W6446 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Jun 11 1909
To: Calvin McQuesten Glenhurst, Saskatchewan
My dearest Calvin,
Yours of the 28th only arrived to-day. I wonder if you get all my letters, for the card telling me to send your barrel to Fessier reached me in good time and I have said so more then once. I hope you have got the soup tablets. I posted you before we sent barrel & box which left here on 21st.
It would not be possible for me to begin a discussion on the change of Coronation Oath. Anything that yields one iota to the R.C. Church is a terrible mistake. Their Religion is "superstitions" and idolatrous and a religion that supports the vile practices, which it does, should be opposed in every possible way. What do you think those nunneries and orphanages in Montreal are for? And on Wednesday Mary James1 brought a Mr. Cooper in for dinner.2 He is engaged in Mission work in Brazil and he is collecting for an orphanage there, because of the number of illegitimate children of the Catholic priests. I have read of it, but he says it is beyond description. There they do not care enough to hide it, but in U.S. and our country and Britain, the nunneries and orphanages are maintained for the benefit of the priests. He said, it made him sick to hear Protestants speaking of them as sincere when it is an altogether false religion. In Mexico the Virgin is an idol and she is worshipped all over the world by catholics as divine. When Rome has us in her clutches and a Catholic on our throne, then the charitable people will bemoan the progress of Romanism. I know there was a paragraph in the Globe, expressing just your sentiments. Of course the Liberal party has always kept itself in power by the Catholic vote, when I was a child, my father used to speak of the Globe truckling to the Catholics. They look upon us as poor fools. It was good to hear Dr. Pringle at the Assembly giving the government a good setting out, he did not spare them.3 Dr. Fletcher looked almost aghast. You will remember if it had not been for one of those laws, there would have been the elevation of the mass and the people bowing down in the streets of London, and it will come yet, if you begin meddling with the old laws. People are not so well grounded in Christian doctrine as they used to be and very few know what they believe.4
Well we had such fine times at the Assembly, we went as often as we could. On Sabbath we had Principal Forrest from Halifax.5 A good man and interesting but not an able preacher like Principal Patrick whom we heard in the Evening on "I am not ashamed of the Gospel" XXX [sic] the power of God much salvation. He is very fine in every way, fine voice, speaks entirely without notes, keeps close to his subject, in illustrations no poetry, extremely earnest, people never took their eyes off him (it was in King St. Methodist) and he made the most direct individual appeals with considerable action, bringing home salvation, What it is, the signs of its possession, its effects. It was very fine indeed.6
Then the subject of the Church Union at the Assembly.7 Unfortunately did not hear opening by Principal P.[Patrick] & Dr. Duval,8 which were said to be very fine and Principal MacKay against Union did extremely well but effect was spoiled by having to stop as it was time to adjourn.9 When we went in the Evening he was not able just to take it up again so well. Dr. Robert Campbell10 the clerk, supported him but spoke in such a way that he roused Principal Forrest who rose up and shook his fist whilst the Assembly cheered them on and seemed to enjoy it immensely. I was surprised to hear Principal F. speak in such a nasty sneering tone in reply to Principal McKay. I went back next morning to hear the end. Old Dr. Sedgewick11 opposed the union, a very clever old chap who warned them, that the first thing they knew, they would be under a "stationing committee" and it almost made him weep to think of Principal Patrick in such a position. Then as Paul said, Galatians, he said "Oh foolish Presbyterians, who hath bewitched you." But Principal P. had made them think they were like Alice-in-Wonderland. There was a great laughing, but it was carried to send the question down to the people. Which in my judgement will mean a terrible lot of discussion & ill feeling and as our Speaker said it will take 10 to 15 years for the congregation to recover. The Western men were the strongest against it.
