W5398 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Sep 6 1905
To: Calvin McQuesten Staney Brae, Muskoka
My dear Cal.
This week has been busy in various ways, but I have been really quite upset with Edna's letters, such long ones written in such an excitable way. She had made up her mind to leave John's1 on the Wednesday (Mr. Ketchen's wedding day as set), previous to this she had written Mrs. Marshall my friend in London asking where it was to be and Mrs. M. replied asking her to come on the Saturday and stay over Sabbath. Accordingly what did she do but stay at the Hicks, sending me a special delivery letter not to meet her that Wednesday. When it reached me we had already been twice to the station, but I gathered she was at Mrs. Marshall's. You can imagine my feelings when a long letter came Tuesday, telling where she was, how it had rained so on Saturday she could not go to Mrs. M. and such a thunderstorm at night she had got into a fearful state of nervousness, had gone to Dr. Arnott up there, describing with great intenseness all the doings of Hicks family--she driving about London with Fred Hicks now a teacher. O, I cannot begin to tell you all, but I really was terrified that her brain had given way. But to think of her going in with that set, of whom I had always wished to keep clear.2 It was just too trying and of course I had to keep in for fear of worrying her. However I wrote Mrs. M. explaining the whole state of affairs. Had a card this morning saying she was "feeling fine."
We are expecting the Nosse's at last to-morrow, had a card from him from the King Edward; their visit has been so often postponed will be glad to have it off our minds. You know I advised Mr. Ketchen to call Dr. Arnott and here I have been talked over for not having called Dr. Malloch, so I simply wrote Mrs. Malloch explaining I was under the impression that the Doctor only went in consultation and to old patients. 3
Then I had to defend Dr. Arnott, because Mr. K. came out of the Hospital Monday and went up to London, so I called upon Dr. A. for full explanation; he told me, Mr. K. had had the fever for ten days before he was called; it was "Ambulatory Typhoid," he had been struggling to keep up till wedding was over so he had had it the prescribed 21 days. The doctor was anxious he should remain in hospital for another week, but they persisted in getting him up to London on the understanding he was to be an invalid there. "Between ourselves" Dr. A. thinks it has been a tremendous mistake for a young man of his anxious nervous temperament to take such a charge.5 We have sent up a most beautiful cabinet of silver worth over $200. and I do hope and trust they may both have the health and strength given them to do the work.
I have been trying to help poor Mr. McPhie settle the Manse, it is a perfect shame how few will trouble their heads amongst the men about anything. So Hilda and I picked out all the gas fixtures and to-day I am to select the blinds.
H. & R. [Hilda & Ruby] went to the Exhibition on Wednesday to see the Blue Jackets but alas! it was Children's Day so it was anything but satisfactory, their performance was very brief but they heard the Irish Guards' Band, beautiful music; then they took tea at Mrs. Whittemore's, stayed all night at Mrs. Mackay's and spent the next day with Mrs. Locke and Helen at Mary Trigge's. Then Tom came home with them on late boat, reaching here nearly mid-night, a weary crowd. Tom gathered together his things and started off again by morning boat and was to leave on the Saturday morning for Ottawa. Flute Green had written him to stay over with him till Monday at their summer place up the river until Monday. He still had his cough but I hope the change of air will take it away.
Monday evening we took tea with Mrs. [B.] Fletcher and Mrs. Colin [Fletcher]. Mrs. C. asked most kindly after you, saying she always had a particular interest in you knowing all your struggles.
This is Ruby's last week and of course I am bemoaning myself, I would not feel so much, if I thought she had really had a holiday but there is no such thing here, there is always work to do, and when visitors are continually appearing we have to be prepared. Last Saturday an awful stick from Ottawa sent word he would call, so as his sister is going to teach at College, Ruby had to take him up the Mountain, bring him back to dinner &c. Now he was a McGill man, in the mineralogy department at Ottawa, but as heavy as lead. O dear O dear.
Well, Cal dear, I do hope you are having as easy and quiet a time as possible. With much love from all.
Your loving mother
[P.S.] Can you secure your old room at College? I expect to visit Mrs. Mackay after R. [Ruby] goes.
1 This refers to John Puckridge Baker, Mrs. Mary McQuesten's nephew by her half-brother James Alfred Baker and his first wife Charlotte Puckridge. Apparently, John was an ill-tempered man who had made life difficult for his stepmother, Maria (Mudge) Baker and as it turned out Edna's visit with him was a rather traumatic one for her. For more on John P. Baker, see W5406, W3155.
2 The Hicks family of which Mary speaks is most likely Hattie (Harriett Baker) and her husband, John F. [Frederick?] Hicks and their son Fred. Hattie was one one of John Puckridge Baker's younger sisters.
In 1867, Rev. Thomas Baker wrote to Mary Baker McQuesten (his youngest daughter) that he disapproved of the Mudge family and wished for her to avoid them as well (W3004). Mary, who modelled herself after her father, likely took this prejudice to heart. Around 1869, Mary's half-brother married Maria Mudge and after his death in 1876, Maria cared for her stepchildren with financial support from Rev. Baker. However, John P. Baker often fought with Maria and took advantage of her by never paying board when he stayed with her or paying her for taking care of or making clothes for his son. In 1878 he reported to Rev. Baker some rumours about Maria keeping gentlemen callers for "undue lengths of time" (W3155) and as a result, Rev. Baker removed his grandchildren from Maria's care.
It is entirely possible that, because of the biases inherited from her father and despite some of the less desirable characteristics that John possessed, Mary favoured John P. Baker who often communicated with the Rev. Baker about the family. Mary likely disapproves of Hattie Hicks and the Hicks family in general since Hattie fiercely defended Maria, whom the Reverend saw as being morally corrupt. Furthermore, Maria had been involved in Hattie's marriage to Mr. Hicks which had been kept secret from John and Rev. Baker, possibly to prevent them from interfering. It is quite likely that Mary viewed the Hickses as being "against" her father and was thus suspicious of them. For more details see W3155, W5406.
3 For more on Dr. Ketchen, see
4 For more on Dr. Malloch, see W4582.
5 For more on Dr. Arnott, see W4815.