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W5487 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jun 7 1906
To: Calvin McQuesten Standoff Alberta
From: 372 Assinaboine Ave Winnipeg Manitoba

Dearest Calvin,

Reached here this morning at 7 o'clock and most thankful to be here. I think I wrote you from File Hills, well on Monday, after the Sabbath, (Communion Service) with the Indians, Mr. Heron, principal of Regina School drove Mrs. Steele and myself over to Regina, a distance of 86 miles.1 We started about 10 o'clock Monday morning a beautiful summer morning, and the scenery as we passed through the ravines and down into the Qu'Appelle Valley was most lovely, the river widens out into a lake and 4 miles from the Fort is the great Catholic School under Father Huguenard, a most vigourous, unscrupulous French priest, who sticks at nothing to bring in the Indians, and who is the greatest difficulty to our missionaries. At the Fort we took lunch with Gus Laing and his wife (a very nice looking young woman).2 You see Mrs. Steele belonged to his father's congregation; he inquired most kindly for you and they were both very kind, he is very much improved.

It began to threaten rain but we started off about 4 o'clock and reached the house of the Indian farm instructor just in time for tea and to escape a heavy thunderstorm. They were hospitable people and Mrs. Davidson a very kind woman, and Mr. Heron says they are glad to see ladies, they see so few.3 Mrs. Steele and I shared a small room, we had driven that day 35 miles and we were up in the morning for 7:30 breakfast.

We started off to get the Interpreter and visit the Reserves--Pasquahs, MusCoetungs [sic], and Piapots. The interpreter, Stevenson, is a half-breed married to a squaw, we had to wait in their house, whilst he got ready. Most providentially for me, the day before he had brought home a new covered buggy and Mr. Heron arranged I was to drive with him. He is a very kind good Xtian man, has been many years on the Reserve and could tell me a great deal, but unfortunately it came on to rain, and poured so that we had to give up seeing the Indians and take most direct route. So we drove 16 miles in the rain to another farm instructor's. Where we found the wife, a very nice little Scotchwoman with two little children (she had come out a bride). She gave us a very good lunch and Mr. Heron pleased her by taking the children's photos, she had been anxious to send their pictures home and had never had the chance. How I pity these nice little women! By this time the rain had stopped. Stevenson left us and we had a delightful afternoon to drive to Regina. We were not tired, the prairie roads are so soft and quiet; we stopped by a stream, rested the horses and ate our own tea, and felt all right till we reached the Regina roads. Then we suffered. Muddy, rough, if the horses went off a walk, we were shaken to pieces. However we finally reached the school, which is 4 miles beyond Regina. We had driven 51 miles. Mr. Heron said, it was an astonishment to him, the way we had stood it. Mrs. Steele and I had a room at the Principal's house, Mr. H. gave us his room, he is a bachelor and boards at the school. It is wretchedly out of repair, built by the government and like a barracks inside and out. It is to be decided by the Assembly whether the Church continues to carry it on; it has not paid so far, but in the face of what the Catholic Church is doing with the Indians, it would be a very wrong thing for the Church to give it up. Mr. Heron has only been there a year, give him time and he will bring it into shape for he is an extremely fine man,4 very manly (went to S. Africa with Strathcona's Horse and was one of the 130 men who were fit for service at the close of the war) and very spiritually minded, 6' ft 4" in height, but delicate, such a pity!5

Well, the morning after our arrival, we were thoroughly tired, it was pouring rain, we had to go out in it to reach the College for breakfast and I could give no ideas of the wind (Regina is celebrated for it worse than Winnipeg) accordingly it is impossible to keep the floors clean, and boys' feet are always muddy and it lies in lumps all over the halls, the dining-room and the school-rooms. Just a sickening place. My plan was to leave Regina that evening for Winnipeg. Mrs. Steele was to remain with a cousin, Mrs. Shaw a sister of Mrs. Jaffary's.6 So in the afternoon Dr. Shaw drove out for Mrs. Steele, he had a covered buggy with a span, so I was providentially brought into the station without being wet, through indescribable seas of mud. In the meantime poor Mrs. Shortreed, ill with a cold, had arrived with her daughter. They were driven in later, in an uncovered Democrat and of course very wet. They were going a few miles on train to Sintaluta and then drive 8 miles to Hurricane Hills, how Mrs. S. would stand it I do not know. In the meantime when my train came in, it was pouring in torrents, we had to make a rush and to reach the Tourist, one must go through a pond of mud or force the dining car porter to let us on, he had just turned down several, when I reached him and insisted that I must get on there, a gentleman backed me up, so he was helpless. On looking into the 'Tourist' felt I could not venture it, so went into a Pullman, no lower berth vacant. However after I had taken my dinner (the first swell dinner since I left home and I had no provisions at all with me and was too tired to go without) I returned to the sleeper and a young lady said, you are going to have my lower berth, it would be a shame for you to climb up. Wasn't it sweet of her? So I had a most comfortable night and reached here this morning, it was not raining and I got up nicely to Mrs. Bryce's,7 but now it is pouring rain again and my plan is to go out to Tenlon Hospital this evening Saturday in the morning; starting for home on Saturday morning but laying off at Kenora, to visit our Cecilia Jeffery School on Lake of the Woods, said to be a beautiful trip. Then I go on Monday night to catch boat at Fort William and expect to reach home on Thursday 14th.8