Another night we had Moral reform, Dr. Pidgeon spoke remarkably well on this.12 And then Charles Gordon reported on Evangelism.13 He then introduced MacGregor to tell of Chapineau meetings at Orillia (he seemed such a good fellow without any conceit)14 and then a Mr. McKinnon of Minnedosa Presbytery such a good fellow too,15 and then Dr. Kilpatrick told of his Experience in the Kootenay. I never heard anyone like the Professor such a beautiful spirit so humble and childlike in a way, and all so finely expressed, I could give you no idea of it and the impression made, people were so moved by it all and stirred to the heart. Then Principal Gordon of Queen's wound up in a most admirable way, saying among other things it had been the finest meeting ever held at our Assembly in Canada.16
Dr. Kilpatrick finally urged the young men "Out with you to the West and leave the old men here in Ontario."17 Last night we had a call from Mr. Byers, I always liked him and he is nicer than ever and become quite chatty telling us many interesting things. He wants to be in Canada again but I think has no church.18 One afternoon Mrs. Fletcher gave a small tea for some of the ministers, Fred Anderson was there and inquiring for you; he looked well but thin and finds the excitement of speaking affects his digestion, should think this new position would not be a good thing.19 Colin Fletcher looks better than for years.20 James Little was asking for you too.21 Must close, Tom is still away up north. To-day is warm, the first for a week. With much love From all.
Your loving Mother
1 For the James family, see W4436
2 I have found no record of Mr. Cooper.
3 For Dr. John Pringle, see W5172.
4 The Globe May 15, 1909, reported that Mr. Asquith, Prime Minister of England "Favors the Amendment of Coronation Oath" to remove the "Catholic Disabilities." The bill passed its second reading with "Asquith's cordial support" and he said that the declaration was an "unnecessary safeguard of the Protestant succession, dated from probably the worst period in our history." The Roman Catholics named as "Objectionable Clauses" those that denied that "in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ . . . whatsoever, and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint and the sacrifice of Mass are superstitious and idolatrous." The Orangemen of Canada protested and drew up resolutions and mailed them in large numbers to the British Protestant Alliance in London and demanded "the retention of the oath as at present." In 1901 the same issue had been raised and Rev. J.L. Gordon, of Toronto, defended it and said that "Catholics should amend their own oaths." The Cardinal in London declared that the language used in the declaration was "stupid, silly, cruel, painful, shameful, and most wicked." Mr. Gordon replied that the oath was "one of the strongest bulwarks of the British Constitution and the backbone of Protestantism" (Toronto Evening News, April 1, 1901).
5 I have found no record of Principal Forrest of Halifax. He may have been related to George Forrest who came from Scotland and the United States to become pastor of St. Gabriel Street Church in Montreal in 1802.
6 Dr. William Patrick was principal of Manitoba College in 1899 until his death in 1911. He favoured "Church Union" and made a "devastating attack on John MacKay" for his delaying tactics and concern for property settlements. See note for John MacKay below W6446n (McNeill 82; Moir Enduring 197, 199, 200, 203).
7 For a discussion of "Church Union" from 1875 to 1905, see W5283. The publication of "The Basis of Union" occurred in 1908. In 1909 the sides began to form and by 1910 the movement became intensely political and debates raged in the Colleges and at the Assemblies, which "divided the church sharply." In 1913 "The General Committee of the Organization for the Preservation and Continuance of the Presbyterian Church in Canada" was formed in protest, the debates raged for years and the fear of schism was strong (Moir Enduring 199, 207). The World War intervened and a "truce" was "scrupulously observed" until the early 1920's when it was found that many churches had formed "union churches" of "double affiliation," especially in the West where congregations were small and widely separated. After the war, returning servicemen, pressure of immigration and the need for missions at home and abroad fostered a united emphasis on "social activism," "moral reform" and education. In 1925 union finally took place by a two-thirds' majority and the United Church was formed. The remaining one-third, the same number as in 1911, voted to perpetuate "a distinctive Presbyterian denomination in Canada." The "leading exponents" of "Higher Criticism" and "Union" departed into the United Church; however "the tradition of biblical criticism that McFadyen and others had represented went into eclipse with Union, and "with them too had gone the Social Gospellers." Moir laments that "each parted without charity for the other" (Moir Enduring 176, 189-90, 199, 203-04 206, 211-12, 235; McNeill 245-61). "Significantly, no woman was ever included" in the various committees, and in 1913 "The Women's League" was formed as an anti-union group. By 1923 Mary was "violently opposed" to union and organized a group of women to hold a session of their own at the conference, see W0127a, April 24, 1923. For more on McFadyen and Higher Criticism, see W-MCP1-1.025.
