W-MCP2-4.034 TO THOMAS B. MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Nov 12 1906
To: Thomas B. McQuesten 22 Grosvenor St., Toronto, Ontario
My dearest Tom,
I shall be in Guelph Wednesday and Thursday and be fully occupied with Mrs. Taylor to-morrow. Am writing you a few lines to let you know of my safe arrival on Friday night. Nellie James came on the boat, so we walked up together and were home before eight, the streets being quite quiet.
Saturday morning, Hilda heard people talking in the Market, that if when the cars were started by non-union men, the people would patronize them, the men would lose their case. So I felt moved to write a letter to the paper. H. said you would not be pleased with me at all, especially was she annoyed at my own signature, but a great many have told me, they were glad I spoke out, so I do not feel worried about it. Of course, I knew, it would probably do no special good, but I satisfied my conscience. You see there is almost universal sympathy with the men [on strike], for after being kept weeks in arbitration, the company did not comply with the terms1.
Well, we are being treated at intervals to music by the Chimes. Cannot say, that I fancy them a great deal, do not think the pleasure at all worth the money; besides we are too close. Outside the noise is terrible and you can imagine what it is like, when our bell begins and the Church of Ascension also2. This afternoon was at Mrs. Fletcher's at a small Tea for Miss Buchanan and Elsie very kindly had the man drive me home. To-morrow she is going to drive me to station to meet Mrs. Taylor. Ruby writes that Eleanor Ross is ill with pneumonia, but hopes it is not serious3.
On the Steamer was a lady and her daughter, whom I have not seen for years. A niece of old Thos. Carlyle, she is a nice chatty body and it helped to pass the time. We are to worship in Association Hall, while the church is being renovated. Not a great deal is to be done, just the walls. It seems a pity the managers could not have decided when people were away in the summer; the school room will not hold the people at all, last Sabbath morning it was wet and there were 600 people out. With kindest love,
[P.S.] You might as well let us have the latch key, when you are not at home. Did I happen to give you the Hamilton, Prov. Book to carry for me anytime? Cannot find it.
1 Mary wrote to both The Hamilton Spectator and the Hamilton Evening Times in support of the HSR men on strike: The Times caption reads: "A WOMAN'S OPINION: Prominent Lady Writes in Support of the Men."
To the Editor of the Times: Sir,-This morning it is reported that unless the citizens support the employees in this street railway trouble [strike] and refuse to ride in the cars--until their demands are granted--the men will be worsted in the struggle. We who are outsiders cannot be thoroughly acquainted with the working of the street car system, or presume to say just where the fault lies, which has driven the employees to desperation; but we feel quite sure that all our citizens believe that whatever the difficulty may be the men should not suffer.
When we think of all these faithful men endure in all sorts of weather, at all seasons, and at all hours of the day and night, whilst we enjoy the comfort, it makes one's blood boil, to think of them having to fight in this way for their daily bread. No wonder there is no love between employers and employed, when nothing is given graciously, because it is well deserved.
We who are housekeepers, know full well the tremendous increase in cost of living and no matter what the disagreement at headquarters, it is a very great sin to take the services of these men and not sufficiently pay them. To many this walking seems an impossibility, but let every one of us resolve to get up a little sooner and we shall be surprised how far we can walk, and enjoy it too. If we really sympathize with these men and their families let us be willing to deny ourselves and support them. Thanking you very much for your valuable space, Yours sincerely--Mary B. McQuesten. "Whitehern" Saturday.
The HSR strike grew violent before it ended. On November 24, 26, the Spectator headlines reported "Wild Mob Was In Complete Control, Police Were Powerless" "Mob and Military Clash: Disgraceful Saturday Night Scenes On The Main Streets of Hamilton Bring Blush and Shame to Citizens," and on November 30, "All Ordered Back To Work: After long discussion they were crowned with success."
2 On November 13 and 26, 1906, Mary again expressed her disapproval of the bells: "On Saturday morning began the chimes and yesterday they rang away, but really I cannot say I admire them very much. It is too much noise and they are certainly not worth the money" (W5728); "You have had your trials with calves and we have had ones with chimes. They started to ring the quarters also, but people in the vicinity protested against them at night, but they started the hours. The whole thing has been a frightful waste of money. As the cities are now, all noise unnecessary should be avoided" (W5740). And on December 3, 1909, Mary planned to protest: "St Paul's actually got another bell. But it really looks very pretty and quaint, a little Cupola on the S.S. [Sunday School]. I am waiting to get hold of the first St. Paul's man to rate them for their noisiness" (W6557).
3 For Ross family, see W4651.