W4785 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister Ruby
Feb 18 1903 Wednesday night
To: [Rev.] Calvin McQuesten Montreal, Quebec
From: [Ottawa Ladies' College]
My Dear Cal,
Just a note on foolscap while I sit with the girls at study. I exchanged my Monday duty with Daisy Racey & went to hear L. M. King's lecture on Social Settlements. It was really well worth hearing & he had good lantern views. He showed us an ordinary tenement block such as might be seen many places in New York & in Chicago containing 48 houses--many storied & 2800 people nearly 3000 & not undeserving people, but those working hard for a livelihood. In such a block there would be 4 or 5 hundred rooms with no window at all, only opening off a room with one, & 600 rooms opening on to walls opposite with only a narrow shaft between. A man, he said, would pay $15 a month for two front rooms with windows and two back rooms & these about the size of my bedroom. He showed us pictures of the Hull House Settlement in Chicago superintended by a Miss Adams, a graduate of some University who has given her life to the work which has grown enormously. He also showed us Toynbee House in London, started by an Oxford student, Toynbee, & now supported by a number of students. Mr. King spoke for two hours in the most utterly unabashed manner for a youth.1
Yesterday afternoon I went out to the Smith's for tea. Poor Mr. Smith was very bad. It just made me sick to see him, he has changed so. You know he had such a round, jolly face & ruddy colour & looked so white & his face so thin & his left cheek swollen as if with a tooth ache. He tried to sit at tea but he could eat nothing & you could see he was in misery & finally excused himself. Poor man! Miss Smith said he hadn't slept a bit the night before--she heard him make his bed six times. Miss S. said he had never been so bad, but we tho't perhaps the extreme cold had aggravated it & it would be better to-day. I do hope so. The girls try to be as bright as they can & I do feel so sorry for them.
To-day Miss Curry & I went to make a couple of calls, then we met Miss Middleton & she & Miss Curry made another while I went to the MacLarens. I gave them your message & they understood tho' they would have liked to see you. As I left the house & turned home, I heard some one holler at me & saw the redoubtable Lollie. I asked him to walk down with me & he gave me the titles & hummed the first verses of the three latest songs--coon songs or something of that classical style. He came right over to the College which I tho't was very good of him seeing it was a bitterly cold day & he had the walk back again. He said he could skate no more this winter as he had gone thro' his boots.
Well, old boy, I hope you reached Montreal all right, none the worst for your trip. I haven't heard from the Robinson's since but probably I'll hear from them over the phone before long. Miss Robinson said she was coming to call on me & would let me know the day so that I could be in. I'm sending you the heart that was made out for you for Valentine's Eve.2 The refreshments were various coloured jellies and fruits, so you can guess what the menu meant. Each one had a heart somewhat similar but yours is the best I think--don't you feel honoured--Daisy Racey made them.
Well to-morrow is teachers' meeting & Friday evening we are all entertained at Dr. Armstrong's & Sat. Sunday & Monday are my duty days. So this is my programme for the week.
I hope you are not working so hard and that you'll get a little rest It was good to have you here, tho' your visit went so quickly. With much love.
Your affec'ate sister,
[P.S.] (W4793) Valentine Card included with this letter (W4785), illustrated with an umbrella, an arrow and a verse.
I wish for you a life of gladness
Full of joy and free from pain,
Full of [heart?] and free from sadness
Bright as sunshine after rain.
1 This is likely a reference to a young William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950). King became Prime Minister three times, 1921-1926, 1926-1930, and 1935-1948. He entered politics when he was 25 years old as Deputy Minister of Labour. http://www.plpsd.mb.ca/amhs/history/macking.html.
See also W5898 and the footnote about Toynbee house and other Social Settlement efforts. This is all part of the Social Gospel effort that was sweeping Britain and North America.
2 Calvin had paid a visit to Ottawa and had stayed with the Robinsons, see W4777.
For more on Ruby, see W6135, and see her Biographical Sketch by clicking on "Family" and then on her picture.
A Sketch for Calvin can be found in the same way.