So glad to receive your first letter at Regina (Mrs. Bryce sent it on) and another dated May 23rd and Macleod P.O. 29th was here when I arrived to-day. Very glad to know, you are feeling better and have a horse; hope it will be just what you like. Sorry to hear Mr. Jaffary is leaving Macleod. Had letter from Ruby also, says E.[Edna] feeling better and brighter all the time, she will be home now. Am so glad according to my suggestion R.[Ruby] is arranging with Miss Middleton to go to Quebec as soon as her holidays arrive. They are going down the Ottawa by Steamer, and she has written to a boarding-house Miss Robinson knows so I hope nothing will prevent their having a lovely time.9

If you have any suggestions as to things or places worth seeing be sure and write her immediately as your letters are so long in coming. The only thing I dread now is having to give an account of my travels, but suppose I shall get through.

I do feel so thankful for the encouraging report of yourself and Edna.10 God is so good to us and I could not but thank Him for the many ways in which my various journeys have been made easier for me. With fondest love, Calvin dear.

Your loving Mother

M.B. McQuesten


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


2 Augustus Albert Laing (1872-1942) and his wife Marion S. Noble were missionaries at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan from 1905-10. His father was John Laing (1828-1902), a pastor in Toronto, Ottawa and Dundas (BDKC 118-19).


3 Likely, Elizabeth (McDougall) the wife of John Shepherd Davidson (1863-1950) missionaries in Manitoba and Saskatchewan for 37 years, from 1903-40 (BDKC 53).


4 I have found no further record of Mr. Heron.


5 During the South African War (Boer War) 1899-1902, "the 3rd contingent, Strathcona's Horse, was funded entirely by Lord Strathcona, Canada's wealthy high commissioner to the UK" (CE 2048, 2015).


6 Mrs. Jaffary was the wife of John Ashton Jaffary (1859-1930), minister and missionary at Macleod, Alberta from 1897-1904. He then moved to Edmonton as librarian of the provincial library there (BDKC 107; W5172, W5512, W7501, W7504, W7506, W9029, W9038).


7 Mary was billeted with Mrs. Bryce at 372 Assinaboine Ave., Winnipeg, at the beginning and end of her trip.


8 On June 15, 1906 Mary described the balance of her trip:

Here I am at last and glad to be at home after five weeks of wandering. Well, owing to a mud slide at Medicine Hat, my train on the Saturday was cancelled so I did not get to the Lake of the Woods at all, but went over to St. Boniface and wandered about the old cemetery. Then Monday morning we took the train to Fort William, we had a beautiful view of the Keewatin Lakes and the Kaurauis Tiqua River and reached Fort William at 9 p.m. We had to have three beds placed in parlour of C.P.R. Hotel, but were quite comfortable. Then Tuesday morning took the Steamer Manitoba, a most beautiful steamer and the lakes were smooth as glass and the steamer works with scarcely a tremor, so it is really a fine trip down through the Sault. Mr. Duncan, our minister there, was on board, and gave me all the information about Clergy's works and the locks. We were two days and two nights on board, reaching Owen Sound on the Thursday morning (yesterday). We arrived at Toronto 1 p.m. (W5502)


9 Miss Middleton and Miss Robinson were Ruby's fellow teachers at Ottawa Ladies' College (W5508).


10 Mary notes Edna's progress in letter of June 15, 1906: "Edna looks fat and cheerful, but is still quiet and not inclined to do anything, but will be all right in time" (W5502). Edna had been hospitalized with a mental breakdown, described in Mary's letters of August and October 1905 (W5382, W5426). Mary often expresses concern for the mental health of both Calvin and Edna, and sometimes her own. She is ever on guard for signs of the family's inclination toward "nervous prostration." In her letter to Calvin July 4, 1906 she fears that he "is not up to work of any kind" (W5524) and declares "You are very like myself in temperament" (W9058).




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