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Dec 6 1865
To: Isaac McQuesten 1st Service Company Volunteers Sarnia 6.W.
From: Toronto

My dear Isaac

I have only received your letter now: but [Gen. Nafew?] received a letter from Captain Jarvis setting forth the sufficing of your substitution.1 Dr. Croft also wishes to know if the one he provided, or arranged for, is to take your place; or if you have got one for yourself. Get this done as soon as possible; and then all will be right; and you can return to college, without any fear that within Captain [Croft?] or any of your comrades will look on you as having in any way fallen short of your duty.

I have written to your father, recommending you delaying your return here till after the Xmas holidays. You will then return just as all the rest come back, and resume your room and work without attracting any attention. In haste-

Between us
Most truly yours

Dan Wilson
Isaac McQuesten Esq.

[Address on Envelope]
Mr. Issac McQuesten
1st Service Company
Sarnia 6.W.

1 In this letter, Isaac receives permission to obtain a substitute for his military duty and return to school. It is interesting to note that there might have been some disgrace if this substitution became widely known, and so the cautionary note at the end of "between us"

Isaac Baldwin McQuesten served as 2nd Lieutenant for the Hamilton Field Battery of artillery. In 1866 he served with the Queen's Own Rifles during the Fenian Invasion (Minnes 2).

The Fenian threat from south of the border in the mid 1860s was not trivial. Indeed, this was one of several major factors in the creation of a united Canada in 1867. The Fenians were hardened Irish-American Civil War veterans bent on achieving independence for Ireland. A faction of Fenians made several attempts to seize Canada for use as their home base.
The Fenian threat was taken very seriously in Scarborough. The Scarboro Rifle Company served at the Niagara frontier in defence of the Province in 1866. They usually drilled in Scarboro Village, a mile and a half from the home of Robert McCowan Sn.

The defence of our extensive Canadian frontier depended mainly upon the volunteer militia force of the scattered Provinces, and to their patriotism and gallantry in springing to arms when their services were needed to defend their native land, may be ascribed the glory of frustrating the attempts of the Fenian invaders to establish themselves on Canadian soil. True, there were some British regular troops on duty in Canada in 1866 around which to rally, and they did their duty nobly, but in the operations on the Niagara frontier especially, it was the Canadian volunteers who bore the brunt of battle, and by their devotion to duty, courage and bravery under hostile fire, succeeded in causing the hasty retirement of the Fenian invaders from our shores, and again, as in days of yore, preserved Canada to the Empire, as one of the brightest jewels in the British Crown. (Troublous Times in Canada: A History of the Fenian Raids of 1866 and 1870 by John A. Macdonald, Toronto, May, 1910.).

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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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