W5084 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Aug 24 1903 Monday Morning
To: Calvin McQuesten Montreal Quebec
My dear Cal,
Your letter with its good news cheered us all up. I had been reading every day with great interest the reports of the Congress of Commerce and was quite anxious to know if you had been there, so was perfectly delighted to hear that you had been present at all the great functions. It really is worth a great deal to you, to be in Montreal just at this very exciting time for never before has there been so much to say between Canada and the Old Country as during the last year so that it is really a critical period and it seems as if everything said just now is really of great importance. I think it was quite a feather in your cap that you were sent to the banquet and I have been comparing your report with that of the Globe and it seems to me yours is by far the best report1. From the Globe one does not get such a fine impression of Sir Wilfrid's speech. Poor fellow! I am afraid that Railway will be the death of him. It was too bad the Englishmen did not speak but they had I suppose been talking all week2.
Tom writes me you have been offering him a pass down there and home. It will be lovely for him to see Montreal and a day or two with you. But how can you get him a pass home and come yourself for Labour Day? If it would interfere with your getting pass for yourself then let him come home by boat. Mrs. Mullin and Nellie are to take the Steamer Sparta on Tuesday evening which reaches Montreal on Thursday morning and will be that afternoon at Mrs. Irvine's Westmount, cannot remember the street, perhaps you know it. They are to take that Evening's boat for Quebec. You may not be able to see them, but am just telling you3. All busy dressmaking, Ruby has only two more weeks at home. With much love dear, dear, boy.
Your loving mother
1 The Montreal Herald of August 17, 1903 carried a report of the opening of the "Fifth Congress of Trade Princes of the British Empire" welcomed by Lord Strathcona. Lord Brassey replied referring to Hon. Joseph Chamberlain's proposals for the Empire. Mary wrote in August 18: "That is a notable Gathering is it not? The British Chamber of Commerce. I was wondering if you were at any of the meetings. I suppose Mr. Brierley himself would be there. Lord Strathcona seems to me to be most remarkable man, (if the papers report him correctly). He seems to be equal to any occasion and his address far superior to Lord Brassey" (W5078). Calvin's papers contain a page from the invitation to the banquet: "Plan of Table for Montreal Board of Trade to Delegates to the Fifth Congress of Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, Windsor Hotel, Thursday, August 20, 1903" (W8067). The Montreal Herald in August 1903 devoted the paper to pictures, biographies and speeches during the Congress. Lord Strathcona's resolution was adopted by Congress to "strengthen relations" and to "give a substantial advantage" to the trading partners of "the union of the various parts of His Majesty's dominion, based on mutual benefit." There were 500 delegates and a gallery for spectators. An article, possibly by Calvin: "Glimpse of the Traders' Congress" notes that "the gallery was filled almost entirely with women. . . .the fair visitors" accorded the rival speakers a courteous hearing and applauded vigorously during a debate on the "fiscal policy of the Empire" (August 20, 1903).
2 Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) was Prime Minister from 1896-1911 (CBD 866). At the close of the conference Laurier's impassioned speech sought a "treaty" and a commercial agreement for closer trade relations with the Empire. He paid tribute to all parts of the Empire who enjoyed the "full assurance of the blessings of British equality" and had an "intense desire -- to establish closer relations between the Motherland and the colonies." Immediately after the Congress, talks began on planning and financing the railway which "would open up to thousands of settlers the great lone land. There were resources there in minerals, timber and agricultural lands. . . . known from the reports of the many explorers" (August 27, 1903). Laurier helped to plan the intercontinental railway, the Grand Trunk. On July 30, 1903, the Montreal Herald had also reported the full context of Laurier's speech to the Commons (4 pages) on the proposed railroad (G.T.P.) which would continue the line to the Pacific coast and, "in the burning words of the orator" would "bring all parts of our country together in unison to pulsate with one and the same heart."
3 For Mullin family, see W4521.