W6302 TO [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister Ruby McQuesten
Oct 1 1908
To: Rev. Calvin McQuesten Glenhurst, Saskatchewan
From: 1510 Fourth St. West, Calgary, Alberta
My dearest Cal,
I suppose there is not much time left for this to reach you but it should be plenty if you don't leave till the 8th. Poor old fellow you'll be glad to get back to civilization again. It is a good thing to have variety in life even of a mosquitoey [sic] variety. No more humming except in your dreams. And no more dainty? [sic] bachelor drinks. Do you feel entirely glad Cal or a little sad? Mostly glad I expect.
I suppose I may as well tell you, if it will make you happier, that it's all finally off between David & myself. It was his decision and everything is now over and done for. So you can burn this letter & we'll not mention the subject again.2
Last week it was winter from Wed. till Sunday. I wonder if you suffered from the cold. However it is warm again now.
The last time I was weighed I had gained another five pounds. So I'm 128 now or 1/2 lb. more than my heaviest weight in Ottawa. I have just written to Dr. Caven. Tom is to phone & find out his decision as to whether I stay till the end of Oct. or Nov.3
They say now that it is to be beautiful weather since the snow is over but people romance a good deal I find. Harry Whittemore said one day how I was sitting on their verandah & it was a lovely cool day but not cold--"you should stay all winter Ruby--it is weather just like this."
A lady told me she found the winters bitterly cold here another that the dust storms were constant every day last winter. Then another lady said for the first year she was cold all the time winter & summer. And so it goes. [Bet?] them all & in spite of them all the weather takes its course & [?] finishing out its [whines?] & into smiles. However it is not a bad climate by any means & I'd be an ungrateful fatty if I didn't like it. With much love old boy (I don't mean the old boy),
Your affec'ate sister
1 David Ross was the son of the former principal at the Presbyterian Ladies' College in Ottawa where Ruby was a teacher. In 1906 David proposed marriage to Ruby but her mother objected strenuously to the union on grounds that David was not making enough money and that he would not be able to support a wife and his mother and sisters, since he also expected to move out west and take them, and Ruby, with him (W5622). It is also highly likely that Mary worried about money as Tom was studying law at the University of Toronto until 1907 and it was Ruby's income made it possible for Tom to go to school and to graduate. However, it seems that Ruby may have told her mother that she had broken off the relationship, but had not in fact done so and Mary blames the stress of the secrecy for her own heart problems (W6135).
2 The instruction to burn the letter indicates that Ruby had carried on a secret relationship with David. Unfortunately, we have no evidence of any letters between Ruby and David, no doubt they were destroyed. Ruby states that she cremated the letters (W6310).
3 Ruby stays in Calgary all winter, and her health fails, and she finally comes home in April of 1909. Then she is sent to another sanatorium in Muskoka. And finally to a cottage on the Hamilton mountain where she dies on April 9, 1911. Subsequently I wrote a book named Tragedy & Triumph about the McQuesten family and especially Ruby and Thomas. When one reads closely it is apparent that Ruby's earnings were used for Tom's education at U of T. The family was so poor that Tom could not have graduated otherwise. He went on the fulfill the family's and his own vision and created many beautiful gardens, architecture and bridges. Tom McQuesten 1882-1948.
4 October 2, 2015. Mary Anderson notes: I have heard from Mike Grace who knows the history and genealogy of the Ross family. He has been in touch with Grace who is the youngest child of the 10 children of the marriage of David Ross and Elizabeth Huggard in 1910. His email after speaking to Grace states that "the Huggards had come out from Ireland and had a homestead on the next quarter section. The Ross family was very poor and David didn't really settle down. He worked on the railroad, did some farming and during 2nd World War worked on the Alaska Highway. Although away a lot he had 10 children. One of them, Archie died of a perforated appendix at 14 but the others all had long lives and 3 girls are still alive. The 3 older boys all served in the 2nd W.W. Many of the kids had university degrees and some even taught at university. Some stayed in Saskatchewan but others were in BC, Ontario and North Carolina. David died of a brain tumour in 1947. He is buried in the Crescent Road Cemetery in Strasbourg (Sask.) If you look up the cemetery you can get an image of the grave stone [which I did by Internet] with the names of son Archie Ross 1915-1929, Anna I Ross (grannie) 1848-1933, Elizabeth Huggard 1891-1976, and David Ross 1882-1947. [Mike Grace continues] I did not ask about pictures but Grace may have some although she was 18 when her father died [David Ross]."
I attempted to telephone Grace but she does not answer her phone; however, I will continue trying. She is 86 years of age and has problems with vision. Many thanks to Mike Grace for this valuable information--and so the site grows!