum documents.  Here she has the advantage of being able to range over several sources, picking the eyes from them.  In this regard I envy her-  when you are focussing on an individual you have to content yourself with the documents you actually have (terse, scrappy and incomplete though they may be), rather than the full and densely informative ones you crave.

 

‘Tales of Old Toronto’ by Suzanne Marnie

This is a collection of short stories set in or around Ontario, Canada.  It’s available in many places on the internet as it is no longer in copyright.

They are rather odd, nostalgic, sad little stories.  Most, but not all, of them are written from a woman’s perspective and are domestic in scope.  A couple of them start out in the same way, with a long survey of the room in which they are ostensibly written, and they seem to trail off rather inconclusively at the end.  I mostly was left with a sense of lonely, unfulfilled lives- a bit like Eleanor Rigby set in the backblocks of Upper Canada. They’re not particularly sharp-eyed or insightful.

I can find nothing about Suzanne Marnie on the ‘net, and these strange little tales seem to just dangle in amongst antiquarian works on Upper Canada.  They’re queer, defeated little things.

Reason read: Getting myself in the mood for “Old Toronto” while I was there.

‘A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada: The Journals, Letters and Art of Anna Langton’

Barbara Williams (ed.) A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada: The Journals, Letters and Art of Anne Langton, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2008

Was Anne Langton a proto-blogger? At first glance you’d have to say no: mid 30s (huh!), spinster, she traveled with her parents and aunt to live with her brother on a property in Upper Canada in the mid 1830s.  She began writing a journal to send to the brother who remained in England as the rest of the family sailed away.  She knew that she couldn’t keep up her writing on a long term basis, so she divided the year into quarters, then wrote a daily diary for the first month of each quarter; then the next year the second month of each quarter; the next year the third etc.   In this way, she eventually covered the whole year although it ended up taking her four years.

But she certainly had the blogger’s sensibility of consciously framing everyday events as a potential blog-post:

Did you ever a write a journal with the intention of sending it to anyone?  I think it would be difficult to do with simplicity.  One is tempted to act sometimes with the page in view that has to be written, and a day’s proceedings would be often diverted from their ordinary course by the recollection that they were to be recorded.  It is different in stirring scenes where events are leading you; but in the employments of everyday life, especially when information has to be collected, inferences drawn, and an average estimate to be formed from the narration, journalizing does become difficult.  (Oct 1838)

Anne Langton was born in 1804 into an aristocratic, mercantile family and spent her early years at the family home, Blythe Hall, parts of which dated back to the 12th century.  Between the age of eleven to sixteen she traveled with her family, including her maiden Aunt Alice, on an elongated Grand Tour.  The desire to escape the shame attached to the decline in their family fortunes led to their extended absence, but eventually the family business in Liverpool foundered and they had to sell Blythe Hall.  Anne’s future took a definite turn for the worse: no coming out, and greatly reduced marriage prospects.  Her brother John, unable to make money by tutoring students, emigrated to Upper Canada and in 1837 his parents, Aunt Alice and Anne joined him, leaving behind another brother William, his wife and three small daughters.  John prepared a house for them, close by his own more humble cottage, although it was not completely finished by the time they arrived and it took over a year to paper the walls so that the logs were no longer visible.

The family was just the type of emigrant that Upper Canada wanted: English,  economically self-sufficient, and genteel.  They brought with them their furniture and possessions, and joined an elite circle of friends and settlers.  They engaged in regattas, ploughing matches, church activities and ‘bees’ to help their friends erect buildings but social distinctions were always maintained.  For example, the gentry would dine and dance in the house, while the rest would hold their own celebration in the barn.  The ladies of the house undertook charitable activities, and acted as healers and midwives among the sick and needy of the parish.

The life of the 30-plus spinster living with her family was a very constrained one.  She desperately wanted to see Niagara Falls but her mother would not allow her to; she was berated for walking alone in the woods, and her mother was very nervous about her boating on the river, their main form of communication during the winter months.  She was a talented artist, but mainly painted landscapes or just occasionally portraits of family and friends- never as a form of income.  She established a small school, and started the circulating library.

