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April 13, 2021

In 1871, a Quebec Woman Hired a Hearse Just to Ride Around Town Smoking in the Coffin-Bed While Enjoying the View

In the 17th century, mourning etiquette and all its trappings dominated the lives of most women, especially those of socially aware families. Death was an enormous part of everyday life and understandably, many began to tire of their governed mourning and the ever-present lingering cloud of death over their heads.

One such woman in Quebec, Canada chose to ‘mock’ death by renting a hearse and having a damn good time riding through the streets of the city, puffing on a pipe and watching the public go about their business.

A Quebec woman creates a sensation, riding through St. John street in a hearse, reclining on the coffin-bed, and smoking a pipe.

A horse-drawn hearse from the 1870s. (Courtesy the Henry Ford)

Sadly, very little about the woman is known, save for an oft-circulating illustration of the incident. However, the lesser known accompanying article reads as follows:
“What will women do next to distinguish themselves, we wonder! A female in Quebec, the other day, perpetrated a ghastly joke, mocking death in His own domain, by lying down in a hearse and smoking a pipe as the funeral chariot was driven through the street. If this exhibition had been made in the United States, our neighbors at the North would have made it the subject of very strong animadversions.”

(via Burials & Beyond)

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