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W5172 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
May 9 1904
To: Calvin McQuesten Standoff Alberta
From: 'Whitehern'

My dear dear Cal,

I wish I had a typewriter for last week was so full that I can scarcely write it all. Before I forget, we read with interest your account of the Mormon leader, and it read well. I am sorry to think you are losing your power of writing you had such great hopes in that line when you went west, but of course if you are succeeding in the preaching it is an equally great power. But I would not let the writing go altogether, when opportunity offers to write up something.

Well, to go back, on Monday evening we had a very jolly Anniversary Tea.1 Mr. & Mrs. Clark2 of London and Dr. John Pringle were there, they are all extremely nice and pleasant and we had a lovely Tea of cold meats, salads, cake, tea & coffee, brown & white bread & butter. Dr. Pringle does not care much about the D.D. [Doctor of Divinity] does not think it very suitable but Mr. C. says it will do for "dog driver."3

Tuesday at noon I started off for our meetings and went straight to the church, St. James Square [Toronto].4 We had our opening meeting in the afternoon and then I went up to Madison Ave. where I was billeted with Mrs. MacKay,5 found them a delightful family three dear children the oldest seven and the youngest a little girl of two, two boys and a girl. They attend Dr. MacTavish's church.6 MacKay knew you and dined with you once at Mr. Leslie's in Montreal.7 I could not find out exactly his business but he had to go back every night. A Scotchman but with English manners very gentlemanly and he is very careful in bringing up the children, always has them playing in the morning! He wished to be remembered to you.

In the evening we had a conference, at which I proposed our bringing in a resolution of sympathy with the missionaries. We had determined to do this and I had written it before leaving home for several of us felt something had to be done to cheer the missionaries and with the unhappy feeling in the Board now over the Wilkie Case, we feel no certainty of anything, however everyone agreed.8 On the Wednesday I had luncheon with Mrs. Henderson,9 her house was taken up with Mrs. Steele10 and a cousin, of course they asked for you.

In the afternoon I read my resolution, then I asked the audience to pass it by joining hands & singing one verse of "Blest be the tie." Then I said "We have with us to-day Dr. Oliver who has given 18 yrs of her life, and Miss Sinclair who has given 15 years,11 and two other Missionaries who have given almost ten years in the service of this Society and we want them to carry back with them the brightest and happiest memories of this Annual Meeting and tell the missionaries when they go back how much we sympathize with them & how much we love them."12 Then the audience clapped for which I was glad. I received many thanks for this effort, numbers came up afterwards & spoke, missionaries & their friends, Mrs. John Taylor's mother from Owen Sound amongst others.13 Mr. Telfer was pleased too. After this Miss Sinclair gave simply a magnificent address, she was on her mettle and she did splendidly, she feels that so many are against her amongst the Toronto people, not so many as she thinks though.

In the evening I did not go to the Public meeting in Cook's Church but rested myself & Tom came over and spent the evening. He just looks the picture of health though his exams are on, he never looks the least worried. He told me that Prof. Hutton has not a friend among the Profs. I thought Ramsay Wright might be, but isn't at all, then Chancellor Moss is one of the Committee and Wm. Blake a fraternity man is to influence him and A.B. Aylesworth is to speak to Falconbridge to influence Moss also. It is most amusing to hear of all the wire-pulling. Then Tom saw Tietzel, who was most agreeable, gave him the glad hand like a true politician, said of course he knew him well and would write him a nice letter. He also met Falconbridge at lunch & would speak a word.14

The next day Thursday was our board meeting, I tried to get Miss Sinclair appointed as handling secretary for a few months but could not carry it. Then I had the question drawer. There were the usual questions about various matters, then came a set fishing Miss Sinclair to answer, such as "Will Miss Sinclair give who of the Famine girls in five years in the Board School were prepared to be qualified teachers. I, their number, II, their names, III, the place where they are now employed. Five different papers of questions and in each several questions as to details and one referring to the "Middle" School.15 As I read them out, they struck me as very strange & Mrs. Shortreed too and we thought it absurd, but presently Miss Sinclair, after answering a number in the most remarkable way, said aloud this is a trap, and Mrs. Shortreed stopped it.16 Mrs. Telfer asked me to lunch with her and I was so pleased to go they are so kind, but I heard so much from them, of how the advisory board of four keep things too much to themselves and through this Wilkie affair the Board is no longer a united one. She also told me when inquiring for you that Miss Grey was so delighted to receive your picture & a letter, it pleased her so much.

Then we finished that afternoon and as Mrs. Clark had very kindly asked me in the morning went down to Government House for dinner. There they were all just as cordial and kind as could be and I was shown the house and spent the evening and heard a great deal of the MacKays from Mrs. Clark.17 They have left Dundas [St] and moved to a house in the Park just next north of the Proudfoot's old one.

