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W5382 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Aug 15 1905
To: Calvin McQuesten Staney Brae, Lake Joseph, Muskoka
From: 'Whitehern'

My dearest Calvin,

I was so delighted to hear of your great success on the Anniversary Sabbath. It was really most gratifying and I was particularly glad to know, you had opposed so successfully the chartering of the Islander. They did that the summer we were in Port Carling and we all decided it was a very wrong thing of the church to do, to countenance a Sunday Excursion. I really think it was a very large sum to raise. You must indeed find it almost impossible to get any quiet time at all. This is probably the very worst month, if you stay in September you would get more quiet. Mr. Mack says it would not do to use salts of sorrel, it would rot your shoes to pieces. Shall we send you some pipe clay. On Friday we had Mary Trigge, Mrs. Locke and Helen, Mrs. Mullin1 and Nellie for a farewell tea to Mrs. Locke, they are going to Toronto to live with Arthur Trigge.2 Helen will go nursing so Hilda's last friend is gone.

Joe Thomson's wedding is next Saturday, as Lady Taylor is not well, it is to be a quiet one in the house.3 Mrs. Thomson is very sorry as she will feel quite alone at the wedding, none of her own friends being there, Joe wanted it in the church and to have the Highlanders with himself in Highland uniform. Our girls are much disappointed. Mrs. T. [Thomson] does not like to repeat Laura's opinions of the marriage. L. of course is still away.4 Your rates are very high. Nellie Mullin and Anna Laidlaw were at a place upon the Lake of Bays where they were very comfortable at $5.00 a week single rooms.

I am afraid Edna is not very comfortable with John [Puckridge Baker] because of his incessant arguing against the Bible.5 Lorrie's sister was there and told Edna Lorrie had been much disappointed in John, his violent temper and the way she has to work are very trying. I am regretting I sent her, everything irritates her.6

Tom was in Newmarket last week and tried to find out some of the old land marks. The Registrar, with whom Tom had business, knew of Grandpapa.7 Tom went back there on Monday. Warm close weather last week but Sabbath night came in such a chill I was rather upset.

We had Logie Macdonnell, on Sabbath evening, he managed to give a sort of an address on a Psalm without mentioning the name of Jesus Christ. In fact not a word of the gospel in it. It is almost impossible to conceive of a preacher being really a converted man, who has so little conception of his duty and opportunity in the pulpit. They can never have grasped the thought of a lost soul, or they could not stand up in a pulpit and talk such twaddle. It is really terrible to think of the church in the hands of such men. Certainly Dr. Lyle has been most unfortunate in his assistants.8 Mr. Ketchen is so different, he is so earnest, wears himself out indeed.9

What a lot of people you meet in Muskoka, it is most interesting. You are very gay indeed with all your aquatic events. I noticed the names of the Van Nostrands and Williamsons. Helen Locke said the Dicksons speak so highly of you. Mrs. Hill gets her butter and eggs from them and Mrs. D. is so kind and nice and often brings over hot Johnny cake. They would not have room for Edna would they? It rained all night and so far to-day. Well, dear, there is nothing more worth saying. With much love from all.

Your loving mother

M.B. McQuesten

[P.S.] We had quite an original and amusing letter from Dr. Hutchison, the writing ten degrees worse than yours, so I feel encouraged.10


1 For Mullin family, see W4521


2 The Locke family members, Helen, Charlie, Mary, are often mentioned in the letters. They appear to be related to the Trigge family, see W4635 (W4500, W4525, W4595, W4877, W4885, W4977, W5371, W5183, W5392, W5398, W6173, W6680, W6726).


