Nellie James has just brought home your red mittens. Thought you'd enjoy R's letter. Cannot find your box number.W5512 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jun 21 1906
To: Calvin McQuesten Macleod Alberta
My dearest Calvin,
I was very glad indeed to hear you were feeling so much like yourself, but very sorry indeed about the Jaffarys.1 It is certainly most trying to have them go away for I quite understand how you feel, somehow or other it is so difficult to feel quite at home with perfect strangers and one meets so few congenial people. We had a letter from Ruby to-day enclosing me one from person with whom we were to stay on Gatineau and she has to give us up as she cannot get servants, so we are quite upset again.
You will be shocked to hear that Central Church was completely burned out last night. You can imagine our consternation, I was awakened about one o'clock by a glare in my window and a sound like an explosion of an automobile. I looked out and just on the road near our small gate was this explosive light, like natural gas coming out of the front and burning. Then over at McKay's door, it seemed as if people were throwing firecrackers on the street. No one seemed to be on the streets, till at last two young men came along and I heard them say "it is a live wire, they couldn't get in at McKay's so went down the street.2 Shortly after the fire reels all rushed up and I wondered why, when they stopped in front of the church, and we saw just a little smoke coming out, they broke in the glass doors, and out poured the smoke, then there was an explosion and the whole inside seemed to be a mass of flames it must have been burning for hours. The fire-men worked hard and turned on tremendous streams of water, and so confined the fire to the church, but it is completely burned out, it really was a sad sight. I hear there is only $29,000. insurance, but it is just another instance of danger of electricity. One never knows, what freak it may take.3
I am just bothered trying to get my report of the West into shape, there are so many interruptions and we are to have an evening meeting for all. Tom was up on Saturday, but do not expect him this week, he is practising for the rowing races with the Argonauts. Mrs. McKenzie of Staney Brae wrote Mary a kind letter saying she was to have your room for $6. [I] would like to go there too, but thought at first, that it would be monotonous for the whole family to go to one place and now would not like to propose it, as she could not afford to give us all such low rates. Colin Fletcher was very ill with peritonitis, but is much better.4 Hilda is going to the Gartshores5 first then Mrs. Collins and then Bessie Richardson's.6 Hilda did not visit Mrs. Collins. Edna is very cheerful & well & if the girls had not to do the work, we would both rather stay at home. With much love.
Your loving mother
1 For Jaffary, see W5487.
2 The McKays were neighbours of the McQuestens, and Miss Christina McKay and her sister, Mrs. John Lauder (Elizabeth) were members of the WFMS at MacNab Church (Latoszek 25).
3 Central Presbyterian Church was built in 1858 at Jackson and MacNab Sts. In 1908 it was rebuilt at Caroline St. and Charlton (formerly Hannah) Ave, where it stands today. The architect was John MacIntosh Lyle, see W6053, W4436.
4 Colin Fletcher, see W4635, W4479.
5 For Gartshore family, see W4815, W5012.
6 Bessie Richardson may have been related to Rev. Dr. James Richardson (1791-1875) "Bishop M.E. Church," a friend of Mary's father, Rev. Baker (W4172). Hilda wrote in August from the Richardsons (Bessie, Uncle Bob, Edwin) at Walkerton to describe moonlight canoeing on the Saugeen River and fishing for speckled trout. She stayed four weeks (W5502, W5583, W5602, W5606).