W-MCP2-4.092 TO THE MCQUESTEN FAMILY from their sister/daughter Ruby
Nov 6 1908
To: The McQuesten Family Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
From: 316 Fifteenth Ave., W. Calgary, Alberta
My dearest Mither,
We are having the promised fine weather now and it is beautiful. I decided for a little change to take my lunch and stay out in the hills all the fine part of the day from ten to four. Before and after that time it is cool. So yesterday, forth I sallied, lunch in one pocket & a big bottle of milk in the other pocket of my old friend the raincoat. Under one arm my sketching stool & under the other my board & bag with my paints etc. I followed the river out quite a distance & then climbed a hill out at the golf links. There is a specially fine view there and though in Mr. Ireland's time in Hamilton we were once turned out by an irate farmer, I fancied the golfers wouldn't get up sufficient courage. So I perched on the top of a hill and got out my things and a man in a house below got out his glasses & leveled them at me to see what kind of a thing I was anyway. Artist guys are probably rare out here. So I amused myself sketching & then at noon descended a hill to be out of sight of the three golfers & had my lunch and took surreptitious swigs of my bottle & then came back to my perch. It was a soft hazy, unusually quiet day & I thoroughly enjoyed it though the sketch was a sad looking object. I didn't think this scenery lends itself as Miss Curry would say, to such small things as sketches. However it is fun anyway & I made up my mind to try any kind of things. By two o'clock a wind came up which threatened to blow me & stool & all over the hill, so I quickly picked up my things & went to the foot of the hill where it was sheltered and stayed till after three when I wended my way home.
This morning I went out again & sat by the river. A dust storm came up before I had had my lunch. I retreated & ate my lunch at home. They're horrid these dust storms--you're just giving every bit of you when you get in. However you get used to it.
Tomorrow I'm going to another part of the hills & I think I'll go earlier. The mornings are the lovely time out here. Probably a wind intends to come up every afternoon & I'll go where I get shelter behind some hill.1
There are various interesting things. Yesterday a run-away came tearing down the hills across the river & then stopped [?] & half an hour after the luckless mare came running over the hills after it.
You can hear voices very distinctly on the hills and away off two Englishmen were coming along & one was saying "You never see such skies as this in England–such glorious tints"--I could hear the English distinctly. It was the regular summer sky such as we have, all shades of blue.
By the way, I'm sending my ticket home to get a refund. Harry Whittemore says it is the best thing to do. You see my name is on in full & I know the conductors on the trains coming out examined our tickets very closely and asked me if I was Miss McQuesten. And Harry says they're very particular out here. And I could only sell it to a lady and no one is likely to go now & anyway she'd hardly want to say her name was Miss McQuesten. And the station agent here said I should get the price of the ticket minus $48.50 & so if my ticket was $85 as I think you paid you can get $36 back. It seems to me the only thing to do unless you wished to have it extended. But as I don't think you do I am sending the ticket without waiting for any word from Marion Robinson.2
As to my finances I have paid $5 for my room rent for Nov. so there is still $5 to pay & my meal tickets will last me till the 20th of this month. I had thought my money would have gone further but there have been quite a few odd things this month and then eggs mount up. Ordinary packed eggs are 35c a doz. But I get fresh ones from Mrs. Motter [or Motler] for the same price. And these fresh ones seems so much easier to digest though the others tasted all right. However the difference in price between my old room and this will cover the egg bill. Milk doesn't come to quite so much, so after a time I'll try milk again instead of eggs. But it seemed harder to manage & so I had changed. 3
Did I tell you that for the last few Sundays I had had my dinner here instead of at the Y. It is the same price & we have fried chicken & a fine dinner. The only trouble is it is after two when we get it & I can't decide whether plainer fare & earlier hours is better or not.
I had a globe from Mr. Murray lately. Wasn't that an interesting account of Egypt and the Nile.
Well my dearest Mither, I think that is all. I hope you are having as fine weather as we are.
With much love and love to all.
1 Ruby was a very fine artist and many of her paintings are on view at Whitehern.
2 Ruby's ticket is again mentioned in W-MCP2-4.090. The ticket had to be redeemed when it was decided that she had to remain in treatment at Calgary. This was likely a mistake because she did not fare well in the cold, and she had to be sent to another santorium in Muskoka the next year. She died of Tuberculosis in 1911, see W6135 and see her biographical sketch by clicking on "family" on the Home Page and then on her picture.
3 This gives us some idea of food prices in 1908, and how careful Ruby was with the money that is being sent from home. This also suggests that Ruby is now at least partly getting her own meals.