Cask & Barrel




Getting married in the early days of settlement was a great and sometimes difficult undertaking. At first, the performance of a marriage ceremony could only be undertaken by a clergyman of the Church of England or a Justice of the Peace. Most marriages in Ameliasburg were performed by a Mr. Young at Carrying Place. The wedding party would put chairs in a lumber wagon to carry the young people to the ceremony. Normally old people did not attend the actual wedding. The men would sit on the chairs, while the women sat on their laps (supposedly to make room for everyone). Drinking was allowed, but fighting was frowned upon. If a fight broke out, the miscreants were put out of the wagon.

A wedding without a dance afterwards was considered an insipid affair and the old people joined the young in a party that would often go on for two or even three nights! A favourite wedding trick was to take the groom’s wagon apart and reassemble it without the bolts, so that it would fall apart as soon as the couple started off on their wedding journey. Sometimes the wagon would be taken apart and reassembled on the roof.

Another common practice when a marriage was unpopular, was the chivaree. Normally reserved for second marriages, or when there was a great disparity in the ages of the bride and groom, the chivaree was a raucous affair, with a great deal of noise and carousing. Neighbours would gather under the window of the newly-married couple equipped with tin pans, drums, whistles, copper kettles or anything that would make noise. They would then “serenade” the honeymooners. The bridegroom was faced with a choice: furnish or pay for drinks for the entire mob, or listen to them all night. In most cases, the groom would send them off to the local tavern. If the marriage was particularly objectionable, the pranksters might climb up on the roof and stop up the chimney, hoping to smoke the wedding party out, but most of the time the chivaree was a good-natured, if rowdy, affair. This custom of chivaree is still practiced occasionally in the County, but it is becoming more and more uncommon.


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

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