She has a quick, discerning eye and a Lizzy Bennett-like humour.  She does not seem to have any close female friends or, indeed, love interests, and the journal is silent about her brother’s marriage.  This must surely have caused her some qualms: she had reconciled herself to- even welcomed- the idea of them growing old together, acting as housekeeper in their shared home.

The diary entries are interspersed with letters written not only by her, but also her mother and occasionally the men of the family.  She finally achieved her goal of covering the whole year.  The entries become sparser after a few years, which is perhaps to be expected, but I found myself missing her as she moved off into middle age and relative silence.  The book has a generous, well-written introduction and its conclusion allows you to say your farewells to her.  The introduction in particular is interspersed with Anne’s sketches and portraits.  This is not the first published version of her journals: there were two preceding versions, and Williams has recovered some of the text that had been omitted from the previous publications.

What happened then?  Her mother and aunt died of a form of malaria, and after her mother’s death she returned to England, undecided whether to work as a governess in a friend’s school or not.  As it was, her brother John and his wife Lydia back in Upper Canada asked her to return to help with the children, which she gladly did.  The family moved to Peterboro where John pursued a political career.  She spent her life as a maiden aunt; she traveled with her many nieces and nephews accompanying them on trips, and died at the ripe old age of 88.

‘Roughing it in the Bush’ by Susannah Moodie

When I first started thinking about expanding my thesis to include Upper Canada and British Guiana, I thought that I’d read a bit of Canadian literature to ease myself into it.  I asked around a bit and several people suggested Susanna Moodie and her sister Catharine Parr Traill.  To be honest, I hadn’t heard of either of them.

It’s strange jumping into another country’s history with as little background as I have.  I find myself wondering about parallel books in Australian history and literature- do they exist? have I read them? did I like them?  I expect that Roughing it in the Bush would be categorized as biography/autobiography/emigrant literature.  Emigrant literature was very important to Upper Canada which was consciously trying to attract as many British migrants as possible to bolster the British identity of the colony, which was challenged by the French/Canadians of Lower Canada to the right and the Americans from the south.  Was there such a thing in Australia, I wonder?  I can think of edited books of diaries and letters, but these are not necessarily crafted as literature (hmmm.)  Flipping through Project Gutenberg Australia, there are all those travel books like A Lady’s Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia (never read it) or My Experiences in Australia: Being Recollections of a Visit to the Australian Colonies in 1856-7 (never read this one either) or this sounds good Cooee: Tales of Australian Life by Australian Ladies (and no, I haven’t read that either).   But I’m not really sure whether these qualify as emigrant literature- written specifically for people back home who are considering emigrating, as distinct from merely visiting, to Australia.

For this is what Roughing it in the Bush declares itself to be, right from the outset.  And a rather gloomy prognostication it is, too

In most instances, emigration is a matter of necessity, not of choice; and this is more especially true of the emigration of persons of respectable connections, or of any station or position in the world. Few educated persons, accustomed to the refinements and luxuries of European society, ever willingly relinquish those advantages, and place themselves beyond the protective influence of the wise and revered institutions of their native land, without the pressure of some urgent cause.

Emigration may, indeed, generally be regarded as an act of severe duty, performed at the expense of personal enjoyment, and accompanied by the sacrifice of those local attachments which stamp the scenes amid which our childhood grew, in imperishable characters, upon the heart. Nor is it until adversity has pressed sorely upon the proud and wounded spirit of the well-educated sons and daughters of old but impoverished families, that they gird up the loins of the mind, and arm themselves with fortitude to meet and dare the heart-breaking conflict.

The ordinary motives for the emigration of such persons may be summed up in a few brief words;–the emigrant’s hope of bettering his condition, and of escaping from the vulgar sarcasms too often hurled at the less-wealthy by the purse-proud, common-place people of the world. But there is a higher motive still, which has its origin in that love of independence which springs up spontaneously in the breasts of the highsouled children of a glorious land. They cannot labour in a menial capacity in the country where they were born and educated to command. They can trace no difference between themselves and the more fortunate individuals of a race whose blood warms their veins, and whose name they bear. The want of wealth alone places an impassable barrier between them and the more favoured offspring of the same parent stock; and they go forth to make for themselves a new name and to find another country, to forget the past and to live in the future, to exult in the prospect of their children being free and the land of their adoption great.

