Box 14-098 TRANSCRIPT OF REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN'S ADDRESS TO THE HAMILTON PROPERTY & LICENSE COMMITTEE
Nov 18 1946 Monday
Those present were--
Reverend Calvin McQuesten1
Mr. Archie Kapelle--Relief Officer for City of Hamilton
Present for Hamilton Property & License Committee--
Alderman Hannah--Chairman for Committee
The secretary reads the minutes of the meeting of the Property & License Committee which was held on November 7th. (Extract from those minutes as follows--)
Secretary: Reverend Calvin McQuesten was present regarding his statement as to the operation of the Home. The matter was laid over to the next meeting and a sub-committee of the Reverend McQuesten, Reverend Hull and Reverend Zieman to be invited to attend. Alderman Gordon was present and asked the allowance of $3.50 be increased to at least $5.00. He stated that he had mentioned this to the Chairman at least six months ago and would like action. The Committee agreed to recomment that the allowance be $5.00 a month as from November 6th, 1946.
Rev. McQuesten: I would be interested to know who made that motion and seconded it. As a citizen I would be interested in that.
Ald. Hannah: Which motion?
Rev. McQuesten: The motion in regard to increasing the amount to at least $5.00
Ald. Hannah: We don't keep a record of that.
Ald. Anderson: I believe it was Controller Frame.
Ald. Hannah: He moved that.
Ald. Dillon: I seconded it.
Rev. McQuesten: Who moved it?
Ald. Brown: Frame moved it. Dillon seconded it.
Ald. Hannah: I have a letter from the Council of Churches for Hamilton and district. "This is to notify you and your Committee that at the recent meeting of the Council of Churches a sub-committee was appointed to investigate the financial welfare of the old aged pensioners and report to the Council. Pastors Hull and Zieman and McQuesten were appointed to this Committee." "F.C. Miller, Secretary."
At our last meeting we told Reverend Calvin McQuesten we would be very glad to have him appear with his Committee at this meeting. Now, I wonder, if I could ask you, Reverend McQuesten, if the Council of Churches have given you any instructions for tonight.
Rev. McQuesten: No. Except the original instructions to obtain that information, I have no other instructions. I have no other instructions other than that.
Ald. Hannah: In that respect I may say I have been in touch with a member of your Committee; I should say and the President of the Council of Churches and both have told me that they are quite satisfied with the replies they have received from this Committee and that in reply to a statement you had made that you were the sole bargaining agent - -
Rev. McQuesten: I didn't say the 'sole' bargaining agent. I said the 'accredited' bargaining agent. I have a stenotype report of that. I protected myself by having a stenotype report on this. I didn't say 'sole' bargaining agent at all. (Reverend McQuesten looks for place in the stenotype report referring to this) I'll give that to Alderman Brown. Look through there.
Ald. Hannah: What I'm trying to get at is this: You are either here as a representative of the Council of Churches, which I am informed you are not, as they are satisfied with the replies we have given, or you are here as a private citizen
Rev. McQuesten: I am here as the Chairman of the Committee to deal with this matter and I have received no reversal of my intructions. Is that clear?
Ald. Stewart: I might be able to assist in getting to the bottom of this matter. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Reverend McQuesten the other day. I missed the meeting when this came up. There seems to be two things he wished looked into. The council did. One has been disposed of--the question of allowances. The other was the question of clothing. My recollection of the budget for last year of clothing was in the neighbourhood of $2000 and it seemed a bit low. And I would like to ask you tonight if that is the correct estimate and, if so, I would like to ask if the Council of Churches were trying to get the allotment increased in next year's budget. I think if that is done that will answer the two questions.
Mr. Serman: Mr.Chairman, Alderman Stewart, $2050 is the amount for clothing last year. I think that was on the report you sent to the Council of Churches.
Ald. Stewart: It did seem a bit low. I don't know how the old folks are off for clothing, but I do think if we could arrange to have that increased, it would satisfy everybody.
Mr. Serman: I asked for more last year. But I couldn't spend my clothing appropriation a year before and I have been fortunate in spending $1700 of that this year, but there are still $333 and I shall be real fortunate if I can spend that by the end of this year.
