W5744 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Dec 3 1906
To: Calvin McQuesten MacLeod, Alberta
My dearest Cal,
By the time this reaches you, you will not mind a short letter, seeing we have entered December. Your letter, telling of your congregations reached me on Saturday. It is certainly unspeakably trying to deal with such people. If people have not been started right and kept right for the first few years at least of their life, it is a very difficult matter to do anything with them. Habit is a wonderfully strong thing and people who have never had the habit of attending Church are almost beyond reach, it seems to me. This morning every thing is covered with snow, as Mr. Thomson says, "the Earth is dressed as a bride," it is difficult for me to see any thing but snow-clearing. On Thursday I went again to Dr. Capon, walking to and from the boat. I have only to go once more; this week the steamer stops. We are thankful the cars are running again with the old men. I received a great many compliments on my letter, which has re-assured me1.
Tom wrote me that old Mrs. Rains had died, and had been buried on the Saturday, but it was not in the papers. "Old Mrs. Drouillard went over to the house on Monday expecting to be regaled with a funeral. Imagine her disappointment when she found the bird had flown." He's a bad boy that! At present he is busy for Xmas Exams.
Yesterday morning we had the new preacher of Knox--Mr. Nelson--preaching, he has a rich brogue and he simply convulsed the people, clever too, but such a mixture, on the whole did not like it at all, got no good whatever. In the evening Mr. Ketchen preached to St. Andrew's Society their annual Sermon2. He just did finely. He is never afraid to speak plainly and faithfully and yet is never offensive or vulgar.
Some of my moneys have been paid in, so I have been re-investing and have been much gratified to find that I have not broken in so very much on my principle, considering the Expense of E's [Edna] illness. I have only used $825 of my principal since beginning and the rate of interest having risen my income will only be $20 a year less; so it seems to me we have all done remarkably well. Of course next Spring I have a heavy fee for Tom3, but that can soon be caught up.
Must close, have not heard yet about Cookbooks, will probably hear next time. I wrote you about it, in case letter is lost will say, the one Hilda liked so much is called "A little Cook-Book for a little girl" with picture of little girl outside, otherwise it is very useful for a woman, more so than big expensive ones, 75 cts. is price4. The last news from Ottawa is Mrs. Needham has typhoid fever, light case, Eleanor R.[Ross] recovering5. With much love from all.
1 The Hamilton Street Railway strike had been settled and the employees "the old men" did not lose their jobs. Mary was in favour of the strikers. For her letter to the editor, see W-MCP2-4.034.
2 For Rev. Dr. Ketchen and family, see W5359.
3 Tom had one more year to complete at Osgoode Hall. He graduated in law June 1907 (W5861, W5868). Ruby was sending her salary home to Tom for his education, but she was beginning to show signs of illness and in 1907 was sent to Calgary to a sanatorium for treatment of a chronic cough which later turned out to be consumption (tuberculosis). See W6135.
4 This cookbook is in the "Whitehern" library and was obviously a favourite as it is much used. In a previous letter, Mary had given Calvin a list of books suitable for Christmas presents: "You might just send to the Westminster Co. for one of Ralph Connor's books or Marian Keith's 'Duncan Polite' or 'The Silver Maple'; the first is the best, $1.25. 'The Prospector' is fine, I think, if they have not read it" (W5736). For Ralph Connor, see W5359. Marian Keith's The Black Bearded Barbarian: The Life of George Leslie MacKay of Formosa (1912) is in the Whitehern library.
5 For Ross family, see W4651. Mrs. Needham succeeded Mrs. Anna Ross as the principal of the "Presbyterian Ladies College" in Ottawa. Eleanor Ross had pneumonia (W-MCP2-4.034). Eleanor did not go West with David and his mother, Anna, and his sister, Jean, see W5622. Margaret Ross, a fellow teacher with Ruby McQuesten, died of "inflammation of the lungs" in 1905 (likely tuberculosis), see