W4690 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister Ruby
Nov 3 1902 Monday night
To: [Rev.] Calvin McQuesten Montreal, Quebec
From: [Ottawa Ladies' College]
My dear old Cal,
I had a very proper parental rebuke you have administered me. You done your duty I assure you--I quite approve of you and probably I agree with you but it would never do to say. However the rest of your letter was very fine & like a breath of outdoor life. For my illness is a thing of the past & lately other things have taken our minds.1
Last week an epidemic of 'Grippe' laid low eighteen patients by Sat. & four cases of Scarlet Fever had developed from it & two more on Sunday. So you can imagine the consternation & upsetting--everything was turned out of Miss Curry's Art Room & it made ready for the six patients and nurses. It is a large sunny room & it was thought better to put them all together & sheets with carbolic acid are stretched across the door & the nurses have a stove & bathroom & everything they need. They can wash their own dishes & towels etc. & things are taken to the top of the stairs. Well, who do you think the girls are--Eleanor and Jean Ross--another Ross--Marion, no relation--Ethel Crombie--Maggie Fulton & Ethel Paul from Montreal--the latter's father has a large grocery I understand. Well these poor unfortunates have to stay up six weeks--there is nothing slower & of which you have to be more careful than scarlet fever. We are quarantined for ten days--no one can go in or out & when that time is up we think all the girls will want to go home and we fear no day pupils would dare to come in. So Mrs. Ross is seriously considering at the end of ten days letting everyone go home & then starting at best after Xmas. 2
But it is so disappointing--our classes were just doing so nicely & this was the finest year for some time with such a bright outlook. And now it is knocked on the head. Well if we go home--the teachers will have to be paid for all the time I fancy--I can't say that I could really mourn at the thought of getting home a month before the Xmas holiday--my, it would be jolly. Such a thing I may have longed for in my first selfish year like I really cared for the college but I couldn't wish it now. But if it comes I'm young enough to thoroughly appreciate holidays. However we don't know anything yet but I'll let you know if anything more occurs.
Friday has been my busy day ordering meals for twelve, three times, and getting them ready myself at tea. However, the doctor says they may be up to-morrow & we'll be sincerely thankful for the cook has no more patience poor thing & the little boy Hector--we have boys with fine names--Clyde, Napoleon, Hector must have trotted his poor legs off taking up trays & the teachers are tired of taking around gargles and medicines five times a day. The nurse of course attended to these girls till she went above with Scarlet Fever patients. The doctor ordered pailfuls [sic] of gargle & medicine as if for a prison. Really these things are funny.
Well old boy--I have been writing home explaining and I'm quite exhausted. You were a dear to write to me, for I know you're awfully busy. With very much love my dear old boy,
Your ever affectionate sister,
[P.S.] Probably there is a dear little germ sitting on this letter waiting to jump at you.
1 See W4680 for an account of Ruby's illness, Grippe and fever in Oct. See W6135 for an lengthy account of Ruby's illness which proved to be Tuberculosis and took her life in 1911.
2 This letter gives an account of the types and degree of illness that the students at the college endured. The college did shut down early and Ruby stated that she would likely be short some pay for Christmas, and that it would be a very lean Christmas, see W4263. She wrote a note on Nov. 20, stating that she was starting home to-morrow, see W4707.