Ald. Stewart: You mean they can't get the material?
Mr. Serman: They can't get the material.
Ald. Anderson: I realize this is one of the points that the Reverend gentleman is most concerned with. I wondered also about this matter when it came up, from this point of view, that for instance those people who are more or less bedridden and don't go out of the building, what sort of wardrobe have they?
Mr. Serman: They have a lounging robe and nightshirt and slippers.
Ald. Anderson: So they haven't any other clothing at all?
Mr. Serman: Some of them have their clothes hanging down in the cloakroom, but they can't wear them.
Ald. Anderson: So those that don't go out of the building don't receive anything in the way of other--
Rev. McQuesten: You mean they have to sit around all day in their lounging robe and pyjamas instead of being able to put on their clothes in the house and having the increased morale of being able to dress in their clothes that way. I don't know if any of you gentleman have ever been ill, but I know enough sick people to know that it would be depressing to sit around week after week, month after month in a dressing gown and pyjamas and never have a suit of clothes to put on to make a difference between day and night time. Some of you people may never have been sick in your lives, or have done anything in connection with sick people, but I can assure you that it is very depressing not to have any clothese to change into from their night clothes.
Mr. Serman: There isn't anyone in the Home who hasn't any clothes. I say that definitely. There isn't one person in the Home who hasn't any clothes, but, if a man is to sit up for two hours and be back in bed for three hours, what is the sense of calling a nurse or orderly to dress that man and undress him and dress him just so he can go back to bed in two hours?
Rev. McQuesten: You mean to say that none of these men who get up, who sit around in lounging robes, would be able to put their own clothes on?
Mr. Serman: No, that's the idea.
Ald. Stewart: I think, Mr.Chairman--a suggestion I might have. This obviously is a matter for the next committee. I think you would be satisfied if the matter came up before the new committee.
Rev. McQuesten: I would like to know what clothes are there. I would like to know what happened to the clothes I brought. Mr. Harston said he though he had given 8 or 10 suits and Mr. Dillon thought I had insulted Mr. Harston--something about these suits lasting so long. I would like to know what has become of those suits. I thought it was a curious remark for Mr. Dillon to make that I had insulted his friend Ross Harston. If Mr. Dillon would explain to me just what way I had insulted him.
Ald. Dillon: For your information, through you Mr. Chairman, there was no mention that you had insulted any person outside of the members of this Committee I mean. So far as Mr. Harston is concerned, you know him, I know him, also so do other members of this committee. There was no suggestion that you had insulted him at all.
Rev. McQuesten: There wasn't? Well the other members of the Committee heard you, so I am satisfied to let it go at that.
Ald. Anderson: Mr. Serman, what clothing apparel does - - - to get?
Mr. Serman: Almost anything, Alderman Anderson. For instance, I have been trying to get some suits and I might order one one month and then I will have to wait another couple months before I get it. Personally, I wish somebody would tell me where to get some shirts and suits myself without having to wait for months for them.
Rev. McQuesten: I was able to get two shirts and a suit for Payne and pay for them. If I, a private citizen, can get a suit for Payne and two shirts and some other things and pay for them, I don't see why this Committee can't do it.
Mr. Serman: Mr. Chairman, you might get in touch with the Purchasing Department and ask when I ordered shirts from McGregor, that are not delivered yet.
Rev. McQuesten: I think you had better appoint me as a purchasing agent. I'll get them.
Ald. Hannah: It's very easy to go out once a year and get a pair of pants or a shirt, but you go out and try and get shirts and suits, trousers, underwear or anything for an organization, then you're sunk. I know that in my own organization, we have 55 men and we are trying to get them uniforms and it is simply impossible.
Rev. McQuesten: I would like to know now. Mr. Serman has said something in his letters about taking away Harry Payne's suit. The suit I gave him, was that taken away and given to somebody else?
Mr. Serman: You know that's not taken away. You have been down there and seen him. When you brought the suit down I forced him to go out. Those are exactly the words I said in your letter and you know it.
