Marriage Statistics

In Ontario, both marriages by license and marriages by banns were reported by clergymen, through municipal clerks, to the Registrar General. Marriage license issuers also reported their statistics to the same government office. These statistics were then verified and compiled into an annual report of vital statistics. The reports for most years are available on the Internet Archive. By the end of the century, the statistics for marriages were considered to be quite accurate.

After the changes in the Marriage Act of 1875, the marriage rates in the region began to slowly climb. There had often been a certain amount of distortion in the marriage statistics due to international and inter-provincial cross-border marriages. However, by 1888 it became clear that the Windsor and Essex County marriage rates were very anomalous. In Windsor, the marriage rate was 30.0 per 1,000 population, versus 13.0 for the provincial city average. In Essex County, as a whole, the marriage rate was 12.8 per 1,000 population, versus 6.7 for the provincial county average. Over the next 25 years these anomalies continued to grow rapidly and the Windsor region became known as the “Gretna Green” of Canada. Finally, in 1913, the Registration Act was changed. The amendment required a fifteen day residence of one of  the parties in the proposed place of marriage, or a marriage advertisement in the local paper for three successive weeks immediately preceding the application for the license.  Right away, the Windsor and Essex County marriage rates fell more into line with the provincial averages.

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