Gordon [MacKay] was married a year ago last March by a Methodist Minister on Bathhurst St. It was discovered when the Coachman took some things to St. Michael's Hospital for Gordon who was ill there; he was not in his room when nurse said he was downstairs with his wife she was ill there too. Of course when the men brought the news home Mrs. MacKay had to be told, she spoke to Gordon saying she must tell his father when he said, if she did his father would disinherit him & he would go out and blow his brains out. This was the final blow that broke Mr. MacKay's heart, and gave her the death blow. Mrs. Clark, however, made "William" tell Mr. MacKay and endeavoured to persuade him to speak to Gordon and have him live with his wife and make themselves fit. Mr. Clark made all the inquiries and found out if they were properly married and went to St. Michael's Hospital. The Mother Superior said she was not an educated person but I saw Mrs. Winchester since and she told me Mr. Winchester had gone to see her and she was a pretty little thing & he thought she had married him thinking to reform him. But as yet Mr. MacKay has said nothing and taken no steps, so Mrs. Clark thinks she can do no more, she feels very badly about them. She really is such a kind good woman, and it was quite a treat to see Government House, it is so beautiful with all the Clark's handsome things, and one is apt to get rusty as to table usages if one is always out of it. The next day I bade good-bye to Mrs. MacKay, my kind hostess. Mr. M.. arranged to send all my belongings to the Station for me and I started off to see my friends.

Mrs. Whittemore has sold her house and may go to Parkdale.18 Then I went to Mrs. MacKay's, she has failed greatly since I saw her and can speak very little, had longed so to see me, the house is a fine one. Mrs. M. had been brought in the Ambulance. Leila could stay no longer and goes home next week. Mr. M.. had a bad fall in the winter near his barn door, came in blood streaming from his head and hand. He was in bed for two days with ice to his head and his finger is still much swollen but of course Mrs. MacKay knows nothing of it, her arteries are all hardening which affects both her brain and kidney and her head cannot be raised at all. I cannot think she can last long.19 Mr. M. had none of his old jokes. It is a very sad household to contemplate, some-thing [sic] Drummond is married too. Then I took the cars up to Mrs. Stevenson's & had lunch with her & Sydney. Miss Proudfoot is Sec. Treas. to a New Ladies' Club in Toronto so I took car down & saw her.20

Then I did a little shopping and went to an Afternoon Tea at Mrs. Shortreed's, Bloor St. East. There we had a great crowd of missionaries and our own ladies. Mrs. Telfer was telling Mrs. Hamilton what a fine work you were doing, Mrs. Jaffary was sure you would succeed,21 saw Mrs. Gregory too, but she never invited me to her house and paid any attention at all, rather strange I thought. Then Mrs. Henderson took me home with her to dinner, but I just had time for a plate of soup and then went off. Tom met me at the Station and reached home between 8 & 9. One day a Mrs. Anderson of St. James Square introduced herself and asked most kindly for you. Poor Miss Tillie Robinson has completely broken down & is resigning from Fleming Revello,22 I think she just needs a rest. Mr. McTavish looked worn out. Send you a "Globe" of one day, meetings hardly reported at all.

Well, I must close. Had Mr. Cunningham again preaching yesterday.23 He did not impress me at all, but I was very sleepy. I felt so well & strong at the meetings, better than for years. If I could get $15000. for our whole property will I take it. With fondest love in which all join.

Your loving mother

M.B. McQuesten


1 The occasion was the 50th anniversary of MacNab Church which began as a wooden building on the site in 1854. Dr. Calvin McQuesten had donated funds and arranged the financing for the new Free Church (Wee Kirks 91; POH 77).


2 Likely, Rev. and Mrs. William James Clark (1860-1947) pastor in London, Ontario 1890-1907. Mary described him as "a most delightful preacher. . . . something particularly winning about his way of putting things. . . . really beautiful" (W5157).


3 Likely, Dr. John Pringle, missionary in 1899, to twelve hundred miners in the Klondike and at Atlin, British Columbia. "Pringle made a three-week winter trek to Fort Wrangell, tramping through slush up to his knees, covering only four miles in one six-hour period and eating the netting of his snow shoes to stay alive." He asked the Church to send nurses to the miners and "organized a building bee . . . and the result was St. Andrew's Hospital, the first Presbyterian hospital in Canada." He was a very colourful speaker as he travelled about collecting funds for the hospital at Atlin (Moir Enduring 162-3; W5191, W5199, W5221, W6343, W6446).