Rev. McQuesten: They were the words you said in your letter, but they were not the words you said to me. I would like to state to the Committee my version of this. I went there and I found my poor friend Payne sitting around in a dressing gown and pyjamas and I said don't you ever get out, and he said I haven't any clothes. Well, I went and got him clothes then I telephoned Mr. Serman and Mr. Serman said he hadn't been able to get out and I said, 'Now he has got a new suit, don't you think he'd be willing to go out?' Well, I went away on a vacation. When I came back from my holiday I telephoned to Mr. Serman and I said, 'How did you get on with Payne?' And he said, 'Fine. He's been out every day.' He said nothing about using force or anything. He said, 'He's been out every day.' And Mr. Serman seemed pleased and it was only when this question of general investigation arose that doesn't seem to be welcome that there is this talk about using force. Mr. Serman said nothing to me about using force. He just seemed pleased that he had the suit for Payne to wear and Payne had been out everyday with it.
Mr. Serman: I might say when Mr. McQuesten called me I said he was out. But I don't want to tittle and tattle every little thing about the residents of the Home to people that come asking about them. I don't run and tell about their weaknesses. I told him he was out every day after I told him if he didn't get out I'd take him to a home where he'd have to stay up all day long.
Ald. Anderson: Did you make a motion, Alderman?
Ald. Stewart: It was recommended.
Ald. Anderson: I thought that Alderman Stewart had made a motion that the matter of the clothing allowance [sic] to be gone into in preparation for next year's budget.
Ald. Stewart: Should it be done by this committee? It is should be done by this one--.
Ald. Jennings: Wouldn't Mr. Serman make his own budget?
Ald. Anderson: Mr. Serman will I'm sure.
Ald. Hannah: You must remember that this Committee passed a budget last year and all of us sitting around this table are equally guilty.
Contlr. Frame: There is no guilty.
Ald. Hannah: If guilt is to be placed by the reverend gentleman.
Contlr. Frame: You submit your budget to the Board.
Ald. Stewart: Let's put it this way: It should be read this way and if it is inadequate it should be increased and it is up to us to watch it.
Ald. Hannah: Did I understand you to say that you hadn't used your budget?
Mr. Serman: I didn't use my budget in 1945.
Ald. Hannah: What did you do in 1944?
Mr. Serman: I thought we had a little surplus then.
Rev. McQuesten: And he can't get suits and I can go get as many suits as I want.
Ald. Jennings: That's true. You are talking about a retail market as opposed to a wholesale market. A man can go in and quite rightly, say, at Lou Davidson's and expect to get one, but buying suits on a retail basis is a different thing.
Rev. McQuesten: So, if you can't buy them that way, these poor chaps have to sit around all day in their dressing gown and pyjamas.
Ald. Hannah: We're not getting anywhere. How many of those type of residents have we, that have to sit around in pyjamas.
Mr. Serman: Possibly 5 or 6. And in that building some are up and dressed every day.
Ald. Anderson: The only point, Mr. Chairman, in this regard is this: When you look at the budget and consider the number of people that are in the Home it doesn't seem a very large amount is being expended over a year's time for clothing. It only amounts to a little over $10.00 a person and it seems to me that while they don't have the same wear and tear in their clothing as far as people that are on the go all the time, it doesn't seem very large and it may be that we hadn't suffered from these difficulties not being able to get this clothing, it may be next year we will have to consider a larger budget to make up for it. [sic]
Ald. Dillon: You don't expect to buy a suit of clothing for the inmate every year. They may have had something from the previous year or the year before.
Ald. Anderson: My contention is because we haven't spent so much for the last year, we will have to take into account next year.
Ald. Jennings: I quite agree with that, but it would seem to me that Mr. Serman, who knows more about it, can make up his own budget and arrive at the terms he wants to arrive at. I can't see why we should say, 'Mr. Serman, we want you to double your budget for clothing next year.' If he thinks it is necessary, he can come to us and tell us that.
Ald. Stewart: We are not saying it isn't necessary. We are saying it looks inadequate.
