W5233 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jun 13 1904
To: Calvin McQuesten Standoff Alberta
My dear dear Cal,
Your letter of the 4th came in this morning. Last week no letter came at all. We all got home from Toronto on Saturday.1 On the Tuesday afternoon Mrs. MacKay let me have the carriage and I made a number of calls, amongst others at the Hills, where I found Mrs. Hills with one hand tied up, she told me for months she had been laid up with blood poisoning, the result of picking the dead flowers off a primula, which is poisonous to some, both her hands and her face were swollen up and she had a terrible time.
That evening took dinner with the Vander Smissen's. Edith is a quite handsome girl, has passed her first year at Varsity and tied with another girl for Blake Scholarship in
French & German.2 After dinner came in Prof. Milner and Dr. Walker, but did not see much of them as they went off to play cards. The next morning Mrs. MacKay proposed that Mary should come down if she could share my room, so I was only too glad, as I had been wishing she could come and see the pastoral play with us. Hilda was invited to stay with Mary Trigge.3 So I sent off a letter by special delivery on Wednesday, and M. came down on boat with H.
Tom had already got seats for "As you like it" in the afternoon for himself and me, and then he got seats for them for "Midsummer's Night Dream" in the evening. It was great extravagance, but it was a great treat and sometimes one gets reckless and I just feel the girls will get behind the times, if I do not make an effort sometimes. Fortunately the weather was fine, and the play was perfectly beautiful. Ben Greet says that the Dean's garden so-called at Varsity is the best scene for these plays of all the places they have found. The platform slightly raised and covered with green is beneath two immense branching forest trees, the Sun shone and the birds sang and the singing of the foresters was perfectly beautiful. It was all too lovely for words. Rosalind is beautiful and Ben Greet as Jaques and Field as Touchstone were killing. Isn't Shakespeare wonderful. The quaintness and wisdom strike one so forcibly when you hear it well recited. Miss Mathison has such an exquisite voice. The girls said the "Midsummer's Night Dream" was lovely, the fairies were so lovely, they were orphans from "The Dorothy Dix" Home at Boston. Tom said it was very pretty most amazing but not so worth seeing as "As You Like It."4
The next day Friday was Convocation in the gymnasium; Mrs. Mullin, Mary Trigge & Sydney Stevenson5 came to go with us, we went early and got good seats. Am sending you a programme, all these Eminent Men for LLD, spoke and then introducees [sic] and I enjoyed hearing them but it was after four before they were through and by the time all was done, it was half-past five and it rather spoiled the Garden Party, for we waited for Tom and I think a great many had come & gone. At any rate scarcely any of Tom's friends were there. I spoke to Mr. Coyne, Prof. Loudon, Mrs. Dickson, Mr. and Mrs. Gregory, Mrs. Dr. Palmer, Dr. & Mrs. Richardson, Constance & Evelyn Henderson & young Kellogg, but that was all.6 Prof. Hutton came up and spoke to Tom at some distance from me, I was quite pleased to watch the calm dignified expression on Tom's face, he never seemed to reply but just listened to what he had to say. I Believe about all he said was that Tom had "made a lot of trouble for them to decide." But Hutton evidently has a great deal of force and he just carried it by his determination. Loudon looks nothing beside him and you cannot hear him at all. Was so sorry McGregor Young was not at the Garden Party, was so anxious to meet him for he did more than any one else for Tom and is the finest looking man on the staff. Tom enjoyed the dinner at night very much.7
This morning I met Sandwell he is leaving for the Old Country on Tuesday, he lost a sister some time ago, said he would write you upon return. Expects just to have a quiet time at home, spoke of it as a duty visit. He said Tom should have had that scholarship. He thought he had done awfully well, to do what he did, with the managership of Varsity, as the work for that is enormous.