4 Mary was attending the WFMS annual meeting in Toronto (See also W5157).


5 Note that these MacKays with whom Mary has been billeted are not related to the Donald MacKays who lived at 5 Queen's Park Cr., close friends of the McQuestens. These MacKays lived at 84 Madison Ave, Toronto (W5157). However, the Donald MacKays and their two sons also appear in the later part of this letter.


6 For Dr. MacTavish, see W4479.


7 Mr. A.C. Leslie, see W4651.


8 For the Wilkie Case, involving gender conflict among the missionaries, see W4651. See also Miss Sinclair below.


9 For the Joseph Henderson family, see W5283.


10 For Mrs. J. Emily Steele, see W4387.


11 For Jean Sinclair, see W4651, W5199. In January 1904, Mary had reported to Cal on the long-standing "gender conflict" in the field in India and the rumours that had been circulated by Wilkie against Miss Sinclair:

Four years ago she wrote Mrs. Shortreed that she could keep quiet no longer as to the condition of things there with Dr. Wilkie and her letter was taken no notice of. . . . and the ladies received her with the greatest coldness. . . . Dr. Wilkie had been telling falsehoods about her. . . .[that she and Dr. Marion Oliver] had gone to a ball at Government House in full dress. So I just asked her and she denied it altogether. It has been a very great injustice, and yet I do not know how to help her. (W-MCP1-1.028, January 11, 1904) For Wilkie, see W4651.

Mary's defence of Sinclair at this meeting eventually assisted in her vindication. She was the headmistress of the boarding school at Indore and had a long and successful career in missionary school and evangelistic work "to lift up [her] degraded sisters in heathendom" (Moir Enduring 109; Brouwer 157-58, 54). In 1906 she married Rev. James Sutherland MacKay in the field and they engaged in direct and "district evangelism" in the open bazaars and gatherings. Her husband was a kinsman of Rev. R.P.MacKay, secretary of the Foreign Missions Committee (Brouwer 103). I have found no relationship between these MacKays and the Donald MacKays of Toronto (W4297).


12 Dr. Marion Oliver (1855-1913) from Perth County, Ontario, graduated from the Women's Medical College at Kingston (est. 1883) and was one of the first women to go to India as a medical missionary and teacher (1886-1912). She "was a combative participant in Central India's mission politics" involving John Wilkie, and she and Miss Sinclair were involved in the "gender wars" or "gender conflict" in the mission field. Initially Wilkie courted their support but later they felt he had betrayed them. Sinclair accused him of being "unscrupulous" in his "policy to crush what he cannot control," and Oliver made the initial accusation that Wilkie was addicted to "pernicious drugs." Rev. John Thomson Taylor and Dr. Margaret Wallace shared these suspicions (Brouwer xiv, 58, 130-61, 157-58, 196).

On Janury, 31, 2010, I received the following E-Mail from the relatives of Dr. Margaret Wallace, Caitlyn O'Connell:

"Dear Dr. Anderson, My name is Caitlyn O'Connell and I am a 24-year old teacher and aspiring writer living in California. I am in the preliminary stages of research regarding my paternal family history. I stumbled across the Whitehern website while researching my great-great-aunt Dr. Margaret Wallace, originally of Essex, Ontario. Her sister, Alene (also Aileen) Wallace, was my paternal great-grandmother. (Alene married my great-grandfather William O'Connell--originally from Ireland--and the two moved to northern California where my grandfather William Wallace O'Connell was born in San Francisco.) I've always been intrigued by the tale of Dr. Margaret (1869-1963), a female physician in the late nineteenth century with an impressive list of credentials who spent most of her time working in China and India. The notes I have about her are as follows: 'Graduation M.D.C.M. Toronto; Hunan, China--August 9, 1898 from Vancouver, BC; India--Calcutta, December 31, 1900 to 1903; India--October 1908 to May 19--Medical College, Punjab); India--Dhar C.T., 1929-1938. I also have in my possession numerous photographs of her as a young woman. In any case, I came across this footnote to a letter from Mary Baker McQuesten to her son Reverend Calvin McQuesten dated May 9, 1904'." Ms Caitlin O'Connell quotes the above footnote, and then continues:
"I concluded due to Hamilton's proximity to Essex, the fact that Dr. Margaret was seemingly not out of the country during this time period, and Dr. Marion Oliver's association with India that this Dr. Margaret Wallace must be my relative. I confess I'm not really sure what to ask of you after providing you with this information. Have you any unpublished information about Dr. Margaret? To what does the Brouwer citation refer? Is this a book or a paper? What was her role in the McQuesten family? Or was she not associated at all?
Any information at all that you may provide would be highly appreciated. Kind regards, Caitlyn O'Connell Los Angeles, California Sarah Lawrence College '07 caitlyn.caleah@gmail.com"

If anyone has any information about Dr, Margaret Wallace, please forward it to me or to Caitlyn O'Connell.


