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W4521 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jan 23 1902
In care of (c/o)
To: Calvin McQuesten The Montreal Herald1 Montreal, Quebec
From: Whitehern Hamilton

My dear Cal,

Will begin my letter this evening, though really there is nothing to say. I posted "The Crisis" to you to-day and also a pair of fine hand-knitted socks given to Tom but too warm for him.2 Yesterday we had a great fall of snow, but the weather has been beautifully mild this winter and has suited me well. Were you not shocked to see the notice of Gordon Clark's death from diphtheria?3 Such a fearful trial for his father and mother! Wrote Mrs. Clark and Mrs. MacKay, but have not heard from the latter yet. Mrs. Mullin was in to-day,4 she met Harry Evans the other day in Toronto, he is in newspaper work too, she understood, at Winnipeg, so I suppose he is with Sanford.

May Cameron was married the other day in Toronto to a Dr. White, who spent an evening here and played tennis once with you and Mary.5 Hilda met him at a "tea" which Mrs. Lazier gave for them, and he inquired for you.6 A very pleasant fellow. We hear May Mewburn is engaged to a Dr. Glen McDougal of Toronto who has received the appointment of physician to Boer prisoners at Bermuda at $6.00 per diem. May told Ruby about it, but at that time he had not received this position.7

Did we tell you about Jean Vincent's engagement?8 It was a secret till now. Jean met the man at a wedding last October when she was bridesmaid and he groomsman, it was a case of love at first sight, he comes from Penn Yan, N.Y. state and is the wealthiest man in the place, having a [?] dry goods business. He is about thirty. He was here the other day and brought Mrs. V. a present of 15 yds of beautiful black silk, so he seems to be kind and we are very glad, for Jean is not fit for hard work and Mrs. V. is almost worn out.


Have just heard from Mary. They were entertained at "afternoon tea" by T.B. McQ. [Tom] and his friends. Will enclose her letter, as you are so far away, anything from home interests. I am busy preparing my paper for the Conference next month,9 I mentioned in my last letter, and think I have it well in hand now. Am so glad you are enjoying the snow-shoeing, there is nothing like out-door sport. It is pleasant for you to have Ken with you, to introduce you to his friends.10

It seems to me, you made a happy selection in going to Erskine, so many nice people. It seemed quite remarkable that Mr. Slater's sister should go there also, cannot make out her name. So Ida Welker is back, glad she received my letter, for M.[Mary] had sent her a lace collar in it.11 The Rev. Mr. Young of St. John's lost a fine little boy of six of diphtheria. Edna is enjoying the skating she seems much stronger and works away at her lessons, her music and art school without any grumbling. She has a great amount of determination.

Did you get your book back from Mr. Robinson? I shall ask every letter till you say yes. If you have not, write him at once. Did you send Mr. Dickson a paper? He is one who would be interested. Have just heard from Ruby, she had a terrible time with a bad tooth and strange to say Hilda has had the same. R. was glad to have heard at last from you & Tom, I am afraid she has rather a dull time of it in Ottawa, though she never complains. Well how is the vaccination now! Uncle's took greatly. Tom's has not.12 Well, dear I hope you are getting on comfortably and that the Montreal Herald is going ahead rapidly for the sake of the staff. By the way H.[Hilda] hears accounts of Sandwell's young lady, being a sad flirt.13

With much love from all.

Your loving Mother

M.B. McQuesten

1 Calvin had moved to The Montreal Herald in January 1902 to continue his career in journalism. He worked there until September 1903. While there he wrote a weekly column,"The Tatler" in the tradition of Steele and Addison's "Tatler" of 1709-11 (OCEL 804). It featured brief articles on current events and prominent figures, politics, history, religion, and literature. He also wrote many other articles for the paper but they are unsigned so difficult to recognize.

2 The Crisis (1901) was written by Winston Churchill (1871-1947), American historian and novelist, Missouri (CBD 310). A copy is in the Whitehern library.

3 Gordon Clark was the son of Sir William Mortimer Clark, lieutenant-governor of Ontario in 1903. For Clark family, see W4902.

4 Mrs. Sarah Ann Mullin was Mary's good friend and the wife of the family doctor, Dr. John Alexander Mullin (1835-99). He was in attendance at the birth of the McQuesten children and at the death of Isaac (W2440, W2520n). Dr. Mullin had been introduced to the McQuestens by Mary's father, Rev. Thomas Baker (W2805). He assisted in the design and architecture of City Hospital which opened in 1882 and was on the medical staff and committee (Campbell 180). They were members of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church. They moved from James St. N. in 1907 (W5832) and lived at 7 Turner Ave. in 1911 (W6718). Various family members are often mentioned in the letters. Their children, Heurner, Robin, Willie and Nellie studied medicine and Archie went into banking. Heurner married Ethel Lazier in 1907 (DHB1.157; W4531, W1262, W1505, W1559, W1592, W2440, W2520n, W2805, W4017, W4413, W4448, W4544, W4562, W4582, W4595, W4686, W4702, W4713, W4730, W4738, W4771, W5122, W5297, W5303, W5371, W5636, W5640, W5832, W6053, W6075, W6336, W6431, W6620, W6718, W6861, W6983, W7235, W8958).

