The CHARIVARI or "SHIVAREE"
a long-gone ritual in Ottawa, Ontario in 1881
Results in Murder
April 14, 2002:
Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa
Wednesday, 7 Dec 1910
Was Shot at Charivari
Tom Brennan attended a charivari and was accidentally shot in the leg.
Served him right. He should have remained at home and not have tried to
annoy a newly wedded pair. The charivari is out of date. People of brains
and decency no longer indulge in such coarse amusement.
I had never heard the term charivari (also pronounced shivaree) until I saw this
article (above). I had to do a little research on the term- usually when a couple
was newly married a bunch of "friends" would gather outside the newlywed's
house late in the evening and make all kinds of racket, banging pots, firing
guns, etc. until they were invited in for some refreshments. Supposedly, one
story has it the honeymoon was "invented" as a way to get away and escape
the rowdy charivari bunch.
I asked my uncle and dad about the charivari as they grew up in the same
area as Tom Brennan below..they kind of laughed..but also told me the
charivari was practiced well into their teens and beyond which would take us
up to possibly 1940s or beyond. And they told me a couple of stories of
their own charivari experiences. So evidently my family and others of Palo
Alto county continued to indulge in such "coarse amusments" for quite a long
Anyone else know of the "charivari" or stories? I don't think it was an
exclusive custom of the Irish- the term is of French origin...
Cathy Joynt Labath
The Irish in Iowa
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The above is reproduced with Cathy's permission.
Many families left Ottawa for Iowa, USA, beginning in the 1850's and you'll find
lots of interesting information at Cathy's site.
May 31, 2011:
A Fatal Charivari in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in 1881
Death of William MERRILL in Nepean Township
Source for the above text is "Murder Most Foul" in Make the Night Hideous: Four English-Canadian Charivaris, 1881-1940,
by Pauline Greenhill, University of Toronto Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4426-4077-1. Read part of it Online here.
May 13, 2014:
Mr. Wyman MacKechnie has written a wonderful book, mostly about the early settlers in Pontiac County, Quebec. It talks a lot
about the pioneer families in Hull and area, those who came with Philemon Wright in 1800.
Chapter 14 gives an account of a charivari in the year 1871 in Pontiac County. Here is the beginning of the chapter ...
Thanks to Mark Cullen for sending a copy of this book to us! See also Mark's page for the Cullen family history in East Templeton.
Susanna Moodie, in her classic Roughing it in the Bush, devotes a chapter to describing several charivaris
which occured in the nineteenth century in Ontario.
October 2, 2015:
Here is a very interesting paper by Stephen Morin whose ancestor was a suspect in a murder
at a charivari in Ottawa in 1881. This pesearch paper is very well written and is an example
of how these things could get out of hand
and lead to, in this case, a murder. Mr. Morin's ancestor was completely cleared of any wrong-doing.
I lived in this neighbourhood in the 1950's and attitudes were the same as they were in 1881.
Read Mr. Morin's paper here.
Stephen's Potvin ancestors were a very early Francophone family in the Ottawa area.
E-mail Al Lewis and Stephen Morin
Back to Bytown or Bust - Migration and Settlement in the Ottawa, Canada, area in the 1800's