13 Likely, Mrs. Andrew Taylor (Margaret Scott) (d.1906, W5464) mother of Rev. Dr. John Thomson Taylor (1870-1955) born at Galt, Ontario. He and his wife, Harriet E. Copeland from Collingwood, Ontario, were missionaries at Indore from 1899 to 1945, he as a professor and principal of Indore College, and she as a teacher. He was involved in the Wilkie case and supported Miss Sinclair and Dr. Oliver (see Sinclair, Oliver W5172n, Wilkie W4651). He wrote two books on the missionary work: In the Heart of India: The Work of the Canadian Presbyterian Mission (1916) and Our Share in India (n.d.) These books are not in the Whitehern library (BDKC 232-33; McNeill 119; Brouwer 157-58, 184, 223; W5172, W5464, W6805). (For Copeland, see W5464, W6732, W6801, W6805).


14 The "wire-pulling" at the University of Toronto is in aid of Tom's bid for the Rhodes Scholarship, see W5199.


15 During the Indian famine of 1900 a Foreign Mission Council resolution had warned against neglecting the evangelical work of the mission for famine relief. The missionaries argued against the resolution and conveyed the urgency and "unspeakable need for giving immediate relief." Taylor noted that by 1916 the famine orphans who remained with the Mission had been converted to Christianity and were becoming mission workers themselves (Brouwer 121-27).


16 Mrs. Mary Shortreed was president of the WFMS senior executive board in Toronto from 1899 to 1911. She had been engaged in a gender struggle at home with the "all-male" Foreign Missions Committee (FMC) who were determined to set up a Women's Home Missionary Society (WHMS) to minister to the Indians and the immigrants in the Canadian West. She argued that the women missionaries abroad (India, Japan, China) were "doing work that only women could do" since the women were often sequestered. Also the home focus would reduce their abilities and their funds. The FMC wanted access to these funds and accused them of hoarding large sums of money and ignoring the needs of the West. The FMC prevailed and the WHMS was formed in June 1903 as an auxiliary to the FMC. A "spirit of rivalry" and "competition for funds" developed between the two auxiliaries. Those in the West were openly hostile to the work abroad and demanded a united women's missionary society but various efforts at "fence mending" failed. The "all-male" General Assembly placed restrictions on the WFMS in 1906 and the struggle continued but, eventually in 1910, the WFMS and the WHMS agreed to "try to work out a basis for union." Mrs. Shortreed complied with the "order," facilitated the change, and promptly resigned in 1911. In 1912 the FMC took a "hard-line" approach and finally, in 1914, they were "forced to unite" to form the WMS. Many of the leaders of the WFMS, including Mary, capitulated and formed the new executive, but felt that they "had been coerced into union" (Brouwer 46-51; W5382, W5765, W6853 ). Mary continues her resistance in 1915, see W6853.


17 Sir Mortimer and Daisy Clark were related to the Donald MacKays. For Clark family, see W4902. For MacKay family, see W4297.


18 For Whittemore family, see W4815.


19 Mrs. MacKay did not die at this time but became quite ill and did not recover. She died in March 1907 (W5804). For the MacKay family, see W4297.


20 Miss Jessie Proudfoot and Miss Sydney Stevenson had moved from Queen's Park Cr. after Hon. William Proudfoot's death. On August 18, 1903 Mary wrote to Cal about Proudfoot's death: "On Monday went up to see Jessie Proudfoot, she looks wonderfully well but I see she can hardly speak about her father, at the same time he must have been a constant care and strain upon her. She spoke about your 'lovely letter' and said she fully intended answering them, but not quite immediately" (W5078). Proudfoot died suddenly on August 4, 1903 in his eightieth year after a fall and head injury (W5053). His death occurred just eight months after the death of his brother, Rev. Dr. John J.A. Proudfoot (W4759). Jessie did answer Calvin's letter on August 26, 1903, and described her father's death as "a beautiful ending to a good and noble life" (W7432). For Proudfoot family, see W4759.

Miss Sydney Stevenson lived with Miss Jessie Proudfoot and her father until his death in August 1903 (W4605, W5012, W5053, W5063, W5074, W5078, W5233, W5333, W5470, W5477, W5524, W7018, W-MCP3-5.007, W-MCP3-5.011).


21 For Jaffary, see W5487.


22 Fleming H. Revello Co., a publishing company in Chicago.


23 For Cunningham, see W4835.




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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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