Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Leap Year's Most Eligible Bachelors, Part 2

LONG AGO, A LEAP YEAR TRADITION ENTITLED WOMEN TO PURSUE MEN. While both sexes are on fairly even romantic ground these days, that was not true a century ago. Indeed, women interested in marriage had to protect their reputations, follow social mores and abide their family wishes. Thus, Leap Year opened up opportunities not always available.
In my previous post, I featured highlights from an article that ran in the St. Thomas Daily Times in 1888—another leap year. The gossipy reporter celebrated Ottawa's eligible bachelors, detailing their various attributes—looks, prospects, horses and dispositions—for single women interested in the pursuit.
Just three days later, this intrepid writer reported on the progress of the city's single ladies: "The list is a success," the writer boasts. "Already 'progress' is reported in several cases that have heretofore been considered hopeless, and negotiations are pending which will result in bringing together—till death do them part—two souls with but a single thought, two hearts as one." Then the reporter tells single women not to "despair. . . there are lots more eligible." Check out six of the bachelors from the second list below.

James Brodrick: clothier. Girls, the one who is fortunate enough to get him will get a jewel. He is pleasant and affable, besides being good-looking. Several accomplished young ladies, in this and other cities, who know a good thing when they see it, have laid all sorts of traps, but "Jim" has cleverly evaded them. Too busy with his business.
Sam Bowlby: assistant chief of the Fire department is well qualified to adorn the "eligible." He is a little past 30, stands about five feet ten, and his face is adorned by a heavy mustache. Sam is very popular among a large circle of acquaintances, but heretofore he has been rather too busy to give much attention to female society. Likes to play whist even better than to say his prayers.
George Burns: captain, is a strikingly handsome young gentleman with a military bearing which comes of long training in the ranks of the 25th. He is about 25 years of age, and has a vivacious, genial temperament which makes him very popular among his acquaintances. He is by no means averse to female society, and wouldn't be very difficult to "corral" if the pursuer were a beautiful and attractive young lady.
R.J. Dick: is recognized as one of the nattiest men in the city, dresses in exceedingly good taste, sports a solitaire on his little finger, and enjoys driving behind a fast horse. Like the majority of men of his calling, is fond of the opposite sex, but thus far has escaped Cupid's dart.
J.G. Joiner: is probably one of the most distinguished bachelors in St. Thomas. Though of diminutive stature, he is a Chesterfield in gallantry and toilet. He has long been waiting for a fair mistress and the ladies are all agreed that one ought to have married him long ago. It would be a crime to say that Mr. Joiner is in his forties—his locks of jet, rosy cheeks and languishing brown eyes would resent such an imputation. But John George has been a young man a long time and can't be much longer.
John Whale: artist, carries his 36 years easily, a shining, bright light in society and basks in the smiles of fortune as well as those of eligible young ladies and designing mammas. He has never had his affections centered upon any feminine creations except one from his own brush and is as fancy free as a group of still life.

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