C aroline Parent wants to become Caroline Lamirande in recognition of the fact she recently wed Karl Lamirande. She could do this easily in every province except Quebec. Under a 1981 civil law reform, in Quebec women are prohibited from changing their maiden names. At that time the change was seen as a progressive step, yet another shaking off of Roman Catholic traditionalism, where the wife was subsumed into her husband’s legal identity.

Now the situation seems to have changed. A survey shows that four out of five Quebec brides to be want to switch to their husband’s name. Creating a family unit was the most common reason given.

It was not always thus. Remember Canada’s youngest Prime Minister, Joe Clark, sometimes called “the chinless wonder.” His wife, Maureen McTeer, stubbornly refused to change her maiden name to his.

Should Jean Charest change the Quebec law that forbids a Quebec woman from adopting her husband’s name? Should the woman have freedom of choice in this matter? Or is changing your maiden name to a man’s name just caving into male patriarchy?

Or should the law remain as is because marriage is not meant to be a vehicle for a woman’s family (name), history and identity to be subsumed by a man’s?

Or is this whole stance sexist? Why don’t men take their wife’s name?



  1. 1
    jim Says:

    To my knowledge a married woman’s legal name has always been her maiden name. A woman who wishes to use her husbands name is a social perogative. When my mother went to a hospital may years ago the name on her bed was her maiden name even though she had used my fathers name for over 50 years. Jim

  2. 2
    Joanne Nicholls Says:

    A woman should be allowed to use whatever name that she wants to use as long as it is her legal name. Once upon a time I thought that if I married, I would take my husband’s name. As time has passed and I have become established–personally and professionally, my opinion has changed. I would find it difficult to give up my name now. I have also noticed this among my friends who have married later.

    If a name change is best for the individual/couple/family then that is what should happen. If not changing a name is what is wanted, then that should be decided by the people involved. Heck, a couple could take on the woman’s name, take a new name completely or make up their own–as long as it is done through the proper legal channels.

    The government should not be telling women what their surnames can or cannot be.

  3. 3


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