W3713 TO REV THOMAS BAKER from grandson John P. Baker
Sep 13 1882
To: Rev. Thomas Baker
From: 312 Thames Dr. London Ontario
Rev Thomas Baker
My Dear grandpa
Yours containing post office order for thirty dollars was duly received, for which you will please accept our thanks. Through it also we received the first intimation of Aunt Mary's sad bereavement. So soon after the loss of Poor Grandma, for which we were al perhaps somewhat prepared, this was a very painful surprise. And I speak for each one of us here in saying, that yourself, together with Aunt Mary & family, have our heartfelt sympathy.
I should have answered earlier, but have been waiting from day to day, in order to be enabled to complete information, which I am compelled to trouble you with concerning Willie. I am obliged to inform you that he has been away from Tackaberry's for some time.Though I had every now & again heard complaints of his slowness & undersize with which I did not consider it necessary, or advisable to worry you, yet I was just as much surprised to hear that he was about to leave, as you will be to learn of it now. For it was only three or four weeks before he left that Mr Tackaberry has answered my enquiries, by saying, he thought Willie was getting along all right up stairs. It seems however that so long as he was the youngest apprentice & was largely employed in runing errands sweeping [??] &c&c he got along tolerably well, but when he was handed over to the Foreman upstairs, to work at the bench altogether, he proved a total failure; though it seems from some reason (probably sympathy) he, the foreman, had partly for a time at least, concealed the state of affairs from Mr Tackaberry. However when Willie told me he was going to leave he said, it was because he did not get along well, & that both Mr Tackaberry & the Foreman had advised him to leave, & said that they wished he would. And on my going to see Mr Tackaberry he quite coroborated [sic] the statement, & said that not only was his smallness an insurmountable obstacle, but he also seemed to lack the care & mechanical ingenuity necessary to learn the trade. Willie however seemed to have no disposition to be idle, & found almost immediate employment delivering groceries for one of our City firms; and though he has to work from quite early in the morning till seven or eight oclock in the evening & Saturday nights till into the small hours, still he seems to have stuck to it pretty well. But his earnings at this, or at any other employment he could obtain in the City, are barely more than sufficient to board him at reasonable rates, with nothing better to look forward to in the future, for now since he has got quite used to the business he is only receiving sixteen dollars per month; his master says he is not heavy enough for the winter, but they only pay about twenty dollars to a boy that is, heavy enough & often not so much as that.
So it was very difficult for me to write & tell you, that this was the best he was doing after all the assistance that has been rendered him. I was advised by some, that he might do better at the printing trade, & as he seemed disposed to try it I have been for some time trying to get him a situation in the office of the "London Free Press", in which I have been assisted by Mr Mathison one of the members of the firm, & also Deacon of the Congregational Church.
I think if you thought it advisable that such a place could now be obtained, & as I said above, have been writing several days to be in a position to give you definite information regarding it. If he accepted the situation after a months trial, he would have to be bound for four years, giving security for faithful performance, to the amount of three hundred dollars; for the first of such years he would receive three dollars per week; for the second, three fifty ditto; for the third, four; & for the fourth & last, five, dollars weekly; the first two years of his time would be night work, but the hours are not very long. The wages are better than can be obtained in the learning of any trade that I know of, & I think it especially necessary in his case that if he is going to be bound for a term of years that he should receive at least such wages as would maintain him as soon as possible. For he is fast coming into manhood, & should he be bound to such wages as he received from Mr Tackaberry, & your assistance were to be withdrawn from him I do not know what he would do. I certainly am not at all disposed to provide for him longer at present rates, for as everything we use or consume is bought in small quantities & at City prices, the remuneration received has been entirely improportionate to the high rate of living that has prevailed almost ever since he has been with us; & to think of his commencing a four years apprenticeship on similar terms would be out of the question, unless my income were much better than it is, or bids fair to be. Indeed I think perhaps it would be quite as well if a nice & suitable place could be obtained, that he should live among strangers for a time, for he is so untidy & slovenly in his habits that we are quite discouraged in trying to do anything with him; & I think that perhaps if he were among strangers they might perhaps shame him into more tidy habits; for it seems that in those ways that he most requires influence. Neither Minnie nor I have much influence over him.
I should however be very sorry to see him live among a lot of other boarders, for it is due to him that I should say; so far as I know or can learn he is entirely free from vices unless it be in the use of tobacco, to which habit he is much addicted.
If I understand your letter aright, it is your wish that Minnie devote the ten dollars you so kindly sent her to her own private use; instead of using five to assist in paying Church expenses as formerly. I am very glad that Minnie should be the recipient of such a nice present, I think she is much more worthy & infinitely more needy than Master Will. For the opportunities of getting [sic] on in the world are very much harder & more limited for young women than young men. And though my Church expenses are rather heavy I feel that it would be quite as pleasant for me to meet them myself; & any of the family that may be with me will always find a comfortable siting [sic] paid for.
With very kindest love in which Willin & Minnie join me I remain my dear Grandpa your affect' Grandson
John P Baker