Ald. Jenning: That perhaps is very true. Mr. Serman probably knows more about it than we do. Consequently, if he thinks it should be jacked up $20 a year, if he comes to us, he knows he will get the hearing he always has.
Ald. Hannah: You're telling a man who has experience. You don't know anything about running a home for these infirm.
Ald. Stewart: Mr. Chairman, the charges are the inmates are not properly clothed and I say, if not, and we have not been able to spend the money, we should look into it.
Ald. Hannah: We should ask Mr. Serman to look into it. I am content to rest on Mr. Serman's decision. I think his judgement is good.
Rev. McQuesten: Well, I won't carry the matter further, but I would love to go down there and ask each man what clothes he had and whether he was able to go out and so forth and I think I'd find a pretty funny condition of things.
Controller Frame: That is your privelege.
Rev. McQuesten: Is it?
Controller Frame: Certainly. Any citizen.
Rev. McQuesten: I think I'll do it.
Ald. Hannah: Are you through Reverend McQuesten? You have finished?--Your delegation.
Rev. McQuesten: Yes. I'd like to know whether you have finished, because you see why. You let me go and then this motion came in which Alderman Frame and Alderman Dillon swallowed what they said at the previous meeting and raised the clothes amount to the amount given to the old age pensioners from $3.50 to $5.00 after declaring emphatically among yourselves that $3.50 is all they could use.
Ald. Dillon: I won't take that even from you Mr. McQuesten.
Rev. McQuesten: In what respect am I wrong?
Con. Frame: I think you are wrong. When I found out from Mr. Kapelle--when I found we had the power to increase that. This is my first year on the Committee since I came back from serivce and that is one of the things I recitified by a motion.
Rev. McQuesten: The motion came from outside by Alderman Gordon.
Ald. Hannah: No, it didn't come from outside. He's not a member of this Committee.
Rev. McQuesten: Who put the matter before the Committee?
Ald. Anderson: He made the recommendation.
Ald. Hannah: Alderman Gordon has been trying for some months to put that before the Committee and he asked for an invitation to appear here, which is not necessary. Any citizen, any alderman can appear at any meeting of the Committee and be heard.
Rev. McQuesten: And the fact remains that at the previous meeting Alderman Frame, Alderman Dillon and yourself went on record that $3.50 was sufficient and Alderman Gordon comes along with this request for $5.00 and I don't know why you decide that $5.00 won't be superfluous.
Ald. Hannah: We are all trying to get as much as possible for these people.
Rev. McQuesten: Are you? I don't believe it, because when I came here the first meeting you all went on record definitely as--and you wrote--I'll get the clippings from the Spectator. Your letters in which you say that $3.50 is adequate for all essential needs.
Ald. Hannah: And there are people there who are actually saving money.
Rev. McQuesten: Yes, $100.00 for funeral expenses.
Ald. Heddle: May I ask a question or two? You have been a resident of this city for quite a few years--a public spirited citizen, interested in the Home no doubt. When did you become so vitally interested in it? Recently? Or over a number of years?
Rev. McQuesten: No, I was interested--I became personally interested in it when this poor chap Payne went down. He had been a man in quite a good position. In the old country he had gone to a good school. He is what is commonly called a gentleman and during the depression he had to take an orderly's job and then his heart gave out and I applied to the Committee to have him admitted to the home.
Ald. Heddle: That is some years ago.
Rev. McQuesten: Yes, it was back in the days of what they consider the 'golden age' when Mr. And Mrs. Rae, a kindly couple, were in charge.
Ald. Heddle: I would like to ask. Have you seen any improvement in the Home since then?
Rev. McQuesten: I think it is in better condition. But it is this question of clothes that I am coming at.
Ald. Heddle: They seemed to have sufficient clothes at that time?
Rev. McQuesten: So far as I could see they had. Clothes were easy to get. I did get a suit of clothes from Mr. Harston every year and not only suits but shirts and everything. Every year he gave them to me until about two or three ago, until the returned man came along and established a priority [sic]. I couldn't get them. I got one suit from an undertaker's wife. I don't where it came from.
