Monday, August 2, 2010

A Consumer Guide to Being Middle Class in 1895. Yes 1895.

A picture of the Nicholsons in 1893


I have this family's household accounts form 1883 (when the couple married) to 1921 when Norman the dad died. I have decided, after many years, to take a closer look. This morning I transcribed the 1895 store list, as it is called on the booklet. Just a couple of years after this photo was taken. They still called Flora (the heroine of Flo in the City, my book in progress) Baby.




The Nicholsons, at that time, were a fairly well off middle class family. I have just finished reading a few chapters of the Edwardians, by Paul Thompson, and, you know, it can get depressing, reading how hard most families had it. Socialism didn't come out of nowhere, you know. Most of the working class, by today's standards were basically a slave class. And what was the reward for a long life of labour for most older folk (if they were UNLUCKY enough to live) the Poor House, worse than Sing Sing.



But here we have the Nicholsons,who were having an easy life in 1895, compared to most. They would stumble upon hard times in the new century and that is what my book in progress: Flo in the City, is about.




In 1895, Norman has yet to build Tighsolas, he will do so the next year 1896, the year Sir Wilfrid Laurier comes to power, for about 2, 800. 00. (He kept all those accounts as well.) Tighsolas is still a nice house in a nice neighbourhood, although I will not show you a picture to protect the privacy of the owners.



So here is the list from June 1895 to November. Christmas is about to come and the list becomes more interesting, with spices and stuff for Christmas cakes, chicken and, yes, a turkey for 1.00.



But I'll do that next installment.


This list pretty well illustrates how a middle class family lived back then. The Mom Margaret gets an allowance, and you don't know how it is spent. But she most likely bought material for the family's dresses, and such things as coats and corsets with it. The only thing she didn't seem to make herself was men's suits, underwear, stuff like that. 5.00 a bushel for flour and the price stayed stable through the Wheat Boom era in 1910. There's no milk on this list. The family kept a cow for a few years, this one included. In other years, milk was a huge expense. Mother Margaret had some help in those days, you can see. And she sent out the washing. Later on, in 1910, this wasn't the case. Edith seems to be getting paid for working around the house, as the oldest girl. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE with poorer families. The older girls had to work for free in the house and for wages OUTSIDE giving the wages to the family. Maybe this is why Edith Nicholson had such a good work ethic.





Ps. I was especially pleased to see an entry Sutherland's soda fountain. In one of my first chapters, I have Flora going to Sutherland, the druggist's, for a soda and I just took a wild (well, educated guess) tha the place had a soda fountain. My mistake, I have her paying 2 cents for a soda, or a cent. Anyway, it's five cents... although maybe that was for the whole family. And from what I read, sodas in those days were filled with active ingredients, cocaine, caffeine.





You can download the entire list June to December in pdf here

One half dozen bananas 10 cents
I hat for Herbert 30
Minister’s stipend 40
Sunday School 03
2 dozen eggs 25
Notepaper for Herb 05
Bridge toll 02
Sutherland soda fountain 20
Church missions 50
Postage 03
1 lb flour 4.75
Children school fees 75
Whitestone for sythe 06
I soda fountain 05
I pair mom’s shoes 2.40
2 dozen eggs 25
I lamp chimney 07
1 lbs black tea 25
Bananas 05
2 bunches of litis (lettuce) 10
Postage 03
MinIster stipend 40
Sunday school 03
Maggie (wife) 5.00
Edith presents for Miss Smith 05
Maggie 2.25
2 dozen eggs 25
2 ¾ lbs steak 30
Postage 06
Ice cream 10
I pair walking shoes M. 1.45
I pair shoes Edith 79
I pair shoes Marion 55
1 pair R. Shoes Herb 40
I pair baby’s shoes 1.00
Mending watch 80
Mending 4 broaches 20
Herbert for Teacher’s present 05
Mending baby’s boots 10
Ticket to S. Return 1.35 (likely Sherbrooke)
Ticket to Duderwell from S 85
Cash Maggie 2.00
4 month’s Witness newspaper 1.00
Postage 06
I Sidelity Power 05
2 ½ pounds lamb chops 25
2 dozen eggs 25
Postage 03
¼ pound peppermints 05
Minister’s Stipend 40
Church Collection 05

