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W-MCP6-1.454 TO THOMAS BAKER MCQUESTEN from his friend Dr. Norman Leslie
Jan 13 1915
To:
From: Boulogne Base [France]

My Dear Thomas,

Your much welcome letter or letters (two) received. Blessings on your [brow?]. I enjoyed your letters ever so much and passed an agreeable hour deciphering them. This I did quite easily after [searching] over for the Rosetta stone. You have no idea how it helps 'tho a little weighty in the pocket. Give my congratulations to Southam on his success. He is a benefit to humanity [first?] [growing?] [?] humanity. Tho' failing you with a good dinner was Satanic in its cunning. However he has [offended?] with no more inducements to come back to Hamilton, [and] the pleasure of playing with you. I have an ancient racquet there. If it is any good use it up.

From the Globe I see that Andy McCallum is [hunted?] up in some trouble--alleged negligence. I [make?] it out or is it the great scandal. What is the outcome of that? How did you do in the body public this year? Who got in etc. etc. Any new scandals? I would like to know what goes on. It was bad luck on Jack Laidlaw. He was a merry soul and was a very kind hearted man. I hear his family is very hard up. Everything seems to be sad these days, but probably it is because we are getting down to fundamentals and thinking of the other fellow a little more now than when everything is smooth. There is one thing tho' my lad, and I am certain of this and it is that Canada is the best yet. The degrees of comfort in Canada are so much higher than elsewhere. We have heat, sanitary arrangements in the average house, that are not met with in the average hotel here. The beds are so frequently damp. In the house where we are, there are three stoves; one in the kitchen, one in the sitting room, and one in my room. They are miserable little things and don't give any heat, so ankles are generally cold, but one soon gets used to it, and rather I think it is healthier. We are frequently very hot, too hot, at home. And then the weather. It rains and rains lately the weather is a little better, but at home we would grouse a good deal if we got anything like it. We are all right tho' as we have shelter, but when I see the men come in from the trenches I feel almost guilty we have so much luxury. All this even tho' I know we medicals are absolutely essential. Perhaps we will get our turn some day, but one is not consulted a great deal by the powers that-be, it is a case of being and staying put. Some of us are in the same house, and we have a good time together playing cards now and then & indulging in other forms of amusement.

We take tea and [?] nearly every day, mostly here, but now and then at the main shop of Boulogne. This is quite a large place and there is the strangest mixture of the decent and indecent. There is apparently a very little line of demarcation [of course?]when conduct is perfectly decent or is soliciting. The French apparently [require?] the demi-monde.

There are quite a few Canadian nurses here attached to the various hospitals. As a rule they are of better class and certainly better looking in dress and face. There seems to be a most homely lot here, and their feet [?] & ankles. Having heard what ankles we always look at their feet now. Of course there are exceptions, but rarely. We saw a very [?] pair of feet the other day, and hastened after to see the face, but alas it was a Canadian. As nurses they are good tho', no better than the Canadians bless them.

1

Near our lodging there is a Woman's Hospital run by women doctors. Ridiculous! The women doctors wear the damnedest costumes ever was. It is Khaki, a short skirt, with leggings in [?][?] [?] stockings generally wrinkled, one is quite aware that under the stockings are winter "heavies" also under the skirt and [lace?] bloomers. The skirts which "dip" behind, are short enough to show these in a [?] Also on their head are extraordinary puggaree like hats or veils. I don't know what. They are extraordinarily conspicuous and really hideous. They destroy all [nice?] ideas of women. I am told they are very devoted and kind, but imagine such a costume in a civilized city. And why women doctors when there are lots of men doctors? Surely this is a man's work. A marked contrast are the French women, well dressed, very neat, graceful and intensely feminine. The French nurses dress to the nines and are attractive [severe?] and neat.

Thank you for your cigarettes, 'tho they haven't come yet, but will probably show up in a day or two. [Kate?] Thompson sent me a half pound of Sweet Bouquet [smoking?] tobacco. I was seized with a fierce nostalgia and a great love for the tobacco. Strange, in Canada it is English tobacco, but here it is Canadian. I had some H.B. and liked it, 'tho I haven't taken it for years at home. These things are good here just because they are from home I guess. It was good of her wasn't it. She is a very nice girl. Speaking of her makes me think of Stan [Mills?]. He liked her very much, tho I fear she did not reciprocate as far as he would have liked. [?] got a card from Toronto from him. Is he here do you know? He wasn't doing very well a while ago. Do you know anything of him?

I hope you liked your pipe for Christmas [for?] I thought long and hard of our trips in the [?] present [time?] I used to enjoy them, and next year we will have a grand bust. They are strong in Meerschaums here, some beauties too, but quite impressive 'tho not nearly so much as at home. Perhaps I might get you one of circumstances permit at all. I know damn well you will expect some present even tho' you will put on a self sacrificing strike me in the face [kid?] sort of smile. You perhaps might even write it tho' I doubt it. Your legal training will teach you not to put it in writing.

However it is a little early to talk of coming back yet. There are a lot of bloody months before us yet. The Canadian papers print a lot of bull, but then I get the Times every day and it is not at all sensationalist. But, the Germans are certainly being pressed slowly and hard, and things are going our way in spite of the weather. But they will fight to the finish I think, they have to, and they are [hard?] now. The French official report of atrocities is terrible almost incredible, and I think true. Really the Germans ["at" crossed out] as they are at present, are a menace to the world. Also I think are letters from Canadians to the papers, Pentecost of Toronto is an especial offender. Straight advertising, and full of nonsense. I read an article by [?] and thought it ridiculous, as did the others, tho' very amusing in its sentiment. Being here we know exactly what happens to the Canadians here and that kind of [excessive?] talk only makes us ridiculous in the eyes of the English etc.

Well this long [?] ought to bring [?] a long epistle. Love to your people.

Yours,
Norman V. Leslie


1 Following is a list of some of the letters (in our archive) from Dr. Norman Leslie to his friend Thomas Baker McQuesten about his war service in WWI from 1914 to 1918. The letters begin on the ship going over to England and continue through his service there and as surgeon in France in the trenches, which he describes graphically. For the full chronological list see:
W-MCP6-1.448,
W-MCP6-1.449
W-MCP6-1.452
W-MCP6-1.454
W-MCP6-1.456
W-MCP6-1.457a
W-MCP6-1.457b
W-MCP6-1.458
W-MCP6-1.461
W-MCP6-1.462
W-MCP6-1.465
Box 14-018
Box 14-040
W-MCP6-1.473
W-MCP6-1.474
W-MCP7-1.129 Following is a list of some of the letters (in our archive) from Dr. Norman Leslie to his friend Thomas Baker McQuesten about his war service in WWI from 1914 to 1918. The letters begin on the ship going over to England and continue through his service there and as surgeon in France in the trenches, which he describes graphically. For the full chronological list see:
W-MCP6-1.448,
W-MCP6-1.449
W-MCP6-1.452
W-MCP6-1.454
W-MCP6-1.456
W-MCP6-1.457a
W-MCP6-1.457b
W-MCP6-1.458
W-MCP6-1.461
W-MCP6-1.462
W-MCP6-1.465
Box 14-018
Box 14-040
W-MCP6-1.473
W-MCP6-1.474
W-MCP7-1.129
W-MCP7-1.099 This letter is an indication that McQuesten was arranging for a job for Dr. Norman Leslie at Niagara.




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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
Please direct questions and comments to Mary Anderson, Ph.D.


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