|This postcard poked fun at the leap-year tradition.|
Happy leap year—and happy leap month!
Have you seen that Amy Adams' flick, Leap Year? It hearkens back to an old tradition and privilege extended to ladies: Every four years, rather than waiting for that shy bachelor you've got your eye on to pop the question, you could do the asking—a special dispensation available only during leap year. (Of course, no need for a leap-year excuse these days!)
In 1888, another leap year, the St. Thomas Daily Times, an Ottawa newspaper, thoughtfully alerted single female readers of the city's most eligible bachelors: The gossipy writer comments (sometimes gushing) on their looks, their prospects, their horses and their dispositions. To whom would you take a shining? The lawyer? The bookshop owner? The guy with "the duck of a mustache"? Do tell!
Henry Borbridge: loves a fine horse and has one, is a keen sportsman, a good looker, an inveterate joker, and the kind of a man the ladies are wont to set their caps for, but Henry seems disposed to trot single through the race of life.
J.D. Baikie: has so long surveyed the feminine form that he is believed to have become hardened to all blandishments. Likes a game of euchre and is a good player. Very desirable catch if he can be induced to enter the meshes of the net.
D. Coughlin: a lawyer, is said to be heart free as yet, affable and genial. Would not allow pet dogs in the house as he is popularly supposed to have an aversion to dogs.
Albert Couse: another lover of a stylish nag, a quiet, easygoing chap, who will be hard to induce to tie with his tongue a knot he cannot untie with his teeth.
Chas. Duncombe, M.D.: was 23 last leap year, and must be near 26 now. He belongs to a couple of societies, has a pleasant practice, and a good bank account, but he has escaped so many fishers of men in the past that he may not be hooked this year.
Andrew Grant: deputy sheriff, helps manage the sheriff's office, has a duck of a mustache, is a slick dresser and has dodged many a cap set for him.
W.R. Jackson: jeweler, is about 24 years of age, genial and polite in his address, and rather slender as to his physical makeup. He is affectionate in his disposition, and the Times does not hesitate to guarantee that he will make an agreeable companion for the young lady who is so fortunate as to gain his hand.
George King: aged about 40, has seen the world and would make a husband for some good-looking girl who is a good listener and could occasionally bear to hear the same story twice, even if a trifle long. He has never been in love, never has the blues, and is just as cheerful the next morning after a wine supper as the man who wasn't there.
Edward Lindop: flour merchant, has matrimonial intentions if he should happen to meet a right party, not too old, would make a good husband.
W.H. Murch: owns a bookstore, has traveled in Germany, France, Switzerland and elsewhere, and enjoys an income that would keep a small family circle in nice style.
Colin McLarty, M.D.: is liable to lose his heart at any time, although it is at present claimed to be bulletproof. Colin is the "some" of jollity and good nature. Mrs. C. McLarty will not be an unfortunate woman.
Fred Swenson: is a shining mark for the designing female. Still hovering about the early thirties, handsome, stylish, of fine figure, good habits and manners, he is a star in society. Fred is simply incredible when togged out in his paraphernalia and has that peculiarly winning way which so unerringly strikes a tender cord in the feminine heart. He has independent means and is the envied possessor of brilliant prospects and should be garnered by some worthy fair one before the year of special grace expires.
J.J. Teetzel: drives a spanking team of pacers, enjoys a good business and is liable to make some fair one happy any day.