July
For Ticket’s to Uncle Tom’s 1.00 (Play?)
1 song book 05
House Rent 30 dollars
Postage 06
11 ½ pounds strawberries 1.00
Bride toll 05
Ice cream and ginger ale 20
Hair dressing 15
4 gallons C. Oil 65 (likely coal oil for lamps.)
Postage 06
Maggie 1.00
Church Collection at Lingwick 15
Shaving at Sherbrooke 10
2 lbs lamb 20
Mending boots 05
1 lbs soda 05
Wreath of flowers 25
I pair b. Stockings 25
Maggie 1.25
Horse hire, Windsor to Lingwick 1.005

Nisos papers
Maggie 1.00
1 lb steak 10
I butter crock 28
Bridge toll 03
I cradle mattress 25
I ½ dozen bananas 10
Minister stipend 25
Minster Stipend 40
Sunday School 02
Postage 03
Two boxes b. Blacking 05
Myrtle for wages 5.00 (either girl helper, baby nurse or laundress)
½ pound green tea 15 cents
August 1
Mending for boots 20
Postage 05
4 lbs lamb 30
Maggie 1.00
2 ½ pounds steak 23
2 lbs sausages 14
2 bunch beets 10
1 lbs flour 5.00
10 lbs buns 35
1 bottle vinegar 05
2 cans salmon 25
1 lbs starch 08
1 pail berries 50
Minister’s stipend 40
Sunday School 03
Communion Collection 10
Postage 06
Postage 03
Maggie 1.00
Shaving 10
5 ½ lbs roast 55
1 bunch beets 05
2 lbs tomatoes 10
10 lbs corn meal 20
10 lbs graham flour 27
Maggie 25
Postage 03
I package fly paper 06
Hair dressing 15
Minister stipend 40
Sunday School 03
Maggie 1.00
Shaving 10
Treat to Labaru 15
1 bunch beets 05
6 lbs beef 60
½ dry corn 08
½ peck apples 08
3 lbs rice 15
3 lemons 05
Maggie 05
Treat to soda fountain 10
Herbert for bananas 05
1 white shirt 45
I pair moccasins 30
I felt hat for Dan 1.50
Minister’s stipend 40
Sunday school 03
Postage 03
Methodist church collection 05
Maggie 2.25
3 ¾ pound salmon 30
Mending boots 05
1 pair of boots Herbert 1.40
I pair boot laces 03
Postage 03
1 lamp chimney 07
3 pounds maple sugar 18
2 pounds steak 20
4 lbs roast beef 30
I bunch of beets 05
I peck apples 25
1 sock salt 20
1 doz eggs 15
Minister’s Stipend 40
Sunday School 04
3 dozen eggs 35
Gordon Nicholson 05
Bridge toll 10
I pail plums 25
½ dozen bananas 10
To Maggie 1.00
Elevator at quebec 10
Maggie hotel and car fare to Quebec 2.50 *for big celebrations at Quebec
Postage 03
Maggie 1.00
5 ½ pounds lamp 55
1 ½ pounds steak 15
½ lb cream of tartar 10
2 bunches clothes line 20
5 lbs molasses 20
1 bottle vinegar 07
1 bake pan 20
2 dozen clothes pins 10
Minister’s stipend 40
Sunday School 02
I package tobacco 10
½ bush oats 25
1 lb starch 08
I box starch 15
Maggie 100
Newspaper 50
Candies 05
Gordon 05
Edith 05
Mending C. Boots 30
I bottle W.S. Syrop 45
1 slate 05
1 spelling book 30
Mending boots 10
Myrtle for wages 7.00
3 ½ lbs salmon 30
1 bottle turpentine and one bottle of wine 50
Postage 03
Candies for mother 05
6 lbs lamb 48
2 2/3 lb lard 48
1 peck apples 25
1 box yeast cakes 05
4 lbs currants 25
3 lbs raisins 25
1 box Christies sodas 25
1 doz eggs 15
1 lb black tea 25
House rent 20.00
Minister’s stipend 40
Sunday Schol 03
Postage 03
14 Reader 50
1 Geography 60
Maggie 1.00
10 lbs corn meal 17
1 lbs graham flour 28
Charitable collection 25
House rent 10.00
Children’s school fees 75
Postage 03
Pencils for holders and postage 09
I package fly paper 08
I paper pins 03
1 book gramer (sic) grammar 25
Chair bottom and nails 20
1 can fluid beef 30
1 ¼ pounds cheese 15
Hair dressing 15
Rattray’s concert 20
3 ¾ lbs steak 38
Bananas grapes and peaches 25
Postage 03
Minister’s stipend 40
Sunday school 03
Edith for work 15
Postage 03
3 purses 09
Maggie 5.10
1 square carpet 12.00
Parcel post 05
3 sandwiches 30
Candies 10
Exhibition gate 50
Supper on grounds 35
Dog show 10
Sandwiches and street car 15
5 ½ pounds lamb 55
1 ¼ pounds steak 13
Herbert for Apples 02
1 umbrella at Dubrules 1.80
Mr. Largir trunks 25
Minister stipends 40
I suit of clothes 16.00
Sunday school 03
W. E. Jones Insurance 50
Postage 03
2 (limmon?) collars 25
Postage 03
1 lbs soda 05
¼ pounds crème tartar
6 months water tax 3.00
Mending m boots 20
Maggie 10
Postage 03
1 scrubbing brush 10
3 ½ pounds beef 17
1 peck apples 20
2 dozen eggs 30
Vegetables from taylor 30
1 sponge 07
½ cups and saucers 40
2 rubber bands 05
Washerwoman 30

