W5406 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Sep 13 1905
To: Calvin McQuesten Staney Brae, Muskoka
My dear Calvin,
To begin where I left off, the Nosse's arrived on Thursday morning and went to the Royal after which they came to us for lunch, they enjoyed the garden very much. I wonder if I did not tell you all this before. On Friday they went to the Falls and on Saturday Mary and Ruby took them to Burlington and in the afternoon Hilda and I took them to Dundurn, he was much interested in it all, and said he often spoke to Lord Bary, who is on of Earl Grey's A.D.C.
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, John1 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's2 to try and get her better. Irritable beyond description we are at her wits end to please her. Monday was Ruby's last day, and we had the dress-maker too (could not get her before). In the evening Mrs. Turnbull, wife of one of our ministers at Oneida came with her daughter (who is very lame) to stay over night and go with Ruby to the College(that is the daughter). 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 and we had all to be up for the start next morning. Little Mary Taylor was with us too from Saturday to Tuesday. 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.
I have not heard a word from Tom, since he went away, I do not know what he can be doing. We have had fine warm weather but it is quite cold this morning. I do hope you will have a little time with us. I had thought to have gone for a few days to Mrs. Mackay though not particularly anxious, but now it really takes us all to attend to Edna. Edna saw Mr. Ketchen's wedding in the church at London, and was in raptures with everybody and every thing. It is sad poor old Togo's battleship lost, the Japs are having a hard time lately with the Scots &c. Mr. Nosse brought me the most beautiful cushion of white silk with a beautiful scene photographed on the silk in colours are exquisite thing; and we had such a nice letter from him since and cards from the children. With much love from all.
Your loving mother
1 This refers to John Puckridge Baker, Mary's nephew by her half-brother James Alfred Baker and his first wife Charlotte (Puckridge) Baker. He was an ill-tempered man and often treated his stepmother, Maria (Mudge) Baker cruelly, fighting with and often taking advantage of her. She had been quite willing to help out her stepchildren for the sake of James Alfred, who had passed away in 1876, and did what she could to raise the children on a budget of approximately $50-60 every two months, the amount of money her father-in-law, Rev. Baker, sent as support for the children. John, who had a young son, James Alfred (named for his grandfather), was the eldest and seemed to stay with Maria periodically, but never paid any rent or compensated her in any way for taking care of and making clothes for his son and in 1878, he went to Rev. Baker with rumours about Maria keeping gentlemen callers for longer than was considered appropriate. The Reverend wrote to Henry Hart for confirmation but received no information that proved the truth of the rumours. Nonetheless, he decided that Maria was lacking in moral character, removed his grandchildren from her care and they were split up against the dying wishes of their father (W3244).
It appears as though Rev. Baker thought well of John P. Baker since he continued to correspond with John and thus it is likely that Mary also thought highly of him as she modelled her character and moral values after her those of her father. For more details on John Puckridge Baker's character and his relationship to Maria, see W3155, W3108, W3146, W3168, W3244; for more on Edna's visit to his home in 1905 see W5398, W5382, W5367.
2 Likely Harriett (Baker) Hicks, John P. Baker's sister and Mary's niece. Mary did not approve of Edna's association with the Hicks family, see W5398.