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Seven Eggs Today

The Diaries of Mary Armstrong, 1859 and 1869

Jackson Webster Armstrong

Publication Year: 2004

Offers an intriguing glimpse into the daily life of an average Toronto woman in the mid-nineteenth century.

Mary Armstrong’s diaries are a window into the daily life of a middle-class woman in a new and changing land, and a revealing account of life in early Toronto just before and after confederation. Her journals are one of very few published by Canadian women, especially women outside the upper classes, in the decades surrounding the mid-nineteenth century.

Mary Armstrong was the wife of a butcher / farmer who lived in what is now the Yorkville and Deer Park area of Toronto from the 1830s to the 1880s. She had immigrated with her parents and siblings from England in 1834. Her diaries, which cover five months in 1859 and eight months in 1869, reflect her multiplicity of interests and concerns including family, women’s work, faith, status and class, occupation and trade, community networks, and local and national identity.

Jackson W. Armstrong’s introduction examines who Mary was, what her world was like, and how she saw her own place in it; it also explains the origin and history of the diaries. His extensive primary research supports the well-annotated diaries, and gives contextual information on the events, people, and places that Mary mentions.

Seven Eggs Today offers new information and a new perspective on mid-Victorian English Canada, and will be welcomed by general readers and scholars interested in colonial life, biography, immigrant experiences, family or local history, or women’s studies.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Life Writing


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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

"Who is going to be interested in reading about the Armstrong family?" rightly asked my mother when this project began. Certainly very few will be drawn to these pages for the sake of our relatively bland family history, but I hope readers will be curious about the engaging glimpse of life in Victorian Toronto that...

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pp. xi-xii

I cannot emphasize enough how important the role of my father, Dr. Andrew Armstrong, has been in editing these diaries. Without his inspiration, interest, and help in the initial stages of transcription, this project would never have begun. My father's genealogical research that preceded and guided my own, and his vast knowledge...

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Editor's Note

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pp. xiii-xiv

In most cases I have chosen to refer to individuals, notably Mary herself, by given name only. Though this is not conventional practice when referring to the author of a text, I have chosen to do so for two reasons. First, my narrative covers Mary's life before and after her...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xv-xvi


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I: A Canadian's Story

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pp. 1-14

Mary Wickson, like so many Canadians, was an immigrant. With her family, she left England for a new land at age fifteen. She probably did not have much choice in the matter; as the head of his household, her father made the final decision to uproot and seek new opportunity and prosperity across the ocean.1 Whether...

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II: A Diarist's World

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pp. 15-78

Mary's diaries, over 25,000 words in length, are exactly the type of document that Barbara Maas was referring to in 1990 when she speculated that many female-related historical sources were probably still lying in private hands, their academic value unknown to their owners. As the private journals of an "ordinary woman," Mary's...

Illustrations and Family Trees

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pp. 79-86

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Diary of Mary Armstrong, 1859

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pp. 87-134

January 1st At home all day, Mr. A2 at Primitive3 tea party, Saml.4 and Thomas5 tea, at John's [,]6 Mrs. C in England,7 Arthur8 making calls, Father and Mother9 at John's-----

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Diary of Mary Armstrong, 1869

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pp. 135-154

January 1st, 1869 Friday New Years Day Thank God we are all in good health and I never was happier in my life than today, sitting down in the kitchen mending socks...

List of Individuals

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pp. 155-160


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pp. 161-198


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pp. 199-210


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pp. 211-229

E-ISBN-13: 9781554580682
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889204409
Print-ISBN-10: 0889204403

Page Count: 244
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Life Writing
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OCLC Number: 244765202
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Seven Eggs Today