8 I have found no record of Dr. Duval.
9 Dr. John MacKay was principal of Westminster Hall, a new seminary in Vancouver. He was opposed to union, was concerned about property settlements in the advent of union, and he demanded agreement of the people "with reasonable unanimity." He was a "gradualist" and recommended "delay and co-operation" (Moir Enduring 203).
10 Rev. Dr. Robert Campbell, minister of St. Gabriel Street Church, Montreal had been clerk of the Presbyterian Assembly since 1892 and had written and worked for "reconciliation" and "forbearance." He was on the General Committee . . .for the Preservation . . . of the Presbyterian Church in Canada" in 1913, and "published a book-length attack on organic union." He also challenged the Assembly on union in 1916 on the grounds of irregularities in the voting. Campbell wrote an exhaustive History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, St. Gabriel Street, Montreal (1887) (McNeill 191, 252; Moir Enduring 137, 207). This book is not in the Whitehern library.
11 Possibly an older relative of Rev. Dr. William H. Sedgewick of Central Church (W9180) in which case they would have been on opposite sides of the "Union" debate, but it was not unusual for families to be "split."
12 Rev. Dr. George Pidgeon and C.W. Gordon (Ralph Connor) collaborated with J.G. Shearer of Hamilton in his work on social reform following his political success with the "The Lord's Day Act." They formed the Department of Moral and Social Reform (1906). They did an "exhaustive survey of temperance, gambling, Sabbath observance, 'social evil' [prostitution], industrial relations, and pornography . . . and of the pressing work remaining to be done in these fields, as well as an account of the interdenominational federated Moral and Social Reform Council of Canada" a political body of which Shearer was secretary. Together they did a "two-year study of urban living--'The Problem of the Twentieth Century'" (Moir Enduring 179, 184, 193-96, 209, 217, 223)
13 For Charles Gordon (Ralph Connor) and family, see W5359. Gordon influenced the theme of the1908 National Missionary Congress: "Will Canada Evangelize her share of the world?" and the 1909 Congress was a culmination of that work. Nearly 5000 people attended as Gordon spoke on "The Place of the Church in the Making of the Nation" and had specific, radical recommendations to make. He was "angered that the churches did not extend the right-hand of fellowship to new Canadians." One concrete form of such evangelical outreach was the social and settlement work pioneered by the Presbyterian group in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver, all inspired by Toynbee Hall in England (See W5898n; Moir Enduring 179, 184, 194, 196; Gordon 162-63).
14 Rev. Donald Campbell MacGregor (1875-1946) educated at University of Toronto, Glasgow and Knox College, and pastor at Orillia 1909-11. He was assistant secretary Department of Social Service and Evangelism of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (BDKC 130).
15 Murdoch A. McKinnon from the West was also a social activist. In his speech of 1913: "The New Patriotism," he "warned that the existing social system based on apathy, materialism, injustice and religious indifference must give way to a 'social order where the good of each is based upon the good of all'" (Moir Enduring 195).
16 For Gordon, Daniel Miner, see W4535, W5283n. Principal Gordon of Queen's also advocated social activism and: "In 1909 practical field experience in 'Christian or Social Work' became a requirement for all students of the college." He was also a moderate, a "gradualist," on the question of union , see W6446n (Moir Enduring 190, 204).
17 For G.G. Kilpatrick, see W5199, W5788.
18 For Mr. Byers, I have found no record.
19 For Rev. Fred Anderson, see W4835.
20 For Mrs. Donald Fletcher and Rev. Colin Fletcher, see W4479, W4635.
21 Rev. James Little (1875-1935) born at Hamilton, son of Rev. James Little, was the assistant at Central Church 1904-05, pastor Brampton 1905-10, Westminster Toronto 1917-35, United Church 1925 (BDKC 123-4).