At Convocation the funniest thing was that among the Pharmacists was just one girl, a very pretty one too, and the students sang with great gusto "Just one girl," then of course the Agriculturalists were greeted with the most amusing noises from the barn yard. Harold Lazier took his M.A. & L.L.B.8
Yesterday we had Mr. Cunningham and really we can scarcely listen to him, his sermons are nothing but essays, delivered in a very uninteresting manner, no Bible instruction whatever, nothing to arouse a sinner's attention, as young Howitt said to me afterwards.9 Arthur Howitt called on Tom in the afternoon and I had him for tea, and he went to church.10 He is travelling for New York firm and is going out to the coast.
Peter Taylor took his degree and has started for his field near Brandon, but none of the students think he will ever do at all and he is doubtful himself, he has no way "of giving the glad hand" as Tom says.11 The Pastoral Players are to be at Highfield to-morrow so I am sending Edna with Mrs. Mullin to-morrow afternoon.12 Am sure she will be enchanted with "As You Like It."
Ruby has been calling on Mrs. Ogilvie and heard that Mr. & Mrs. Skeoch had only been in Montreal for three weeks. After they came back from the old country Mr. S. was so ill they thought he would die but the doctors got him off for Trinidad & he was there all winter and is now much better. Mrs. Skeoch was asking for Ruby & wanted her for Easter, but was not at home. Ken Trigge seems just to be going down and down, but R. [Ruby] did not give particulars.13
The fire in Toronto was a very serious affair for Mr. MacKay. Gordon told me he lost $50,000. The firm rented the warehouse from him and he had also bought the building next so the loss fell on him, the Stock was really very small. Mr. MacKay told Maggie he felt as if he should go out of his mind, between it all, paying $35. a week for Willie at Deer Park & $18. to Mrs. MacKay's nurse and Gordon's marriage, and there was some trouble there for Mr. MacKay paid the doctor's bill for the wife at the hospital. Drummond is becoming like a child with constant smoking and drinking. Mrs. MacKay's mind is quite clear now which is a comfort, but she is very weak and can only talk a little, but would like me always with her so have promised to go back again with Ruby and stay a little while, but it is a very sad household and I do not know what to say to Mr. M. He has lost all his joking now, poor man.14
It is really maddening to think of those rude stupid people letting that child spoil all your good sermons. I suppose if you stopped and said you could not speak unless they could listen you would offend them & do harm that way, but I cannot speak at all unless I can meet people's eyes. It is strange the mother would not have the sense to take it out, they are such ignorant people and I am sure have not the faintest idea of how much a sermon costs you. Do not suppose they appreciate a good sermon when they hear it, if you only had some friend who could speak for you.
Hilda has just come in from Grace Rioch's and her wedding is postponed, the man is ill again. It is too provoking to think how Mrs. Rioch and Grace could shut their eyes and not see what a poor sick old looking man he was, but she just seemed mad to get married.15 Poor Aleck Harvey, the last of that family was buried here yesterday. Well, I must close, we expect Ruby on the 25th. Do not work too hard, it is not wise. Mary had card from Herbie Bell, just starting on Steamer Cassels North German Lloyd.16 Poor Tom is working away at the garden. With fondest love from us all.
Your loving mother
1 Mary was visiting the MacKays in Toronto, and stayed there for Tom's graduation (W5172).
2 W.H. Vander Smissen had been Mary's principal at Newmarket County Grammar School in 1865 (W4220). In April 1904, Mary had solicited Vander Smissen's help in attempting to secure the Rhodes Scholarship for Tom: "Vander is doing his very utmost and others too" (W5122). Tom commented to Calvin "Old Vander is working like an Indian for me, he is a pretty kind hearted old chap. I wish his influence was greater" (W8171). Edith was likely his daughter (W4221, W5122, W6097).
