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W4588 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jul 1 1902
To: Calvin McQuesten Montreal Quebec
From: St. Mary's Ontario

My dear dear boy,

It seems such a long time since I wrote you and now that all are at home (I expect) you seem to be so alone, I felt I must write you a few lines. It seems to me months since I left home and I am counting the days till I get home. It seems too bad, for people are very kind and I am having a quiet rest, just the thing I needed, but still I want to be with the family, especially as I have not seen Ruby since Xmas, but Mrs. Irving would have been offended if I had not stayed two weeks, so I could say nothing, but will be home on Saturday1. Unfortunately we have had cold wet weather. It poured on Sabbath so that we could not go to church in the morning but in the evening heard Mr. Wilson of India. You know Mr. Grant's church is Mr. Wilson's old charge. Then yesterday Mrs. Wilson addressed a ladies' meeting, of course I had to take some part, but it does not agree with me to have the least excitement and I rather regret having the quiet broken in upon2.

One draw-back to St. Mary's is that the hills which make the place so beautiful, make the walking so fatiguing, you can go no place without climbing a hill. Have just written poor Mrs. Watson. Isn't it most distressing? For I fancy Hope was the only one of the three younger ones worth anything at all3. Wasn't that place in Muskoka just about where you were? Just to think of the escape Tom Mewburn had. If that poor boy had some one now just to direct his thoughts to the mercy of God4. Last week was a terrible week for many.

What a wonderful thing is the King's recovery! And the more one hears of him the more we are lead to admire him. Have you read several articles about him in the Globe, showing him to be no ordinary man after all? I am sure there was a great deal of real sympathy with him, particularly as he had waited so long for the throne. Yesterday's Globe had a very thoughtful piece taken from some one who expresses the belief that this illness has drawn out the affection and esteem of his people far more than the gorgeous pageantry of the Coronation ceremony would have done, which I have no doubt is very true. And it will surely impress upon the minds of all, that there is no point of these gigantic extravagant displays and that men CANNOT plan and arrange everything at their own will. There is a higher power that can step in and bring all their plans to nought. It does seem as if the King at least, could never forget this warning voice, and I am sure it has made many stop and think5.

Well, it is dinner time, & post time. Was so sorry you lost your holiday. Hope to-day you are having some diversion. Have all your friends deserted you. I wonder if Ida W.[Welker] has any notion of coming to H.[Hamilton] this summer6. Think I ought to write her. If you see her, you can give my love & tell her I am thinking about her & intend writing. The one comfort about this cool weather is, it will suit your work. With fondest love my darling son.

Your loving Mother

M.B. McQuesten


1 For Irving family, see W4803.


2 Rev. William A. Wilson (1851-1940) and his wife Margaret (Caven) Wilson were missionaries in India from 1884 to 1917. Rev. Wilson had been pastor of Knox Church in St. Mary's from 1878-84, succeeded by Alexander Grant from 1885-1907. Wilson wrote The Redemption of Malwa: The Central India Canadian Presbyterian Mission (1903) in which he recognized the role of medical services, orphanages, famine relief, schools and women, in the evangelistic work. He recommended that women missionaries be admitted to council to vote on "all matters relating to their own work," and that they be allowed to administer the rite of baptism to the women believers in seclusion in the "zenanas" (harems). In a letter to the WFMS, Mrs. Wilson noted that in spite of the violent opposition from the Prince of Indore and other officials, the Christian Missions "have opened, and kept open, five schools, where nearly 200 Hindu and Mohammedan children receive daily instruction" (Brouwer 102, 106, 114, 121, 142, 163, 223; Moir 184). Wilson also wrote The Popular Preachers of the Ancient Church (n.d.) and a copy is in the Whitehern Library.


3 Mrs. Helen Watson (nee Dewar) lived at 35 Duke St. with her children. Hope Watson was 23 years of age, and worked for a wholesale grocery house. The Globe carried an account of the drowning. He and Tom Mewburn were caught in a storm near Port Carling. The boat capsized and they clung to it for hours but Watson was finally "unable to hold out any longer." Mewburn managed to swim to a rock where he lost consciousness but was rescued (Globe, Toronto, June 30, 1902; Tyrell 159). Hope's brother "Strap" was a friend of Tom's (W4588, W4549, W6738, W6746, W7111).


4 Mary's reference to Tom Mewburn's misguided religious "thoughts" likely refers to the fact that the Mewburns were Anglican, a church of which she was openly critical. For Mewburn family, see W4521.


5 King Edward VII's Coronation had been set for June 26, 1902 but was postponed "owing to our illness." The proclamation stated that it was postponed "indefinitely, and great grief prevails throughout the metropolis." "His Majesty Ill With Perityphlitis [sic], a malady resembling appendicitis--An abscess in the right side opened from which pus was evacuated" and surgery was necessary (Globe, Toronto, June 25, 1902). On June 30 the Globe stated that the King had made a remarkable recovery, was "completely out of danger" and the bonfires could be lit in celebration. Another article stated that "the King in the sickroom is drawing the hearts of his subjects by his own fortitude. . . .sorrow has made him a more magnetic personality than he would have been in the trappings of sovereignty. . . .The allegiance of the masses . . . has been strengthened by the pathos of the King's lot stricken down in the supreme moment of coronation glory" (Globe June 30, 1902; W4582). The coronation took place on August 9, 1902. Edward VII ruled Britain from 1901-10.

In "The Tatler" June 28, Calvin gave a brief account of "Some Dreary Coronations" including Anne of Denmark who had to sit through seven hours of hortatory sermons concluding with Dr. Andrew Melville's recitation of "twa hunner lines of Latin verse" [sic]. Also, at Charles the Second's Coronation "at Scone in 1651 [he] was simply preached at and bullied. To hide his indignation and disgust he 'went into the fields to play golf.'" In a second item in his column, "A Literary Baganda," Calvin described the Grand Vizier of Uganda who had arrived for the Coronation. He was Apolo Kagwa, tall, "well-made," in picturesque costume, had written three books, had electric bells in his house, and rode a bicycle (The Montreal Herald, June 28, 1902).


6 For Ida Welker, see W4521.




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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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