By Greg Clark, May 20, 1933
So we telegraphed our correspondent in Niagara Falls and asked him:
“When Niagara Falls’ people get married, where do they go on their honeymoon?”
And he replied:
Which is a slick answer.
But what we were finding out was, where do people go on honeymoons? June brides have all, by this time, made up the minds where they are going for the Big Event. All over the north half of the world, in China and Norway, the Eskimo gals in Baffin Land and the southern belles in N’Yawlins, wherever the sweet scented month of June breathes upon a young and beautiful, the girls are choosing their love trysts. They are selecting their dream places. Privileged, pampered as they never have been before and never will be again, they are planning their love flights.
What places do they choose?
Where are the dream cities of youth?
So we made a methodical search of the Dominion of Canada and by wire, inquired of society editresses, shipping houses, and prominent authorities in all sections of the country to discover in what direction the doves fly in June.
When a Halifax or St. John bride plans her honeymoon, she has Boston in her eye. If they have a car, and what bride would marry a young man without car, they drive through the Annapolis Valley, while the scent and memory of apple blossoms lingers in the air, and down through the New England states to Boston. It is the dream of all Bluenose and Herring Choker brides to see Boston.
The Montreal bride has no such simple choice as the Toronto or Ontario bride. There is no Niagara Falls tradition in Quebec. The Quebec province and Montreal bride has three choices. If she is French-Canadian, she visits Quebec City. Marriage to the French-Canadian girl is even a more religious affair than her funeral. To see the great cathedrals, to sanctify the great event by participating, ever so humbly, in the gorgeous service of some great church is the French-Canadian bride’s notion of a honeymoon.
The English in Quebec prefer in June to take their honeymoon at some sequestered lodge in the Laurentians, or else go to New York. But the English of Quebec are a more sporting people than most Canadians. They like their mountains, their snow, skis, fishing rods, birch bark canoes.
New York city is just a short run from Montreal. And thousands of Montreal couples start their married life, either by motoring or training to New York city, and enshrine their earliest memories of married life amidst the topless towers and pagan splendors of the big, cold, excited, chiselling city.
As for Toronto brides and grooms, hundreds of them motor in June to New York, stopping by the way at delectable resorts in the Adirondacks. Hundreds of others motor to Montreal.
And, of course, there is Niagara Falls.
The epic part Niagara Falls plays and has played in the love story of Ontario goes back a full century.
In an old book, “The Backwoods of Canada,” by Mrs. Traill, published in 1832, 100 years ago, there is a passing reference to the sight of young brides and grooms, all dressed up in their Sunday best, proceeding to Niagara Falls on their honeymoon.
It is not too much to say that the number of honeymooners who have visited Niagara Falls in the past century would reach the millions. And still they go. And from long distances they came.
Our correspondent in Winnipeg made a careful search of a large number of weddings for the past year, and to his own astonishment, he found that Niagara Falls, Victoria and Minneapolis led the field in the choice of those brides who could afford to travel. Winnipeg has few short-haul honeymoon trips, except in summer, and then it is the Lake of the Woods, which is to Winnipeg what Timagami is to Toronto.
“They take tents,” said the Winnipeg correspondent. “and drive in their cars to the wilderness. One well-known Winnipeg couple became stranded in an Icelandic boarding house and had to sleep on the living room floor on hard cured bearskin rug. The girl was gray-haired by morning and the bridegroom wanted to fight all the 30-odd Icelanders in the place, with the womenfolk enjoying the situation enormously.”
But, like Montreal, the Winnipeg brides do not turn their thoughts to effete cities but to the pleasant forest. If honeymoon environment has anything to do with the race, then Ontario may become a race of counter jumpers but good old Montreal and Winnipeg will still give us a nation of warriors who can live happy in tented camps.
The Calgary and Edmonton brides are mountain climbers, whether they will or no. Because Banff and Jasper Park stand right there, a little flight away, looming dimly beyond the foothills, and brides who would go farther than these two celestial mountain paradises are thought to be unnatural.
The Vancouver bride dreams of California. What Now York is to the Toronto, North Bay or Ottawa bride, Los Angeles is to the British Columbia girl. She can drive to California in June, down rosy highways through beautiful country, thousand miles, which after all is no farther than a honeymoon trip by car to Quebec City and the Gaspe coast. And if they cannot afford to go to California, then the Pacific brides have Puget Sound, voyages by ship to Seattle amidst the grandeur of mountainous fjords.
While rich brides of Montreal go to Europe, rich brides of Vancouver go for a honeymoon trip to Japan. A dozen or more make that ocean trip every June.
Wherever they go, it is a dream place, for the nature of a girl is to dream of her marriage as translating her to not only a new and fabulous world, but to a new and fabulous life.
We know of brides who are won by the lover who can talk most eloquently about the places they will go on their honeymoon. And we know of one bride who was won by that method, and when the time came for the honeymoon, the groom was in uniform and was ordered away to the war. And when he came home from the war, they were three years married, and their honeymoon was spent on the front veranda, just sitting and holding hands, and wondering what they would do for a living.
About 50 per cent of all weddings are followed by no honeymoon at all.
“We spent our honeymoon,” said business girl who precariously married a young man whose job might drop from under him any time,” by attending the 9 o’clock show at the Tivoli!”
In the days of whalebone stays and celluloid collars, when the railways were in their glory, the honeymoon was an institution that was for rich and poor alike.
The country couples came to the city for a few days. The city couples went to Niagara Falls or to another city. One week for the poor and two weeks for the rich was the size of a honeymoon.
To-day the motor car has taken all ceremony out of life. And there is a growing suspicion that a great many bridegrooms combine a business trip with their honeymoon. When you read that the young couple have gone on a motor trip to the Gaspe coast, the chances are that there have been a lot of stops along the way, with one of those brief-cases mixed up with the honeymoon baggage.
And as likely as not, the bride, rather than sit alone in the car, has gone along with the salesman. And a bride is as good as a lot of sales talk in most business.
That is what womenkind has paid for emancipation. She has traded her dower right to a honeymoon for the right to help her husband drive the car on a business trip.
Editor’s Note: Jim illustrated this news story. When Greg references the bride and groom who spent their honeymoon three years after being married on the veranda after he returned from war, he is writing about himself and his wife Helen.