[Written at top] Have just heard that Gartshore's house at Eglinton an acetylene gas explosion is totally burned.W5151 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Apr 20 1904
To: Calvin McQuesten Standoff, Alberta
My dear dear Cal.
Your letter written at Macleod on the day your Conference was to be held, came in this morning. I was glad to think of your being with the Jaffary's and meeting a few people. I am sure you get along well with your preaching. What does Mrs. Jaffary say about it? I thought that outline you gave me of the Saviour's appearances very very good, I never heard it put in that way, but there seems material enough for several sermons, it was so suggestive.
This morning we were all so shocked to hear that Mrs. Smith's (Miss Cawthorpe) only little child of two had been burned to-death, the paper said from matches. Frederick Cawthorpe was its name, I am so sorry, it will be such a trial, she always seemed so proud of it. To-night the Synod opens in Central Church. Mrs. Fletcher is expecting Colin & Mrs. F. Next week our W.F.M.S. meets in Toronto. I am to stay with a Mrs. McKay, Madison Ave.1 Perhaps when I see her I may find I know her, as I did not know of any friends who could take me in I had to write for a billet. I hated to do so, but could not afford to board some place.
It is very wearisome the length of time before Rhodes Scholarship is settled. Cannot understand & Tom never remembers to tell me what they are waiting for, unless it is for Dr. Parkin. In the meantime Tom is doing every thing or getting his friends to do [what] they can. Greg Young thought it would be well if he had a letter from a Judge so Tom saw Tietzel, who was most agreeable. Then he asked me if Falconbridge was a great friend of your father's as A.B. Alysworth said he was always talking of his doings. So I told him to go and see him. It seems so disgusting to have to do all this but Tom seems afraid of Hutton. I cannot understand why except that Loudon and he belong to opposite factions. I had hoped to have it off my mind before our meetings, and it must be hard for Tom.
That fire in Toronto must have been a great disaster in more ways than one. The Varsity Year Book was being printed at Brown Bros. and all were burned except about 200 copies, and Tom feels they must support the committee bringing it out, so that means five dollars to him. As he says expenses seem to be always coming in. Then all the insurance rates are to be raised. It is a most unjust thing. To think of the years these firms have been paying in money and just as soon as a fire occurs must raise the rates. It seems to me, it looks like a great fraud.
Tom sent both R. [Ruby] & us a News with his cartoon, so you need not send any back. I always thought the Standoff people were the best because the McN [?illegible]'s were there but I see by your letter they are at Slide-out, I get mixed up some times.
You say we are so busy here, well you know the work with the Jews does not mean study that is why I do, but it takes two evenings a week, but I do not think we can keep that up always. What we require are more teachers to divide the work. Mrs. Sutherland called on Friday and said they were much amused with the clipping you sent May, it was so appropriate too. Yesterday we had a Mr. McAlpine preach for us, he had been at Knox Church one summer & married Miss Stewart here, & is now at Owen Sound. He is a remarkably handsome young fellow with very graceful gestures and what he says is good too but he gets so terribly excited and shouts and you feel he is tearing himself to pieces. He is here for throat treatment & I do not wonder, for he is simply using himself up. It is such a pity, for he would enjoy it much better, if spoken more quietly.
The Spring is coming slowly, so much frost in the ground and a little bit of snow on our terrace yet. A few crocuses are out, & snowdrops nearly over. But that dreadful back garden is there, and I do not want to put a cent on it. We hear of many things being killed by the frost. Bob Ferrie was asking for you yesterday. Well my news is exhausted. As to the Mormons one could never believe Joseph Smith anything but a vile old beast, and no pure minded man could ever follow him.2 Poor May Mewburn came to bid us good bye to-day, they went off this morning to Calgary. So sorry to lose her, the girls' friends are so few. Well, I hope you are not getting tired out with the preaching. I think it a great strain on the nerves. But there is not much play in this world. With fondest love.
M. B. McQuesten
[P.S.] M & H very busy these days, am afraid they will not be able to write you for your birthday as they hoped.
1 Mary alternates the spelling of McKay for this new friend on Madison Ave. in Toronto. In W5151 and W5157 the spelling is "McKay." It changes to "MacKay" in W5172. This is not the same Mrs. MacKay who is an old friend in Toronto, 75 years old and ill, see W5095. In W5172 Mary visits both MacKays.
2 For an account of a debate on the Mormons, see W5788 and note for Kilpatrick's letter in The Globe.