Ald. Heddle: Reverend McQuesten, I think that as far as the people, the pensioners in the Old People's Home are concerned that you will agree with me that when you think that most of the old age pensioners are outside of the Home and must live on $28.00 a month, buy their own clothing and pay for their living, how much better off these people are really.
Rev. McQuesten: I don't know. There is an old chap who was a gardener with us perhaps--I'm sure it was more than 15 years ago he told me he was 80, and I still see him walking around very smartly--smart clothing, feeding and housing himself on his old age pension. I don't think those people down there are better off. He's independent and he always looks smart. He doesn't always recognize me when I see him; he's getting a little shortsighted. He's living on his old age pension and he gets around and he always has a suit of clothes on his back when I see him. I don't know where he gets them. Perhaps he gets them given to him. I don't know.
Mr. Serman: Mr. Chairman, Mr. McQuesten has suggested he come down to the Home and look over the clothing situation. I would like this Committee to take into consideration that there are about 50 people down there in what we call the convalescent ward. A lot of them are hospital patients, not residents of the home at all; patients of the General Hospital. Some of them came down to us in a hospital gown and had never had anything else for two or three years. I have given them clothing out of my supplies so they could get out and walk in the sunshine in the summertime. I would like the Committee to take that into consideration when you get the report, and I think in all fairness to everybody that Mr. McQuesten, when he finds out who hasn't clothes down there should come into the meeting and verify it.
Rev. McQuesten: Certainly, I will. I would like to know another thing. How long are you going to keep Mrs. Ella McKay down there. She went ten weeks without any money and she couldn't eat the food. To me she looks like a skeleton, all skin and bones. Mr. Serman thinks she looks alright, lively as a cricket. And I would like some of the members of the Committee to go down and look at her and I would like to know how long she is going to be kept there. I don't think she should be kept there at all, and I think it is up to this Committee to give her hospitalization.
Mr. Serman: I think Mr. Kapelle could quote that.
Mr. Kapelle: Miss McKay came into my hospital a time ago. She is the livliest sick woman I have ever seen. The difficulty was that the Pension Board turned her cheque over to me and she came in to me and I said 'Mrs. McKay if you can find another place to go I will be very glad to surrender this cheque.' If you get another place from the Home I will, and I sent it over to Dr. Clark and he found a place for her and when she got up there and he had a talk with the woman the woman said she didn't think they would want her and she returned to the Home again.
Rev. McQuesten: I know they wouldn't want her. She's a former T.B. patient and she's coughing all the time and bringing up sputum. What person in a private house would want her?
Mr. Kapelle: There is the situation.
Rev. McQuesten: Isn't it up to this Committee to get her placed in a hospital?
Mr. Kapelle: I've tried everything to get her some place out of the Home. It's not a hospital case and they can't take her in. They have her history at the hospital. She's not a hospital case. She's not ill. She has that affliction in her stomach which delays the food.
Rev. McQuesten: How about this constant coughing?
Mr. Kapelle: It isn't constant coughing. She gets an occasional bit of it.
Rev. McQuesten: No private house would take her in. She can't eat the food down there and I think it is up to--
Mr. Kapelle: She eats the food better down there than she does going up to the hotdog stand.
Rev. McQuesten: There ought to be some place in the hospital here for her and this committee ought to get her into it.
Mr. Kapelle: There are a number of people like her in the City and they are not hospital cases.
Rev. McQuesten: Then it's time we had a different kind of hospital board.
Mr. Kapelle: No it's some kind of an institution you want, not a hospital.
Rev. McQuesten: Then it's up to the Hospital Board to arrange an institution.
Mr. Kapelle: No, the Board only takes care of sick people.
Rev. McQuesten: And she's not sick?
Mr. Serman: Mr. Chairman, I might ask a question. I might be a little out of order in asking it. I think we can all stand for our names to be mentioned, but I think it would be embarassing if any of the names in the Home were mentioned.
Rev. McQuesten: Mrs. McKay would like to have her name mentioned, because she feels she is so sore at the Home. She would like to have her photograph taken with those broomstick legs and have people see how much of a skeleton she is.
