W5665 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Oct 1 1906
To: Calvin McQuesten MacLeod, Alberta
From: 'Whitehern' Hamilton
My dearest Calvin,
It was good news to hear that you had gone to Lethbridge. I am very grateful to Mrs. Lait for taking you out. A change does one a great deal of good, particularly too if you can get a little good grub, and I am sure you must be sick to death of Western fare. I always think of you when I see the fruit going to waste, for I am bothered to death as usual how to get rid of the pears. By degrees we are getting the house settled, if we could only get help when we want it, would be done long ago. Our dining room carpet was so very shabby, I had to do something, so Tom found what is called a Moravian rug, it looks like a Turkish but is quite cheap and this put down as a crumb cloth makes the dinning room look quite fine. I am thankful to say the curtains are all up. I wonder if I told you about the rug before, it seems as if I did. This is a very troublesome time too about the clothing. I get quite distracted arranging what rack one is to have for coats and hats, you have no idea what a problem it is to dress five women, no two alike, and get colours that are becoming.
But all these troubles drop out of sight in comparison with the terrible ending of poor Harold Thomson. On Wednesday we were much shocked by the news in the Times that Harold C. Thomson had shot himself at Vernon B.C. Word had been received from Chief of police there and to inquire for relatives; then Thursday night's Times was the enclosed but it was not correct in names. Ernest died years ago and Alfred, not Charles, was at the funeral. I am so confused with so many things but think my letter of last week was written the evening of Mrs. Sanders funeral and that I told you about that. Mary did not let me send the paper at first, she kept hoping it was a mistake, but I am afraid it is too true. Whatever can have happened to him? There was always something a little mysterious to me about H.[Harold]. He certainly had ability of some sort and why he should be always wandering about I could not understand. He smoked a great deal I wonder if he drank. Such a nice chap he was, and such good manners. I am thankful his poor mother and aunt did not live to know it, but I am truly sorry for Alfred he is such a fine gentlemanly man and to have this dreadful thing put in the papers1.
Just in the middle of this your letter from Mr. Lait's Manse reached us, it is all very well, but I know you were never attracted to a bachelor's life. Poor Calvin, I do hope dear that some day you will have a comfortable home of your own, I feel quite sure there are some bright days in store for you yet, and in the meantime your health is improving which is a great matter. I know one gets discouraged sometimes, I do myself, but that is the worst of a nervous temperament like we have, one gets tired and then blue. I was just thinking, when I read of poor Harold, it is only faith in God that keeps others from taking the same step. There is so much that is discouraging, that really the people who have no God to rest upon, must get desperate indeed.
On Tuesday I went to Toronto and after Dr. Capon had attended to my tooth, went up to Mrs. MacKay's where I had lunch. She is very dull now, knew my name and asked for the children but it seemed to me, she had less life than ever before and could scarcely speak, so I only stayed a short time. Tom called for me and left me at Eaton's and after looking about came home. We are having delightful weather now, and I start off to Chippawa to-morrow taking the 1.55 p.m. train to the Falls and going by trolley to Chippawa; Think it a fine opportunity to see that country.
Saturday, it had teemed rain all day and in the evening Dr. Lyle dropped in. We were talking about the University--he thought it very strange that the Univ. Council appointed had been wholly from Toronto, and it a Provincial institution. It is true, I am sure, that the doctor has more knowledge of educational matters than most of them2; he thinks that Prof. Falconer is the man for the president. He does not know Mr. Colquhoun (though he had heard him greatly praised) but he mentioned Prof. F.'s name to two of the council and they actually asked the doctor, what side of politics Prof. F. was on3. Isn't it disgusting.
Tommy Cook's baby was baptized yesterday and Mr. Ketchen preached a sermon on baptism and suffer little children &c4. His remarks on baptism were of the briefest, he always seems afraid of these doctrinal subjects. Well dear, I must close. Have been on the run all day and must now rest before going out again. With much love from all.
Your loving mother
[P.S.] Tom brought home your books and as he was in a hurry, I said I would see to them, so posted them last week with some Presbyterians.
1 Harold Thomson was related to Mrs. Robert Thomson and her son Joseph J. Thomson, possibly a cousin. He joined the Rhodesian Mounted Police in 1903 (W4815) and shot himself in 1906 which may have been suicide. In Mary's letter of October 8 1906, she provides the latest gossip about his colourful career:
By the way Mrs. Mullin says that Mr. Wilton thinks Harold Thomson might have shot himself accidently, as he was out shooting in the Rockies he went out there because he had deserted from the American Army, which he joined for the second time after coming from S. Africa. You remember he deserted from the N.W. Mounted Police and the Thomsons had to buy him off. It seemed too bad altogether the way he used his life. (W5675)
Others mentioned in the letter appear to have been brothers of the deceased. His mother was not the Mrs. Robert Thomson of Hamilton since the letter discloses that his mother and aunt are dead in 1906 (W4815 W5675). For Thomson family, see W4415, W4835.
2 For Dr. Lyle and his stand on church politics, see W4436, W5283.
3 Sir Robert A. Falconer (1867-1943) clergyman, educator, scholar, educated at London ,Edinburgh and Germany. He was principal of Knox College and became president of the University of Toronto in 1907 which he completely reorganized and integrated. He was very active in church politics and favoured "higher criticism" and "Union." He was on the committee for church union which began in earnest in December 1904 (CE 744). For Falconer's politics, see W5283, W7671.
4 For Rev. Ketchen and family, see W5359.