Changing My Name

Birth Certificate 2 When I was married there really wasn’t much option for women in Ontario about changing their name to adopt their husband’s name.  While it was certainly not law it was “expected”  and apparently has been the practice for about 200 years in the English speaking world.

While some believe it is an honour to carry a husband’s name I personally believe it is more a badge of ownership and allowed men to treat women as their possessions rather than equals.

In my life, while I happily took my husband’s name, I also kept my maiden name as part of it because of my professional life as a writer.  I wanted people to know who was writing an article if it managed to have a “by line” on it.  Giving up my maiden name was also difficult because I was the last Guiler in our line.  I was the only child of an only son, of an only son and that meant if I gave up my family name it would be no more.  Proud of my heritage, I could not bring myself to do it.

Having my husband’s name was somewhat of a convenience when it came to having children in the school system.  It was certainly much easier to identify parents to children, considering they carried their father’s name.   And so I kept the name for all these years, using the hyphenated version, without much thought.

After the death of my father in 2011 I started to think I needed to change my name back to my maiden name and last year went to inquire of a lawyer about how to make that happen. With about $300 on the table and lots of good intention the process was begun and I filled out forms and mailed off my birth certificate (original required) to the Province of Ontario.

Several months later I received a letter I didn’t understand which stated that I didn’t need to change my name because it had never been changed in the first place.  I was confused and took it to the lawyer.

My lawyer, a busy man, took a long time to get back to me but finally a secretary with some savvy figured out what the message meant and called me back.  She explained that in Ontario when a woman marries she “adopts” her husbands name but her birth name is still hers to use unless it is formally changed.  In short my name had never been changed, I was just borrowing my husband’s name.

The secretary at the lawyers office was as perplexed as I was about why I had payed to have my name changed, when in fact, my name hadn’t been changed at all so made a case for a refund which I received forthwith.

Two problems remained.  One was that all my identification carries the name Delahunt.  The other is that I was unable to change my name back to Guiler on said ID because my original birth certificate had been mailed to the Province where, after looking it over, they had summarily disposed of it.  So then I began a rather tedious process of restoring the document with a new one.  Bless their hearts, they saw fit to wave the $25 fee and today at long last, after almost 18 months of messing about with it, I finally have my birth certificate and can go to change my drivers licence and my health card back to Guiler.

I do believe this process will have to wait until after next Monday’s federal election though or I will have trouble casting my vote.

And yes Peggy and Margaret are the same person but that’s a whole other blog.

Some history about name changes in Wikipedia.


About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises (, I work as an "Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and as a spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 22 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. A firmly grounded faith and a passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director and I am soon adding to that a license to marry people. As I move toward retirement I am very aware that I have to keep working so I chose to do things which will meet my modest financial needs and also my love of supporting people in their life journey. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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One Response to Changing My Name

  1. Congratulations on your success so far and I’m sure the rest will come in due course. You are right in stating having a family name where both parents and the children have the same last name is very handy. However, I see more women going back to their maiden name with a divorce and I can understand that. I don’t know how you can keep your own unique identity and still have a common family name though. Life is complicated some times.

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