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W6828 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Apr 30 1915
To: Calvin McQuesten Buckingham Quebec
From: 'Whitehern'

My dearest Calvin,

Very many very happy returns of the day! May-day is a lovely day for a birth-day. I am sorry to think that none of us is with you, or you with us to celebrate it. And am very disappointed that the present I had intended for you will not arrive as I had hoped. I wrote some weeks ago to the Upper Can. Tract about a book and they did not answer, then I wrote Hodder and Houghton in Toronto, they hadn't it in stock. Then finally heard from U.C.T that they had it and after sending P.O. and directions, this morning received the enclosed1. I was so annoyed, and disappointed, for a present is not worth half as much when it does not arrive on the day; and Tom wants to share in the present, which I did not want, as I liked to send it myself.

To-day the men have succeeded in cutting the grass, tho' it rained off and on, the grass in the garden should have been cut two weeks ago, the Kentucky Blue Grass yields such a tremendously heavy crop. The shrubs are fine this year the winter season was so mild, forsythia very good and japonica, flowering, prune hurrying out too, as well as tulips. Poor Peter has been beating rugs and labouring at cleaning the verandah all day. So now we feel that we have got into pretty good order and will be ready for next week.

Dr. Drummond phoned me last night suggesting that we use the Moderator to have a brief prayer service at noon at our meeting on Wednesday for the Empire and soldiers etc. and I think it is a good idea2. Dr. H. you know is to preach our Anniversary sermons on Sunday and will be in the city until after our Wednesday evening public meeting.

O dear Yes! The war is so terrible and all these young Canadians cut off in the prime of life and their mothers left to mourn them all their days. I feel so distressed, because I am afraid until there is a recognition of sin and repentance as God requires of His ancient people, there will be no help from Him3. Just look at those people in England, the clergy refusing to give up their indulgence. The only hope is that He will have mercy for the sake of the few, who serve Him. We were greatly amused with Maj Hunter's cable, it makes one laugh every time you think of it. Poor Col. Logie had to get a knock too, but think it will not be serious4. Am afraid, this has been a scribble but E. is seated waiting for it, to go to the post.

Last Sunday was a most trying day, that heavy moist heat. It would be very hard on you, but I think Dr.G.'s life might be more interesting than an ordinary sermon, any way, 12.20 is not too long5. Well, Calvin dear, the time is flying on and soon summer will be here, I trust to-morrow will be a happy day and that you will have a good day on Sabbath. With fondest love and many good wishes.

Your loving mother

M.B. McQuesten


1 The "enclosed" is a notice from Upper Canada Tract Society stating that "Smith 'Geog of Holy Land'" is "out of stock at present, will send soon as stock arrives." A copy of George Adam Smith's The Historical Geography of the Holy Land (1910) is in the Whitehern library, as well as, four other of his works on Isaiah and Jerusalem.


2 Rev. Dr. Daniel R. Drummond (1868-1931) was inducted at St. Paul's in Hamilton in 1905. He had won several scholarships at Queen's, did post-graduate work in Edinburgh, became a trustee at Queen's University, and was chaplain (major) of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during WWI, and he encouraged military service. He sat on the board of foreign missions, and the general assembly. He was a moderate unionist and wrote a pamphlet: "Is there No Way Out" to promote the position of a federation of churches instead of an organic union. This would have allowed each church to retain their own "denominational traditions." He "resigned as chairman of the general board" in 1925 because "he was unable to reconcile the division which left 30 percent of Presbyterians outside the union." He was stricken with meningitis in 1925 and never fully recovered (DHB3.43-4; Moir Enduring 204, 219; Wee Kirks 48; W6828, W7136, W4559, W5812). For "Church Union" see W5283, W6446n.


3 April 22,1915, Mary wrote: "The war news seems terrible just now, it hangs over one, and we feel as if we didn't know what would happen next. It seems so fearful to think of the awful slaughter, thousands of men handed over to death. Such fine fellows too! It makes one ill to think of it, and no one can stop it, we are just helpless" (W6820).


4 In Mary's letter of July 30, 1914 (W6805) it appeared that Logie might have been killed; however, this letter clarifies matters somewhat. Mary's daughter, Mary, describes the injury in her letter to Calvin: "Col. Logie had been thrown from a mortar, had had his head badly cut, a shoulder dislocated and other injuries" (W6836). For Logie family, see W4759.


5 Calvin had planned to deliver a talk/sermon on Dr. Geddie. Mary wrote on April 22, "Am glad you are going to preach on John Geddie, it is such a good thing for a minister to improve these occasions, the people know very little about the lives of missionaries and I always find them most inspiring and I think you can make such an interesting address out of them" (W6820). John and Charlotte Geddie were the first Presbyterian overseas missionaries. They went to the New Hebrides and encountered "the savage and cannibalistic natives . . . . Natives were converted one by one . . a chapel was built and a congregation of one hundred organized within a decade." Natives were taught to abandon polygamy and infanticide and learned crafts and skills. Geddie was their doctor and Charlotte taught sanitation. Other missionaries George W. Gordon and his wife were sent to Erromanga Island nearby, but they were murdered in 1861 by the natives who blamed them for the measles epidemic. Gordon's brother and wife went to the same island and suffered the same fate in 1872. The Geddies wrote "descriptive letters" which were widely reprinted and they did speaking tours. When he died in 1872 a memorial tablet was erected and inscribed: "When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians here, and when he left, in 1872, there were no heathen" (Moir Enduring 147-48; Brouwer 6, 82).




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Copyright 2002 Whitehern Historic House and Garden
The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
Please direct questions and comments to Mary Anderson, Ph.D.


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