Susanna Moodie emigrated to Upper Canada with her husband John in 1832.  In the depression that followed the Napoleonic Wars, and as part of joint Colonial Office/local government encouragement of British immigration,  half-pay military officers were lured to Upper Canada on the promise of land grants.  This she saw as particularly unconscionable

A large majority of the higher class were officers of the army and navy, with their families–a class perfectly unfitted by their previous habits and education for contending with the stern realities of emigrant life. The hand that has long held the sword, and been accustomed to receive implicit obedience from those under its control, is seldom adapted to wield the spade and guide the plough, or try its strength against the stubborn trees of the forest. Nor will such persons submit cheerfully to the saucy familiarity of servants, who, republicans in spirit, think themselves as good as their employers. Too many of these brave and honourable men were easy dupes to the designing land-speculators. Not having counted the cost, but only looked upon the bright side of the picture held up to their admiring gaze, they fell easily into the snares of their artful seducers.

Certainly she and John were inexperienced, but it surprised me that at first they came into contact with several people who had emigrated to New South Wales for a couple of years, returned to England, then come across to Upper Canada.  I am aware of serial migration as a more recent phenomenon (I’m thinking here of Jim Hammerton’s work) but I hadn’t been particularly conscious of it for the 1820s and 1830s.   They were heavily reliant on their servants and in a small cabin they were forced into closer intimacy than they may have wanted.  I’d heard that Upper Canada had been denigrated as a place where gentlemen had to share their table with their servants, and that was certainly the case here.  Just as in Australia, there were complaints that servants were scarce, ‘uppity’ and too ready to seize their own opportunities in a new land.

The early part of the book involved travelling up the river to their destination- there’s that river-consciousness again– and their horror of the cholera that raged in the settlements they passed.  Cholera?!  I obviously labour under a misapprehension about Canadian weather- there’s heat and bushfires here, as well as snow.  I hadn’t been conscious of this same concern about health in early Australia.

Their first block of land certainly didn’t seem to be in what I think of as ‘bush’: they were deluged by their neighbours, mostly Yankees, who were boorish, acquisitive and relentless borrowers.  It was with some relief that they shifted further into the bush, even though there they had to battle with bushfires (a quite exciting chapter!) and isolation.  Her difficulties were compounded by her husband’s absence when political dislocations during the 1837 Rebellion caused half-pay officers to be enlisted for military duty, leaving her to cope with the farm alone with her servants.  There is a degree of familiarity and ease with the surrounding Indians which contrasts strongly with the wariness and repugnance of Australian settlers to the Aborigines whose lands they had appropriated.

Chapters in the book are topped and tailed with poetry- rather awful stuff- and halfway through the book her husband jumps in with his perspective.  The final chapter was odd, too- it was written by her husband, by now a public servant in Belleville,  full of facts and figures about Canadian progress and some interesting (for me) political analysis.  But frankly, I enjoyed her chapters much more.  Her descriptions of landscape are deft, and she conveyed well the heat and the cold, the loneliness and the sense of community at logging bees and their social interaction with their ‘equals’ (as distinct from those Yankees).

I can’t really think of an Australian parallel book to this.  I haven’t read Louisa Ann Meredith’s books My Home in Tasmania, during a residence of nine years or Over the Straits: A Visit to Victoria, which sound similar to this, but these were written in diary form as a stylistic choice.  The book that it reminded me most of, albeit in a different time and read many, many, many decades ago, is Mrs Aeneas Gunn’s We of the Never Never. Both Moodie and Gunn wrote in the first person, with dialogue, description and an emphasis on relationships.

Australian readers- can you think of other early, autobiographical novelistic books that might be similar?

E-reader update

This is the first book that I have read on my E-reader, and this is exactly the sort of text that I bought it for- an old book now in the public domain, which would nestle in the ‘special collections’ library of anywhere I could borrow it from here in Australia.   The reason I purchased an I-River Story was to have a keyboard for notes, and that function worked well enough, although it was clunkier to shift between memo and book than I anticipated.  I found it good for reading in bed- none of that grappling with the left hand page when reading lying on your side, and I certainly felt more relaxed reading it in this format than gingerly turning pages in an old volume.

