W4753 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister Ruby
Jan 27 1903 Tuesday afternoon [estimated date]
To: [Rev.] Calvin McQuesten Montreal, Quebec
From: [Ottawa Ladies' College]
My dear old Cal,
Just a note as it seems a long time since I wrote. Mama told me in her letter how busy you were and why, so I quite understand and you needn't worry trying to steal time to drop me a line. I'll content myself with a one-sided correspondence though it isn't awfully high living, feeding on the imagination, so to speak.
It was good to get your paper and I enjoyed your articles ever so much. How many you had! It must indeed have kept you busy doing so much extra. I hope you're not tired out for it must be hard work finding out all about your subjects besides the writing part. You have to understand things so thoroughly to write clearly that it must be a strain.1
Well we've had our own times lately. Last Thursday another case of Scarlet Fever breakout. The child was taken immediately to the new contagious hospital & school continued as usual. But of course it frightened away some of our day pupils--too precious to lose--and has kept away a half dozen girls just coming into board. We can only hope that these girls will just wait to see that nothing more occurs for a few days and will then come on. Three of them had their trunks already packed & Mrs. Ross had to notify them. We felt it would be only right tho' the doctor has not quarantined us at all and says there is no danger. But of course people ask how this case occurred and it is a mystery. The place was so thoroughly fumigated, but it was most discouraging. We expected a Board Meeting but it has not met yet. Perhaps it is just as well not to discuss the situation now & later it may have improved. 2
I've not been having a bad time of it though lately. Last Friday night I took eight girls to the rink & we had quite a good skate. Lolly MacLaren is the sole man I always see at the rink. I wanted him to be introduced to the girls but he said he was afraid his programme was full--the sinner. We had cocoa & bread & butter on our return.
Then Sat. I spent trying to see how little I could do & pretend to be working in the Art Room. I'm doing one of those studies I know you admire--biscuits & cheese & teapot & cream jug (I suppose you think a mug of beer would be more appropriate) well I'll do one with that one of these days when the cheese has a stronger look--as long as it will stand steady long enough to be painted. It's unfortunate you can't paint things moving--think of the sentiment.3
Then on Sat. evening Miss Curry & I went out for tea to the Tuckers--not little Tommy Tucker but another--a very kind little couple, brother, sister who keep house & always give us a most hearty welcome.
On Sunday I went to my Chinamen as usual 4 and went to the MacLaren's for tea.
Monday was my duty day & in the evening Mrs. Fraser the elocution teacher gave us an evening on Whitcombe Riley, his life and a number of selections. I do enjoy some of his things. By the way--Riley is a bachelor--I've always laboured under the delusion that 'To an old Sweet Heart of mine" was dedicated to his wife.5
Last night we went to an illustrated lecture of Prof. Penfellow's on the wood-pulp industry of Canada. It was very good.
To-night I'm invited to tea to Sace Robertson's--if that's how you spell her name. The rest of the people are going to hear [Albert?] but I heard her & wish to keep the glorious memory of her tonight. Hilda & I sat up in the Gods chaperoned by lady Bell. To-morrow night is teachers' meeting & then comes Friday and the end of another week & we'll be into Feb. How the time flies.
We'll my dear old boy, take care of yourself and have some fun. I hope you're having some snow-shoeing this winter.
With very much love,
1 Many of Calvin's articles for the Montreal Herald are not signed so it has been impossible to note them here. Many of his "Tatler" articles are available on this site by searching on "Tatler."
2 In December of 1902, the school had to be quarantined and then closed early because of an outbreak of Grippe and Scarlet Fever, see W4690, W4263.
3 Ruby is an accomplished artist and many of her paintings hang in her room at Whitehern Museum.
4 Ruby often speaks of teaching the Chinese immigrants. This is a Presbyterian missionary enterprise, and Mary Baker McQuesten, in Hamilton, also writes about teaching the "Japs" the "Jews" and the "Chinese."
5 James Whitcombe Riley became known as "The Hoosier Poet." He was born in a log cabin on October 7, 1849 in the little village of Greenfield, in Indiana's farmland. Riley's father was a frontier lawyer and politician who named his second son after an Indiana governor, James Whitcomb. His mother wrote poetry as well as baked in a hearth oven and raised a growing nest of children. Riley grew up among simple living, kindly people.