Marriage Legislation

Under section 91(26) of the Constitution Act, 1867, the Parliament of Canada has legislative jurisdiction over marriage and divorce. However, Section 92(12) of the same act gives the provincial and territorial legislatures the power to pass laws regulating the solemnization of marriage. For example, the Ontario Marriage Act stipulates that no marriage may be solemnized in Ontario except under the authority of a license or the publication of banns. It also defines specific requirements concerning waiting periods, parental consents, the attendance of the parties and witnesses, and penalites for false declarations. In the nineteenth century, the Parliament of Canada did not exercise its potentially broad legislative authority over marriage (Canadian family law by Julien Payne. 7th ed. p. 10-11 and p. 23). In the United States, the laws concerning marriage and divorce fall under the jurisdiction of the individual states. For this reason, there were, and still are, differences in requirements from say Michigan and Ohio. For a better understanding of family law during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, please consult the following resources:


Ontario and Canadian Legislation

Ontario Statutes 1875-1876. Marriage Act

Ontario Statutes 1875-1876. Registration Act

Ontario Revised Statutes 1887. Marriage Act

Ontario Revised Statutes 1887. Registration Act

Ontario Revised Statutes 1897. Marriage Act

Ontario Revised Statutes 1897. Registration Act

Ontario Statutes 1913. Marriage Act Amendment


Canada Revised Statutes 1887. Marriage Act

Canada Revised Statutes 1906. Marriage Act


Brief Bibliography

Canadian family  law by Julien Payne. 7th ed. 2017  (UWindsor only)

Courtship, love, and marriage in nineteenth-century English Canada by Peter Ward. 1990 (UWindsor only)

Facts of life: the social construction of vital statistics, Ontario, 1869-1952 by George Neil. 1993 (UWindsor only)

History of matrimonial institutions by George Howard. 3 vols. 1904; vol. 3: United States

Law for the clergy: a compilation by Sanford Hudson.  1877

Law of marriage and divorce by David Stewart.  1887

Michigan law of marriage and divorce by James Powers. 1917

Treatise on the law of husband and wife by James Schouler.  1882


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