Minster stipend 40
Sunday School 03
Bridge toll 05
4 gallons c oil 65
Edith’s pay 30
Mending 2 pair boots 95
1/ doz plates 44
Mrs. Bushey for washing 60
Spices from McCrae 24
10 pounds corn meal 17
Washing quilts and blankets 25
Postage 15
Stove lifters 10
2 pounds sausages 20
4 ½ pounds stewing beef 23
I doz eggs 15
3 pounds rice 15
2 lbs bacon 25
Postage 03
Minister stipend 40
Sunday school 03
Church collection 10
Mending M’s boots 05
I pair boots for baby 1.00
6 lbs rolled oats
Two weeks washing 1 10
Postage 03
1 lb black tea 25
2 suits of underwear 4.80
2 pounds puttie 09
1 package tacks 05
Door hood 03
2 watch chains 1.35
1 gents hat 2.00
6 lbs lamb 60
2 lbs sausages 20
¼ lbs cream of tartar 10
5 lbs mollasess 20
Herbert’s blouse 52
Turnips 05
Minister stipend 40
Sunday school 03
Church collection 05
1 drawing book Edith 10
1 writing copy book for Marion 08
3 tracing ribbons 12
Given to tramp 05
1 lbs frosting sugar 08
1 bottle vanilla 10
Edith marions school fees 50
Postage 06
2 lbs sausages 20
½ bushel potatoes 18
Postage 03
Mrs. Sinclair concert 30
3 lbs beef
1 ¾ lbs pork steak 18
I cabbage 05
Postage 03
Hair dressing 15
Edith for wages 30
Minister stipend 40
Sunday school 03
1 lbs flour 4.60
4 gal. C oil 65 (coal oil likely for lamps)
10 lbs rolled oats 30
Oyster social 25
Postage 06
Yeast cake 02
1 pair boots for marion 90
Postage 03
Oyster social 25
½ loaf bread 10
3 ¾ lbs beef 26
L lbs sausages 10
4 bars soap 25
1 quart oysters 35
Bridge toll 02
Postage 0o3
I peck apples 25
½ loaf bread 08
1 doz eggs 16
10 lbs corn meal 20
Subscription list for Daigle 50
Minster stipend 40
Sunday school 02
2 white shirts 90
1 exercise book 10
1 looking glass 1.24
Postage 09
1 pair men’s rubbers 60
Postage 03
Bridge toll 10
Tea meeting at Kingsbury 506 lbs lamb
1 shoulder ham 8 ½ pounds 85
1 lbs bakind soda
10 lbs graham flour 30
1 peck apples 20
Postage 03
1 lbs starch 10
1 lamp chimney 07
Ministers’s stipend 40
Common Plate 10
Sunday school 03
Bridge toll 10
Grail cake 02
1 cord soft wood Banfield 2.00
½ loaf bread 09
Washing woman 90
Maggie 10
Herbert school fees 25
Edith and marion school fees 50
Door stops and hooks 10

Postage 03
3 lbs beef 20
2 lbs lard 20
2 dozen eggs 36
¼ lbs cream of tarter 10
3 lbs molasses 10