3 Sir Thomas Wardlaw Taylor (1833-1917) and Lady Margaret (Vallance) Taylor (daughter of Hugh Vallance, merchant, of Dundas and Hamilton). The Taylors lived in Hamilton from 1902-17 and he was an elder of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Hamilton: "For seven generations a member of his family was an elder in the Church" (POH 139). Sir Thomas Wardlaw Taylor had been the Chief Justice of Manitoba and presided at the trial of Louis Riel who was hanged for treason in 1885. In 1897 he was created a knight bachelor by Queen Victoria (MDCB 821; POH 139). Taylor's son, Thomas Wardlaw Taylor (1865-1952) distinguished himself as a barrister, lecturer, minister, missionary and professor at Montreal College (BDKC 233; POH 139). Their daughter Margaret Wardlaw Taylor married J.J.C. (Joe) Thomson in 1905. Another Taylor daughter married Dr. Gilbert Gordon, son of "old Mr. Gordon," see W6347. Sir Thomas Wardlaw Taylor (judge) should not be confused with Judge Thomas Taylor (1778-1837) of Hamilton, writer of the first volume of law reports issued in Upper Canada (DHB 1.192; Campbell 57; W4717, W5026, W5078, W5675, W5683, W6053, W6075, W6359, W6347, W6367, W6383b, W6436, W6718, W6805).


4 For Thomson family and Laura Hostetter, see W4415.


5 John Puckridge Baker, son of Mary's half-brother James Alfred Baker lived at Komoka, Ontario near London. He was ill-tempered and, apparently, could occasionally be cruel, particularly to his stepmother, Maria (Mudge) Baker. For more on John P. Baker, see W5406 and also CMQPW 88a-b, W5313, W5367, W5377, W5371.


6 In August and September Edna's mental health had been failing and on August 7, Mary sent her to stay with her cousin John Puckridge Baker. Mary was very concerned about her "excitable" condition and "fearful state of nervousness" and "really was terrified that her brain had given way" (W5398). Edna stayed with Baker until September 6, became disturbed and left very suddenly. On September 13 Mary wrote to Calvin:

On Saturday evening Edna came home in the most terrible nervous condition, never ceases talking she was commencing with this before she left home, but according to her John drinks and comes home every Saturday in particular raging, insults Lorrie, argues continually till Edna had hysterics; then she declares she was too ill to come home, so Winnie kept her for a few days at Hattie's to try and get her better. Irritable beyond description we are at our wits end to please her. . . . Before we could get Edna quieted for the night, she had a violent fit of the hysterics, such as I had never seen before, which kept us up till nearly 2 o'clock. . . . Altogether such a time! I shall not soon forget it. Yesterday E. seemed a little more like herself but this morning she is very irritable. But Dr. Arnott assures me she will be alright in time. . . . It takes all of us to attend to Edna. (W5406)

On September 19, Mary wrote:

We have been having a very anxious and trying time with Edna. But I think she is considerably better on the whole. But she is simply crazy on the subject of going to school. The failing in physics has never been out of her mind and the craze to go to Queen's so that she could really say she was there. Sometimes I have been afraid her mind had become unhinged. But I trust God in his mercy will save her from that. Everything is so exaggerated in her mind. (W5418)

For the balance of September and early October Mary advised Tom and Calvin not to come home since "Edna needed to be kept as quiet as possible" (W-MCP2-4.051). On October 10, Mary reported a complete breakdown, see W5426.


7 Mary went to school in Newmarket where her father Rev. Thomas Baker was minister of the Congregational Church (CMQPW Sec. 7).


8 Logie Macdonnell was Rev. Dr. Samuel Lyle's assistant at Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton. He may have been related to Daniel James Macdonnel (1840-?) minister of St. Andrew's Church, Toronto in 1875. Daniel had caused a disruption in the Church with his almost heretical views on "the changing theology of the age," and on shortening the Confession "in view of a coming union of the Churches" which was being debated as early as 1893, and finally occurred in 1925 Mary's faith was Fundamentalist and she was strongly opposed to union. For "Higher criticism" and "Union" see W5283 (McNeill 204-07, 248-49; Moir Enduring 172-74, 181, 187, 188).


9 For Rev. Ketchen and family, see W5359.


10 Tom had brought Dr. Hutchison to "Whitehern" to visit in July, see W5359.




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