W4297 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Sep 9 1882
To: Calvin McQuesten New York
My own dear Cally,
Every day I have been trying to find time to write you a letter, but I have been so busy. We all miss you very much, and so many ask me "where is Cally," and when I tell them "Cally is in New York," they seem quite surprised to hear he is such a traveller. Yesterday morning your papa took Tiny [Mary] and Hilda up to see the exhibition at the Crystal Palace1, and they were all sorry you were not here to go with them. They came home with a balloon each. Tiny is going to school to Mrs. MacKay on Monday and when you come home you are to go too2,3.
I hope you are not feeling homesick, I often feel very lonely without you my dear little boy and will be so glad when the time comes for you to come home. Katie4 came back to-night and they all had a great frolic in the kitchen. Papa went up to Hespeler5 yesterday and is not coming home till to-morrow. Tom is growing such a big baby, you will not know him when you come home. Now, my dear little Cally, good bye, be a very good boy to your uncle. All send you love and kisses.
Your own loving Mama.
1 The Crystal Palace, Hamilton, begun in 1858, opened 1860, by Edward, Prince of Wales. It was designed for provincial exhibitions of commercial goods in competition with Toronto. Built of wood and glass, it stood on twenty-two acres in what is now Victoria Park. It was condemned in 1891 and the buildings sold (DHB1.26, W28, W188). Albert H. Hills (1816-1878) Hamilton architect and civil engineer, designed the Crystal Palace and modeled it on the structure built in London for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Hills designed many Hamilton buildings, including Knox Presbyterian Church (1846), the Royal Hotel (1857) and the Custom House. He had an office in his home on Charles St., near Whitehern. His son Lucien was also a Hamilton architect (DHB1.103).
2 Four of the McQuesten children are mentioned in the letter: Calvin, six years old was being treated by his uncle Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten in New York for the congenital defect in his left hand and weakness on his left side (W4283). Tiny (Mary) was eight years old and Hilda was five. Thomas was three months old. Ruby is not mentioned in the letter but was two years and eight months old. Edna was not born until 1885.
3 The Donald MacKays were close family friends in Toronto and are frequently mentioned in the letters. Mrs. Maddie (or Mattie) MacKay (nee Gordon) (18??-March 1907) operated a small private school in Toronto and took the McQuesten children for a time after Isaac's death. It may have been a child-care arrangement. She also accompanied Mary to Clifton Springs, New York, when Mary had a breakdown in 1897 and required rest and treatment (W4400).Mary visited them regularly in Toronto. Her letters describe the many problems the MacKays had with their declining health and with their children's behaviour and handling of money.
The MacKays were very wealthy (W5691, W5732). Mr. Donald MacKay (1813?-February 1909) (W4601, W5606, W6359) was president of Gordon, MacKay & Co., Wholesale & Dry Goods, Haberdashery and Woolens, at the corner of Front and Bay Sts. in Toronto in 1904. In 1900 they lived at "Dundonald" 591 Yonge St., and in 1904 they moved from Dundas St. to 5 Queen's Park Cr. where they resided until 1909 (W5172, W6475, W5275). Their sons, J. Drummond MacKay (on the Board of Directors) and J. Gordon MacKay (salesman) lived at the same address in 1900 (Tyrell 78). In 1904, J. Gordon MacKay lived at 485 Marion Ave, Toronto (Toronto Street and Business Directories). The MacKay children were Gordon, Drummond, William, Leila, Maggie and Blanche. Leila married Dr. Senkler, Maggie married a Mr. White and Drummond married a Miss Smith.
Mary's relationship with the MacKays goes back to the "Gerrard St. Congregation" in Toronto, where the Bakers, MacKays, Gordons and Clarks attended, and "Uncle Donald MacKay" appears to have been a "neighbour" (W4271). The MacKay/Gordon/Clark familial relationship is apparent in the letters. Mrs. MacKay was a Gordon (W5868). Mrs. Mary Gordon (nee Robertson) was the mother of Rev. Dr. Charles William Gordon (pseudonym, Ralph Connor) (W5359) and she gave an address to the MacNab WFMS in 1885 (Buttrum 3). The MacKays were also likely related to Helen "Daisy" Clark (nee Gordon) wife of Sir Mortimer Clark (W4902) the lieutenant-governor of Ontario in 1903. (W4271, W4343, W4400, W4415, W4436, W4479, W4500, W4521, W4531, W4544, W4549, W4582, W4601, W4635, W5109, W5172, W5233, W5275, W5283, W5502, W5606, W5665, W5691, W5732, W5736, W5804, W5868, W5898, W6129, W6324, W6331, W6336, W6359, W6363, W6374, W6458, W6460, W6475, W6483, W6509, W6540, W6545, W6951, W6969 W9180).
4 Katie was likely a servant.
5 One year earlier, Isaac had joined John Harvey and J. Schofield in business running the Hespeler Manufacturing Co. which processed raw wool and cotton. Around 1887, the business went bankrupt with $900 000 in liabilities. See W2652 for more details.