W-MCP3-5.003 TO THOMAS BAKER MCQUESTEN, Esq., L.L.B, from his sister, Ruby
Jul 22 1908
To: c/o Messrs. Masten, Starr & Spence, (Barristers) Canada Life Bldg. Toronto, Ontario
From: Lake Louise Chalet, Lagan, Alberta
My dearest Tom,
It has been a day of great excitement--I'll need that month's sleep which hasn't come yet to recover my equilibrium. Such a perfectly beautiful spot,--you'll certainly have to come here some day. I'm sitting by the window of the Chalet & all I can see is the leaves & the clear green little lake and the steep mountains around, some with narrow little fir trees half way up and the peaks in front covered thick with snow & only bare rock showing here & there.1
Here it is a week from the day I started this. I had such a jolly time that it took me days to settle down. In the morning I climbed up to the Lakes in the Clouds; Lake Mirror and Lake Agnes, beautiful evergreen lakes and in the afternoon I went up Saddleback Mountain on a pony. I told the family about the rest of the day & I'll tell you about our funny ride. I went with two Americans, a man & wife from Chicago. Neither of them had ever ridden before & we had a guide between us. The man was really the ugliest, little, dark, fat specimen I've ever seen for a long time. His specialty was beer & it seems he has been in the liquor business & had evidently made his pile & retired. His wife was much younger & quite handsome & had diamonds in her ears & fingers & toes? However both were very agreeable & gave me a pressing invitation to come & stay for weeks at their home in Chicago.
Well, we all were to ride across saddle & so rented skirts & the guide fixed us into our saddles. The little fat man had great difficulty in getting into his & had to be boosted over. Then we slowly started--first the guide, then the fat lady, then myself & last the little man. My horse didn't care to start at all, neither did the little man's, however at last they started slowly. Up the trail my horse needed frequent refreshment on the herbs and bushes at the side & when I'd look around there was the little man away behind, his horse standing stock still too lazy even to eat, and he looking very uncomfortable. Well, we wound up & up & up--it seemed endless & we gradually came on a level with the tops of the peaks till it made you almost dizzy. At last the little man said he'd go no further--his wife took no notice and on we went--at last he could stand it no longer & called to the guide to help him down. It was just at the end & down we came, pretty stiff & glad to rest. We made snow balls & then the wife sat down by me apart a little from the others. "Do you know what is the matter with him?" she said, "he is afraid--yes he is, he's just really scared, I knew he was before he started but he was always talking about it, & so I thought he'd better do it."
The little man was meantime asking if there was any way of getting back without riding. "Just on your feet" said the guide. So off he started down the mountain to get the start of us. Then he stopped in a little while & waved to us to come on. It seems he had seen "two wild creatures," either wild cats or wolves or coyotes & no more would he go by himself. So the homeward journey commenced, first this little funny figure, with bald head & dark coat & short grey legs, then the guide on his horse, then the riderless horse, then the lady, then myself. My horse didn't eat much on the way down. I encouraged it to do so at every opportunity to give me a rest, it got so tiresome, going down, down, such a long trail & no let up. However at last shortly after five o'clock we crossed the bridge to the chalet & never was I so thankful to get anyplace. The poor little man was utterly spent. His wife gayly proposed a boat ride. I said "no thank you, nothing more for me today," & the little man's smoldering wrath broke forth--"No Madam" he said--"No mistress--no boat ride today not one step will you take." I secretly sympathized with him. I was "beat up" as you say. However a fine hot bath worked wonders & we met again at the dining table, all cheerful again.
We had fine meals & you should have seen our spotless Chinese waiters. We couldn't help watching our fine looking one. At noon he was in pure white serge with Alice blue trimmings, & all except the head waiter had the same. In the evening he had white & mauve & the head waiter was all in mauve. Then the porters & bell boys were Japanese in suits of brown with gold buttons. Oh, it was a most interesting beautiful place.
For the last two mornings I've been out on the hills & to-day I'm going again. It is so fresh & beautiful. The mornings & evenings are positively cold now but it is good for you I expect. You'd enjoy it & I only wish you had it.
With much love, your loving sister.
1 Ruby left her job teaching after the spring term in 1907, and since that time has been recuperating. She was sent to a Sanatorium in Calgary Alberta, and is now having a holiday in Lake Louise. However, Ruby does not recover and is sent again to a Sanatorium in Muskoka and then to a cottage nearer home to die in April 1911 of Consumption (Tuberculosis). See W6135, W9058.
1 The calendar states that the date is 1858 but this is impossible since Rev. Baker's daughter Mary-Anne died in [1849 or 1850], see W2894, W2855, W2864, W2880.