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W4875 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister Ruby
Apr 3 1903 Friday afternoon,
To: [Rev.] Calvin McQuesten Montreal, Quebec
From: Ottawa Ladies' College

My very dear brother,

It does seem such ages since I'd written you a line that I felt you must have one for to-morrow. Such a busy world as this is to behold! I expect you're rushing your your [sic] legs off too.

Well spring is the time for changing attire & coming out but at least Aleck & you like the birds & so I've been trying to fix up my wardrobe.

We had April 1st & its usual pranks. The first one was to ring us up an hour earlier, however I revenged myself by playing tricks on two of the teachers and got chased back to my room.

I went to the House & heard your friend Mr. Tarte. 1

Jean Maclaren has just come in so just my love old fellow & a Christian Science hug.

Your loving sister,2


1 TARTE, JOSEPH-ISRAEL, notary, journalist, newspaper owner, and politician; b. in Lower Canada, 11 Jan. 1848 to 18 Dec. 1907, son of Joseph Tarte, a farmer and businessman, and Louise Robillard. He had six children with his first wife and one with his second.

Israel Tarte undertook to provide a rapid link between Liverpool, England, and Montreal and to connect the Intercolonial and the Grand Trunk by the Drummond County Railway He considered using an ice-breaker to keep the St Lawrence open to shipping all year round. These multifarious activities paid dividends at election time: Montrealers were happy about the work done on the river and responded with time and money.

But Tarte was not a dyed-in-the-wool partisan. He was first and foremost a man with his own concept of Canada as a modern country, one that respected religious freedom, was concerned for the rights of French Canadians, and was independent in international affairs, though still a member of the British empire. He had frequent disagreements with Laurier and the party leadership. Tarte was against participation in imperial wars without fair representation in an imperial parliament. His stand isolated him from the rest of the cabinet. It was an expression of a Canadian nationalism painfully seeking its way between the economic imperialism of the United States and the political imperialism of Great Britain. But public opinion was divided on the issue of "Canada for Canadians." He alienated Laurier over the issue of tariffs; however, Tarte kept his seat in the House of Commons as well as ownership of La Patrie.

Tarte had not yet broken with the Liberal party. By May 1903 Tarte was part of the Conservative opposition in the House of Commons. Tarte began manoeuvring to become Conservative leader in the province of Quebec and right-hand man of the federal Conservative leader, Robert Laird Borden. He did not call himself a Conservative, but a protectionist.

The adventure with the Conservatives was brief. Tarte's arrival spread discord in the party's ranks. In 1905 he withdrew from active politics to become an ordinary journalist. To the amazement of both friends and enemies, his "Lettres de la capitale," published in La Patrie, supported Laurier's position on the school question in Saskatchewan and Alberta. But his strength was failing. He felt the need for long periods of rest at his summer home in Boucherville. His last article, dated 18 July 1907, was prophetic. He saw that Bourassa might sweep Premier Lomer Gouin of Quebec out of office and endanger Laurier. Tarte died at the age of 59.

2 Ruby often attended lectures and debates at Parliament, and she and Calvin shared an interest in politics, literature, religion and art. For more on Ruby, see W6135.

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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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