W-MCP2-4.032 TO THOMAS B. MCQUESTEN from his sister, Ruby
Oct 6 1906
To: 22 Grosvenor St. Toronto, Ontario
From: Ottawa Ladies' College Ottawa, Ontario
My dear old Tim,
It is Saturday morning and your letter has just come. I'm awfully glad to get it though you really would have had a letter from me anyway for all week I've been going to write and just at the last moment Miss Curry cajoled me into a walk yesterday or our letters would have crossed.
I've been both lazy & busy since coming back--have felt lazy until this week but have really been tolerably busy. My Ancient History Class needed some planning & I have a large Greek class, Marion Smith, our friend Willie Smith's little girl and Eleanor Ross. When I've examined my first set of essays & given the girls individually some pointers & it takes time though it pays better than ever so many class lectures1--though of course the other is needed. Then too I've had written exercises from all the classes to see where they stand to stir some of them up a little. So then my time-table is beautifully easy--just think, on Tues. I teach only one dear delightful little half hour both morning and evening or rather afternoon,--my time is filled. But things will be easier now. And we have some of the jolliest nicest girls this year.
I must tell you about a couple of them, Sadie and Elizabeth Campbell from Perth. They are tall slight fine looking girls, very frank and impulsive. You can't help liking them. Miss Gallaher saw the father & mother, the father a great big burly good-natured man and the mother a little sweet faced woman & it seems they had six daughters & one son 'Tom' & one after another, just as each daughter grew up, she went into a decline & there are just these two & the parents are trying what boarding school life will do for them & it seems to be succeeding so far. Well Sadie is a great girl to talk & all the girls anyway like to be encouraged to show their photographs & talk about home-when they're more or less homesick--and certainly Sadie loves to talk about her brother Tom--perhaps I have a specially sympathetic ear for 'Toms'--just the swellest brother Um'!! And her father "Oh, just the finest, swellest, best father!" And so she rattles on & Elizabeth, who is the older delicate one, smiles away at Sadie. Well one night Sadie asked me if I wouldn't like to hear all about her father & proceeded to put me in a rocking chair with a pillow behind my back while she pulled a chair up in front of me and took my feet on her lap. And the story is really like a romance. Her father was once just a very poor boy near Perth,--Then he went out to North Dakota & was just a wood-cutter in toque and moccasins & then a lumberman on the river & he was the first white man & his wife the first white woman. There he was given responsible positions & went ahead & then invested in real estate, and they had the largest farm in the West, 2000 acres. But he only went into farming on a large scale. So I suppose he made his money. Then about eight years ago he came back to Canada,--his idea was to end his days in Canada not in a city but in a town and he wanted an aristocratic town so he chose Perth. Perth is an old long settled aristocratic place. It seems that in Perth is an old beautiful residence of the late Judge Mallock, twice as large as any of the fine large homes in Perth & most beautiful grounds. And when a lad this Tom Campbell their father used to think he would like nothing better than to live in the stable, it was such a fine stone stable. And when he came back again he bought the whole place & had it all done over & went back & brought the family there eight years ago. Then he bought the next largest place & tore down an old house near to give it to give [sic] larger grounds to this second place. Can't you imagine the quiet town of Perth being taken by surprise and the gossips remembering that this man had once been just a poor barefoot so & so. And the fine society turning up its genteel nose. Well I haven't heard the whole tale & I can't tell you half I did hear but I fancy from the little they've since said that they found this first place really far too large for a small family & that they are living in the second place. Sadie said "Now it will be a continued story, you'll come back some night and hear the rest. And that was more than a week ago & yet I haven't been there.
A week ago Sunday I spent at the Cascades with Willie Smith's family--went Sat. & came back Monday--and had long walks & talks with little Willie. He was asking most interested about you--would like to see you again, etc., a very nice little man.
About the birthdays I don't blame you, I've kept them straight since one year when I made Hilda a bag out of some fancy material & then next made Edna a frame out of a remnant from the bag. So I knew Hilda came before Edna & Mama comes first of all. Mama is on the 10th (Wednesday), Hilda 15th (Monday), Edna 23rd (following Tuesday). You're in time my boy.
Well, my dear, I fancy there is nothing exciting since the fire here. And we don't want another. By the way, I had a letter from a Mr. Doherty in China. He and his wife have been out several years & we had him here before he went & Mama likes him so much too. A very fine Irishman from the North of Ireland. We have always kept in touch with him & he's speaking of the difficulty in stirring up Chinese workmen to hasten the building of a Sunday school. He says it reminded him of Kipling's lines from his experience with the Hindoos:
"It is not good for the Xtian's health to hustle the Ayrian brown.
For the Xtian riles & the Ayrian smiles, & he weareth the Xtian down.
For the end of the fight is a tombstone white, With the name of the late deceased.
And an epitaph drear, 'A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East'."
Many thanks for your letter and take good care of yourself.
With much love.
1 Ruby is likely teaching extra classes in Greek, etc. for the extra money, because her salary is needed to put Tom through university, so as to restore the impoverished McQuesten family. See family biographies and W6135, W9058.
In November Ruby decides to go home because of her severe headaches. She does return in January 1907 to finish the term, but is then unable to return. See W-MCP2-4.033, W-MCP2-4.033a