Mr. Serman: I think we can judge what kind of a person you are backing up from that kind of statement.
Rev. McQuesten: She's a fighting Irish woman and doesn't believe in letting any institution get her down.
Ald. Hannah: And are we now?
Rev. McQuesten: I'll be glad to go if this is finished, but I don't want to have it brought up again as it was the last time. After I went away I found you granted what I was asking for.
Ald. Hannah: A short review of this case might be helpful to all of us here. The first we heard of it, it was reported in the newspaper and we brought to my attention on the Friday before a Saturday on which we are having a special session here. We felt that your statement was a very important one and we should have you meet with us along with your Committee.
Rev. McQuesten: Just a moment there. It was a report. It was a report of the meeting of the Council of Churches. The meeting had taken place on Monday and the report appeared on Tuesday. Now, you saw it on Friday.
Ald. Hannah: Yes.
Rev. McQuesten: Mm. Mm.
Ald. Hannah: It was brought to my attention on Friday. I was out of the city, as I told you before and Saturday we were here and there were a few short exchanges and it was agreed that your committee--we would hear you at the next meeting of this Committee. In the meantime I have ascertained that the Hamilton Council of Churches did not appreciate the report you gave the Press and, in fact, in an informal way had repudiated it, saying the Council of Churches have never asked the Press in and reported their meeting as you reported it. However, you brought the matter up. They tell me that they asked that a questionnaire be given this Committee and when the questionnaire was received by your Committee the whole matter would be gone into. Instead of that you reported it to the paper. Asked us for the questionnaire. You went the backway and made a big fellow of yourself.
Rev. McQuesten: That's just what I didn't do. I went the front way, not the backway, and put it in the paper, so the people of this city would know how the old people were treated down there. And, so far as the Council of Churches repudiating or disapproving of that report, they may have said that to you, but noone said it to me.
Ald. Hannah: They haven't come with you and you were told to bring the two members of your committee.
Rev. McQuesten: When I asked them, Archie didn't like to come. Dr. Zieman wouldn't come. He said, 'I don't like fighting.' And he read the stenotype report of the last meeting and he said, 'I don't like fighting.' That's his choices. I can't bring them here. You invited the whole Council to come. Have they come?
Ald. Hannah: No, they haven't.
Rev. McQuesten: Well, there you are. They don't want to get mixed up with a dogfight like this.
Ald. Hannah: The Committee by resolution asked your sub-committee, Pastor Hull, Zieman and yourself. As far as I am concerned that ends the argument.
Rev. McQuesten: They didn't come.
Ald. Hannah: You stand in my eyes repudiated.
Rev. McQuesten: How? By whom?
Ald. Hannah: You ask Dr. Zieman or ask Reverend Cannon Samuel, your president. Don't ask me.
Rev. McQuesten: I will. You are making statements that aren't supported.
Ald. Hannah: I'll tell you that on Saturday afternoon Mr. Serman and myself met with the Reverend Cannon Samuel and your secretary, Mr. Miller, and we decided on a course to take on the Home of the Old Age and Infirm and hold religious services there each Sunday. It was a splendid meeting. We want you to take back that opinion as expressed by me, as Chairman of this Committee, that we want to co-operate in every way with the Council of Churches. We always have and always will.
Rev. McQuesten: You made a statement that I had been repudiated by the Council of Churches. I want support for that.
Ald. Hannah: The only thing I can say, if you hadn't been, where are the other members of the Committee?
Rev. McQuesten: They're away because they don't like dogfights. I gave him that stenotype of the last meeting and when he saw that he didn't want to have anything to do with this Committee.
Ald. Hannah: I'm satisfied, and I'm going to stop by saying we appreciate your coming here and anytime you wish to appear before this Committee when I am Chairman you are quite welcome.
Rev. McQuesten: Is this matter going to be resumed after I leave?
Ald. Dillon: What difference does it make?
Ald. Hannah: There's no reason why you shouldn't stay.
Rev. McQuesten: I'm not interested in the rest.
1 Rev. Calvin McQuesten was running for election to alderman and was campaigning for the poor. See also: Box 14-096, Box 14-097