W-MCP3-5.011 TO THOMAS B. MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Mar 31 1904
To: Thomas B. McQuesten 41 Isabella St. Toronto Ontario
From: 'Whitehern," Hamilton, Ontario
My dear dear boy,
This is a very dull day, chilly and damp, not calculated to raise one's spirits so that I scarcely know what I am going to say. Hilda heard from Sydney today that Miss Proudfoot was coming to live with them and would arrive this morning, I think so their house will be full1. Have not heard from Cal this week, think perhaps the storm in North-west delayed the mails, but I miss his letter so much.
On Sabbath I went over to Central Church, to hear Mr. Mackay the young minister of Crescent St. Church, Montreal. He did very well, but I do not care for the present-day style of preaching, it is neither helpful, nor instructive and does not satisfy one, for there is nothing in it to save sinners2. The musical service was so long that it was 12 o'clock before the minister began, and Edna and I were perfectly exhausted and our heads aching with the frightful noise of that organ. I really do not enjoy large churches, the minister is too far away and the service too ornamental3.
Monday went to a 'Tea' at Mrs. Thomson's, Tuesday was dinner at Miss Park's, a very fine one too, and yesterday was at Mrs. Bell's. Charlie and those insolent Gates' are now doing their best to have Herbert sent off to Paris this Spring, so that he cannot be here to be groomsman. You would really think, as his mother says, that he was a deformed hunchback, they speak of him in such a way4. Arthur Trigge has bought a house on Markham St. and they expect to move in May5. Heurner Mullin has gone to Baltimore for three weeks to visit the hospitals. Poor Bella Kerr has gone to New York to try and get a position. Jim's failure has left Mrs. Kerr with nothing6.
Winnie Gartshore is coming on Monday by train leaving Toronto at 1:15 CPR, If you wished you could send some socks or anything you wanted mended. O dear Me! Tomsie, it does seem such a long time since you were home. How glad I shall be when all this uncertainty is over about the wretched exams and you are home once more. Harry Whittemore and Florrie gave up their idea of coming to-morrow, it is as well, for the weather is not promising7.
Be careful and not catch cold, do not leave off your over-coat too soon for the air is cold. It is often warm in the house, and one thinks it warm outside. Edna had not a cold all winter, and now has a miserable one. So hot in church on Sunday and very cold when we came out. Well, dearest boy, must close. With fondest love.
Your loving Mother
1 Likely Miss Sydney Stevenson. She and Jessie Proudfoot had lived with Jessie's father until he died in August 1903. For Stevenson, see W5172. For Proudfoot, see W4759.
2 Likely, Rev. James MacKay (1879-1940) Scotland, McGill University 1902-05, Montreal Presbyterian College 1905-06, Knox College 1906-08, ordained Hamilton 1908, pastor, Chippawa, Montreal, London (BDKC 132-33).
Tom also criticized MacKay's preaching:
He is a sort of a mess. One of the kind of preachers who uses fine language, deals with vague abstractions, says nothing, but mightily impress most of their hearers and all reporters, simply bull-dogging them by what sounds like a superior education. He is eminently suited to fashionable congregation. Will never set the Thames on fire. One of that sort of minister who begin their prayers with a long intricate simile which they have worked over time to invent and then make a bluff to work it off as if it was spontaneous. That will about hold the Rev. MacKay. (W8162, February 17, 1903)
3 Central Church installed an organ in 1875 "the largest in Hamilton," MacNab Church in 1877, and St. Paul's in 1879--a Steer and Turner Organ. The introduction of the organ (and of hymns) was heavily debated in the Presbyterian churches from the 1850's to 1900. The objection was later seen as the "excess of zeal for purity of worship." The organ received several pejoratives such as: "the Kist o' Whustles,"[sic], "a prophanation [sic] of a place of worship." ("Memories of MacNab: 1860-1886," William Smith, letter May 2, 1930), and "the instrument of Satan" (John A. Johnston, "The Organ Question" in Wee Kirks 205-06). Mary also objected to the installation and use of church bells, see W5709. The organ at Central Church was destroyed in the fire of 1906, see W5512. In the new church in 1908 it was replaced by a Casavant organ and was "regarded as one of the most magnificent in Canada" (Wee Kirks 56). For more information on music, see W4535 and footnote for Anna Laidlaw.
4 For Gates family, see W4582. For Herbert Bell and family, see W4531, W4582.
5 For Trigge family, see W4635.
6 Possibly, James F. Kerr, son of Alexander Reid Kerr (1835-1900) merchant in dry goods (DHB2.83).
7 For Whittemore, see W4815.