W4777 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister Ruby
Feb 9 1903 Monday morning
To: [Rev.] Calvin McQuesten Montreal, Quebec
From: Ottawa Ladies' College
My dearest Cal,
I must really send you a scowl this morning. My little devils--when the Irish use it, it is an affectionate term, isn't it--are memorizing the "Last Rose of Summer"! It is so nice to start them on something they have to do all by themselves. It is good to be a teacher at such times. Poor little wretches! But they do not look at all miserable.
I was so delighted to get your fine cheery letter. It quite cheered me up. I wish my snow shoes were magic ones & would transport me some night to go out with your party. And it is good that the Creelmans are living in Montreal. How fortunate that you happened to meet Mrs. C. & in your best frock too. That was your lucky day.
I quite appreciate your sentiments on large houses. We've all been spoilt in that direction, I fancy. It simply seems homelike and natural to be in a large, fine house. These little modern houses, even fair sized ones haven't room enough. One really can't expand sufficiently. It seems to make you feel free and easy and quite in your element--you can draw a large breath, so to speak, in a large house. One can get along well enough in small rooms but when you get into large ones you feel as if you know what it is to live. You are meant to have been left a large house & fortune, my dear, and you could buy the most expensive pictures and all kinds of rare things, for you're blessed with extravagant tastes. And so long as no missionaries come along and other troublesome elements wanting help you could have plenty of enjoyment in spending money. However, I always fancied that we could spend our money and enjoy spending it on various people & causes as well as ourselves if we had it. We'd have a splendid house & entertain deserving people right royally. Wouldn't it be jolly. We'd have a chef & everything swell & stuff the duffers. Oh we'll know how to do it when the spar [boat] comes in. 1
By the way, sonny, the fortunes of this family are on the rise. Mama was telling that her Bold St. houses would both be taken in March by Mrs. Hill. Isn't it a blessing to have them rented to such a capable woman. And then our Montreal stock has behaved quite decently of late, hasn't it? The same day that this news came in Mama's letter we got our checks & instead of having anything deducted as we had agreed on account of five weeks missed, we were given the full amount.2
Your letter just came--Hurrah! Would I like you to run up to Ottawa? It is too good to be true. I feel too cheerful to live soberly. This is the final piece of good news. It will be good to see you, you dear old fellow. About the snow shoes, I'd like ever so much to go out and I was wondering if I could think of anyone to go out with us. The people I used to go out with are away. None of the teachers have snow shoes except Miss Ross & hers are almost no good. The MacLarens might go out with us--the boys have snow shoes, if Jean could get a pair. However I'll see & if you can bring your snow shoes without too much trouble, do it. I'd love a tramp. And to go to a hockey match too--such dissipation. And then to have you over Sunday--you'll see our Chinese School. I'll introduce you to my man & I'll be glad to have Mr. Ross meet you. He is the superintendent & both he and his wife are so kind. And you'll see St. Andrews & as many things and people as we can manage. And you'll see my room which is fixed up. You'll be sharing your attentions with the Robinson family, of course, but we can have you, I expect for Sunday dinner & Saturday. Oh! we'll just see later on. Well, old boy, must run and post this. With much love, hoping you can manage it all right.
P.S. Did I tell you I had met the three Robinson sisters & thought them nice girls. I'm glad you are to stay with them since I can't keep you at the College.
1 Ruby is daydreaming about being wealthy--she is working to help her impoverished family and to put Tom through school. This discussion of houses follows their mother's discussions about possibly selling Whitehern. In 1907 she made plans to rent Whitehern to the Hamilton Club for a year while they went to live in a cottage in Oakville. This rental money then finally gave them some money for much-needed repairs and renovations to Whitehern. See W5800.
For more on Ruby, see W6135, and see her Biographical Sketch by clicking on "Family" and then on her picture.
2 This is the first indication of some financial relief since their father, Isaac, died bankrupt in 1888, and left their mother impoverished with six children between the ages of 14 & 2. However, it was not until 1907 that some permanent relief was felt--after Tom graduated and went into law with Chisholm, and began earning $1000 per year. (W5942, W6318).