The New Order
If World War I shook the very foundations of Canadian romance, its effect on postwar romance was arguably just as great. How could it not be so? An event that altered so dramatically the roles of men and women and that left in its wake so much death and destruction was bound to affect how people perceived and conducted romance thereafter. And if World War I was, in fact, the birthplace of “modern culture” – of a more liberal, secular, rebellious, and experimental mindset – as many historians contend,1 how could it have not affected heterosexual romance as well?
Unfortunately, we know little about postwar Canadian romance. Perhaps it’s because evidence of popular attitudes and behaviour has been (as always) hard to find. The personal columns are not terribly useful either. Not only did fewer people use them after the war, but those who did said less about matters of the heart. The reasons for this are clear enough. With so many leisure activities available after the war, including radio and sports, letter-writing became less the recreational pastime it once was. More important, as Canadians continued to pour into urban areas from the countryside, and as the number of roads and cars grew, and especially as commercial amusements flourished, opportunities for romance multiplied, even in rural areas. As a result, Canadians relied less on the personal columns to find partners. At best, the columns point to trends in postwar romance, as do some of the existing studies of the period. Still, these trends, taken together, suggest nothing less than the emergence of a new romantic order