Box 14-097 SPEECH FOR BROADCAST BY REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN
Nov 20 1946
This Wednesday afternoon's message is intended specially for the women of Hamilton.1 It is their right and duty to be informed on conditions in the Poor House at the foot of John Street and to make suggestions, practical suggestions for their improvement. Anybody who has lived with old people and felt any sympathetic interest in them, must know that they often sleep badly and that frequently, if not habitually, the only sleep they get is late in the morning. Yet at the Poor House these poor old people with a long dreary day facing them, because there is so little with which they can occupy themselves, are mercilessly roused from bed at seven o'clock for a half past seven breakfast, and sometimes they are not even allowed to lie down afterwards, because the beds must be kept neat for inspection by visitors.
When they come downstairs the breakfast provided for them consists of porridge, which many of them do not care for, bread and butter, and tea with the milk in it, if they prefer it that way; and there is no toast, although every one who has any interest in old people or any sympathy with them knows how dear tea and toast are to old people; indeed many simply live on it. Could not the City afford a dozen or so electric toasters and fifty or so cheap individual tea pots such as are used in even the cheapest restaurants, and allow these old ladies to come down any time before nine o'clock, or even ten, and then rinse out their own teapots for those coming later?
Of course Mr. Mirman was not expected to provide such accomodation to the vagrants who were his transient guests at 21 Market Street, but, he insists that the establishment over which he now presides is a home and a comfortable one.
Now in order that you may know how the members of Committee on Property and License stand on this matter of the treatment of the poor old people in the Poor House, I would like to bring to your attention some of the things they have said on the subject. Ald. Hannah, the chairman of the Committee, in a letter to Rev. Cannon Samuel, president of the Hamilton Council of Churches, wrote that while the sum of $3.50 a month allowed old age pensioners for personal needs was admittedly not large, it had been found quite sufficient to meet every one of the advisable requests they make. Very impressive language, but one wonders what the advisable requests are that could be met, everyone with $3.50 a month. Of the allowance, Ald. Hannah says further that many of the residents of the Home have friends who meet them 'When their cash arrives and assist them to spend their money the first day, much to the detriment of the patients and the decorum of the institution.'
This is truly a grandiloquent sentence with a noble roll in it. But when it is used to describe three or four old men going off to spend a dollar a piece or less on a festive evening, it makes one smile rather than take a serious view of any possible deliquencies on the part of the humble brothers involved.
Personally I think it much to the detriment of the decorum of the City Hamilton that its citizens should be presented in such a niggardly light by the property and License Committee.
Aldermen Anderson and Stewart on the other hand warmly supported Ald. Gordon's proposal to increase the allowance from the pension allotted to residents of the home, and they also strongly urged and increase in the maount allowed for clothing which Ald. Jennings and Ald. Hannah supported Mr. Sirman in claiming was all that could be spent on account of the shortage of supply. As the speaker found plenty of clothes available in the local stores, he did not feel that the report of this shortage was convincing.
I am sorry that my good friend Connie Connolly is not here is this afternoon. She was born and grew up in Ward 5 and many of you have known her all her life.
She is doing night duty on a case in Westdale. She was to have come to my house on Monday morning to go over her part in this broadcast; instead she telephoned to say that her patient was much worse and she couldn't make it. She sounded all in. When Connie is on a case she gives all she has to it. The chance to go on the air, which would mean a lot to some girls doesn't mean a thing to her; she's a good nurse and with a good nurse the patient comes first and everything else a long way after.
I do not know what she would have said to you, she might have told you of the flowers I take to our patients in spring and summer from my garden, and in autumn and winter from the Gage Park greenhouse, chrysanthemums and orchids. You ought to see those sick girls' eyes shine when they get their first orchid. Or she might have told you of her brother who died there, with whom I used to pray.
My Protestant friends may be surprised to know that there are more Catholics who ask me to pray for them than there are Protestants. I think Catholics believe more in prayer than Protestants do; certainly they have more faith in the power of prayer to heal the sick. We know that from the shrines at Midland and Ste. Anne de Beaupre; It is a marvellous sight that heap of crutches at St. Anne de Beaupre.
For me there is no barrier between Catholic and Protestant. We all believe in the same Heavenly Father who loves us, the same Saviour who died on the Cross to save us, the same Holy Spirit who comes into our heart to cleanse us, to guide us, to cheer us, to strengthen us and to heal us,--where then is there any vital differene between? I feel sure I can look to Catholics and Protestants alike in Ward 5 to help me make a home for the old people at the foot of John Street.
God Bless you all.
1 Rev. Calvin campaigned for election to alderman but was not successful. See also:
Box 14-096, Box 14-097