W-MCP2-4.033a TO THOMAS B. MACQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Nov 21 1906
To: Thomas Baker McQuesten 22 Grosvenor St. Toronto, Ontario
From: Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
My dearest Tom,
We were expecting Ruby to-night, but had a card saying she could not get ready and hoped to come to-morrow, but not certain. In the meantime, Hilda had written Miss Boyd, I enclose her reply.1 Feel glad, my surmise about the Rosses was not correct, as it would have been too silly and I really did R.[Ruby] an injustice to think of it. If I do not think R. really fit shall not let her return to Ottawa at all. H. says the noise there is really frightful and the stairs, she does not know how R. stood it so long. Of course it has been much worse the last two years, over sixty pupils and the pianos going from morning to night, that is why Mrs. Needham begged to have another wing put on and an elevator too.2
To-day saw Ken Trigge coming out of a cab with a lady, to-night's paper says Mr. & Mrs. Trigge are at the Waldorf, she was very pretty slight and dark, but I thought she was his sister. Have you seen any notice in the paper?2
Your remarks on newspaper correspondence was perfectly correct, I did not take them to myself at all. I am enclosing you another letter which if correct shows how unreasonable the company has been.
To-night's paper says Col. Gibson is ill, I do not wonder, and his sister Mrs. Zealand has died. She was a fine woman; Mrs. Mullin thought a great deal of her.
We had the pleasantest trip up on the boat, it is not crowded just now, but quite a number came up. I suppose you have been having rain too. We have had two days of it, so I am glad to have gone down Monday. You know I took Mary to Dr. Caven, because I was not satisfied about the swelling under her eyes, he says her blood is below par so he gave her a prescription and told her to take plenty of meat and nourishing food.
Wasn't it sad about Blair Bruce? He seems to have attained to great celebrity. The paper says he had no superior and some notices say "no equal in his best marine views," and only 46. It is sad for his old father.3
Edna says, you are to let your wishes for Xmas be known as she is arranging her gifts.
Your Exam fee is $20.00 is it not? Was not quite sure of the figuring. Will send it in good time.
With much love dearie,
Your loving Mother,
1 See W-MCP2-4.033 for Miss Boyd's letter to Hilda about Ruby's health.
Ruby was eventually diagnosed with Consumption (Tuberculosis) and she died in April, 1911. See W6135, W9058, W5622. Ruby was very frail at this time and she is away from her beloved family, the McQuestens, who have been impoverished since the sudden death of their father, Isaac, in 1888 (W2511, W2520). It is Ruby's salary that has been paying for her brother, Tom's university fees so that he might be able to earn a lawyer's salary in order to restore the family's status and prestige. At this time Tom is due to graduate in the spring of 1907 (W5868), and after a few weeks rest, Ruby does return to teaching to finish out the term to June 1907; and she works just long enough to see Tom graduate, and then she becomes increasingly ill until her death in April 1911. See W5758, W-MCP2-4.033a. See also the family biographies.
2 Ken Trigge had proposed to Hilda McQuesten in 1902, and was rejected by Hilda and her mother because of his use of alcohol and because, in his work in travelling sales, he also "tempted" others to drink (W4635).
3 William Blair Bruce (1859-1906). Born in Hamilton on October 10th, 1859, William Blair Bruce was one of this city's finest painters. As a young man, Bruce attended classes in law at the Hamilton Collegiate Institute and then joined his father's enterprise, the Hamilton Writing Institute, and worked there for several years as a mechanical draftsman. His family knew he had talent and wanted him to succeed in his chosen career as an artist. And in the summer of 1881 Bruce set off to study in Europe. Bruce's aim as a student was to exhibit his works, especially in the Paris salon, the Royal Academy in London or the Munich Academy. What Bruce wanted to exhibit was the colour and form "one sees in nature" for him, the only truth. Bruce believed his peculiar gift was the design of outdoor effects. In 1885 he wrote to his father, "How I would like to do honour to our Canada, the noble Dominion, to our ambitious little City, to the family." Following his death at the age of 47, Bruce's family bestowed a substantial collection of his works to the City of Hamilton with the proviso that a permanent gallery be built. His paintings which include "The Long Cloud," "Sunset in Clouds,"
"The Rag Picker," "Moonlight in Canada" and "The Phantom Hunter" are all part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. His paintings which had a significant influence on the establishment of the Art Gallery of Hamilton mark his induction into the Gallery of Distinction as a "Distinguished Hamiltonian."
The McQuesten family was particularly interested in Art and Ruby was an excellent painter especially in water colours. Her paintings are on display at Whitehern.