W5788 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Feb 19 1907
To: Calvin McQuesten Toronto Ontario
My dearest Cal,
It is indeed a crisis in our family history this learning of the old house.1 But the more I look at it, the more I feel that after the March was over, we would really be more comfortable elsewhere, it is not so bad here when the double windows are on and the snow on the ground, but when we returned last summer from Muskoka, the dust and noise seemed almost unbearable. The garden is really only pretty till after the rose season. Of course, it is not finally settled whether the place is sold or not but one cannot help, indeed, must plan. You and Tom think we should go to the old country. Well, I have considered it from every side, and I am afraid it would not be wise. To begin with, I could not make up my mind to stay a year or two from you boys, then it would be monotonous for the whole family to go together and I cannot help thinking that bye and bye we shall be able to manage a little travelling too. Hilda cannot bear the thought of it at all. You see we cannot afford to fritter away one cent of our means, for it will just give us sufficient to live on and no more, this is one of the reasons Tom thinks I should take it now or I will never have it to go travelling. But I think we will. For one thing if we were an ordinary house we could rent it furnished you see, I have need of a little house to get rested, invest my money and get returns, and I have not the courage to go among strangers where I should have to pay cash down for everything and the thought of being homeless makes me so nervous, that I can scarcely bear it at all. When I think over, where best to settle, Mary is sick of Hamilton, and yet I do not know where we would be better. I would go to Toronto, if I thought the girls would have any greater opportunities, for I doubt if living costs much more, and property is very high here.
Building here at present seems out of the question, but a carpenter told Mr. Chisholm that the prices would almost prohibit building, and he thought the men would get tired of it and perhaps by August things would go down.2 I would not like too small a house, for we have beautiful things to make a handsome home and the thousand dollars spent just now in travelling would make the difference between a poor and a comfortable house, then too I would like it in good locality My preference would be Aberdeen Ave. about Highfield and am going to inquire price of lots. Am a little afraid they may be too high. In the meantime we could go to Oakville for the summer. Thomas Pulham [?] told Edna yesterday of another house which we could rent furnished for the summer. Tom would perhaps remember it, one we admired with nice whole verandah. Suppose you or Tom when you have a spare time run in and see Jack Lyle3 and ask him if that material in Mr. Hendrie Jun.'s house is more or less expensive than brick, I do detest brick.
That was a good letter of Prof. Kilpatrick in the Globe.4 ". . . . which is held to be immoral . . . a crime under Canadian law." It is dreadful to have such miserable specimens of men as Hon. Frank Oliver in the Government.5 I heard all about his origin one day. He could have at least kept quiet, for he was not answerable for P.M. K. and he [knew] the Professor was right. Mary Haunsford was in the other day and offered if we moved to come in and help us pack up, she is a faithful soul. Well I must close, in the meantime we must pray earnestly that we may be guided into what is truly best for us. With much love to you both.
Your loving mother
1 The Railroad had made an offer to expropriate the house, see W5794.
2 For James Chisholm, see W2520.
3 John ("Jack") McIntosh Lyle, son of Rev. Dr. Samuel Lyle of Central Presbyterian Church in Hamilton. He was a noted architect in Toronto (DHB2.99). For Lyle family, see W4436, W6053.
4 For Prof. Kilpatrick, see W5199. Prof. Kilpatrick and Hon. Frank Oliver (see below) had a running debate in The Globe about the Mormons. Oliver claimed that Kilpatrick had "made reference to the unwisdom of Government allowing the Mormons to settle in Alberta" and that "the Mormon invasion was a sin to be laid at the Government's door." Oliver countered and described the Mormons as a "benefit to the West" since they had brought "arid lands under cultivation. . . .increased the value of some twenty or thirty million acres" and were "industrious, peaceful and law-abiding" (The Globe, February 15, 1907).
Kilpatrick replied that Oliver's "attack" was merely of the "vote-catching order and was meant for consumption in Alberta and not in Ottawa." Kilpatrick objected to the "block system" of settlement and noted that the Mormons were now a "political body" with the intention of throwing their vote "where the most good could be accomplished for the Church." Kilpatrick had two other objections: (1) "[Mormons] maintain as a religious belief . . . Polygamy" (2) Other more diverse settlement could have been accomplished in the West. He concluded: "We want Canada to be a great country . . . whose people shall be homogeneous. . . . The Mormon invasion was therefore, in my judgment, no necessity of State, and has brought with it moral and political dangers which it would have been possible to have avoided" (The Globe, February 16, 1907).
5 Hon. Frank Oliver (1853-1933) newspaper publisher, founded the Edmonton Bulletin in 1880. He was elected to the North-West territories in 1888 and 1894, to the House of Commons in 1896-1917, and was Minister of the Interior and of Indian Affairs 1905-11. Mary's reference to Oliver's "origins" likely refers to the fact that he had "taken his mother's name" (CE 1564; W5788, W7085)