5 I have been unable to trace May Cameron or Dr. White, M.D. They were in Indianapolis in 1903 and in touch with Robin Mullin then (W4759).

6 For Lazier family, see W5233.

7 May Mewburn's marriage to Dr. McDougal finally took place in 1909 after May's lengthy illness, probably tuberculosis. May and her mother stayed in Calgary from 1904 to 1908 as May was recuperating, and Ruby lived near them there in 1908 when she was ill with tuberculosis (W4341, W4355, W4588, W5157, W5191, W5468, W6188, W6203, W6211, W6223, W6460, W7111).

May, Tom, and John were the children of Sydney Chilton Mewburn (1863-1956) and Mrs. Mary Caroline (Labatt) Mewburn. Sydney was a lawyer (K.C.), politician, businessman, soldier (Major General) and became minister of militia and defence in Borden's coalition Union government in 1917. Their son, John, was killed during WWI at 27 years of age (1916) (DHB2.112, DHB2.113). Their son, Tom narrowly escaped drowning in July, 1902 (see W4588). The Mewburns lived at 65 Markland St. and supported the Church of the Ascension (Anglican). Sydney C. Mewburn's biography gives a comprehensive overview of Canada's and Mewburn's involvement in WWI, for which he declined a knighthood. He was "a man of integrity, honour, and a sense of purpose" (DHB3.140-45).

In 1875, Sydney's father, Thomas C. Mewburn, Hugh Baker, and Charles Cory, avid chess players, had organized the West Side Domestic Telegraph Co. and a telegraph line was strung between their houses approximately seven blocks apart enabling each player to telegraph his moves. These were replaced by telephones in October 1877 and were the second telephones to be leased in Canada, the first was to Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie in September 1877 (DHB1.13).

8 Jean Vincent was the daughter of Mrs. Jessie S. Vincent and Rev. Edward Vincent of 45 Young St. in Hamilton. They were members of MacNab Church and Mrs. Vincent was secretary of the WFMS in 1896. Penn Yan is in New York State. Mary gave a farewell tea for Mrs. Vincent in October 1902 and regretted the loss of a friend (Latoszek 25; W4549, W4535, W4670, W5261).

9 The WFMS conference was held in Toronto but Mary was unable to attend. Her paper was read and "considered the best" (W4582).

10 Kenelm Trigge was a friend from Hamilton but was working in Montreal. He and Calvin lived in the same boarding house in Montreal. For Trigge family, see W4635.

11 Ida Welker and "the Col." were "back" in Montreal from Vancouver, see W4549.(W4531, W4539, W4549, W4588, W4863, W5430, W5434).

12 In 1903 an anti-toxin was being administered for diphtheria; however, it is possible that Dr. Calvin McQuesten ("Uncle") had arranged early vaccinations for the family. The two deaths from diphtheria created anxiety. Tom's vaccination did finally "take" (see W4582). A news article notes that vaccination parties were in vogue at that time as the "latest social Novelty": the guests are invited and the "physician is the guest of honour, and while he vaccinates the guests one by one, in one room, the others play whist in another. After it is all over, supper is served," (The Evening News Toronto, January 23, 1901). Diphtheria immunization in Hamilton schools was administered in 1922 (Campbell 218).

For more on vaccination, see also W4582, W7940, Box 13-068, Box 13-007.

13 Sandwell, B.K. (Bernard Keble) (1876-1954) and Calvin had been friends and fellow-journalists at The Evening News in Toronto in 1901. They also worked together at The Montreal Herald in 1902 and 1903. Sandwell was again with The News in Toronto in November 1903, and was back at the Herald in January 1904, where he was dramatic editor from 1905 to 1911. He was editor of the Montreal Financial Times (1911-18) and editor of Toronto Saturday Night (1932-51). He taught economics at McGill University (1919-23) and was head of the dept of English at Queen's University (1923-25). In 1920 he became the first secretary of the Canadian Authors' Association and in 1925 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He was author of The Privacy Agent, and Other Modest Proposals (1928), The Molson Family (1933), The Canadian People (1941), and The Diversions of Duchesstown, and Other Essays (1955) (MDCB 746). None of Sandwell's writings are in the Whitehern library (Best 104-05, 126; W4513, W4582, W4605, W4613, W4847, W4885, W4902, W4922, W4927, W4938, W5233, W5798, W4916; Letters from Sandwell: W7444, W7489, W7553).

In April 1903, Edna notes that she had seen Sandwell "with a young lady, small and quite pretty. I supposed it was Miss Street" (W4922). Mary (daughter) notes "he must come up often now. Perhaps it may come to something after all. Miss Street may think it would be wiser to hang on than let him go" (W4927). In May 1903, Mary comments on an episode in which Cal. took a moral stance and left his rooming house because of Sandwell's behaviour with "a woman, such an indecent creature allowing a young man to come into her room in such a way." Mary complimented Cal. on being "brave and conscientious . . . to write to his father . . . it was a noble thing to do" (W4938). In 1907 Ruby reports somewhat humorously an encounter with Sandwell in which he was still (or again) pursuing a woman and was "no nearer the goal--there is still the other man with the automobile. . . .he has improved--his handshake is less clammy and he looked neater" (W5798).

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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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