J. I Little (ed) ‘Love as Strong as Death: Lucy Peel’s Journal in Lower Canada’

Lucy Peel was the wife of a naval officer on extended half-pay leave and in 1833 she and her young husband  Edmund arrived in Sherbrooke, Lower Canada, “attracted to a romantic and utopian dream of creating their own genteel Eden in the wilderness, but they were pragmatic enough to regard a permanent return to England as a possibility” (Little 1999 p.58).  And indeed, this is what happened- some three years later they returned, despondent that their plans had not come to fruition:

Edmund is, after four years hard labour, convinced that nothing is to be done by Farming in Canada; the land here produces too little to pay the labour requisite to cultivate it.

Lucy’s diary  has been published as Love strong as death: Lucy Peel’s Lower Canadian Journal 1833-1836, edited by J. I. Little (2001).    It was written as a “letter diary”, where she recorded the letters that she sent as monthly instalments to her mother and occasionally to her sisters and in-laws.  Her husband Edmund also contributed a few letters as well.  The letters survived as transcriptions in three bound volumes titled “Letters from Canada” and the transcriptions, written (and possibly culled?)  in two different hands, were donated to a university archive by a great-great-grandson. As such, it should be seen as a series of letters rather than a journal as such, and subject to the qualifications about letters discussed and commented on previously by Hels and Yvonne.

I have not been able to locate a copy of Little’s book here in Australia, but Googlebooks has a generous excerpt that includes the introduction and the Canadian Historical Association’s journal has a downloadable version of Little’s article “Gender and Gentility on the Lower Canadian Frontier: Lucy Peel’s journal 1833-36.”

Little cautions us:

While it is necessary to remember that journals such as Lucy Peel’s reflect the experiences and views of a small, privileged sector of society, their authors were nevertheless sharp observers of their social and natural surroundings and they provide valuable insights into the ideology and behaviour of the families who dominated the Canadian colonial socially and politically in the pre-Rebellion era. (2001 p. 2)

My interest is in Upper Canada, and at this stage I am not sure how much the mindset in terms of social expectations within the English community differs between Upper and Lower Canada.  Of course, the French presence in Lower Canada was a major distinguishing feature between the two provinces.  Little notes that English gentry preferred Lower Canada to the more sparsely populated Upper Canada, which was afflicted with cholera and malaria. (In my total ignorance of Upper Canadian climate at this stage, the reference to malaria surprises me.)   Peel, at least in the excerpts and article, does not make much comment on the French at all, but she does describe the English community and expresses some fairly virulent anti-Americanism, and I would expect that similar sentiments would apply in Upper Canada as well.

The excerpts reveal a lively, perceptive letter writer, and their marriage seems to be a loving one.  Little uses Vickery’s book The Gentleman’s Daughter as a thematic touchstone for describing Peel’s writings and identity as a gentlewoman on the frontier : love and duty; fortitude and resignation, prudent economy, elegance, civility and vulgarity, and propriety.

Both she and her husband Edmund are engaging and surprisingly modern writers, and I was touched by Edmund’s description of his wife’s experience of childbirth.  I suspect that many men stumbling out of the labour ward today might say the same thing, perhaps less eloquently (although possibly with fewer commas!) :

I was present all the time to support Lucy and I was much distressed to witness her agonies.  I thought it the proper place for a husband at such a moment, considering it nothing more than false delicacy which would make a man absent himself at a time when his presence and support are most required, it is a fearful thing to see a woman in her pain, I could not have believed it possible they had suffered so much, at times I felt quite distracted, as soon as the child was born I staggered into an adjoining room and cried like a child until I saw Lucy smiling and free from pain, her face last seen was distorted with pain, the impression made on me will not be forgotten (19 Dec 1833 entry by Edmund, cited in Little 1999)

Move over, Lucy- I think I’m a bit in love with him myself!

Sources:

J. I. Little Love “Strong as Death”: Lucy Peel’s Lower Canadian Journal , Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2001. Googleview excerpt

J. I. Little  ‘Gender and Gentility on the Lower Canadian Frontier: Lucy Peel’s Journal 1833-1836.’ Journal of the Canadian Historical Association Vol 10 (new series), 1999