W5622 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Aug 20 1906
To: Calvin McQuesten Macleod Alberta
From: Bayview Farm Dorset
My dearest Cal,
I was glad to see by weather probs that it was cooler in Alberta, for you would feel the heat very trying; it was extremely warm here on Saturday but is somewhat cooler. On Wednesday we had a great surprise in the shape of David Ross. His story at first was that he had been at home with a sore leg and before going back to his surveying job on the C.P.R. had come up to recruit. At first I quite enjoyed his visit, he got a canoe and we went out paddling and one day I actually started to paddle having got on a stream so shallow that we were in danger of grounding. But alas! it was all a sham. Would you believe it he had come to propose to Ruby! It was last night she told me, and you can imagine I scarcely slept a wink all night. It was a complete surprise to her too, for she had never dreamed of it, he is only 24, Tom's age, is three years younger than R. Of course I know that he is a fine tempered Christian lad, and as R. says they have much in common, she is fond of all the Rosses, but we both think he must wait a while till his prospects are more settled.
I feel rather cross with him thinking about it at all with his mother and sisters all working for a living, but of course he tells R. that he would not be ready for two years. He is working with the head engineer on the new double track of the C.P.R. between Fort William and Winnipeg, gets $100 a month and expects soon $125. Has a man working his homestead, which is 50 miles north of Regina: his plan is to build a home there for his mother and Jean, they expect also to have Bessie's children to bring up.1 But it seems to me that R. ought to do better than this, she is a very attractive girl and it has always been a grievous disappointment that she never seems to meet any one worth looking at.
Then too I do not know whether David's view of things is to be trusted, the Rosses are as a family easily satisfied (I fancy) for they have been brought up very plainly and what D.[David] might consider a very comfortable home I would not at all. R. is not worldly wise enough either. He looks such a boy too and has a weak face sometimes I feel angry at his presumption; he speaks of the wife of one of the engineers, the only lady living in a car and I believe they both think this would not be so bad, poor simpletons. The more I think of it the less I favour it. Sometimes I know I am thoroughly irked, for R. suggests that they might do much home mission work there and I know that is true but it seems as if R. were fitted to take a fine place in a higher sphere. When you write me about this do so on a separate sheet. In the meantime D.[David] is to be told to wait till his prospects have developed2. Edna is writing. Write to Hamilton next time. With much love from all.
1 For Ross family, see W4651.
We have no other reference to a Bessie Ross. The reference to "Bessie's children" may be referring to daughter "Margaret" (Bessie may have been a nickname) who died in 1905, see W-MCP1-3b.013.
2 David Ross was the son of Anna Ross, principal of the "Presbyterian Ladies' College," where Ruby was a teacher. Mary's objection to the marriage and the need to delay may have been motivated by the fact that Ruby's salary was needed for Tom's tuition at university ("a heavy fee" W5744). Tom would not be graduating for another year (June 1907) and his future was not yet secure. On September 4, 1906, Mary wrote of Ruby's teaching: "I do hope this will be the last year for Ottawa" (W5636). David wrote to Tom on October 9, 1906 from the West about his engineering job with the railroad, and he mentioned his "week in Muskoka. . . . Your mother let me take her out in the canoe once-and once only-for, the very next day I upset myself close to shore and so ruined my reputation" (W-MCP2-3b.048). David and Ruby's relationship continued secretly for two years and terminated while Ruby was being treated for tuberculosis in Calgary in 1908 (W5908) at which time it was David's decision to terminate (W6302). For David Ross and Ruby, see W5630, W5654, W5697, W6135, W4730, W9058, W6281, W6302), and see Ruby's biographical sketch.