W5630 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Aug 27 1906
To: Calvin McQuesten Macleod Alberta
From: Bayview Farm Dorset
My dearest Cal,
All being well this is my last letter from here. We start home on Thursday and just think of poor us the boat leaves at half past five, and the mornings lately have been misty and chilly for rain has been threatening and falling since Saturday. It was very trying to have another wet Sabbath yesterday; one cannot read all day. Ruby received some very interesting views of Portsmouth from Dr. McDonald (her Ottawa friend) he was travelling abroad and it seemed so fortunate that he sent views from there for all the places. I was most glad to see views of Southsea (where he was staying) and Portsmouth.1 He really has been very kind to R. he sent her a green tie from Ireland and she wrote thanking him when he replied sending the views.
We had a great thunderstorm here yesterday and the thunder reverberates round the hills and we see such beautiful rainbows. I wonder if I mentioned seeing about three weeks ago a fine display of Northern Lights and a wonderful circle of light just like a bow reaching completely over the heavens from Dorset shore to ours. Later in the Times Mary saw an article by R. Marsh, it was a moon-bow and as fine as he had seen in Labrador.
Every one, including the Misses Shaw went out of our house last week, so we have fine quiet sleeps for the first time, for this early departure and late arrival of steamers is the great trouble of this place and it is a serious one for a bad sleeper like myself.
David Ross went off on Thursday, he is such a restless jump-about, it was quite a relief. I feel thoroughly cross, every time I think of him, speaking to any girl before he had any settled living at all with his mother a poor worn out looking woman. It is a crazy idea too, that they have of Mrs. Ross and Jean settling out on a homestead 50 miles north of Regina on which a house has to be built.2 But then I am afraid, I am too worldly wise, it troubles me very much too, to think that I am.
Have the August Westminister but am waiting for family to read it, and will send it, unfortunately it was left out on the verandah and got wet. Did I mention to you that Percy Robertson failed again in his examinations, his mother told me, the evening before I left home, her trials with him, and she is determined not to send him back to college.3 I just feel sorry for her, denying herself and he simply pleasing himself; she is far too amiable. Irwin Proctor had been no help to him, having lots of money and it seemed too bad he should have got through. Mrs. P. thought he would not, for he had been wasting his time.4 Dear me! I am thankful my sons never gave me such anxiety, it would have been the hardest trial and is, that a mother can endure. It was very sad the drowning of that young McQueen. Will send the Presbyterian of last week after the family has read, there are one or two interesting items. Mr. McGillivray in China had such a narrow escape.5 Now that the Jaffarys are gone you would not see church papers6. Cannot you persuade the McNeils to take it, it would do the young men good to keep in touch with the church.
Will send the family letters so you can know what they are doing. Had a letter from Mrs. Bell from St. Joseph's Hospital, she went back from Muskoka to get the house ready with a servant before Mr. Bell got back from sea-side, and Herbert is to be home this week; she felt ill but she as usual made desperate effort and made red currant jelly, then telephoned for doctor as she was only able to move.7 So was taken in ambulance and Heurner Mullin8 (Dr. Malloch9 being away) attended; it was inflammation of the bowels, but she escaped an operation. You will be glad of cooler weather but the warm weather is best for this region, but you always liked the cold and it would be more bracing.
It was fortunate Convocation Hall was ready for B.M. Association meetings. Think when I return, I shall have Tom pay his and your subscription to the fund. Do not like the bills coming and sometime you can pay me back. With much love from all.
Your loving mother
1 Mary's father Rev. Thomas Baker, was born in Portsea, England (now a suburb of Portsmouth) in 1795/6 (Minnes 1)
2 For Davd Ross and Ruby, see W5622. For Ross family, see W4651. On July 12, 1907 Mary gave Mrs. Ross's report of their first year in the West:
Mrs. Ross writes of her Western home in glowing colours, but I understand why, she enlarges on the beauty of David's as well as her own. In the meantime they and their belongings are crowded into D's small house, theirs will not be built till next year. Poor David has to build it, it will be of logs plastered over. Of course I can understand Mrs. R.'s satisfaction in having a spot she can call her own and being with David, but when the winter comes it will not be so delightful. Eleanor had received letter from Jean telling of her trials, she had bought some hens and put 12 doz eggs (Plymouth Rock) under them but they ate and broke the eggs and two chickens were the result. (W5908)
3 Mrs. Jennie (Ault) Robertson, widow of Charles Robertson (1851-92) educator, principal of Hamilton Collegiate Institute, was a member of the MacNab WFMS, lived at 115 George St. and had two sons (DHB2.130; Latoszek 25; W5794).
4 Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Proctor (nee Campbell) lived at 223 Bay St. (Tyrell 152). She was a member of the MacNab WFMS. In her letter of June 4, 1909, Mary notes that Mrs. Proctor received a legal settlement resulting from a medical judgement that Mr. Proctor's death had been caused by a "very peculiar disease" that had also weakened his mind (W6436).
5 Donald MacGillivray was with William McClure M.D. in Honan, North China during the Boxer rebellion of 1900. In the bloody attack by nationalist Chinese militants on the "foreign devils," 231 people, mostly missionaries, died. They were forced to flee hundreds of miles overland or by water and many more were wounded. After the rebellion was quelled by European, American and Japanese forces, the "mission work developed even more rapidly than before" (McNeill 122-23; Moir Enduring 152).
6 For Jaffary, see W5487.
7 For Bell family, see W4531.
8 For Dr. Heurner Mullin and Mullin family, see W4521.
9 For Dr. Archibald Malloch, see W4582.