3 Mary Trigge was the sister of Kenelm Trigge. For Trigge family, see W4635.
4 Ben Greet, Sir (1857-1936) Shakespearean actor and director toured Canada and the U.S. with "The Elizabethan Stage Society of England" ("Ben Greet Papers." Catnyp ONLINE). The "Whitehern" archive contains two programs from the Ben Greet Company. The first is undated except for June 4th and 5th, for "As You Like It" and "Comedy of Errors" at McGill University grounds, open-air performances. Ben Greet again played Jacques and Miss Mathison played Rosalind. In "Comedy" Greet played Dromio of Ephesus and Miss Mathison played Adriana (W7962). The second program is for "Everyman": "The 15th Century Morality Play," dated week of March 9-14, 1903, produced and directed by Ben Greet at The Academy of Music in Montreal. The program contains a synopsis of the play. A final "SPECIAL NOTICE!" provides an insight into the audiences of the day: "This programme is furnished by the Management for your convenience, but not to be used as an annoyance to ladies and gentlemen occupying orchestra chairs. The using of this programme as a missile is a misdemeanour, and will be dealt with accordingly" (W8044).
5 For Mullin family, see W4521.
For Stevenson family, see W5172.
6 It is likely that Mary is referring to Velyien Henderson. For Joseph Henderson family, see W5283.
7 For Rhodes Scholarship, see W5199.
8 Harold Lister Lazier (1879-1950 lawyer, son of Stephen Franklin Lazier, Q.C.(1841-1916) and his wife Alice Maud Mary Lister, lived at 67 (later 131) Charles St., had two sons and three daughters, attended Centenary Methodist Church and supported Liberal politics. Mrs. Lazier was the daughter of the builder of the Lister Block in Hamilton. Their daughter Ethel was engaged to Dr. Heurner Mullin in 1906 (W5636), son of Dr. John A. Mullin (see W4521). Another son, Ernest Franklin became a judge and married Daisy Hillman in June 1903 (W4988). The Laziers are "of a proud and prolific lineage that can be traced back through United Empire Loyalist stock to Francois le Sueur of France," and the Laziers represent several generations of judges and lawyers in Hamilton (DHB2.89; Tyrell 146; W4521, W4988, W5122, W5636, W7040).
9 For Cunningham, see W4835.
10 Likely, Arthur Hamilton Howitt who became an Anglican clergyman like his father F.E. Howitt (see W5199, DHB3.94).
11 Peter Taylor was likely not related to Sir Thomas Taylor (W5382) since Mary's description of his wedding in 1909 to Miss Williams suggests that "her aunts" were "ashamed of Peter's relations" (W6466). Miss Williams was likely the daughter of James Miller Williams (1818-90) whose wife and daughter-in-law were members of the WFMS at MacNab (DHB1.211; Latoszek 25). Peter Taylor never reached Brandon. He was born in Hamilton (1883-1940), took his degree in 1904, Yale D.S. 1904-05, Knox College, 1902-04, 1905-07, assistant registrar at University of Toronto, 1907-08, pastor 1909-16, Osgoode Law School, 1916-19, pastor, High Park, Toronto, 1925-27, ordained missionary, Sutton and Mount Pleasant, 1939-40 (BDKC 233).
12 Highfield College was founded in Hamilton at Ravenscliffe just west of Bay St. by John Henry Collinson, educator (1861-1941) with assistance from Sir John Hendrie and Sir John Gibson (DHB3.37). It was gutted by fire in 1917 and reopened in 1920 as Hillcrest (later Hillfield) at Main and Queen Sts. Then it moved to the Dundas Highway and, in 1963, Hillfield and Strathallan Colleges opened at the corner of Garth and Fennell Sts. on Hamilton Mountain as a coeducational school (Campbell 225-26).
13 For Kenelm Trigge and Trigge family, see W4635. There were rumours from several sources that Kenelm Trigge was living with a woman, Annie, and that he might have fathered her child. However, it turned out that she was a young widow with a child and that they were married (W6256, W7489, W5736).
14 For MacKay family, see W4297.
15 For Grace Rioch and her brother, John, see W4582.
16 For Bell family, see W4531. For Herbie's illness, see W5199.